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CANON (κανών), derived probably from κάννα, “a reed,” meant a straight rod; hence the following special applications.
    1. In the Homeric shield (the ancilia, too, had them: see Dion. H. 2.71, 387 R), bars to which the τελαμὼν or shoulder-belt was attached (Hesych. sub voce), generally of wood, but in Nestor's shield of gold (Hom. Il. 8.192; Buchholz, Hom. Real. 2.1, 363); or two parallel bars used as handles, through one of which the warrior placed his arm while he grasped the other. This was prior to the invention of regular handles (ὔχανα) by the Carians (Hdt. 1.171; Ebeling, s.v. where see Scholiasts). Others again suppose the κανόνες to be a framework of the shield, over which the leather was placed. But this would be superfluous in the golden shield of Nestor (Seiler, Hom. W., s. v.).
    2. In Hom. Il. 23.761, by some supposed to be the shuttle to which the threads of the woof (πηνίον) were attached, and by which they were drawn through and out of the warp (μίτος). This was the ordinary view, and it is still held by Buchholz (Hom. Real. 2.1, 186). But the Scholiast says, κανών: ς῾ κάλαμος περὶ ὃν εἱλεῖται μίτος ἱστουργικός. Rightly; for with Blümner (Technologie, 1.130) and Marquardt (Privatleben, 506 ff.) we should consider the κανὼν to be the straight round rod to which the alternate threads of the warp were attached by means of strings, which strings had loops at either end, one loop fastening the string to the κανών, the other fastening it to the warp. Of course, in weaving there must be two κανόνες. This arrangement of strings and loops was called μίτος by the Greeks, licia by the Romans. The κανὼν was originally made of reed, and we find arundo in this sense in Ov. Met. 6.55 Now, if we bear in mind that πηνίον is not the woof, but the spool or shuttle to which the [p. 1.355]threads of the woof were attached, we shall find the Homeric simile quite explicable and apposite.
    3. A carpenter's rule, very like our own, to judge from the representation of it we find on carpenters' tombs, which show that it was graduated. [See REGULA] It differed from στάθμη, amussis (cf. Vitr. 7.3, 5), in that the latter was a flexible string, the former generally a rigid ruler (Arist. Rhet. 1.1, 5), though sometimes it was made of lead and could be bent, μολύβδινος κανών (Arist. Eth. N. 5.10, 7). The carpenter used to correct errors in the κανὼν by the aid of his eye and the στάθμη (Soph. Frag. 421). Both the στάθμη (Schol. on Hom. Il. 15.410) and the κανὼν (Anth. P. 6.205, 4; cf. Eur. H. F. 945) were rubbed over with some coloured substance, generally vermilion (μίλτος, rubrica). Κανὼν is also used as a ruler for drawing straight lines with pen and ink (Anth. Pal. 6.63, 2; 64, 4).
    4. In descriptions of machinery κανὼν is used just as indefinitely as we use “rod:” e. g. in the account of the organ made by Ctesibius, given in Heron's Pneumatika, we find κανὼν used at one time for a piston rod, next for the beam of a lever, again for the fulcrum upon which the lever works, and also the rods which connect the keys and the pipes or perhaps the rods of the stops. (See Chappell, Hist. of Music, 1.343, 376, and his elucidation of the puzzling passage κανόνας συμφραδμόνας αὐλῶν in the Emperor Julian's riddling epigram, Anth. P. 9.365, 7.) Κανὼν is used just as indefinitely in the description of the military engines in Heron: e.g. Belop. 124, 125; and also regula in Lat. (Vitr. 10.15, 17).
  • 5. The beam (not tongue) of a balance (Anth. Pal. 11.334: ἔστησ᾽ ἀμφοτέρων τὸν τρόπον ἐκ κανόνος). It is generally called ζυγόν.
  • 6. Horizontal curtain-poles, gilt and silvered, in the description given by Chares ap. Ath. 538d, of the marriage tent which Alexander got made.

In the figurative sense κανὼν came to be used for anything which served as a model or rule: e. g. in Athletics, Pollux 3.152 tells us that the average or normal jump (τὸ μέτρον τοῦ πηδήματος) was called κανών, or what was normal. In Ethics, for the rule of right, the Ethical Standard (Eur. Hec. 602: cf. Arist. Eth. Nic. 2.3, 8, κανονίζομεν τὰς πράξεις ἡδονῇ καὶ λυπῇ), or the measure of attainment assigned or permitted to an individual. (St. Paul, 2 Cor. 10.13-16: cf. Hor. Ep. 1.7, 98, “Metiri se quemque suo modulo ac pede verum est.” ) In Grammar, for the rules of that science; see Theodorus of Alexandria, ap. Bekker, Anecdota Graeca, 975-1065, and esp. 1180: κανών ἐστι λόγος ἔντεχνος ἀπευθύνων ὁμοιότητα πρὸς τὸ καθόλου τὸ διεστραμμένον τῆς λέξεως, τουτέστι λόγος μετὰ τέχνης διὰ τῶν ὁμοίων ἐπ᾽ εὐθείας ἄγων ἐλέγχων πρὸς τὰ πλείονα τὸ διεστραμμένον καὶ ἡμαρτημένον τῆς λέξεως: τὰ γὰρ πλείονα τῶν ἐλαττόνων κανόνες. Cf. Etym. M. p. 489, 29 (Gaisf.). Also cf. Auson. Epigr. 136 fin. As regards style in Literature, very few rules can be laid down. The opinion of the “wise man,” the (φρόνιμος, in style, as in each branch of art, is the only criterion of good and bad. In this respect Cicero calls Tiro (Fam. 16.17, 1) the κανὼν of his writings. Hence of first-class authors as the standard or model in various respects: e. g. Dion. H. vol. 6.775 (Reiske), Ἡρόδοτός τε γὰρ τῆς Ἰάδος ἄριστος κανών, Θουκυδίδης δὲ τῆς Ἀτθίδος: 813, Thucydides is κανόνα τῆς ἱστορικῆς πραγματείας: cf. 1083. In reference to Music, Euclid has a treatise called κανόνος κατατομή: the 19th theorem of which, the main point at which he is arriving, is τὸν κανόνα καταγράψαι κατὰ τὸ καλούμενον ἀμετάβολον σύστημα. Here the κανὼν is the string which is regarded as the unit. Euclid takes for this the note external to the tetrachords, the προσλαμβανόμενος (on the meaning of this term see F. A. Gevaert, Histoire, &c. de la Musique, Gand, 1875, p. 90, note 2),--A natural. He determines the length of the strings requisite to produce the other notes of the Diatonic scale as fractions of this. Κανὼν was also applied to the table thence derived, which expressed the relations of the intervals of sounds. (See Saglio, Dict. s. v., and Lunn in Smith's Dict. of Christian Antiquities, s. v.) Ptolemy advised his pupils to discover the intervals by measurement, and recommended the κανὼν ἁρμονικός, consisting of a rule and movable bridges to be placed under the strings; and, the legends notwithstanding, in all probability Pythagoras obtained the measurement of the intervals in the same manner (Chappell, Hist. of Music, 1.8, 73, 74). Lastly, we may mention that the wind-chest of Ctesibius's hydraulic organ was called “the regulator of the music” (κανὼν μουσικός, Vitr. 10.8). In Philosophy, that branch of Logic which dealt with the tests of truth was called by the Epicureans τὸ κανονικόν. (See Zeller, Stoics, &c. Eng. trans. pp. 400-1.) Epicurus wrote a book called περὶ κριτηρίου κανών (Diog. 50.10.27). In Sculpture, the rules of the proportions of the human figure were first definitely laid down by the sculptor Polycletus of Sicyon, who flourished 452-412. To exemplify these rules he made a statue of a Persian δορυφόρος (Cic. Brut. 296), which is now lost. Both the rules and the statue were called κανών (Galen, iv. pp. 354-5, Kühn). The rules, too, are lost to us: for the measurements and method given by Vitruvius, 3.1, are in error. (See G. Schadow, Polyclet., Eng. trans., London, 1883; and A. Blanc, Grammaire des Arts du Dessin, pp. 40-47, Paris, 1867.) The head is a bad unit of measurement; it does not vary with the growth of the body: the hand does so vary; accordingly it is the right unit to adopt, and it was adopted by Polycletus, theoretically (Galen, vol. 5.449, ed. Kühn) and practically (Plin. Nat. 34. § § 55, 56, compared with 65), as well as by the Egyptians (Blanc, l.c. 44-46). For elaborate accounts of the science of artistic proportion and its history, with numerous illustrations, see Schadow, l.c.; and J. Bonomi, The Proportions of the Human Figure (London, 1872).

Rules often take the form of tables or lists, and so we find κανὼν sometimes in this sense. But the older writers did not use it as such; and the Alexandrine grammarians no more used the word κανὼν for a catalogue of classic writers than they made any such catalogue. This idol of the tribe has been exhibited in its worthlessness by G. Steffen, De Canone qui dicitur Aristophanis et Aristarchi (Leipzig, 1876). But in Astronomy we have κανόνες πρόχειροι of Ptolemy (vol. vi. ed. Halma), “handy tables,” giving the mean motions of each of the planets and the [p. 1.356]differences of their observed positions therefrom, so that their actual (i. e. from Ptolemy's point of view, geocentric) position could be discovered for any date, and conversely the date be found given their position. These were helps to chronologists. And specially in Chronology there was a table of kings (κανὼν βασιλικός) made out by Hipparchus and Ptolemy (vol. iii. ed. Halma, init.), with the length of their reigns in whole years. Ptolemy took the first year of Nabonassar, king of Babylon, as his era (ἐποχή, “stopping point” ) of the Babylonian kings, the accession of Cyrus the Great of the Persian kings, the accession of Philip Arrhidaeus of the Macedonian kings, and the battle of Actium of the Roman emperors as kings of Egypt. Such chronological tables were in vogue in Plutarch's time, but he will not give up the story of the meeting of Solon and Croesus for any so-called chronological tables (χρονικοῖς τισι λεγομένοις κανόσιν, Sol. 27) of Dion. H. (Ant. Rom. 1.74).

In the fiscal affairs of the later Roman empire canon was used for regular payments of tribute (e. g. Cod. Th. 11.1, 30, 31 et passim throughout the title), especially for the corn supply to the capital (canon P. R., Spart. Sev. 8; canon frumenti urbis Romae or urbicarius, Cod. Th. 14.15, 3); also for the ordinary annual income a state derived from its landed property (Cod. Th. 15.1, 32, and Gothofred's note): opposed to extraordinary taxation, tributum superindictum (ib. 6.26, 4; 11.1, 36).

For the multitudinous applications of Canon and its derivatives in the Christian Church,--Canon of the Mass, Canon of Scripture, &c.--the reader is referred to Ducange, to Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, and to Addis and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary.


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