, perhaps ἀστράβη
), a saddle-cloth or pad. The saddle with a
“tree” was unknown till the 4th century, although the
pack-saddle (figs. in Ginzrot, Gesch. d. Fahrw.
) seems to be
of much earlier occurrence. (Cf. Ed. Diocl. 10.3, “parammas mulares
cum flagello;” 11.4, 5, 6, “sagma burdonis, s. asini, s.
camelli.” ) Among Greeks and Romans alike there were two methods
of riding, bare-backed and with a saddle-cloth; or, in the language of
Xenophon, ἐπὶ ψιλοῦ, ἐπὶ τοῦ
But neither the Greek writer nor any other ancient
author hints at a true saddle (de Re Equ.
8.4: cf. Varro, R. R.
2.7; Caes. Gal. 4.2
). The meaning of
is difficult to determine: in
Demosthenes (in Mid.
p. 558.133; cf. Lys. pro
§ 11) it probably signifies a mule
(so Harpocr. s.v. Hellad. in Phot., Suid., &c.),
although the Schol.,
with a corrupt reading, explains it as εἶδος
Becker-Göll (i. p. 200) thinks there was a
kind of saddle (ἀστράβη
) which, like the
was used by women and
invalids. Another meaning of the word was a piece of wood fastened to the
saddle-cloth, grasped in mounting (τὸ ἐπὶ τῶν
ἐφίππων ξύλον, ὃ κρατοῦσιν οἱ καθεζόμενοι,
v.), or a step to support the feet (Isidor., “astraba, tabella in qua
pedes requiescunt ;” and vase from Daphne, in British Museum,
representing a person riding sideways on a dromedary with feet resting on a
In the absence of stirrups (later staffae, stapides,
&c.), which are not mentioned till the Emperor Maurice (602 A.D.),
there were several ways of mounting, as jumping with or without the aid of a
lance-shaft, with the assistance of others (ἀναβολεῖς
), or from steps (ἀνάβαθρα
). The last were set up, according to Plutarch, along
the main roads by C. Gracchus. Or, the horse was taught to kneel at the word
of command, as in the illustration below from a lamp found at Herculaneum
(cf. Strab. iii. p.163
; Sil. Ital. 10.465
In the more ancient art the horse is represented ridden bare-backed; so in
numerous vasepaintings, bas-reliefs, and equestrian statues. Later,
saddle-cloths, often double or with pads beneath, and fastened with one to
three girths, appear with increasing frequency (cf. sarcophagus from
Clazomenae, in British Museum). The most elaborate trappings of this kind
are seen on Scythian antiquities of the 4th century B.C.: Amazon, as usual,
astride on a skin fastened by girths, Compte Rendu de la Comm. Imp.
Arch. St. Pétersb.,
1862, pl. 4.4; ib. 1864, pl. 3.1,
on Nikopolis vase, pad-saddle, double bordered housings; ib. 1866, pl. 4.1,
ditto; ib. 1868, pl. 2.4, star-spangled cloth; ib. 1874, p. 184,
Ephippium, saddle. (From an ancient lamp.)
housings with scales square or fish-like; ib. 1872, Scythians
(oblong cloths), Getae (none), Sarmatians (none), Parthians (chabraques),
Panticapaeans (round, with hanging ornaments). The pad and pendent cloths
are seen in the annexed coin of Labienus.
The use of trappings was originally regarded as effeminate by the Romans
(Varro in Cato, de Lib. educ.;
cf. Caes. l.c.
), but they were used in pomps. Their
Ephippium, saddle. (Coin of Labienus.)
may be seen by a comparison of the examples appearing on the
columns of Trajan, Antonine, and Theodosius (v.
reff. under COLUMNA
), the arch
of Constantine, &c. On the first and second, and in the equestrian
statue of M. Aurelius, are to be seen cloths alone, and pads filling up the
hollow of the horse's back with and without cloths. It is only on the
Theodosian Column (e. g. the figures of Theodosius and Gratian) that the
true saddle, with bow behind and before, appears for the first time. The
innovation is still more apparent from the fact that the saddle is placed
the most elaborate triple housings of
the old type, ornamented with metal scales, bells, and borders. (Cf.
Scythian examples above; and, on same column, the scale-housings of the
Scythian leader. For Persian origin of saddle: sella, s.
cf. Veget. 4, Veterin. 6, Sidonius 3, Ep. 3.) Moreover,
a new word (sella
) seems to emphasize the new
fashion. ( “Lx libras sella cum frenis, xxxv vero averta non
transeat,” Cod. 12, 51, 12; Cod. Theod. 8, 5, 47; “s.
equitatoria,” Jornandes; “sedile,” Nazarius; of
doubtful meaning, “scordiscus militaris,” ed. Diocl. 10.2;
C. I. L.
8.4508; cf. [p. 1.743]
account of Constans dragging his brother's body out
his saddle, A.D. 340: “sella deturbavit.” )
The above view, although agreeable to older opinion (e. g. Pancirolus,
ii. tit. 16), was opposed by Ginzrot
(Gesch. d. Fahrw.
vol. 2.100.26). But the evidence he
cites from Egyptian and Oriental usage is irrelevant, and his pictures from
Herculaneum and criticism of classical authors misleading.
In the Compte Rendu
(1863, 5.3) is a representation of
Dionysos reclining and Ariadne seated sideways
with women generally, with the exception of Amazons) on a sofa with turned
legs, placed on the back of a mule.