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BAC´ULUM (βακτηρία, ῥάβδος, σκῆπτρον, σκυτάλη: in the poets, βάκτρον and σκίπων. The Homeric word is σκῆπτρον).

Carrying a stick was as common a practice in Greece as it is with us (Lysias, pro Inval. 12; Plat. Protag. p. 310 A; Aristoph. Pl. 272, Eccl. 150, 509; Nub. 541); and on Greek vases and sculptures we see sticks of all forms and patterns. The straight form with an ornament at the head, called the Περσικὴ βακτηρία (Hesych. s. v.; Etym. M. 185, 56; cf. Hdt. 1.195), was the form affected by dandies at Athens in the time of Aristophanes (Aristoph. ap. Poll. 10.173, βακτηρία δὲ περσὶς ἀντὶ καμπύλης); while the large crook form (καμπύλη) was on the stage carried by old men and rustics (Poll. 4.119), as in the illustration given next page. [p. 1.266]

The club form (σκυτάλη, Moeris, Suidas, Phot. s. v. σκυτάλη: βακτηρία ἀκροπαχὴς) was in vogue in the ruder states of Greece, such as Sicyon, where the lowest class of the community was called “the Club carriers” (κορυνηφόροι), but especially at Sparta, and became the rage at Athens among the Λακωνισταὶ (Aristoph. Birds 1283), while in later times it was affected by Cynic philosophers (Lucian, Vit. Auct. 8). The crutch, too, is often seen on ancient monuments (cf. Paus. 10.30, 1, σκήπτρῳ τε ὑπὸ τὴν ἀριστέραν μασχάλην ἐρειδόμενος). (For the sticks or

Baculum. (
Museo Borbonico,
vol. i. pl. xx.)

batons carried as insignia of office by the Athenian jurymen, see DIKASTES; for the shepherd's staff, PEDUM; for the Spartan use of the stick in secret correspondence, SKYTALE; for the herald's staff, CADUCEUS

In Rome, on the other hand, the use of walking sticks was unknown. On the monuments we only see sticks in the hands of aged or infirm persons, or held as symbols of office. (See SCEPTRUM, CENTURIO.)


hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Aristophanes, Birds, 1283
    • Aristophanes, Plutus, 272
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.195
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.30
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