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TUBA (σάλπιγξ), a bronze trumpet, distinguished from the cornu by being straight while the latter was curved. Thus Ovid (Ov. Met. 1.98):
Non tuba directi non aeris cornua flexi.

(Cf. Vegetius, 3.5.) Forcellini in his Lexicon (s. v. Tuba) is mistaken in supposing that Aulus Gellius (5.8) and Macrobius (Macr. 6.8), who copies him, intend to affirm that the tuba was crooked. The words of the former do not mean that both the lituus and the tuba were crooked, but that both that kind of trumpet which was called a lituus and also the staff of the augur were crooked, and that it was doubtful which of the two had lent its name to the other. [LITUUS]

The σάλπιγξ or tuba was employed in war for signals of every description (Thuc. 5.10, 6.69; Xen. Anab. 4.4, 22; Tac. Hist. 2.29; Caesar, B.C. 3.46; Liv. 39.27). Droysen remarks that the only passage in a Greek historian where κέρας appears to be used for a Greek military signal is Xen. Anab. 2.2, 4; and that there κέρατι is interpolated from Cyrop. 5.3, 45. As regards Roman military signals with tubae, cornua and bucina, see EXERCITUS Vol. 1. p. 801.

The trumpet was used also at the games and public festivals (Juv. 6.249, 10.214; Verg. A. 5.113; Ovid, Ov. Fast. 1.716), also at the last rites to the dead (hinc tuba, candelae, Pers. 3.103; Verg. A. 11.191; Ovid, Ov. Ep. 12.140), and Aulus Gellius (20.2) tells us that those who sounded the trumpet at funerals were termed siticines, and used an instrument of a peculiar form. The tones of the tuba are represented as of a harsh and fear-inspiring character (fractos sonitus tubarum, Verg. G. 4.72; terribilem sonitum aere canoro, Aen. 9.503), which Ennius (Serv. ad Verg. A. 9.503; Priscian, 8.18, 103, ed. Krehl) endeavoured to imitate in the line

At tuba terribili sonitu taratantara dixit.

The invention of the tuba is usually ascribed by ancient writers to the Etruscans (Athenaeus, 4.82; Pollux, 4.85, 87; Diod. 5.40; Serv. ad Verg. A. 8.516; Clem. Al. Strom. i. p. 306), and the epithet ληστοσαλπιγκταὶ (i. e. robber-trumpeters, Photius and Hesych. sub voce and Pollux, l.c.) would seem to indicate that they were equally famous for piracy and trumpeting. It is probable that the σάλπιγξ was of Lydian origin, and was made known in Europe by the Tyrrhenian pirates. It has been remarked that Homer never introduces the σάλπιγξ in his narrative but in comparisons only (Il. 18.219, 21.388; Eustath. and Schol.), which leads us to infer that although known in his time it had been but recently introduced into Greece; and it is certain that, notwithstanding its eminently martial character, it was not until a late period used in the armies of the leading states. By the tragedians its Tuscan origin was fully recognised: Athena in Aeschylus orders the deeptoned piercing Tyrrhenian trumpet to sound (Eumen. 567), Ulysses in Sophocles (Soph. Aj. 17) declares that the accents of his beloved goddess fell upon his ears like the tones of the brazenmouthed Tyrrhenian bell (κώδωνος, i. e. the bellshaped aperture of the trumpet), and similar epithets are applied by Euripides (Phoeniss. 1376, Heraclid. 830), and other Greek (Auctor, Rhes. 988; Brunck, Anal. tom. ii. p. 142) and Roman writers (Tyrrhenus clangor, Verg. A. 8.526; Stat. Theb. 3.650; Tyrrhenae clangore tubae, Silius, 2.19). According to one account it was first fabricated for the Tyrrhenians by Athena, who in consequence was worshipped by the Argives under the title of Σάλπιγξ (Schol. ad Hom. Il. 18.219; Paus. 2.21.3); while at Rome the tubilustrium, or purification of sacred trumpets, was performed on the last day of the Quinquatrus. [QUINQUATRUS] In another legend the discovery is attributed to a mythical king of the Tyrrhenians, Maleus,

Soldiers blowing Tubae and Cornua. (From Trajan's Column.)

son of Hercules and Omphale (Lutat. ad Stat. Theb. 4.224, 6.404; Hyg. Fab. 274; Schol. ad Hom. l.c.); in a third to Pisaeus the Tyrrhenian (Plin. Nat. 7.57; Photius, [p. 2.902]s. v.), and Silius has preserved a tradition (8.490), according to which the origin of this instrument is traced to Vetulonii. (Müller, Die Etrusker, 4.1, 3, 4, 5.)

There appears to have been no essential difference in form between the Greek and Roman or Tyrrhenian trumpets. Both were long, straight bronze tubes gradually increasing in diameter, and terminating in a bell-shaped aperture (κώδων), and often having a horn mouth-piece. They present precisely the same appearance on monuments of very different dates, as may be seen from the cuts annexed, the former of which


is from Trajan's Column, and the latter from an ancient fictile vase. (Hope, Costumes of the Ancients, pl. 156.)

The scholiast on the Iliad (l.c.) reckons six varieties of trumpets; but he speaks of metal instruments generally: the first and fifth only are true trumpets with a straight tube; the first he calls the Grecian σάλπιγξ which Athena discovered for the Tyrrhenians; the fifth, a Persian trumpet, from its name καλάμινος, seems to have been straight like a Greek σάλπιγξ, but perhaps slenderer; the sixth, termed by him κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν the τυρσηνικὴ σάλπιγξ, he describes as bent at the extremity (κώδωνα κεκλασμένον ἔχουσα); but by this we must unquestionably understand the sacred trumpet (ἱερατικὴ σάλπιγξ, Lydus, de Mens. 4.6), the lituus already noticed at the beginning of this article. (Compare Lucan 1.431.) Of the others, the second and fourth are not Greek and are of unknown form; the third is a κάρνυξ, which was a smaller Gallic trumpet, somewhat bent like the lituus, and ornamented with the head of some animal. (See Cohen, Méd. Cons. 19.3.) Reference may be made for further details to Droysen, Gr. Kriegsalterth. 54; Marquardt, Staatsverw. 2.552; K. von Jan, in Baumeister, Denkmäler, 1657-1662.

[W.S] [G.E.M]

hide References (27 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (27):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.21.3
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 17
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.10
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.69
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 2.2
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 2.4
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 4.4
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.219
    • Homer, Iliad, 21.388
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.98
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 11.191
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.113
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 8.516
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 8.526
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.503
    • Vergil, Georgics, 4.72
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.29
    • Lucan, Civil War, 1.431
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7.57
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 27
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 20.2
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 5.8
    • Statius, Thebias, 3
    • Statius, Thebias, 4
    • Statius, Thebias, 6
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.40
    • Ovid, Fasti, 1
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