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PU´TEAL the stone kerb round the mouth of a well. This was sometimes nearly flush with the ground, a flat stone with a circular opening, of which there is an example in the Capitol (figured in Baumeister, Denkm. p. 5): it is carved in relief of a late period with scenes from the life of Achilles. But in most cases it was an enclosure surrounding the opening, high enough to protect persons from falling into it, about three or four feet from the ground, and either round or square. There is a round one in the British Museum made of marble, which was found among the ruins of one of Tiberius's villas in Capri; it has five groups of fauns and nymphs, and on the edge at the top may be seen marks of the ropes used for drawing water. Such putealia were no doubt common in Roman villas, and the putealia sigillata, which Cicero (Cic. Att. 1.10) wanted for his Tusculan villa, must have been of the same kind as the one in the British Museum; the word sigillata refers to its being adorned with figures. From its resemblance to a well-enclosure, that which surrounded a place struck by lightning, and therefore consecrated, was sometimes called puteal [BIDENTAL; PRODIGIUM]. At Rome we have (without referring to the Lacus Curtius) two sacred putealia, erected over places struck by lightning, one in the Comitium (Cic. de Div. 1.1. 7, 33; Liv. 1.36), another in the Forum, of which the remains are thought to have been discovered between the temples of Vesta and Castor. This was the Puteal Libonis or Puteal Scribonianum, consecrated probably by L. Scribonius Libo, which is often shown on coins of the Scribonian gens, and of which an example is given below. The puteal is on the reverse of

Coin of the Scribonian Gens.

the coin, and is adorned with laurel wreaths and two lyres. It must be noticed that the puteal here has taken distinctly an altar shape. Tongs have been traced below the wreaths, and are understood to symbolise Vulcan as the maker of lightning. Libo erected in the neighbourhood of this puteal a tribunal for the praetor, in consequence of which the place was frequented by those who had lawsuits, moneylenders, &c. (Comp. Hor. Sat. 2.6, 35; Ep. 1.19, 8;--Ov. Remed. Amor. 561; Cic. pro Sest. 8, 18; 0. Richter in Baumeister, Denkm. p. 1468; Burn, Rome and Campagna, p. 86; Middleton, Rome, p. 178.)

[W.S] [G.E.M]

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 36
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 1.1
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