), a spear. The spear is defined by Homer,
“a pole fitted with bronze” (Il.
), and δόρυ χαλκοβάρες,
“a pole heavy with bronze” (Od.
). The bronze, for which iron was afterwards substituted,
was indispensable to form the point (αἰχμή,
acies, cuspis, spiculum,
8.374) of the spear. Each of these two essential parts
is often put for the whole, so that a spear is [p. 1.935]
and δοράτιον, αἰχμή,
Even the more especial term μελία,
meaning an ash-tree, is used in the same manner, because
the pole of the spear was often the stem of a young ash, stripped of its
bark and polished. (Il. 19.390
; Od. 22.259
; Plin. Nat. 16.62
; Ovid. Met.
12.369.) In like manner the spear is designated by the term κάμαξ
; Eur. Hec. 1155
1403; Brunck, Anal.
1.191, 226; Antip.
Sidon. 34), meaning properly the cane or bamboo, which served also for
vine-props and other uses (Hes. Scut.
298). Xenophon says
that the δόρυ καμάκινον,
usual lance of cavalry in his time, was both weak and heavy, and recommends
in its stead two darts of the tough cornel-wood (τὰ
κρανέϊνα δύο παλτά,
de Re Eq.
12.12; cf. Theophrast. H. P.
The butt-end of the spear was furnished with a spiked metal ferule, called by
the Ionic writers σαυρωτήρ
(Hom. Il. 10.153
; also Plb. 6.23
), and οὐρίαχος
), and in Attic
or common Greek στύραξ
(Xen. Hell. 6.2
, § 19; Athen. 12.514
; Aen. Tact. 18). By thrusting this into
the ground the spear was fixed erect (Verg. A.
It has been suggested that the Homeric σαυρωτὴρ
knob or lump of metal to balance the weight of the spear-head and insure
steadiness in throwing (Leaf, in Journ. Hellen. Soc.
it may no doubt have served that purpose as well, but the ancient tradition
is constant in favour of there having been a second spike. Many of the
lancers (δορυφόροι, αἰχμοφόροι,
woodcut, p. 353 b
accompanied the king of Persia had, instead of this spike at the bottom of
their spears, an apple or a pomegranate, either gilt or silvered. (Herod.,
Athen. ll. cc.
) With this, or a similar ornament,
the spear is often terminated both on Persian and Egyptian monuments. Fig. 1
in the annexed woodcut shows the top
Hasta, Spear-heads (various).
and bottom of a spear, which is held by one of the king's guards
in the sculptures at Persepolis. (Sir. R. K. Porter's
vol. i. p. 601.) It may be compared with those in
the hand of the Greek warrior at p. 189 b,
which have the spike at the lower end. The spike at the bottom of the spear
was used in fighting by the Greeks and Romans, when the head was broken off.
A well-finished spear was kept in a case (δορατοθήκη
), which, on account of its form, is called by Homer a
The spear was used as a weapon of attack in three different ways:--1. It was
thrown from catapults and other engines [TORMENTUM
]. 2. It was thrust forward as a pike. In
this manner Achilles killed Hector by piercing him with his spear through
the neck (Il. 22.326
). The Euboeans were
particularly celebrated as pike-men (Hom. Il.
). 3. It was commonly thrown by the hand. The Homeric hero
generally went to the field with two spears (Hom.
; Pind. P.
). On approaching the enemy he first threw either one spear
or both, and then on coming to close quarters drew his sword (Hom. Il. 3.340
, xvii, 530, 20.273-284). The
Homeric spears are of enormous length. Hector carries one 11 cubits long
), and when fighting from the
ship's deck Ajax wields one of double the length, 22 cubits (Il. 15.678
). Rüstow and
Köchly consider these “purely heroic” (cf. the
hurled by Turnus, Verg. A. 9.705
); but Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 4.7.16
) positively tells us that
the Chalybes used spears of the portentous length of 15 cubits, and we can
only suspend our judgment as to the spears of Homer's time (Leaf, p. 300).
The point is commonly supposed to have been attached to the shaft by a
hollow socket or ferule (αὐλός,
, with Leaf's note; αἰγανέας δολιχαύλους,
9.156); but the lance of Hector has the head fastened on by
a golden πόρκης,
i. e. κρίκος
or ring (Il.
). Leaf very justly
points out that a gold ring outside a bronze tube would not be of much use,
and that the αὐλὸς
were probably not employed together.
Curiously enough, the spear-heads at Mycenae all have the αὐλός
p. 278), while those found at Hissarlik are attached to
the shaft by nails (Ilios,
pp. 475-7; Troja,
p. 95): in the latter case the ring would
come in usefully to prevent the wood from splitting. It is perhaps allowable
to suppose that the αὐλὸς
was the Greek,
the Trojan mode of attachment.
The question is more fully discussed by Leaf, l.c.
The spear frequently had a leathern thong tied to the middle of the shaft,
which was called ἀγκύλη
by the Greeks, and
by the Romans, and which was of assistance in throwing the spear. The
javelin to which the ἀγκύλη
was called μεσάγκυλον.
Eur. Orest. 1477
; Xen. Anab. 4.2
, § 28; Verg. A.
; Ov. Met. 12.321
; Cic. de Orat. 1.57.242
78.271.) The annexed figure, taken from Sir W.
Hamilton's Etruscan Vases
(iii. pl. 33), represents the
attached to the spear at the centre
of gravity, a little above the middle.
added to the effect of throwing the
lance by giving it rotation, and hence a greater degree of steadiness and
directness in its [p. 1.936]
flight, as in the case of a ball
shot from a rifle. This supposition both suits the expressions relative
Spear with amentum. (From an Etruscan vase.)
to the insertion of the fingers, and accounts for the frequent use
of the verb torquere,
“to whirl or twist,” in connexion with this subject. Two
fingers were used, the fore and the middle finger: Ammentum digitis
820). We also
find mention in the Latin grammarians of Hastae
and Ennius speaks of Ansatis
concurrunt undique telis
). The ansa
was probably the
same as the amentum,
and was so called as being
the part which the soldier laid hold of in hurling the spear. (Cf. Saglio,
in D. and S., s. v. Amentum.
Under the general terms hasta
were included various kinds of missiles,
of which the principal were as follows:--
Festus, s. v. Lancea
), the lance, a
comparatively slender spear commonly used by the Greeks. Iphicrates, who
doubled the length of the sword [GLADIUS
], also added greatly to the dimensions of the lance.
.) This weapon was used by the
Grecian horsemen (Plb. 6.23
); and by means of a
cross-bar to it, which is supposed by Stuart (Ant. of Athens,
vol. iii. p. 47; woodcut, fig. 2) to be exhibited on the shafts of three
spears in an ancient bas-relief, they mounted their horses with greater
facility. This, however, is a mere conjecture: Xenophon describes the way to
mount a horse (de Re Eq.
7) and the proper kind of spears for
cavalry (ib. 12), and nowhere alludes to this or any other artificial help
the javelin, much thicker and stronger than the Grecian lance (Flor. 2.7
, = 1.23, Jeep). Its shaft, often made of
cornel (Verg. A. 9.698
; Ovid, Ov. Met. 8.408
), was 4 1/2 feet (3 cubits)
long, and the barbed iron head was of the same length, but this extended
half-way down the shaft, to which it was attached with extreme care, so that
the whole length of the weapon was about 6 feet 9 inches. Each soldier
carried two (Plb. 6.23
). It was used either to
throw or to thrust with; it was peculiar to the Romans, and gave the name of
to the division of the army by which
it was adopted. It was, however, carried by different classes of troops at
different times, and at last, apparently, by all the legionaries (EXERCITUS
). When Marius
fought against the Cimbri, he ordered that of the two nails or pins
) by which the head was
fastened to the staff, one should be of iron and the other of wood. The
consequence was that, when the pilum
shields of the enemy, the wooden nail broke; and as the iron head was thus
bent, the spear, owing to the twist in the metal part, still held to the
shield and so dragged along the ground. (Plut. Mar.
Whilst the heavy-armed Roman soldiers bore the long lance and the thick and
ponderous javelin, the light-armed used smaller missiles, which, though of
different kinds, were included under the general term hastae velitares
; Plin. Nat.
, 28.34). From γρόσφος,
corresponding Greek term (Plb. 1.40
; Strabo iv. p.196
), the velites,
or light-armed, are called by Polybius γροσφομάχοι
(6.19, 20). According to his
description the γρόσφος
was a dart, with a
shaft about 3 feet long and 1 inch in thickness: the iron head was a span
long, and so thin and acuminated as to be bent by striking against anything,
and thus rendered unfit to be sent back against the enemy. Fig. 3, in the
above woodcut, shows one which was found, with nearly four hundred others,
in a Roman entrenchment at Meon Hill, in Gloucestershire. (Skelton's
vol. i. pl. 45.)
The light infantry of the Roman army used a similar weapon, called “a
spit” (veru, verutum,
; Festus, s. v. Samnites
). It was adopted by them from the Samnites (Verg. A. 7.665
) and the Volsci
2.168). Its shaft was 3 1/2 feet long, its point 5
inches (Veget. 2.15). Fig. 4, in the above woodcut, represents the head of a
dart in the Royal Collection at Naples; it may be taken as a specimen of the
and may be contrasted with fig. 5,
which is the head of a lance in the same collection. The Romans adopted in
like manner the gaesum,
which was properly a
Celtic weapon (Liv. 28.45
); it was given as a
reward to any soldier who wounded an enemy (Plb.
is evidently the same word
with the English spar
It was the rudest missile of the whole class, and only used
when better could not be obtained. (Verg. A.
; Serv. in loc.,
“sparus est rusticum telum in modum pedi recurvum”; Nepos, Epam. 9.1
; Sallust, Sal. Cat. 56
Besides the terms jaculum, spiculum,
), which probably denoted lighter darts used in
hunting as well as in battle (Thuc. 2.4
; Cic. in Verr. 5.3
, § 7,
5.12; § 5; Verg. A. 10.52
; Serv. in loc.;
Ov. Met. 8.410
; Flor. l.c.
), we find in classical authors the names of various other
spears which were characteristic of particular nations. Thus, Servius (on
7.164) states that, as the pilum
was proper to the Romans and the gaesum
to the Gauls (cf. Aen.
5.10, 42), so the sarisa
was the spear peculiar
to the Macedonians. (On the extraordinary length of the sarisa,
p. 778; Grote, Excursus on ch. 92; on [p. 1.937]
the spelling of the word, L. and S. s. v. σάρισα.
) The Thracian ῥομφαία,
has been compared to the sarisa
on the strength of a passage in Livy (31.39
), but was really a sword (cf. GLADIUS
); whereas the Illyrian σιβύνη
is justly described as a venabulum
or hunting-spear (σιβύνιον,
; Antip. Sidon. 13; sibina,
The iron head of the German spear, called framea,
was short and narrow, but very sharp. The Germans used it
with great effect either for hurling or thrusting: they gave to each youth a
and a shield on coming of age (Tac.
6, 13, 18, 24; Juv.
was a missile of the largest dimensions, deriving its
name from the falae
or wooden towers used in
sieges (cf. HELEPOLIS
which it was usually discharged by an engine (Fest., Non. s.v. Veget. 4.18;
Serv. ad Aen. 9.705
; Gel. 10.25
). Livy (21.8
) describes one employed by the Saguntines, and impelled by the
aid of twisted ropes; it was large and ponderous, having a head of iron 3
feet in length, which carried flaming pitch and tow. This sort was weighed
near the top by a circular mass of lead (Isid. Orig.
We also find a falarica
hurled from the hand,
mostly, however, in poetry as a feat of gigantic strength (Verg.
l.c.; Lucan 6.196
; Sil. Ital. 1.351
; Grat. Falisc.
342), but in real life by a Spanish tribe (Liv. 34.14
). The matara,
a Celtic word,
denotes a broad-tipped spear used by the Gauls (Auct. ad
4.32.43; Caes. Gal. 1.26
παλτοῦ τι εἶδος,
Strab. iv. p.196
; Hesych.); the tragula
(in some senses, but perhaps not in this
one, derived from traho;
see the Dictionaries)
was probably barbed, as it required to be cut out of the wound (Sallust. ap.
Non. p. 553, 29; Caes. Gal. 5.35
; Gell. l.c.
The careful antiquarian researches of recent years have led to the discovery
of many specimens of Roman weapons, especially in Germany and Switzerland;
the results of these finds, styled “important” by Guhl and
Koner (p. 772), do not tend to the overthrow of previous established
conclusions. A genuine old-German framea
not, it appears, yet been dug up out of its native soil (ib. p. 775).
Among the decorations which the Roman generals bestowed on their soldiers,
more especially for saving the life of a fellow-citizen, was a spear without
a head, called hasta pura
(Verg. A. 6.760
; Serv. in
Festus, s. v. Hasta;
28; Tac. Ann.
). The gift of it is sometimes recorded in funeral inscriptions.
The caelibaris hasta
(Festus, s. v.) having been
fixed into the body of a gladiator lying dead on the arena, was used at
marriages to part the hair of the bride (Ov. Fast.
foll.; Plut. Quaest. Rom.
A spear was erected at auctions [AUCTIO
], and when tenders were received for public contracts
). It served both to announce by
a conventional sign conspicuous at a distance that a sale was going on, and
to show that it was conducted under the authority of the public
functionaries (Cic. de Off.
, § 29; Nepos, Att.
; Festus, s. v. Hasta
). Hence an
auction was called hasta,
either an auction-room or an auctioneer's catalogue: in modern Italian
means only an auction, never a spear.
It was also the practice to set up a spear in the court of the CENTUMVIRI
The throwing of the spear (ἀκυντισμός
one of the gymnastic exercises of the Greeks (Krause, Gymnastik und
1.465 ff.; PENTATHLON
). On Greek spears in general, cf. Droysen,
pp. 17-19 in Hermann-Blümner;
Guhl and Koner, ed. 5, pp. 314-318; W. Leaf in Journ. Hell.
4.299 ff.; on Roman, Marquardt, Staatsverw.
2.328 ff.; Guhl and Koner, pp. 772-775.