), a balance, a
pair of scales. The principal parts of this instrument were: (1) the beam
), whence ζυγὸν
(Dem. 1461); (2)
the two scales called in Greek τάλαντα
(Hom. Il. 8.69
, &c.; Aristoph.
) and πλάστιγγε
(Aristoph. Frogs 1378
), and in Latin
, &c.). [LANX
] Hence the verb ταλαντεύω
employed as equivalent to σταθμῶ,
the Latin libro,
and is applied as descriptive
of an eagle balancing his wings in the air (Philostrat. Jun.
6; Welcker, ad loc.
). The beam
was sometimes made without a tongue, being held by a ring or other appendage
fixed in the centre (see the woodcut). When the tongue working in an eye
) is used, as in our scales, it is
25). The word trutina
and the Greek τρυτάνμη
were used of this sort of balance, as may be seen
from Juv. 6.437
and Demosth. p. 60, where there
are clearly two scales. Specimens of bronze balances may be seen in the
British Museum and in other collections of antiquities, and also of the
], which was
used for the same purposes as the libra. The woodcut to the article CATENA
shows some of the chains
by which the scales are suspended from the beam. In the works of ancient
art, the balance is also introduced emblematically in a great variety of
ways. The annexed woodcut is taken from a beautiful bronze patera,
representing Mercury and Apollo engaged in exploring the fates of Achilles
and Memnon, by weighing the attendant genius of the one against
Libra. (From an ancient vase.)
that of the other. (Winckelmann, Mon. Ined.
Millin, Peintures de Vases Ant.
i. pl. 19, p. 39.) A balance
is often represented on the reverse of the Roman imperial coins; and to
indicate more distinctly its signification, it is frequently held by a
female in her right hand, while she supports a cornucopia in her left, the
words AEQVITAS AVGVSTI being inscribed on the
margin, so as to denote the justice and impartiality with which the emperors
dispensed their bounty.
The constellation Libra (in Greek ζυγός
placed in the Zodiac at the equinox, because it is the period of the year at
which day and night are equally balanced. (Verg. G.
; Plin. Nat. 18.245
“quo Libra pares examinat horas.