In classical antiquity, the cotyla or cotyle (Gr κοτύλη) was a measure of capacity among the Romans and Greeks: by the former it was also called hemina; by the latter, τρυβλίον and ἡμίνα or ἡμίμνα. It was the half of the sextarius or ξέστης, and contained six cyathi, or nearly half a pint English.
This measure was used by physicians with a graduated scale marked on it, like our own chemical measures, for measuring out given weights of fluids, especially oil. A vessel of horn, of a cubic or cylindrical shape, and of the capacity of a cotyla, was divided into twelve equal parts by lines cut on its side. The whole vessel was called litra, and each of the parts an ounce (uncia). This measure held nine ounces (by weight) of oil, so that the ratio of the weight of the oil to the number of ounces it occupied in the measure would be 9:12 or 3:4.
Nicolas Chorier (1612-1692) observes that the cotyla was used as a dry measure as well as a liquid one, from the authority of Thucydides, who in one place mentions two cotylae of wine, and in another two cotylae of bread.
- From the Carmen de ponderibus et mensuris we have the following:
- "At cotylas, quas si placeat dixisse licebit
- Eminas, recipit geminas sextarius unus"
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. London: John Murray.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
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