1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Litter

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LITTER (through O. Fr. litere or litiere, mod. litière from Med. Lat. lectaria, classical lectica, lectus, bed, couch), a word used of a portable couch, shut in by curtains and borne on poles by bearers, and of a bed of straw or other suitable substance for animals; hence applied to the number of young produced by an animal at one birth, and also to any disordered heap of waste material, rubbish, &c. In ancient Greece, prior to the influence of Asiatic luxury after the Macedonian conquest, the litter (φορεῖον) was only used by invalids or by women. The Romans, when the lectica was introduced, probably about the latter half of the 2nd century B.C. (Gellius x. 3), used it only for travelling purposes. Like the Greek or Asiatic litter, it had a roof of skin (pellis) and side curtains (vela, plagae). Juvenal (iv. 20) speaks of transparent sides (latis specularibus). The slaves who bore the litter on their shoulders (succollare) were termed lecticarii, and it was a sign of luxury and wealth to employ six or even eight bearers. Under the Empire the litter began to be used in the streets of Rome, and its use was restricted and granted as a privilege (Suet. Claudius). The travelling lectica must be distinguished from the much earlier lectica funebris or feretrum, the funeral bier on which the dead were carried to their burial-place.