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In Ancient Roman measurement, congius (from Greek konkhion, diminutive of konkhē, konkhos, "shellful"[1]) was a liquid measure, which contained six sextarii, or the eighth-part of the amphora; that is about 3.25 litres (0.86 U.S. gallons). It was equal to the larger chous of the Ancient Greeks.

There is a congius in existence, called the "congius of Vespasian", or the "Farnese congius", bearing an inscription stating it was made in the year 75, according to the standard measure in the capitol, and that it contained, by weight, ten pounds (3.4 kg). This congius is one of the means by which an attempt has been made to fix the weight of the Roman pound (Libra).[2][3]

Cato tells us that he was wont to give each of his slaves a congius of wine at the Saturnalia and Compitalia.[4] Pliny relates, among other examples of hard drinking, that a Novellius Torquatus of Mediolanum obtained a cognomen (Tricongius, a nine-bottle-man) by drinking three congii of wine at once:

It is in the exercise of their drinking powers that the Parthians look for their share of fame, and it was in this that Alcibiades among the Greeks earned his great repute. Among ourselves, too, Novellius Torquatus of Mediolanum, a man who held all the honours of the state from the prefecture to the pro-consulate, could drink off three congii at a single draught, a feat from which he obtained the surname of 'Tricongius': this he did before the eyes of the Emperor Tiberius, and to his extreme surprise and astonishment, a man who in his old age was very morose, and indeed very cruel in general; though in his younger days he himself had been too much addicted to wine.
Pliny the Elder. The Natural History. xiv.22 s28. eds. John Bostock, H.T. Riley. 1855

The congius was also used in England, as appears by a charter of Edmund I in 946.


  1. ^ "Congius". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth edition ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000. Retrieved 2006-06-20.  
  2. ^ Imp. Caes. vi. T. Caes. Aug. F. iiii. Cos. Mensurae exactae in Capitolio, P. x.
  3. ^ Festus, De verborum significatu, s.v. "Publica Pondera"
  4. ^ De Re Rustica, c57




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