), derived from κέλλω,
“to urge on,” means a swift boat. The Greek word also means
“a race-horse;” and some maintain (e. g. the Schol. on
, and Graser) that from this is
derived the meaning “boat.” This peculiar build of boat is said
to have been invented by the Rhodians (Plin.
). It was much used by pirates (Phot. 154, 10; Liv. 37.27
); but was more especially employed as
attendant on the fleet (Isid. Orig.
19.1, 22), either for
bringing news (Xen. Hell. 1.6
) or negotiating with the enemy (Thuc. 1.53
; cf. Plaut. Mil.
39). Further, each state appears to have had such boats for various official
purposes, just as we hear of δημοσίαι
at Athens (cf. Plaut. Capt.
Built for swiftness, they were necessarily narrow, and Appian (App. BC 2.56
) calls one ὀξύ.
They had no decks, and only one bench of oars (Plb. 5.62
: τούτων κατάφρακτα μὲν εἴκοσι διαφέροντα ταῖς
κατασκευαῖς ἐν οἷς οὐδὲν ἔλαττον ἦν τετρήρους, τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ
πριήρεις καὶ δίκροτα καὶ κέλητες
). When Isidore (l.c.
) says celoces.
biremes or triremes, he means worked by two or three pairs of oars, not
having two or three benches of rowers (Jal, Glossaire
). Each oarsman
probably pulled two oars, else we should not find the epithet πεντέσκαλμος
3, Mein.) applied to the κέλης;
for then the oarage would be uneven: or else only one side of oars was
counted. We also hear of κελήτιον
167 A); and the Schol. on Thuc. 4.9
that a κελήτιον
was a small vessel rowed by
a single man. But we must suppose the piratical vessels to have been manned
by a fairly large crew; still, perhaps, less than forty (Thuc. 4.9
). It was the build, then, not the size, which was the
distinctive feature of the κέλης.
to be independent of the weather, it appears to have been always rowed. (See
Varro in Nonius, 527, ed. D. Gottofred: “Nautae remivagam movent
celocem.” ) In many points of employment, it will be seen that
resembled our gunboats.
A slightly different build of vessel, rather more round, like our brigantine,
also used by pirates (Suidas, s. v.), was the ἐπακτροκέλης
(Aeschin. c Timarch.
191), which (according to the Etym. M.
) combined the
properties of an ἐπακτρὶς
or transport for
carrying away the spoils, and of a κέλης
for swiftness in pursuit and flight. (See generally Scheffer, Militia Navalis;
and especially B. Graser, Deveterum re