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FOLLIS dim. FOLLI´CULUS, an inflated ball of leather, no doubt originally the skin of a quadruped filled with air. The Roman games of ball (Marquardt reckons five of them) are described under PILA The follis was the largest as well as the lightest and softest ball in use, as the pila was the hardest, the paganica being intermediate between the two (Mart. 14.45; cf. 7.32). According to Marquardt, the follis might be either filled with air (κενή) or lightly stuffed with feathers; but this is perhaps a wrong inference, as the plumea pondera follis (Mart. 4.19) may simply mean “light as a feather;” and it is only the paganica and pila which are expressly stated to have been so stuffed. We must not think, however, of the tightly-blown modern football; it was much more like a child's ball, so soft that it could hurt no one, and hence is recommended as a gentle exercise, fit for small boys and old men, but to which juvenes would not condescend (Mart. 14.47). The folliculus (τὸ φούλλικλον καλούμενον) is said to have been invented by one Atticus of Naples, a teacher of gymnastics (παιδοτρίβης), for the benefit of Pompeius Magnus (Athen. 1.14 f). Augustus, who was rather delicate in health, took to it comparatively early in life, soon after the civil wars (Suet. Aug. 83). For the follis pugilatorius of Plautus (Rud. 3.4, 16), see CORYCUS (Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.171 ff.; Marquardt, Privatl. 819; Guhl and Koner, ed. 5, p. 680.) The term follis is also applied to a leather purse or bag (Plaut. Aul. 2.4, 23; Juv. 13.61, 14.281); and the diminutive folliculus to the swollen capsule of a plant, the husk of a seed, or anything of similar appearance (Senec. Nat. Quaest. 5.18.3; Ep. 124.11; Tertull. de Res. Carn. 52).

Under the later empire, follis was the name of a small debased coin (see As, last paragraph). In the absence of a better currency, large sums had to be paid in this coinage, which for the purpose was done up in bags, also called folles, analogous to the “purses of piastres” still used in reckoning in the East. The number of coins. [p. 1.870]that went to a bag was probably 500, and its worth 1/12 of a solidus, or less than 1s 1 1/2 d. From this the follis became, under Constantine and his successors, a “money of account,” which was used in reckoning gold and silver as well as copper (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 10.6.1; Cod. Theod. 6.2, 8; 6.4, 21). The silver unit in Constantine's system was the miliarense, representing the value of 1/1000 of a pound of gold, now coined into 72 gold solidi. The follis of silver contained 125 miliarensia, 1/8 of a pound of gold, or 9 solidi. So debased was the coinage at this time, and so high the premium on gold, that the denarius, the unit of copper, had dwindled to 1/6000 of a gold coin, the solidus, worth no more than the English mark or about 13s. 4d.; while in the impoverished last days of the Western Empire as many as 7200 denarii went to a solidus (Novella of Valentinian III., A.D. 445, tit. 14.1). One of the compulsory presents to the emperor, exacted from senators, was also called follis (Marquardt, Staatsverw. 3.236 n.). Many points about the mode of reckoning by folles still remain obscure: the above facts may be regarded as tolerably well established. (Mommsen, Münzw. p. 839; Hultsch, Metrol. pp. 251, 252; and especially Marquardt, Staatsverw. iii. pp. 42-47).

Two inflated skins, constituting a pair of bellows, and having valves adjusted to the natural apertures at one part for admitting the air, and a pipe inserted into another part for its emission, were an essential piece of furniture in every forge and foundry (Il. 18.372, 409, 470; Verg. A. 8.449). The Greek word is usually φῦσαι from Homer downward, poetically πρηστῆρες, Apollon. 4.775: the ζώπυρα of Ephorus (ap. Strab. vii. p.303), sometimes translated “bellows” (as by L. and S., ed. 7), are more probably some sort of tinder, touchwood, or “kindlers,” Lat. fomes, though Photius and Suidas likewise explain ζωπύρια or--εῖα by φῦσαι. According to the nature and extent of the work to be done the bellows were made of the hides of oxen (taurinis follibus, Verg. G. 4.171), or of goats (hircinis, Hor. Sat. 1.4, 19), and other smaller animals. The Homeric bellows were small, and used in large numbers; there was one to every melting-pot or crucible (Il. 18.470). So in Herodotus (1.68) δύο φῦσαι are not “a pair of bellows,” but, as the context shows, two distinct pairs, each sending forth a separate blast. The nozzle of the bellows was called ἀκροφύσιον or ἀκροστόμιον (Thucyd.

Bellows. (From a lamp.)

4.100; Eust. on Il. l.c.). In bellows made after the fashion of those exhibited in the lamp here introduced from Bartoli (Ant. Lucerne, 3.21), we may imagine the skin to have been placed between the two boards so as to produce a machine like that which we now employ.

[J.Y] [W.W]

hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.68
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.372
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.409
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.470
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4.775
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 8.449
    • Vergil, Georgics, 4.171
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 83
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 1.14
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.45
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.47
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 4.19
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