phormos [Greek, φορμός]

In Athens, 3rd century bce, a unit of dry capacity, used at least for almonds, coriander, barley, bitter vetch, wheat, figs and lentils.¹ Size unknown but perhaps the same size as the medimnos (i.e., about 52 liters).

1. W. Kendrick Pritchett and Anne Pippin.
The Attic Stelai: Part II.
Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, vol. 25, no. 3 (July - September, 1956).
Page 192.

examples

Άπόκριναι δή μοι, εἰ ὁμολογεῖς πλείω σῖτον συμπρίασθαι πεντήκοντα φορμῶν, ὧν ὁ νόμος ἐξεῖναι κελεύει.

Lysias, Against the Grain Dealers, XXII, 5.

commentaries

1

The phormos was much the most common dry measure used in our Stelai. Unfortunately, it is a measure about which very little is known. C. D. Adams in his commentary on Lysias has written, “The word means a basket; but as to how much the standard grain basket held we have no knowledge whatever.”¹⁴⁶

146. Lysias, Selected Speeches, New York, 1905, p. 222. Cf. Gernet and Bizos, Lysias, II, Paris, 1926, p. 82.

W. Kendrick Pritchett and Anne Pippin.
The Attic Stelai: Part II.
Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, vol. 25, no. 3 (July - September, 1956).
Page 194.

2

φορμός, from φέρω, generally means a platted basket, in which corn was probably carried. Taylor upon Lysias compares with it the cumeras or cumera of the Romans, of which there were two kinds, a greater and a less; the latter contained 5 or 6 modii, i.e. about an Attic medimnus. See Acron ad. Horat. Serm. i. I, 53. Probably at Athens the phormus was not very different from the medimnus; a medimnus of wheat weighed from about 80 to 90 pounds, and may therefore be fairly taken for a man's load: thus the army of Lucullus, according to Plutarch, was followed by 30,000 Gauls, who carried 30,000 medimni of corn. The explanations of the grammarians afford no information as to the size, but the notion of Petit that φορμòς is the same κόφινος (3/10 of the Attic medimnus) is absurd. See Leg. Att. v. 5, 7.

Augustus Boeckh.
The Public Economy of Athens, to which is added … 2nd ed rev.
A translation by George Cornewall Lewis of Böckh's Staatshaushaltung der Athener.
London: John W. Parker, 1842.
Page 82, footnote 275.

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