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COTTABUS (Gr. Kb-rra(3os)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 252 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COTTABUS (Gr. Kb-rra(3os), a game of skill for a long time in great vogue at ancient Greek drinking parties, especially in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. It is frequently alluded to by the classical writers of the period, and not seldom depicted on ancient vases. The object of the player was to cast a portion of wine left in his drinking cup in such a way that, without breaking bulk in its passage through the air, it should reach a certain object set up as a mark, and there produce a distinct noise by its impact. Both the wine thrown and the noise made were called Xarah. The thrower, in the ordinary form of the game, was expected to retain the recumbent position that was usual at table, and, in flinging the cottabus, to make use of his right hand only. To succeed in the aim no small amount of dexterity was required, and unusual ability in the game was rated as high as corresponding excellence in throwing the javelin. Not only was the cottabus the ordinary accompaniment of the festal assembly, but at least in Sicily a special building of a circular form was sometimes erected so that the players might be easily arranged round the basin, and follow each other in rapid succession. Like all games in which the element of chance found a place, it was regarded as more or less ominous of the future success of the players, especially in matters of love; and the excitement was sometimes further augmented by some object of value being staked on the event. Various modifications of the original principle of the game were gradually introduced, but for practical purposes we may reckon two varieties. (I) In the Kbrra(3os St 6 v(3b4 wv shallow saucers (6 i)3a4a) were floated in a basin or mixing-bowl filled with water; the object was to sink the saucers by throwing the wine into them, and the competitor who sank the greatest number was considered victorious, and received the prize, which consisted of cakes or sweetmeats. (2) Kbrra(3os Karaerbs,1 is not so easy to under-stand, although there is little doubt as to the apparatus. This consisted of a p&(3Sos or bronze rod; a 7rX&vriyE, a small disk or basin, resembling a scale-pan; a larger disk (XeKavis); and (in- 1 The epithet Kceraeros (let down) may refer to the rod, which might be raised or lowered as required ; to the lower disk, which might be moved up and down the stem; to the moving up and down of the scales, in the supposed variety of the game mentioned below.
End of Article: COTTABUS (Gr. Kb-rra(3os)
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GAIUS AURELIUS COTTA (c. 124—73 B.c.)
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