previous next


BU´CINA (βυκάνη), a kind of horn-trumpet, originally made out of a shell, in which case it is often, especially in poetry, denoted by concha, Gk. κόχλος (Eur. I. T. 303; Theocr. 22.75; Mosch. 2.120; Verg. A. 6.171, 10.209; Ovid. Metam. 1.335), and was made not only from the bucinum, but from many other kinds of spiral shells. It is thus happily described by Ovid (l.c.) :-- “ Cava bucina sumitur illi
Tortilis, in latum quae turbine crescit ab imo,
Bucina, quae medio concepit ubi aëra ponto,
Litora voce replet sub utroque jacentia Phoebo.

The bucina, as seen in art, agrees closely with this description and also with the shape of the shell bucinum, and, like it, might almost be described from the above lines (in the language of conchologists) as spiral and gibbous. The two drawings in the annexed woodcut agree with this account. In the first, taken from a

Bucina, Trumpet. (From ancient frieze and sculpture.)

frieze (Burney's History of Music, vol. i. pl. 6), the bucina is curved for the convenience of the [p. 1.318]performer, with a very wide mouth, to diffuse and increase the sound. In the next, a copy of an ancient sculpture taken from Blanchini's work (De Musicis Instrum. Veterum, p. 15, pl. 2, 18), it still retains the original form of the shell.

Vegetius thus distinguishes the bucina and the cornu: “Bucina quae in semet aereo circulo flectitur; cornu quod ex uris agrestibus, argento nexum, temperatum arte spirituque canentis flatus emittit auditum.” This distinction was not always observed (Verg. A. 7.513 and 519), but the words may be taken as a definition of the later perfected musical instrument, carved from horn, or perhaps from wood or metal, to imitate a shell more or less closely. It is often given to Tritons (Macrob. 1.8) and wind-gods, and was employed by sailors, as in the accompanying woodcut from a terra-cotta lamp, representing a ship coming into port: the sailors are furling

Bucina. (From a terra-cotta lamp.)

the sails, while the master announces their arrival by sounding a bucina. It was also used by ox-herds and swine-herds to gather their herds together (Varro, R. R. 3.131; Col. 6.23, 3) and for many purposes in rural life (Theocr. 9.27, 22.75; Prop. 5.10, 29 ; Verg. A. 7.519; Cic. Ver. 2.4, 96), especially to summon aid on a sudden alarm; to assemble the citizens to the comitia in early times (Prop. 5.1, 13; Curt. 3.3, 8, although Varro, L. L. 5.91, says that the cornu or lituus was used for this purpose). In Greek art the bucina sometimes serves to distinguish barbarians from the Greeks, who are furnished with the σάλπιγξ (De Luynes, Vases peints, pl. 1; Gerhard, Apul. Vasen, pl. ii.). It was also employed in the Roman army, especially to mark the vigiliae or night-watches (Liv. 7.35, 26.15; Prop. 5.4, 63; Tac. Ann. 15.30; Plb. 6.36, 5; Front. Strat. 1.5, 17), or to summon or give orders to the soldiers (Tac. l.c.; Veget. 2.22, 3.5; Plb. 14.3). By the bucina was given to the soldiers the signal or class of signals peculiarly called classicum (Veget. 2.22; Modest. 16). [CLASSICUM] The performer on the bucina was called bucinator.

[B.J] [J.H.F]

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