previous next

CAPISTRUM

CAPISTRUM (φορβειά, κημός, φιμός) is derived from capic, and means “a halter” for animals, just like our own in shape, made apparently of leather (Marquardt, Privatalt. 718). It was used especially in the manger (Xen. Eq. 5, 1; Calp. Ecl. 1.41): hence φορβειά, derived from (φέρβω. It may be questioned if φορβειὰ was not originally of the nature of a nose-bag, like χειλωτήρ (see Stephanus, Thesaurus), with the provender at the bottom of it. We also find capistra used for leading or guiding animals when quite tame (Ovid. Met. 10.125; Heroid. 2.80; Mart. 1.104, 7); hence the satirical application to the married state in Juv. 6.43. The term φορβειὰ was further applied to the band of leather which flute-players put over their mouths and about their heads, like a halter, to keep them from blowing too hard and so to enable them to get a softer tone and to hold out longer (Soph. Fr. 753; Arist. Vesp. 582). It is also called κημός (Phot.), στομίς (Poll. 10.56): cf. ἐπιστομίζειν, Plut. 2.713 D. The Latin capistrum is not used in this sense. Guhl and Koner say that in representations of theatrical players where the long double clarionet required a great effort of breath, in order to avoid any side-loss of breath, this mouth-band is frequently found; but never on the vase-pictures of female flute-players at banquets, nor ever where a single clarionet is played. The (φορβειὰ sometimes had no second strap going over the head, but simply the one strap tied over the mouth and round the back of the head. On the next page is an illustration taken from Baumeister's Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums (art. Flöten).

This leads on to the meaning of “muzzle,” which also belongs to capistrum, which was used to prevent animals eating or biting (Cato, Cat. Agr. 54; Plin. Nat. 18.177); in Verg. G. 3.399 the capistra for kids have iron spikes to prevent them sucking. In ecclesiastical Latin camus is used for a muzzle; but where that word occurs in Plautus (Cas. 2.6, 37), it rather [p. 1.358]means a log put on the neck of a refractory slave. The Greeks called it κῆμος (Xen. Eq. 5, 3), or more generally (φιμός, which may be regarded as put round (Lucian, Vit. Auct. 22) the neck (Ar. Nub. 592). Often (φιμοῦν is found in the N. T. in the sense of “to put, to silence:” e. g. Matt. 22.34. As might be expected, the capistra appear to have been generally soft,

Capistrum or mouth-band for flute-player. (Baumeister.)

whether halters (Ov. Met. 10.125) or muzzles. These latter appear to have sometimes been of platted osiers (fiscellae, Plin. Nat. 18.177),

Capistrum, bronze horse-muzzle. (British Museum.)

or of perforated leather (Saglio, Dict. 1.897). Sometimes they were of bronze. There are two such in the British Museum, one of which is figured above. Such muzzles, with short pipes (αὐλωτοὶ φιμοί Aesch. Fr. 343) instead of mere perforations, were occasionally used on warhorses, so that their snorting should give a whistling sound (Aesch. Theb. 463), and we need not suppose with Eustath. (on Il. 1157, 39) and Hesych. that bells were attached to them.

In the general sense of “holder” or “supporter” we find capistrum used as a band for fastening up vines (Col. 4.20, 3), and by Cato (Cat. Agr. 12) as a strap for the winepress.

[L.C.P]

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