greave, a legging. A pair of greaves (κνημῖδες
) was one of the six articles of armour which formed the
complete equipment of a Greek or Etruscan warrior [ARMA
], and likewise of a Roman soldier, as fixed by
Servius Tullius (Liv. 1.43
). The greaves were
always put on before the thorax, which made it difficult to bend the body
, &c.). In the Homeric
is a standing epithet of
the Achaeans, and proves the general use of the greave. The Homeric greaves
were usually made of bronze (Il. 7.41
). The greaves of Achilles
) are said to be made of tin (κασσίτερος
), and “rang terribly” (Il. 21.593
), a statement which has caused difficulty, as tin
does not resound when struck. Helbig (Homerisches Epos,
196) suggests either that tin was an unfamiliar metal to the poet, or that
the greaves were made of bronze, plated with tin. The Homeric greaves were
sometimes “fitted with silver anklets” (ἀργυρέοισιν ἐπισφυρίοις,
, &c.), which were perhaps the ring-like margins at the
bottom of the greave (see illustration below).
In historical times, bronze was the usual material, as shown by the specimens
discovered. In poetical passages greaves are described as of orichalc (Hes.
122), silver, electrum, and gold (Verg. A. 7.634
Greaves frequently had a lining, probably of leather, felt or cloth. Traces
of leather were found in a specimen from the Crimea (Antiq. du Bosp.
pl. xxviii., fig. 8; i. p. 195); and many specimens, in
the British Museum and elsewhere, have a row of small holes round the edge
for the attachment of the lining (cf. the [p. 2.261]
engraving s. v. GALEA
method of fitting the greave to the leg so as not to hurt it was by the
interposition of a kind of sponge (ἀχίλλειος
), which was also used for the lining of helmets.
Aristotle (Hist. An.
v., xvi.) describes it as
of remarkable fineness, closeness, and toughness, and as used for the
purpose of deadening a blow.
The greaves were accurately modelled to fit the leg, the two sides meeting
exactly at the back of the calf. In order to put them on it was necessary
forcibly to open them. How accurately the greave was intended to fit at the
back of the leg may be observed in the heroic bronze fragment of which a
view is given below.
Greaves thus fitted required in many cases no other fastening than their own
elasticity. Often, nevertheless, they were further secured with two straps,
as may be seen in the woodcut at Vol. I. p. 189. Their form and appearance
will be best understood from the accompanying woodcuts.
Bronze Shield and pair of Greaves. (Brit. Museum.)
This woodcut represents the interior view of a bronze shield and a pair of
bronze greaves which were found by Signor Campanari in an Etruscan tomb, and
are now in the British Museum. These greaves are made right and left.
The annexed illustration represents a fragment
Ancient Greave. (British Museum.)
of a bronze statue of heroic size, found in Magna Graecia, and now
in the British Museum. It is the right leg of a warrior, wearing a
closely-fitting greave, adorned above the knee with a carefully worked
Gorgoneion of the archaic type. (Journ. of Hellen. Stud.,
lxix.) The top of the greave is seen projecting somewhat above the knee. The
illustration shows very clearly the ankle-ring (ἐπισφύριον
: see the explanation proposed above). That the
Greeks took delight in handsome and convenient greaves may be inferred from
Homer's allusions to the subject, and from the extant remains. A specimen of
an elaborately adorned Greek greave is engraved in Antiq. du Bosp.
pl. xxviii. fig. 7 (= Baumeister,
The modern Greeks and Albanians wear greaves, in form resembling sembling
those of their ancestors, but made of softer materials, such as velvet
ornamented with gold, and fastened with hooks and eyes (cf. Hobhouse,
i. p. 133).
Among the Romans, greaves made of bronze and richly embossed were worn by
gladiators. Specimens have been found at Pompeii (Overbeck, p. 458;
fig. 2347-9; Gell, Pompeiana,
1817, pl. 18). In the time of the Empire
greaves had not been entirely abandoned (Lamprid. Alex. Sev.
40), but were a distinguishing mark of the centurions. Compare a relief from
Verona (Lindenschmidt, Tracht und Bewaffnung des röm.
pl. 1, fig. 6) and the relief from Petronell
, fig. 2276, and p. 2060; cf.
also Zoega, Bassirel.
pl. xvi.). At an earlier period the
heavy-armed wore a single greave on the right leg, as that which was
foremost in close combat (Veget. de Re Mil.
1.20). The Roman
greaves were further distinguished from those of Greece, by the fact that
they only covered the front part of the leg (προκνγμίς,
Leggings of ox-hide or strong leather, probably of the form already
described, were worn by agricultural labourers (Hon. Od. 24.228
; Pliny, Plin. Nat. 19.7
; Pallad. de Re
1.43) and by huntsmen (Hor. Sat.
2.3, 234). The word κνημὶς
was also used in a more general sense (κνημίς: τὸ
Hesych. sub voce