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SECU´RIS (πέλεκυς, ἀξίνη), an axe. Under this head are included (1) the workman's axe, (2) the battle-axe, (3) sacrificial axe, (4) the axe of the lictors, equivalent to the headsman's axe.

1. The workman's axe, when used for felling trees, is spoken of in general terms as πέλεκυς (Il. 23.114; Xen. Cyrop. 6.2, 36, &c.) and securis (Verg. A. 6.180; Plin. Nat. 16.192, &c.); but of these woodcutters' axes there were two patterns, the single-headed and

Securis simplex. (Trajan's Column.)

Bipennis. (From a vase-painting.)

the double-headed. Of these the former (when the distinction was marked) was called πέλεκυς ἑτερόστομος (Poll. 1.137) or ἡμιπέλεκκον (Il. 23.851), and is perhaps distinguished as the securis simplex (Pallad. 1.43); the double-headed axe was called πέλεκυς ἀμφίστομος or δίστομος (Poll. l.c.; Eur. fr. 534) or ἀξίνη, which is strictly used only of the double axe (Hesych.): in Latin it is the bipennis (Hor. Od. 4.4, 57; Isid. Orig. 19.19). [Blümner, Technol. 2.202.]

The carpenters' or shipwrights' axes are distinguished in Greek as the heavy πέλεκυς for rough-hewing the wood, and the small πέλεκυς for 7.184; 11.696; 12.306), whether he is for afterwards shaping it more finely (Od. 9.391; ASCIA). The following cut of Egyptian shipwrights is worthy of notice, since the form of the πέλεκυς there depicted explains what is meant by “shooting through the axe-heads,” in Od. 20.574. The difficulties which commentators have found under the idea that the arrow

Death of Penthesilea, (Relief on a sarcophagus.)

passed through the rings which fastened the axe to the handle, &c., all disappear, if we see

Egyptian shipwrights, with the axe.

that the πέλεκυς the Odyssey had a ringshaped head. (See Dr. Warre's Raft of Ulysses, in Journ. of Hellen. Studies, 1883.) A somewhat similar axe, but with two circular holes in the blade, was found in 1889 in the Peloponnesus (Ephem. Arch. 1889). [For the Roman carpenter's axe, see ASCIA; DOLABRA.]

2. The use of the axe in war was especially an Asiatic practice. We find the Trojan Peisander (Il. 13.612) armed with a double axe (ἀξίνη), and again in the fight at the ships the combatants fight with double and single battleaxes (πελέκεσσι καὶ ἀξινῃσι): it is possible that there also it is to be understood of the Trojans alone. In agreement with this we find the battle-axe regarded as the characteristic weapon of the Asiatic Amazons, who use both the single and the double (or Carian) axe, as in the scene of Penthesilea's death on the sarcophagus from Thessalonica; and so Horace speaks of the Amazonian battle-axe (Od. 4.4, 20), and Virgil consistently represents the Italian shepherds and Camilla as fighting with this weapon (Aen. 7.184; 11.696; 12.306), whether he is merely following Homer, with Trojans substituted for Greeks and Italians for Asiatics, or is hitting upon the truth that the primitive races both in Italy and in Northern Europe fought with the axe, which was in fact a weapon which they had ready to hand for other purposes. (See A. Müller in Baumeister, Denkm. p. 2043.) Horace notices it specially of the barbarous tribes in Rhaetia, as though it were a weapon not commaon in the Roman experiences of warfare with other Teutonic tribes; and it is remarkable that on the scabbard of the socalled “sword of Tiberius” in the British Museum (figured in Vol. I. p. 920 b), which was discovered at Mayence, we have a relief of an Amazon armed with a bipennis. It would, [p. 2.617]however, be pressing conjectures too far (as A. Müller points out) to say, with Orelli and others, that this figure necessarily symbolises the conquered Vindelicia, and was the sword of honour of Tiberius. We may be content to take it as an additional evidence of the “Amazonian” battle-axe being used among German nations, and regarded as characteristic of them, whereas it had long before been disused in Italy.

3. The sacrificial axe (securis, πέλεκυς) was used by the attendant ministers (popae) for the slaughter of the larger victims. (The distinction, whether always preserved or not, was axe or hammer, malleus, for slaughtering cattle, a stone

Sacrificial axe. (From the Arcus Argentariorum.)

for swine, and a knife for sheep: see Marquardt, Staatsverw. 3.181.) The sacrificial axe figured below is from the relief on the Arcus Argentariorum, and is combined with a vessel which is very likely the PRAEFERICULUM

4. For the axe of the lictors, see LICTOR and FASCES


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