On this principle the stones in the abacus, as delineated in the figure, would be equivalent to 359,310.
It is evident that the same method might be employed in adding, subtracting, or multiplying weights and measures, and sums of money. Thus the stones, as arranged in the figure, might stand for 3 stadia, 5 plethra, 9 fathoms, 3 cubits, and 1 foot.
That the spaces of the abacus actually denoted different values may be inferred from the following comparison in Polybius (v. 26):—"All men are subject to be elevated and again depressed by the most fleeting events; but this is particularly the case with those who frequent the palaces of kings. They are like the stones upon abaci ((Greek characters)), which according to the pleasure of the calculator (ψηφίζοντος) are at one time of the value of a small copper coin (χαλκου̑ν), and immediately afterwards are worth a talent of gold (τάλαντον). Thus courtiers at the monarch's nod may suddenly become either happy or miserable."
VII. By another variation the Abacus was adapted for playing with dice or counters. The Greeks had a tradition ascribing this contrivance to Palamedes, hence they called it :the abacus of Palamedes." ((Greek characters). Eustath. in Od. i. 107. p. 1396.) It probably bore a considerable resemblance to the modern back-gammon board, dice ((Greek characters)) being thrown for the moves, and the "men" ((Greek characters)) placed according to the numbers thrown on the successive lines or spaces of the board.
VIII. The term Abacus was also applied to a kind of cupboard, sideboard, or cabinet, the exact form of which can only be inferred from the incidental mention of it by ancient writers. It appears that it had partitions for holding cups and all kinds of valuable and ornamental utensils:—
Argenti nigri pocula defodiam."
Sidonius Appolin. Car. xvii. 7, 8.
This passage must evidently have referred to a piece of furniture with numerous cells and of a complicated construction. If we suppost it to have been a square frame with shelves or partitions, in some degree corresponding to the divisions which have been described under the last two heads, we shall see that the term might easily be transferred from all its other applications to the sense now under consideration.
We are informed that luxuries of this description were first introduced at Rome from Asia Minor after the victories of Cn. Manlius Vulso, a. u. c. 567. (Liv. xxxix. 6; Plin. xxxix. 8.)
In the above passage of Sidonius, the principal use of the abacus now described, is indicated by the word argenti, referring to the vessels of silver which it contained, and being probably designed, like our word "plate," to include similar articles made of gold and other precious substances. (See Cic. Tusc. v.21; Varro, De Ling. Lat. ix. 33. p. 489, edit. Spengel.)
The term abacus must, however, have been applicable to cupboards of a simple and unadorned appearance. Juvenal says (iii. 187) of the triclinium and drinking-vessels of a poor man:—
"Lectus era Codro Procula minor, urceoli sex Ornamentum abaci, necnon et parvulus infra Cantharus."
The abacus was in fact part of the furniture of a triclinium, and was intended to contain the vessels usually required at meals.
IX. Lastly, a part of the theatre was called (Greek characters), "the abaci." It seems to have been on or near the stage; further than this its position cannot be at present determine. We may, however, infer, that the general idea, characteristic of abaci in every other sense, viz. that of a square tablet, was applicable in this case also.
[ J. Y. ]
ABDICA'TIO. [ Magistratus; ΆΠΟΚΗ'ΡΥΞΙΣ. ]
ABLEC'TI [ Extraordinarii. ]
ABLEG'MINA (ἀπολϵγμοὶ) were the parts of the victim which were offered to the gods in sacrifice. The word is derived from ablegere, in imitation of the Greek ἀπολϵ´γϵιν, which is used in a similar manner. These parts were also called Porriciae, Prosegmina, Prosecta. [ Sacrifices. ]
ABOL'LA, a wollen cloak or pall, is probably only a varied form of pallium (φα̑ρος), with which this word is nearly, if not altogether identical in signification. The form and manner of wearing the abolla may be seen in the figures annexed, which are taken from the bas-reliefs on the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus at Rome
The word was in use before the Augustan age; for it occurs in a passage cited by Nonius Marcellus from one of the satires of Varro. Nonius Marcellus quotes the passage to show that this garment was worn by soldiers (vestis militaris),