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
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,
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.
, 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
or Puteal Scribonianum,
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.
2.6, 35; Ep.
8;--Ov. Remed. Amor. 561
Cic. pro Sest.
8, 18; 0. Richter in Baumeister,
p. 1468; Burn, Rome and Campagna,
p. 86; Middleton, Rome,