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FUNDA (σφενδόνη), a sling. The light troops of the Greek and Roman armies included a certain proportion of slingers (funditores, σφενδονῆται). In the earliest times, however, the sling appears not to have been used by the Greeks. It is not mentioned in the Iliad; for in the only passage (Il. 13.600) in which the word σφενδόνη occurs, it is used in its original signification of a bandage. But in the times of the Persian wars slingers had come into use; for among the other troops which Gelon offered to send to the assistance of the Greeks against Xerxes, mention is made of 2000 slingers (Hdt. 7.158); and that the sling was then familiar to the Greeks is also evident from allusions in literature (Archil. fr. 3, Bergk; Aesch. Ag. 1010; Eur. Phoen. 1142; Aristoph. Birds 1185). At the same time it must be stated that we rarely read of slingers in these wars; the use of the sling was a barbarian rather than a Greek accomplishment, and found in the highest perfection among Egyptians and Persians, as later among the Spaniards and Baleares. Among the Greeks the Acarnanians, a backward people, attained to the greatest expertness in the use of this weapon (Thuc. 2.81); and at a later time the Achaeans, especially the inhabitants of Aegium, Patrae, and Dyme, were celebrated as expert slingers. The slings of these Achaeans were made of three thongs (scutalia) of leather, and not of one only, like those of other nations (Liv. 38.29). To the same period, the days of the Achaean league, is ascribed the invention of the κεστροσφενδόνη (cestrosphendone, Liv. 42.65), described below.

In the early Roman army, slingers formed a part of the fifth or lowest Servian class (Donys. 4.17; Liv. 1.43; Fest. Epit. p. 369 M.: cf. EXERCITUS p. 782 a; Marquardt, Staatsverw. 2.317); but in the great days of the Punic and Macedonian wars they were no longer to be found in the legions, and the Balearic slingers of Hannibal were opposed by Greek, Syrian, and African auxiliaries (Marquardt, ib. 332-3). The people who enjoyed the greatest celebrity as slingers were the natives of the Balearic islands. Their skill in the use of this weapon is [p. 1.884]said to have arisen from the circumstance that, when they were children, their mothers obliged them to obtain their food by striking it with a sling. (Veget. de Re Mil. 1.16; Strab. iii. p.168.) Most slings were made of leather, but the Balearic were manufactured out of a kind of rush (Strab. l.c.). The manner in which the sling was wielded may be seen in the annexed figure (Bartoli, Col. Traj. tav. 46) of a soldier

Soldier with sling. (From the Column of Trajan.)

with a supply of stones in the sinus of his pallium, and with his arm extended in order to whirl the sling about his head (Verg. A. 9.587, 588; 11.579). Besides stones, bullets, called glandes (μολυβδίδες), of a form between acorns and almonds, were cast in moulds to be thrown with slings (Lucret. 6.176 ; Ovid, Ov. Met. 2.727, 7.777, 14.825, 826). They have been found on the plain of Marathon and in other parts of Greece, and are remarkable for the inscriptions and devices which they exhibit, such as thunderbolts, the names of persons, and the word ΔΕΞΑΙ, meaning “Take this.” (Mommsen, in Zeitschrift für die Alterthums-wissenschaft, 1846, p. 782; Guhl and Koner, ed. 5, p. 324.) The ridiculous notion that these bullets melted in the air was widely diffused in the ancient world, and not confined to poetry (Lucret. l.c.; Verg. A. 9.588; Ov. Met. 2.727, 14.826): even the father of science maintains it (Aristot. de Caelo, 2.7: οἷον καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν φερομένων βελῶν: ταῦτα γὰρ αὐτὰ ἐκπυροῦται οὕτως ὥστε τήκεσθαι τὰς μολυβδίδας). It may have arisen, as Pauly points out (s. v. “Funditores” ), from the flattening of the soft metal when it strikes a hard surface. Another missile was called κέστρος, a particular kind of bolt with an iron head six inches long, attached to a wooden shaft nine inches long, and the thickness of a man's finger; it was furnished with three short wooden wings, resembling the feathers of an arrow, and was discharged from a sling with two scutalia, called κεστροσφενδόνη (Liv. 42.65; Polyb. xxvii. fr. 9 ap. Suid. s. v. κέστρος: Livy here evidently translates Polybius).

Besides slings, stones thrown with the hand alone were likewise used in ancient warfare: the Libyans carried no other weapons than three darts and a bag full of stones (Diod. 3.49). The Athenian ψιλοὶ annoyed the Spartans in Sphacteria, τοξεύμασι καὶ ἀκοντίοις καὶ λίθοις καὶ σφενδόναις (Thuc. 4.32), where λίθοι seem to be hand-thrown stones; πετροβόλοι are mentioned, Xen. Hell. 2.4, § 12. We find them also among the later Romans (Veget. 1.16, 2.23).

From the resemblance to a sling, funda also means (1) a casting-net, ἀμφίβληστρον (Verg. G. 1.141); (2) a purse or money-bag, from the way it was slung (Macr. 2.4.31); (3) the bezel of a ring, i. e. the rim in which the gem is set, and which holds it as a sling does its stone (Rich): praestantiores [iaspides] funda cluduntur ut sint patentes ab utraque parte nec praeter margines quicquam auro amplectente, a good description of a setting à jour (Plin. Nat. 37.116; cf. § 126).

[J.Y] [W.W]

hide References (20 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (20):
    • Aristophanes, Birds, 1185
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 1142
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.158
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.81
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.32
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 2.4
    • Homer, Iliad, 13.600
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1010
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.727
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 7.777
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14.825
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 11.579
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.588
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.587
    • Vergil, Georgics, 1.141
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14.826
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 65
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 43
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 29
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 3.49
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