πολυρράφου … πόρπακος. This must be interpreted by the usage of the poet's day, not by Homeric practice. The “πόρπαξ” may be seen on shields depicted in Greek vase-paintings; an example is reproduced in Smith's Dict. of Antiquities (3rd ed., vol. I. p. 459, art. clipeus). It was a leathern thong, running round the inner edge of the shield, and fixed at intervals of six inches or so by pins or nails, so as to form a succession of loops. The name, “πόρπαξ”, was derived from these pins (“πόρπαι”), which could be taken out, when it was wished to remove the “πόρπαξ” and so to unfit the shield for immediate use. (It is made a charge against Cleon in Ar. Eq. 849 that he had dedicated the shields taken at Pylos “αὐτοῖσι τοῖς πόρπαξιν”.) But a loop at the edge of the shield, such as the “πόρπαξ” offered to the warrior's hand ( Helen. 1376 “ἐμβαλὼν πόρπακι γενναίαν χέρα”), would not suffice to give him control. Hence, in the vasepainting noticed above, we see the “πόρπαξ” combined with another contrivance, viz., a band (of metal, or wood), placed vertically across the inside of the shield, and furnished at the middle with an arrangement of small bars, forming a support for the arm just below the elbow. This band was the “ὄχανον” or “ὀχάνη”.—See Appendix. πολυρράφου (‘much, or well, stitched’) is a general epithet for elaborate leatherwork, and is again illustrated by the vase-painting cited above, where ornamental tassels hang from the pins which divide the loops of the “πόρπαξ”. In Theocr. 25. 265, “πολύρραπτόν τε φαρέτρην”, the epithet probably refers to braiding; quivers were often made of hide or leather. ἑπτάβοιον=epic “ἑπταβόειον”: see n. on 19. The second part of the compound is not “βοῦς”, but “βοεία”, ox-hide ( Il. 12. 296). The shield was the work of “Τυχίος, σκυτοτόμων ὄχ᾽ ἄριστος”,—so essentially was the currier's art that which it chiefly demanded ( Il. 7. 220). Tychios dwelt at “Ὕλη”,—probably the Boeotian ( Il. 2. 500). The number of seven layers of hide was probably exceptional; in Il. 15. 479Teucer has a “σάκος τετραθέλυμνον”, i.e., with four such layers.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.