Apluster (Aplustrum)


Apluster (alternate spelling aplustre, Latin: Aplustrum), an ornamental appendage of wood at the ship's stern, usually spreading like a fan and curved like a bird's feather. The apluster is used on ancient coins to symbolize maritime power.

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APLUSTRUM, or Aplustre, the ornament of the poop, or stern, of vessels, amongst the Romans, thus differing from the acrostolium (see the word, p. 5), which decorated the prow. It was composed of curved planks curiously carved, and painted with various colours. Probably some of the decorations of the aplustrum served the purpose of a vane, on board ships of the ancients.

[From references, made by numismatic writers in general, it would appear to be one of the conventionalities of the science, to apply the term acrostolium to that object or symbol, which, whether seen in the hand of Neptune, or at the stern of a galley, seems, from its peculiar form and position, designed rather to represent the Aplustrum. For examples of this species of naval adornment, as agreeing with the descriptions given by ancient authors, the reader's attention may be directed to coins of the Fonteia and Cassia families - to the Nep. Red. of Vespasian, and to the Praetorian trireme (Felicitate Aug.) of Hadrian, etc.   But a monetal specimen, on the larger scale, is to be found on a brass medallion of Agrippa, given by Vaillant (Praest. Num. Impp. Rom. iii. 104), who, having in his work on the Colonies, defined acrostolium to be "Navis Rostrum" (the beak of a ship), here designates the wing-like figure, on the reverse of the coin in question, not as acrostolium, but as "Navis Aplustrum." - See MUNICIPI. PARENS.]

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