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RATIS (σχεδία), a raft. Its nature is roughly described by Festus, p. 136, “rates vocantur tigna colligata quae per aquas aguntur,” and by Hesych. (ξύλα συνδέουσι καὶ οὕτω πλέουσι: it was used in early times or among primitive people for voyages across narrow straits or from island to island (Thuc. 6.2; Plin. Nat. 7.206; compare the “catamaran” of the Pacific islands, in the Torres straits, and off the coast of New Guinea, McGillivray, Voyage of the Rattlesnake, 2.256); but in all times for crossing rivers, whether as a moving raft (Liv. 21.28), or as a fixed pontoon bridge (Liv. 21.27 and 47; Hdt. 4.97), or as a bridoe of boats, we find rates and σχεδίαι mentioned. We have, in Lucan 4.420, a description of a large movable raft supported on casks (cupae), such as were used also for pontoon bridges (Veget. 3.7). The account of the raft in Od. v. has a peculiar interest and value, both as explaining fully the construction of the σχεδία, and also as throwing light on some terms of the ancient shipwright's art.

Modern Catamaran.

Ulysses was to leave Ogygia upon a raft, ἐπὶ σχεδίης πολυδέσμου (50.33), an epithet which recurs 50.338: the “many fastenings” are the chief problem of the construction; cf. Hdt. 2.96, περὶ γόμφους πυκνοὺς καὶ μακροὺς περιείρουσι τὰ διπηχέα ξύλα. Calypso had pointed out the place where the material for the raft was to be found in the shape of trees, standing long withered and dry, which would float lightly.

Of those named, the floating power is very different, viz.:--

Alder .20 specific gravity, .80
Poplar .62 specific gravity, .38
Fir .53--.40 specific gravity, .47--.60

Alder is a very heavy wood, and not fit for shipbuilding. It might, however, be used for the σταμίνες and the dowels. Poplar and fir, but chiefly the latter, would furnish the floor of the raft. Twenty trees are thrown, and trimmed with the axe, the branches and knobs hewn off. Then the adze comes into play, and the skilful shipwright makes two smooth surfaces which are straight to the line. The timbers, thus shaped, will touch all along their inner surfaces when laid together (ἀντίξοα, vide infra).

Next comes the process of tying them together. For this the goddess brings him borers, or augers (τέρετρα, plur.), doubtless of different diameters.

In tying heavy timbers together, where metal is not available or suitable for the purpose, two kinds of fastenings are necessary, commonly called trenails (γόμφοι), and dowels or coaks, which are here represented by the ἁρμονίαι. The trenail (tree-nail) is a long peg of tough wood tapering from an inch or inch and a half in diameter, to three-quarters of an inch at the thin end. The holes into which this is driven run through both pieces of timber, and of course they must correspond exactly on the inner surface when the two timbers are laid alongside of each other. Trenails, however, are not thick enough in diameter to stand a vertical strain tending to wrench one timber from the other. To make them of a greater diameter would weaken the timbers themselves dangerously; and so in order to meet a vertical strain, such as the rise and fall of the waves under the bottom of a raft, shipwrights join the timbers not only with trenails but with dowels, or coaks, as they are also called. These are short pieces of hard wood, from three to four inches in diameter and four to five inches long, according to the size of the spars. These are let in at intervals between the trenails with shallow holes bored to correspond in each timber. Being short and of hard wood, they will take a great vertical strain, as long as they remain fast. Hence Ulysses makes up his mind to remain on the raft-- ὄφρ᾽ ἂν μέν κεν δούρατ᾽ ἐν ἁρμονίῃσιν ἀρήρῃ.

When once the timbers had slipped outside the dowels, the trenails would not be of much use in holding the raft together.

As for ἁρμονίαι, the word occurs in Ar. Eq. τῶν θ᾽ ἁρμονιῶν διαχασκουσῶν, where, if a flute is the instrument spoken of, it would mean the joints gaping, i. e. the sockets opening from the pieces that fitted into them. A little above the expression τέκτονες εὐπαλάμαν ὕμνων occurs, so that it is probable that the metaphor of joiners' work is being kept up. The joints of the flute are not unlike the dowel and its socket. The word ἁρμὸς is also noticeable in this connexion, meaning a peg or stop: cf. Eur. Fr. Erechth. ἁρμὸς πονηρὸς ὥσπερ ἐν ξύλῳ παγείς.

Ulysses having planed his spars with the adze and bored them all and fitted them exactly, then (read ἄρασσεν: cf. Ap. Rhod. 2.615, εὖτέ μιν Ἄργος γόμφοισιν συνάρασσεν, with Aristarchus) knocks them together, so that trenails and dowels fit into their respective holes and the inner surfaces of the spars meet together. This work of knocking the timbers together is well described by Ap. Rhod. Arg. 2.79:-- ὡς δ᾽ὅτε νήϊα δοῦρα θοοῖς ἀντίξοα γόμφοις
ἀνέρες ὑληουργοὶ ἐπιβλήδην ἐλάοντες
θείνωσι σφύρῃσι.

The raft thus constructed is compared as to size and shape to the setting out of the floor of a wide merchant vessel in design by a skilled shipwright.

The word τορνώσεται seems to imply the curvature of the lines of a vessel in plan rather than of those in section, which would not be so applicable to a raft. The breadth of the raft is that to which attention is chiefly called, though from the expression τορνώσεται we might perhaps infer the rounding off of the ends (cf. Il. 23.255). [p. 2.539]

The floor completed, the next work was the raising of the deck according to the goddess's suggestion. This was a matter of some time and labour, as the imperfect ποίει implies. First of all, he had to set up his σταμίνες, many in number and pretty close together. The τέρετρα would here come into play again. The σταμίνες, uprights, would be let into holes bored in the floor of the raft, and the deck timbers also bored and fitted on to the tops of them. With regard to the word σταμίς, there can be hardly any doubt as to its meaning. Hesychius gives τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς σχεδίης ὀρθὰ ξύλα. Eustathius, οἱ παλαιοί, ἑρμηνεύοντες ἐπιμήκη ξύλα, τὰς σταμίνας φάσιν, στημόνων τρόπον ἔχοντα, παρατιθέμενα τοῖς ἰκρίοις ἐκάτερθεν ἑστάναι αὐτὰ ποιοῦσιν.

But they must not be confused with the ribs of a ship, with which they have nothing in common, being straight and not curved. Compare στημόνιον, the upright sticks in wickerwork round which the osier twigs were twined. Hence Aristarchus interpreted σταμίνες as being ὀρθὰ ξύλα οἷον στήμοσιν ἐοικότα.

Upon these uprights the deck timbers were laid and fastened. There can be no doubt as to ἴκρια meaning “deck, platform.” The attempt to translate it as “bulwarks,” seems perverse in the face of the well-known passage of Hdt. 5.16. Eustathius gives clearly κατάστρωμα νεώς. After setting up his platform or deck by fitting these cross-beams upon the uprights, he finishes off and makes fast his ἴκρια by long gunwales (ἐπηγκενίδες). These laid lengthwise on either side would prevent the timbers of the deck from jumping, and would so finish the deck as such (τελεύτα). The interpretation of the word given in Etym. Mag. τὰ ἐπὶ μῆκος παρατεταμένον μακρὸν εὐλον is misleading if taken to imply a planking alongside of the σταμίνες. The raft is open, and the water would wash freely through the front and sides of the stage carrying the deck.

The carpentering is concluded with the fashioning of mast and yard and paddle for steering. There still remained the construction of a bulwark to protect the sailor from the wash of the wave. This is effected by a wattle-work of osiers set up on the ἴκρια as a fence all round. Not being very strong in itself, it is backed by piles of brushwood (ὕλη), which, bound up in the shape of fascines or faggots, would be light, and at the same time offer a good resistance. The idea of “ballast” for the raft seems absurd, and out of place altogether. [E.W]

RECEPTA; DE RECEPTO ACTIO. The praetor declared that he would allow an action against nautae, i.e. against exercitores or shipowners (Dig. 14, 1, 2, 4; see EXERCITORIA ACTIO), caupones (innkeepers), and stabularii (livery stable keepers), in respect of any property which they had taken under their charge if they did not restore it ( “quod cujusque salvum fere receperint, nisi restituent” ). At first sight there seems no reason for this special action on account of the receiving of goods, which is called actio de recepto, as a person who had sustained loss would either have an actio locati (in case a whole ship were let for transport it would be actio conducti), where payment had been agreed on, or an actio depositi, where the goods were received without any promise of payment; but the reason was this, as explained by the jurist Pomponius (Dig. 14, 1, 3, 1). Under a contract of letting and hiring (locatio, conductio), the receiver was only answerable for loss when he was guilty of negligence (culpa); and under a contract of deposit, only when he was guilty of dolus malus; but a nauta, caupo, or stabularius who received goods in the course of his business was liable to the actio de recepto if the thing were lost or injured, even without any negligence on his part, and he was only excused in case of damnum fatale, such as shipwreck, piracy, and so forth, or in case of negligence on the part of the person from whom he had received the property. The ground of imposing this special liability is explained to be that there is, generally speaking, a necessity of entrusting property to the care of the classes of person in question (Dig. 14, 1, 1). It was possible to exclude this liability by special agreement between the parties. English law follows the example of Roman law in making innkeepers and common carriers, on account of the public nature of their employment, absolutely responsible for the safety of property which they are given the custody of, unless the loss arises from the negligence of the owner, or is caused by vis major or the act of God.

The praetor also gave a penal action against nautae, caupones, and stabularii on account of any property which he had received, if such loss or damage was due to the dishonesty or negligence of those in their employment, &c.; but an innkeeper was not responsible in this action for delicts of a mere traveller. In this action the plaintiff recovered double the value of the property he had lost, whereas the object of the actio de recepto was simply the recovery of damages. This penal action could not be maintained against the heir of the nauta, caupo, and stabularius. Both the actio de recepto and the penal action were in factum conceptae [ACTIO]. (Dig. 4, 9, 47, 5; Inst. 4.5, 3; Arndts, Pandekten, § 289; Windscheid, Pandekten, § 384.)

There is a title in the Digest (4, 8), “De Receptis, qui arbitrium receperunt ut sententiam dicant.” When parties who had a matter to litigate, had agreed to refer it to an arbitrator, which reference was called compromissum, and a person had accepted the office of arbitrator (arbitrium receperit), the praetor would compel him to pronounce a sentence, unless he had some legal excuse. The praetor could compel a person of any rank, as a consularis for instance, to pronounce a sentence after taking upon him the office of arbiter; but he could not compel a person who held a magistratus or potestas, for he had no imperium over them. The arbitration involved a judicial inquiry and award. It was usual for the parties to enter into mutual penal. stipulations (poena, pecunia compromissa: hence the term compromissum), which would secure a right of action for the penalty to the successful party, but effect might be given to an arbitration in certain other ways, so as to give a right of action for damages. (Dig. 4, 8; Windscheid, Pandekten, § § 415-417; Arndts, Pandekten, § 270.)

[G.L] [E.A.W]

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