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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


I. The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

CHAPTER XIV - Measuring and Writing


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But the most singular and chequered aspect is presented by the Roman measures of capacity, as regards both their names and their proportions. Their names have come from the Greek terms either by corruption (-amphora-, -modius- after μέδιμνος, -congius- from χοῦς, -hemina-, -cyathus-) or by translation (-acetabulum-from ὀξύβαφον); while conversely ξεστής is a corruption of -sextarius-.

All the measures are not identical, but those in most common use are so; among liquid measures the -congius- or -chus-, the -sextarius-, and the -cyathus-, the two last also for dry goods; the Roman -amphora- was equalized in water-weight to the Attic talent, and at the same time stood to the Greek μετρητής in the fixed ratio of 3:2, and to the Greek μέδιμνος of 2:1.

To one who can decipher the significance of such records, these names and numerical proportions fully reveal the activity and importance of the intercourse between the Sicilians and the Latins. The Greek numeral signs were not adopted; but the Roman probably availed himself of the Greek alphabet, when it reached him, to form ciphers for 50 and 1000, perhaps also for 100, out of the signs for the three aspirated letters which he had no use for. In Etruria the sign for 100 at least appears to have been obtained in a similar way. Afterwards, as usually happens, the systems of notation among the two neighbouring nations became assimilated by the adoption in substance of the Roman system in Etruria.

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