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HASTA (ἔγχος, παλτόν), a spear. The spear is defined by Homer, δόρυ χαλκῆπες, “a pole fitted with bronze” (Il. 6.3), and δόρυ χαλκοβάρες, “a pole heavy with bronze” (Od. 11.531). The bronze, for which iron was afterwards substituted, was indispensable to form the point (αἰχμή, ἀκωκή, Homer; λόγχη, Xenophon; acies, cuspis, spiculum, Ovid. Met. 8.374) of the spear. Each of these two essential parts is often put for the whole, so that a spear is [p. 1.935]called δόρυ and δοράτιον, αἰχμή, and λόγχη. Even the more especial term μελία, meaning an ash-tree, is used in the same manner, because the pole of the spear was often the stem of a young ash, stripped of its bark and polished. (Il. 19.390, 20.277, 22.328; Od. 22.259; Plin. Nat. 16.62; Ovid. Met. 12.369.) In like manner the spear is designated by the term κάμαξ (Aesch. Ag. 66; Eur. Hec. 1155, Phoen. 1403; Brunck, Anal. 1.191, 226; Antip. Sidon. 34), meaning properly the cane or bamboo, which served also for vine-props and other uses (Hes. Scut. 298). Xenophon says that the δόρυ καμάκινον, apparently the usual lance of cavalry in his time, was both weak and heavy, and recommends in its stead two darts of the tough cornel-wood (τὰ κρανέϊνα δύο παλτά, de Re Eq. 12.12; cf. Theophrast. H. P. 3.12.2).

The butt-end of the spear was furnished with a spiked metal ferule, called by the Ionic writers σαυρωτήρ (Hom. Il. 10.153; Hdt. 7.40, 41; also Plb. 6.23), and οὐρίαχος (Il. 13.443, 16.612, 17.528), and in Attic or common Greek στύραξ (Xen. Hell. 6.2, § 19; Athen. 12.514 b; στυράκιον, Thuc. 2.4; Aen. Tact. 18). By thrusting this into the ground the spear was fixed erect (Verg. A. 12.130).

It has been suggested that the Homeric σαυρωτὴρ or οὐρίαχος was a knob or lump of metal to balance the weight of the spear-head and insure steadiness in throwing (Leaf, in Journ. Hellen. Soc. 4.301): it may no doubt have served that purpose as well, but the ancient tradition is constant in favour of there having been a second spike. Many of the lancers (δορυφόροι, αἰχμοφόροι, λογχοφόροι, woodcut, p. 353 b) who accompanied the king of Persia had, instead of this spike at the bottom of their spears, an apple or a pomegranate, either gilt or silvered. (Herod., Athen. ll. cc.) With this, or a similar ornament, the spear is often terminated both on Persian and Egyptian monuments. Fig. 1 in the annexed woodcut shows the top

Hasta, Spear-heads (various).

and bottom of a spear, which is held by one of the king's guards in the sculptures at Persepolis. (Sir. R. K. Porter's Travels, vol. i. p. 601.) It may be compared with those in the hand of the Greek warrior at p. 189 b, which have the spike at the lower end. The spike at the bottom of the spear was used in fighting by the Greeks and Romans, when the head was broken off. (Plb. 6.25.)

A well-finished spear was kept in a case (δορατοθήκη), which, on account of its form, is called by Homer a pipe (σύριγξ, Il. 19.387).

The spear was used as a weapon of attack in three different ways:--1. It was thrown from catapults and other engines [TORMENTUM]. 2. It was thrust forward as a pike. In this manner Achilles killed Hector by piercing him with his spear through the neck (Il. 22.326). The Euboeans were particularly celebrated as pike-men (Hom. Il. 2.543). 3. It was commonly thrown by the hand. The Homeric hero generally went to the field with two spears (Hom. Il. 3.18, 10.76, 12.298; Pind. P. 4.139). On approaching the enemy he first threw either one spear or both, and then on coming to close quarters drew his sword (Hom. Il. 3.340, xvii, 530, 20.273-284). The Homeric spears are of enormous length. Hector carries one 11 cubits long (Il. 6.319), and when fighting from the ship's deck Ajax wields one of double the length, 22 cubits (Il. 15.678). Rüstow and Köchly consider these “purely heroic” (cf. the falarica hurled by Turnus, Verg. A. 9.705); but Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 4.7.16) positively tells us that the Chalybes used spears of the portentous length of 15 cubits, and we can only suspend our judgment as to the spears of Homer's time (Leaf, p. 300). The point is commonly supposed to have been attached to the shaft by a hollow socket or ferule (αὐλός, Il. 17.297, with Leaf's note; αἰγανέας δολιχαύλους, i.e. venabula, Od. 9.156); but the lance of Hector has the head fastened on by a golden πόρκης, i. e. κρίκος or ring (Il. 6.320, 15.495). Leaf very justly points out that a gold ring outside a bronze tube would not be of much use, and that the αὐλὸς and πόρκης were probably not employed together. Curiously enough, the spear-heads at Mycenae all have the αὐλός (Schliemann, Mycenae, p. 278), while those found at Hissarlik are attached to the shaft by nails (Ilios, pp. 475-7; Troja, p. 95): in the latter case the ring would come in usefully to prevent the wood from splitting. It is perhaps allowable to suppose that the αὐλὸς was the Greek, the πόρκης the Trojan mode of attachment. The question is more fully discussed by Leaf, l.c.

The spear frequently had a leathern thong tied to the middle of the shaft, which was called ἀγκύλη by the Greeks, and amentum or ammentum by the Romans, and which was of assistance in throwing the spear. The javelin to which the ἀγκύλη was attached was called μεσάγκυλον. (Pollux, 1.136; Schol. ad Eur. Orest. 1477; Xen. Anab. 4.2, § 28; Verg. A. 9.665; Ov. Met. 12.321; Cic. de Orat. 1.57.242; Brut. 78.271.) The annexed figure, taken from Sir W. Hamilton's Etruscan Vases (iii. pl. 33), represents the amentum attached to the spear at the centre of gravity, a little above the middle.

The amentum added to the effect of throwing the lance by giving it rotation, and hence a greater degree of steadiness and directness in its [p. 1.936]flight, as in the case of a ball shot from a rifle. This supposition both suits the expressions relative

Spear with amentum. (From an Etruscan vase.)

to the insertion of the fingers, and accounts for the frequent use of the verb torquere, “to whirl or twist,” in connexion with this subject. Two fingers were used, the fore and the middle finger: Ammentum digitis tende prioribus (Senec. Phaedr. 820). We also find mention in the Latin grammarians of Hastae ansatae, and Ennius speaks of Ansatis concurrunt undique telis (ap. Macr. 6.1.16). The ansa was probably the same as the amentum, and was so called as being the part which the soldier laid hold of in hurling the spear. (Cf. Saglio, in D. and S., s. v. Amentum.

Under the general terms hasta and ἔγχος were included various kinds of missiles, of which the principal were as follows:--

Lancea (λόγχη, Festus, s. v. Lancea), the lance, a comparatively slender spear commonly used by the Greeks. Iphicrates, who doubled the length of the sword [GLADIUS], also added greatly to the dimensions of the lance. (Diod. 15.44; Nep. Iphicr. 1.3.) This weapon was used by the Grecian horsemen (Plb. 6.23); and by means of a cross-bar to it, which is supposed by Stuart (Ant. of Athens, vol. iii. p. 47; woodcut, fig. 2) to be exhibited on the shafts of three spears in an ancient bas-relief, they mounted their horses with greater facility. This, however, is a mere conjecture: Xenophon describes the way to mount a horse (de Re Eq. 7) and the proper kind of spears for cavalry (ib. 12), and nowhere alludes to this or any other artificial help in mounting.

Pilum (ὑσσός), the javelin, much thicker and stronger than the Grecian lance (Flor. 2.7, = 1.23, Jeep). Its shaft, often made of cornel (Verg. A. 9.698; Ovid, Ov. Met. 8.408), was 4 1/2 feet (3 cubits) long, and the barbed iron head was of the same length, but this extended half-way down the shaft, to which it was attached with extreme care, so that the whole length of the weapon was about 6 feet 9 inches. Each soldier carried two (Plb. 6.23). It was used either to throw or to thrust with; it was peculiar to the Romans, and gave the name of pilani to the division of the army by which it was adopted. It was, however, carried by different classes of troops at different times, and at last, apparently, by all the legionaries (EXERCITUS pp. 784b, 785a). When Marius fought against the Cimbri, he ordered that of the two nails or pins (περόναι) by which the head was fastened to the staff, one should be of iron and the other of wood. The consequence was that, when the pilum struck the shields of the enemy, the wooden nail broke; and as the iron head was thus bent, the spear, owing to the twist in the metal part, still held to the shield and so dragged along the ground. (Plut. Mar. 25.)

Whilst the heavy-armed Roman soldiers bore the long lance and the thick and ponderous javelin, the light-armed used smaller missiles, which, though of different kinds, were included under the general term hastae velitares (Liv. 26.4, 38.20; Plin. Nat. 7.201, 28.34). From γρόσφος, the corresponding Greek term (Plb. 1.40; Strabo iv. p.196), the velites, or light-armed, are called by Polybius γροσφομάχοι (6.19, 20). According to his description the γρόσφος was a dart, with a shaft about 3 feet long and 1 inch in thickness: the iron head was a span long, and so thin and acuminated as to be bent by striking against anything, and thus rendered unfit to be sent back against the enemy. Fig. 3, in the above woodcut, shows one which was found, with nearly four hundred others, in a Roman entrenchment at Meon Hill, in Gloucestershire. (Skelton's Engraved Illustrations, vol. i. pl. 45.)

The light infantry of the Roman army used a similar weapon, called “a spit” (veru, verutum, Liv. 21.55; σαύνιον, Diod. 14.27; Festus, s. v. Samnites). It was adopted by them from the Samnites (Verg. A. 7.665) and the Volsci (Georg. 2.168). Its shaft was 3 1/2 feet long, its point 5 inches (Veget. 2.15). Fig. 4, in the above woodcut, represents the head of a dart in the Royal Collection at Naples; it may be taken as a specimen of the verutum, and may be contrasted with fig. 5, which is the head of a lance in the same collection. The Romans adopted in like manner the gaesum, which was properly a Celtic weapon (Liv. 28.45); it was given as a reward to any soldier who wounded an enemy (Plb. 6.37). Sparus is evidently the same word with the English spar and spear. It was the rudest missile of the whole class, and only used when better could not be obtained. (Verg. A. 11.682; Serv. in loc., “sparus est rusticum telum in modum pedi recurvum”; Nepos, Epam. 9.1; Sallust, Sal. Cat. 56; Gel. 10.25.)

Besides the terms jaculum, spiculum, and venabulum (ἄκων, ἀκόντιον), which probably denoted lighter darts used in hunting as well as in battle (Thuc. 2.4; Cic. in Verr. 5.3, § 7, ad Fam. 5.12; § 5; Verg. A. 10.52; Serv. in loc.; Ov. Met. 8.410; Flor. l.c.), we find in classical authors the names of various other spears which were characteristic of particular nations. Thus, Servius (on Aen. 7.164) states that, as the pilum was proper to the Romans and the gaesum to the Gauls (cf. Aen. 8.661; Propert. 5.10, 42), so the sarisa was the spear peculiar to the Macedonians. (On the extraordinary length of the sarisa, see EXERCITUS p. 778; Grote, Excursus on ch. 92; on [p. 1.937]the spelling of the word, L. and S. s. v. σάρισα.) The Thracian ῥομφαία, rhomphaea or rumpia, has been compared to the sarisa on the strength of a passage in Livy (31.39), but was really a sword (cf. GLADIUS); whereas the Illyrian σιβύνη is justly described as a venabulum or hunting-spear (σιβύνιον, Plb. 6.23.9; σιγύνη, Hdt. 5.9; Antip. Sidon. 13; sibina, Enn. Annal. 7.115; sibyna, Festus; sibones, Gel. 10.25).

The iron head of the German spear, called framea, was short and narrow, but very sharp. The Germans used it with great effect either for hurling or thrusting: they gave to each youth a framea and a shield on coming of age (Tac. Germ. 6, 13, 18, 24; Juv. 13.79).

The falarica or phalarica was a missile of the largest dimensions, deriving its name from the falae or wooden towers used in sieges (cf. HELEPOLIS), from which it was usually discharged by an engine (Fest., Non. s.v. Veget. 4.18; Serv. ad Aen. 9.705; Gel. 10.25). Livy (21.8) describes one employed by the Saguntines, and impelled by the aid of twisted ropes; it was large and ponderous, having a head of iron 3 feet in length, which carried flaming pitch and tow. This sort was weighed near the top by a circular mass of lead (Isid. Orig. 18.7). We also find a falarica hurled from the hand, mostly, however, in poetry as a feat of gigantic strength (Verg. Aen. l.c.; Lucan 6.196; Sil. Ital. 1.351; Grat. Falisc. Cyneg. 342), but in real life by a Spanish tribe (Liv. 34.14). The matara, mataris or materis, a Celtic word, denotes a broad-tipped spear used by the Gauls (Auct. ad Herenn. 4.32.43; Caes. Gal. 1.26; Liv. 7.24; μάδαρις, παλτοῦ τι εἶδος, Strab. iv. p.196; Hesych.); the tragula (in some senses, but perhaps not in this one, derived from traho; see the Dictionaries) was probably barbed, as it required to be cut out of the wound (Sallust. ap. Non. p. 553, 29; Caes. Gal. 5.35; Gell. l.c.).

The careful antiquarian researches of recent years have led to the discovery of many specimens of Roman weapons, especially in Germany and Switzerland; the results of these finds, styled “important” by Guhl and Koner (p. 772), do not tend to the overthrow of previous established conclusions. A genuine old-German framea has not, it appears, yet been dug up out of its native soil (ib. p. 775).

Among the decorations which the Roman generals bestowed on their soldiers, more especially for saving the life of a fellow-citizen, was a spear without a head, called hasta pura (Verg. A. 6.760; Serv. in loc.; Festus, s. v. Hasta; Sueton. Claud. 28; Tac. Ann. 3.21). The gift of it is sometimes recorded in funeral inscriptions.

The caelibaris hasta (Festus, s. v.) having been fixed into the body of a gladiator lying dead on the arena, was used at marriages to part the hair of the bride (Ov. Fast. 2.559 foll.; Plut. Quaest. Rom. 87).

A spear was erected at auctions [AUCTIO], and when tenders were received for public contracts (locationes). It served both to announce by a conventional sign conspicuous at a distance that a sale was going on, and to show that it was conducted under the authority of the public functionaries (Cic. de Off. 2.8, § 29; Nepos, Att. 6; Festus, s. v. Hasta). Hence an auction was called hasta, and hastarium (Tertull. Apol. 13) is either an auction-room or an auctioneer's catalogue: in modern Italian asta means only an auction, never a spear. It was also the practice to set up a spear in the court of the CENTUMVIRI

The throwing of the spear (ἀκυντισμός) was one of the gymnastic exercises of the Greeks (Krause, Gymnastik und Agonistik, 1.465 ff.; PENTATHLON). On Greek spears in general, cf. Droysen, Kriegsalterth. pp. 17-19 in Hermann-Blümner; Guhl and Koner, ed. 5, pp. 314-318; W. Leaf in Journ. Hell. Soc. 4.299 ff.; on Roman, Marquardt, Staatsverw. 2.328 ff.; Guhl and Koner, pp. 772-775.

[J.Y] [W.W]

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  • Cross-references from this page (72):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.27
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.44
    • Euripides, Hecuba, 1155
    • Euripides, Orestes, 1477
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.9
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.40
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.41
    • Homer, Iliad, 15.678
    • Homer, Iliad, 20.277
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.543
    • Homer, Iliad, 15.495
    • Homer, Iliad, 16.612
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.531
    • Homer, Odyssey, 22.259
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.4
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 4.7.16
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 4.2
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 6.2
    • Homer, Iliad, 10.153
    • Homer, Iliad, 10.76
    • Homer, Iliad, 12.298
    • Homer, Iliad, 13.443
    • Homer, Iliad, 17.297
    • Homer, Iliad, 17.528
    • Homer, Iliad, 19.387
    • Homer, Iliad, 19.390
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.326
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.328
    • Homer, Iliad, 3.18
    • Homer, Iliad, 3.340
    • Homer, Iliad, 6.3
    • Homer, Iliad, 6.319
    • Homer, Iliad, 6.320
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 66
    • Polybius, Histories, 1.40
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.23
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.23.9
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.37
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.25
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.26
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 5.35
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 12.321
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8.408
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8.410
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 12.130
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.760
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 7.665
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.698
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.705
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 10.52
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 11.682
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.665
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.21
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 1.57
    • Sallust, Catilinae Coniuratio, 56
    • Lucan, Civil War, 6.196
    • Cornelius Nepos, Atticus, 6
    • Cornelius Nepos, Epaminondas, 9.1
    • Cornelius Nepos, Iphicrates, 1.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 16.62
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 7, 24
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 20
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 55
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 45
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 31, 39
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 4
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 2.8
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 10.25
    • Plutarch, Caius Marius, 25
    • Ovid, Fasti, 2
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