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mēta, ae, f. [root ma-, measure, whence Gr. μέτρον; Lat. manus, mane, etc. (q. v.), properly, that which marks a measured space, hence], any mark at a boundary or limit, esp.,

I. The conical columns set in the ground at each end of the Roman Circus, the goal, turning-post: metaque fervidis Evitata rotis, Hor. C. 1, 1, 5: aut prius infecto deposcit praemia cursu Septima quam metam triverit ante rota, Prop. 3, 20, 25; cf.: et modo lora dabo, modo verbere terga notabo, Nunc stringam metas interiore rotā, Ov. Am. 3, 2, 11; Suet. Caes. 39: petra in metae maxime modum erecta est, cujus ima spatiosiora sunt, altiora in artius coëunt, summa in acutum cacumen exsurgunt, i. e. in the shape of a cone, Curt. 8, 39, 6; cf. III. 3. infra).—

II. Any goal or winning-post, the mark, goal, in any contest of speed: optatam cursu contingere metam, of a footrace, Hor. A. P. 412: metam tenere, in a boatrace, Verg. A. 5, 159.—

2. Trop. (because of the danger to drivers of striking the goal, and breaking their oars), a critical point, place of danger: fama adulescentis paulum haesit ad metas, notitiā novā mulieris, broke down, failed, at the critical point, Cic. Cael. 31.—

III. Transf., an end, period, extremity, boundary, limit: longarum haec meta viarum, Verg. A. 3, 714: ad metas aevi pervenire, id. ib. 10, 472: metam tangere vitae, Ov. Tr. 1, 9, 1: ad metam properare, id. A. A. 2, 727: ultima, id. Am. 3, 15, 2: hic tibi mortis erant metae, Verg. A. 12, 546: ad quas metas naturae sit perveniendum usu, i. e. extremes, Varr. L. L. 8, 16, 31: quando illa (luna) incurrat in umbram terrae, quae est meta noctis, eam obscurari necesse est, the limit, measure of night, Cic. Div. 2, 6, 17 (but v. 3. below, fin. and the passage there cited from Pliny): sol ex aequo metā distabat utrāque, equally far from both ends of his course, i. e. at noon, Ov. M. 3, 145: intercalariis mensibus interponendis ita dispensavit (Numa), ut vices uno anno ad metam eandem solis unde orsi essent ... dies congruerent, Liv. 1, 19, 6 Weissenb. ad loc.: metae Marsicae, = fines Marsorum, Mart. Cap. 4, 331 Kapp: pares horarum metas, tam antemeridialium quam postremarum, manifestant, id. 6, 600.—

2. A turning-point in one's course: praestat Trinacrii metas lustrare Pachyni, to sail around the promontory of Pachynus, Verg. A. 3, 429.—

3. Of any thing resembling in shape the meta of the Circus; any thing of a conical or pyramidal form, a cone, pyramid (class.); of a conical hill: ipse collis est in modum metae, in acutum cacumen a fundo satis lato fastigatus, Liv. 37, 27: buxus in metas emittitur, into cones, Plin. 16, 16, 28, 70: in metas foenum exstruere, in ricks, haycocks, Col. 2, 18, 2: lactantes, conical cheeses, Mart. 1, 44, 7: lactis, id. 3, 58, 35: meta sudans, a conical stone on a fountain, dripping with water, Sen. Ep. 56, 4: meta molendaria, or molendinaria, that part of the upper millstone which projects downward and grinds the corn (the upper part is the catillus, q. v.); = Gr. ὄνος ἀλέτης, Dig. 33, 7, 18, 5: metas molendinarias rotare, Amm. 17, 4, 15: si minor materia quam lux, metae existere effigiem, i. e. if the solid body be smaller than the light, its shadow will be conical, Plin. 2, 11, 8, 51 (cf. the context).