previous next


βακτηρία, ῥάβδος, σκῆπτρον, σκυτάλη). In Greece the practice of carrying a stick was as common as with us, as is seen by the testimony of Greek vases and sculptures, which show us walking-sticks of all forms and patterns. The Athenian dandies of the time of Aristophanes affected the straight cane with an ornamented head (Περσικὴ βακτηρία), while old men and rustics carried large canes with a crook (καμπύλη). In the ruder states of Greece, such as Sicyon and Sparta, huge clublike canes (σκυτάλαι) were common; and these at

Agamemnon with Staff. (From a Greek Vase.)

one time were the rage at Athens (Aristoph. Av. 1283).

It appears that the kings of Sparta carried a truncheon (βακτηρία) as the ensign of their authority. On the occasion of one of them lifting it up in a threatening attitude, Themistocles returned the celebrated answer, “Strike, but hear.” In reference to this custom, the truncheon (baculus) was carried in the hand by actors on the Roman stage. The dicasts at Athens received, at the time of their appointment, a βακτηρία and συμβόλον as a mark of their authority.

At Rome walking-sticks were unknown, except in the hands of the aged or infirm; but the staff was used upon the stage by actors who personated kings and princes (Suet. Nero, 24). See Caduceus; Sceptrum; Scytalé.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: