in the plural baltea
belt, is sometimes used in poetry to denote a woman's girdle (Ovid, Ov. Met. 9.189
; Lucan 2.362
; Mart. 14.207
more properly in the following senses:--
1. A shoulder-belt, and most frequently the sword-belt. Among the Greeks, as
the sword commonly hung beside the left hip, its belt was supported by the
right shoulder, and passed obliquely over the breast, as is seen in the
cameo here introduced from the Florentine Museum. We
Balteus. (Florentine Museum.)
also read in Homer of broad belts (Il.
) used to support the shield; for as Herodotus tells us
(1.171), until the Carians invented the ὄχανον
or shield-holder, all who made use of shields managed
them by means of leather belts, which they passed round the neck and the
left shoulder. Thus the sword-belt and the shield-belt crossed over the
breast. (Il. 14.404
.) The shield-belt is occasionally represented on ancient
vases, as in the figure in the next column of a charioteer from Gerhard,
pl. ccviii. Belts were generally made of
leather, and the belts of the Homeric heroes are ornamented with silver and
gold (Il. 11.31
), which were
sometimes wrought with elaborate devices (Il.
) or representations of scenes (Od.
). These may have been
embossed on a plate of the metal, or embroidered on some fabric [CAELATURA
]. (Cf. Verg. A. 10.495
.) Belts were also employed to support the quiver or the γωρυτός
]. (Cf. Verg. A.
The Romans either attached their swords to the cingulum,
or suspended them by a balteus,
which sometimes passed from the right shoulder to the
left side (Caes. Gal. 5.44
), but more
usually from the left shoulder to the right side [ARMA
fig. p. 190], as may be regularly observed in
the military figures on the public monuments of
Balteus. (From Gerhard's |
imperial times. This arrangement was no doubt convenient enough
for the short Spanish sword, but the long sword in use down to the end of
the Second Punic War must surely have been worn on the left side in order to
be easily drawn with the right hand. Figures on tombs, however, usually wear
the sword attached to the cinqulum.
] The Roman
sword-belts, like the Greek, were often richly ornamented, even with
precious metals, in the form of bullae
elaborate devices: thus we read (Tac. Hist.
) of common soldiers having belts adorned with silver. The belts
of the emperors were so magnificent that they were entrusted to a distinct
--who had charge of them
in the imperial palace. Hadrian was considered remarkably unostentatious
because he did not wear a golden balteus;
of Gallienus was adorned with jewels. (Treb. Poll. Gallien.
16; Spart. Hadr.
was of course used for other than
military purposes, for instance to support the lyre, as may be seen in
statues of Apollo Citharoedus, or to carry amulets.
2. A belt or collar (μασχαλιστήρ, προστερνίδιον,
), passing round a horse's neck and breast, used
partly as a protection and partly as an ornament, especially for
chariot-horses. It was often adorned with the same elaborateness and
richness as the soldier's sword-belt, especially with phalerae
illustrations under these articles and Museo Bresciano,
pl. liii. (Xen. Hippica,
xii.; Poll. 5.16, 100.)
xx.) uses balteus
to express a horse's girth: so μασχαλιστήρ
3. The belt on the celestial globe representing [p. 1.285]
sun's course, on which the signs of the zodiac are depicted (Manilius,
1.679; 3.334), as in the accompanying woodcut, from a painting at Pompeii.
4. The praecinctio
in the theatre [AMPHITHEATRUM,
THEATRUM]. (Calpurn. 7.47 ; Tertull. Spect.
5. In architecture of
Balteus, the signs of the Zodiac. (From a painting at
the Ionic style, a band, often covered with sculptured ornament,
which encircles the pulvinus
“bolster” of the capital, and thus relieves it from the side
view. (Vitr. 3.5
It was not always used by the Greek architects, but is found regularly in
Roman buildings of this style. The accompanying Illustration is from the
temple of Athene Polias. A similar ornament
Balteus of an Ionic Capital. (Temple of Athene Polias.)
sometimes is used to divide the pulvinus
of altars and sarcophagi.