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ὑπόνομος, ὑπόρυγμα). A mine or subterranean passage, so called from its resemblance to the burrowing of a rabbit.

The word is applied to natural passages underground; to sulphur mines; to the flues of furnaces; to sewers; and to the underground channels of aqueducts. But it is most commonly used as a military technical term, denoting either the “mines” of besiegers or the “countermines” of defenders. The earliest military writer, Aeneas Tacticus, gives full details as to the art of mining, including that of countermines; and most of the later writers have copied or abridged his account. Among the curious particulars given by him are the introduction of wasps, bees, and smoke into the mine, and the sounding for mines by laying the ear to the ground with a bronze shield between ( Poliorc. 37). Another remarkable stratagem in countermining is described by Livy (xxxviii. 7) at the siege of Ambracia by the Romans, when the Ambraciots introduced into the besiegers' mine a “stink-pot” of burning feathers.

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 7
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