tortoise, was the name given to several other objects.
1. To the Lyra, because it was sometimes made of a tortoise-shell. [LYRA
2. To an arched or vaulted roof (Verg. A.
; Cic. Brutt.
, 87). Thus, for instance, in a Roman house, when the Cavum Aedium
was roofed all over and had no opening or compluvium in the centre, the
Cavum Aedium was called Testudo (Varr. L. L.
pp. 670, 685.]
3. In military affairs testudo (χελώνη
used as a generic term for all kinds of movable roofs used to protect men or
engines. The first mention of a χελώνη
in Xen. Hell. 3.1
. There were different kinds of such shed-like constructions,
all of which were made of wood and mounted on wheels.
(13), 7) was a shed-like protection
for the battering-ram; see ARIES
(Apollod. 138, Wescher)
(Anonym. ap. Wescher, p. 214),
used for protecting soldiers when they were undermining a wall. Its front
was quite perpendicular, so that it could be run up close to the wall; and
the line of the roof formed by the two sides,
which sides themselves sloped down to the ground, extended
backwards as in the accompanying cut (taken from Marquardt,
ii.2 529; cf. in some
measure Wescher, Poliorcétique des Grecs,
lvii.). This is the way Vitr. 10.21
and Athen. de Mech.
19 Wescher, are to be reconciled; for the
figure given by Muller in Baumeister (fig. 577, [p. 2.808]
vol. i. p. 540) does not agree with Vitruvius, l.c.
) χελώνη χωστρὶς
; “testudo quae ad
congestionem fossarum paratur,”
(14), who elaborately describes it
after Philo the Athenian, giving numerous measurements) was used when the
ground in front of the walls of a besieged town had to be altered in any way
to further the siege, e. g. ditches to be filled, acclivities levelled,
&c. Its distinctive feature was that it had on the front next the
enemy a sloping roof, as in the subjoined cut.
The size of this testudo, as that of other testudines, of course varied. That
described by Philo appears to have been about 39 by 35 feet (Droysen,
p. 227). All the testudines were as a
general rule covered with a double layer of fresh hides, which were stuffed
with sea-weed or chaff steeped in vinegar, or other non-inflammable
substances (Vitruv. l.c.
). These coverings were
and sacks of this nature were
also used for extinguishing fires (Dig. 33
) and for receiving the
blows of missiles discharged from engines (Caes. Bell. Civ.
) χελώνη ἀρετή
(Athen. de Mech.
38 Wescher), probably like (b
), except that its roof appears to have been
arched, not pointed. It seems to have been specially adapted to withstand
great weights when hurled down on the besiegers (Apollod. p. 138 fin.
For further details on these testudines, see Vitruvius, l.c.;
Apollodorus, pp. 140 ff., 154 ff., Wescher; and Droysen,
pp. 287 ff.
4. The name of Testudo was also applied to the covering made by a close body
of soldiers: the soldiers of the outside rank placing their long
semi-cylindrical shaped shields (clipei,
) in front, and the others placing
their flat shields (scuta,
) over their heads to secure
themselves against the darts of the enemy. The shields fitted so closely
together as to present one unbroken surface without any insterstices between
them, and were also so firm that men could walk upon them, and even horses
and chariots be driven over them (D. C. 49.30
A testudo was formed (testudinem facere
in battle to ward off the arrows and other missiles of the enemy (cf. Liv. 10.29
; and phalange
in Caes. Bell. Gall.
1.24), or, which was
more frequently the case, to form a protection to the soldiers when they
advanced to the walls or gates of a town for the purpose of attacking them
(Dio Cass. l.c.;
;--Caes. Gal. 2.6
Sal. Jug. 94
; Tac. Ann. 13.39
See cut annexed, taken from the Antonine Column).
Testudo of shields.
Sometimes the shields were disposed in such a way as to make the testudo
slope. The soldiers in the first line stood upright, those in the second
stooped a little, and each line successively was a little lower than the
preceding down to the last, where the soldiers rested on one knee. Such a
disposition of the shields was called Fastigata
on account of their sloping like the roof of a building,
κεραμωτῷ καταρρύτῳ παραπλήσιον
). The advantages of this plan
were obvious: the stones and missiles thrown upon: the shields rolled off
them like water from a roof; besides which, other soldiers frequently
advanced upon them to attack the enemy upon the walls. The Romans were
accustomed to form this kind of testudo, as an exercise, in the games of the
Circus (Liv. 44.9