sextarius [Latin]


In the Roman Empire, a unit of liquid capacity, approximately 567 milliliters. One-sixth of a congius. link to a table of the larger Roman units of capacity (for larger units); link to a table of the smaller Roman units of capacity (for smaller units)


In the Roman Empire, a unit of dry capacity, approximately 567 milliliters. One-sixteenth of a modius. link to a table of the larger Roman units of capacity

Long after the fall of the Roman EMpire, latin contuned to be used in the Church settings by monks and also of leagl writing. The sextarius is found in these documents,from these times, In legal writing in medieval England, which was in Latin of the day,while At the same time often had synonyms in the local language, derived from the sextarius, for example, the setier in France and the cester in Anglo-Germanic languages. (For an extended discussion, please see W. H. Prior on the sextarius.) Below we review only a few of the more-often encointered occurences of the Latin word in Latin post-Roman Empire meanings.


In England, a measure of liquid capacity used for wine = 4 gallons.

cestres, cisterns, systerns





Doleum vini lij sextaria vini puri debet continere et quodlibet sextarium quatuor ialones.

A tun of wine should contain 52 sesters of pure wine, and every sester 4 gallons.

Fleta (1290), Book II, Chapter 12. The translation is by Richardson and Sayles, editors of the Selden Society edition. Note that they translate sextarius as sester.


In England, a measure of liquid capacity used for ale, = 12 gallons.


In England, a unit of mass, about 2 pounds. Used with honey, apothecaries

Guilhermioz p 431 note


16. Of purging the head.

In case a mans head hath beatings in it, and for all the cleansing of the head, and for every ill, it is needful that a man should first cleanse his head :— that is to say, two sextarii of soap, and two of honey, and three sextarii of vinegar, and the sextarius shall weigh two pound, by silver weight; and take white frankincense and mustard and ginger, of each of these twelve pennyweight, and take of rue a hand full, and of origanum a hand full, and an empty pine nut, and put all this into a new pot, and then…

peri diddxeon

Of Schools of Medicine (MS. Harl. 6258. fol. 86 b.)
Oswald Cockayne.
Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England…. vol. 3.
Published by the authority of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, under the direction of the Master of the Rolls.
London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1866.
Page 93.

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