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URCEUS (dim. urceolus) was a name applied to any sort of jug with one handle (Mart. 11.56, 14.106, &c.), used for pouring. Hence in Hor. A. P. 22 the urceus is selected as the shape essentially different from the amphora. It is often mentioned as used for pouring water into another vessel (Cato, Cat. Agr. 10; Plin. Nat. 19.71), but in this sense is sometimes distinguished as urceus aquarius (Cato, Cat. Agr. 13; Gel. 10.24). In this use it is equivalent to the πρόχοος or πρόχους, which was used as a water jug or ewer [see PELVIS], of which a cut is given from Dennis's Etruria. The smaller kind of urceus aquarius served this purpose. The urceus or urceolus was also used for serving the calda or frigida at table (Mart. 14.105), or, like the οἰνοχόη, for wine (Plaut. Mil. 3.2, 18). A common shape of the οἰνοχόη is here given, but there are other forms; sometimes an older

Prochous. (Dennis.) Oenochöe. (Dennis.)

shape, less rounded or bellying (see Baumeister, Denkm. fig. 2102), sometimes with a more pronounced spout and a base suggestive


of a pyxis. This in Birch is called an ἐπίχυσις [EPICHYSIS]; and it is probable that it should be distinguished alike from the ordinary oenochöe and prochous. The oenochoe was used in the symposia, like the totally different cyathus, for dipping wine from the crater and pouring it into the cups, as we see on the vase-painting in Panofka, Pl. 34.2, for which purpose a jug of the above shape would be unsuitable.

To these purposes of the urceus and urceolus must be added the sacrificial use; for Varro says that the capis used for wine at sacrifices under the ritus Romanus was an urceolus [see CAPIS; SIMPULUM]. Its shape is seen in the annexed coin of the gens Pompeia. The

Coin with capis and lituus on the obverse.

material of the urcei and urceoli was not only earthenware (as in Hor. l.c.), but also copper or bronze (Cato, l.c.; Juv. 10.64; Mayor ad loc.) and silver (Dig. 34, 2, 21).

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

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 10.24
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 11.56
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.105
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.106
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