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Pilum


1.

ὑσσός). The javelin of the Roman legionaries (about six feet long), which was hurled

Pilum. (Mainz Museum.)

at the enemy's ranks at the beginning of the engagement, before proceeding to the use of the sword. It consisted of a wooden shaft three feet long, easily grasped in the hand, and an iron head of the same length, culminating in a barbed point, and provided with a socket to which the shaft was attached by iron rivets. Marius had the heads constructed of soft, weak iron, the point only being steeled. In this way, if the point stuck in the shield of an enemy, the iron was bent by the weight of the shaft, rendering the weapon useless and difficult to draw out, while it made the shield unmanageable so long as it remained in it (Plut. Mar. 25). When well thrown, the pilum would penetrate both shield and armour.


2.

κόπανον). A large instrument for braying substances in a mortar (pila). It was held in both hands, and was much heavier as well as longer than the pistillum. See Pīla.

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