For the headword in another sense see
mu 1065.
A
milion is an ancient Roman mile, which consists of 5000 Attic-Roman feet. Since a Roman foot is equal to 296mm or 11.65 inches, a Roman mile is equal to 0.92 modern statute miles.
This entry illustrates the difficulty in understanding ancient measurements of distance. Although the entry’s second and third sentences both use stadion (
sigma 981) as a subdivision of a 'milion', the number of stadia per milion is inconsistent: in the second sentence there are 8 stadia to the milion, while in the third sentence there are only 7 stadia to the milion. This incongruity, however, is not the result of authorial or textual error but rather an artifact of the existence of at least 6 distinct systems of measuring distance in antiquity, each of which employed similar terminology to represent different absolute distances. As the Suda author indicates with his 'alternatively', he is listing two possible definitions for a milion, the first based on the
Italian Stadion and the second on the
Phoenician-Egyptian Stadion. The Suda entry for stadion (
sigma 981) refers to yet a third possibility: 7.5
Babylonian-Persian Stadia per milion. See web address 1 for a comparison of the different systems of ancient feet and stadia and their conversion into modern measurements.
Most systems of measurement in antiquity employed two basic units to denote distance: the pous/pes (foot) and the stadion (stade). Generally speaking a stadion was the length of one drought of a plow, which was understood to be 600 feet. Unfortunately, the absolute value of a foot was different in each of the 6 major systems of measurement in antiquity. Moreover, even within an individual system the terms were often used without precision. For example in
Thucydides, an ancient historian who appears concerned with topographical accuracy, the length of a stadion varies between 130 and 290 meters. Unsurprisingly ancient systems of measurement also had regional variations and evolved through time. The best treatment of this complicated topic is Lehmann-Haupt’s article in German for RE (Real-Encyclopädie d. klassichen Altertumswissenschaft).
[1] Likewise, according to Adler, in the
Ambrosian Lexicon (787), and also in ps.-
Zonaras 1362; cf.
Hesychius mu1351.
[2] This ratio is based on the
Italian Stadion, which contains 625 Roman or 606.94 modern feet. 80 stadia would be the equivalent of 48,555.2 modern feet or 9.2 statute miles. The feet in this system were called
Lesser Ptolemaic Feet. 4,800 such feet would be the equivalent of 4,855.5 modern feet or 0.92 statute miles.
[3] This ratio is based on the
Phoenician-Egyptian or
1/7th Mile Stadion, which equals 714.29 Roman or 693.64 modern feet. The feet in this system were called
Phoenician-Egyptian Greater Ptolemaic Feet. 4,200 such feet would be the equivalent of 4,855.5 modern feet or 0.92 statute miles.
No. of records found: 1
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