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carcer, ĕris, m. [Sicilian κάρκαρον; cf. O. Müll. Etrusk. 1, p. 13; etym. dub.; cf. scrinium], an enclosed place; hence,

I. A prison, jail (syn.: custodia, vincula): si tresviri me in carcerem conpegerint, Plaut. Am. 1, 1, 3; id. Poen. 3, 3, 79; Lucr. 3, 1016; Cic. Verr. 2, 5, 9, 22 sq.; Liv. 6, 36, 112 al.: carcer, quem vindicem scelerum majores nostri esse voluerunt, Cic. Cat. 2, 12, 27.

A. Poet., of the custody of the winds, Verg. A. 1, 54; Ov. M. 4, 663; 14, 224; id. F. 2, 456; and of the lower world: carcer inferorum, Sen. Herc. Fur. 1222: Ditis, Luc. 6, 797.—Trop., of the chains of the body: qui ex corporum vinculis tamquam e carcere evolaverunt, Cic. Rep. 6, 14, 14; so id. Tusc. 1, 30, 74; Luc. 6, 721.—

B. Esp., the Roman State-prison, close to the Forum, at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, on the right of the Sacra Via, built by Ancus Marcius, Liv. 1, 33, 8; extended under ground by Servius Tullius; hence this part of the prison is called Tullianum. Varr. L. L. 5, 151, p. 42 Bip.; Cic. Sull. 25, 70; Sall. C. 55, 3; Liv. 1, 33, 8; Tac. A. 3, 51 al.; cf.: in inferiorem demissus carcerem, Liv. 34, 44, 8: in carcerem conditi, id. 29, 22, 7; cf. also Fest. p. 356 Müll., and Becker. Antiq. 1, 262 sq.; v. also Tullianum and robur, II. A.—

C. Meton.

a. The imprisoned criminals: in me carcerem effudistis, Cic. Pis. 7, 16.—

b. As a term of reproach ( = carcerarius), jail-bird, scapegallows: carcer vix carcere dignus, Lucil. ap. Don. Ter. Phorm. 2, 3, 26; Ter. Phorm. l. l.—

II. The barrier or starting-place in the race-course (opp. meta or calx; v. h. vv.); usu. in plur., carceres, Varr. L. L. 5, 153 Müll.; Lucr. 2, 264; 4, 990; Cic. Brut. 47, 173; Verg. G. 1, 512; Hor. S. 1, 1, 114 al. —In sing. (mostly poet.), Enn. Ann. ap. Cic. Div. 1, 48, 107 (v. 88 Vahl.); Tib. 1, 4, 32 (imitated by Ov. H. 18, 166); Auct. Her. 4, 3, 4; Verg. G. 3, 104; id. A. 5, 145 Serv.; Ov. M. 10, 652; id. Tr. 5, 9, 29; 5, 12, 26; Suet. Caes. 21; Stat. Th. 6, 522.—

B. Trop., the commencement, beginning, of a course of action or of a condition: a quibus carceribus decurrat ad metas, Varr. R. R. 1, 3; so id. ib. 2, 7, 1: ad carceres a calce revocari, i.e. to begin life anew, Cic. Sen. 23, 83; cf.: cum aequalibus, quibus cum tamquam e carceribus emissus sis, id. Lael. 27, 101.