, from κεντέω
, to prick or pierce) was, as Nonius (p. 555
m., 18.24) expresses it, hasta longior et
with a pointed iron at the one end. (Verg. A. 5.208
) It was used for various
purposes, but chiefly as a punt-pole by sailors, who, in shallow water,
thrust it into the ground, and thus pushed on the boat. (Hom. Od. 9.287
; Verg. l.c.
and 6.302. Cf. κοντωτὰ πλοῖα
.) It also served as a means to
sound the depth of the water. (Festus, s. v. Perconctatio,
214, ed. Müller; Nonius, p. 44 m.; Donat. on Terent.
1.2, 2.) At a later period, when the Romans became
acquainted with the huge lances or pikes of some of the northern barbarians,
the word contus
was applied to that kind of
weapon (Verg. A. 9.510
; Tac. Hist. 1.44
; Lamprid. Commod.
13); and the long pikes
peculiar to the Sarmatians were always designated by this name. (Tac. Hist. 1.79
2.416; Valer. Flacc. 6.162.)