), a chariot, a car.
These terms are especially applied to the two-wheeled cars used in battle
and in racing. They differed from the carpentum
in being open overhead, and from the cisium
being closed in front. The plural ἅρματα
generally used to signify the chariot and all its appurtenances-pole, yoke,
reins, &c.--excluding the horse (Buchholz, Die homerischen
2.1, 219, comparing τόξον
). The words ἅρμα
), and δίφρος
(ib. 481) are also
employed for the light cars used on journeys. They frequently had, bound on
to the body, a basket, πείρινς
), which must have been capacious
to hold the presents Telemachus got from Menelaus (Od. 15.102
Telemachus and Pisistratus sat on this πείρινς,
as it was unlikely that they would stand for a whole two days' journey
; and Buchholz, op. cit.
p. 228). The
most essential parts in the construction of the currus
- 1. The antyx (ἄντυξ）
or rim. Either on three sides of the chariot or only in front there
was a curved (hence ἄγκυλον, κάμπυλον
Il. 5.231, 6.39) barrier (ἐπιδιφριάς,
Il. 10.475; περίφραγμα, Poll. 1.142), sometimes of light wood,
sometimes of leather or metal (cf. for the latter Il. 23.503; and Helbig, Das
homerische Epos, pp. 95, 103). It was generally a sort
of trellis-work made by interlacing strips of the material used;
hence probably δίφρος εὐπλεκὴς or
εὐπλεκτός (Il. 23.436, 335). In different chariots this barrier was of
different heights: sometimes it did not come up to the knee,
sometimes it rose to near the waist, but in the Greek war-chariot it
was seldom, if ever, higher. Warriors in a chariot are mentioned as
being wounded in the stomach (Il.
13.398). Round the top of this barrier was the [p. 1.578]curved rim (ἄντυξ), which was generally raised above the trellis-work
barrier by bars. A variety of technical names belonging to these
bars are to be found in Poll. 1.143. The two ἄντυγες of Hera's chariot (δοιαὶ δὲ περίδρομοι ἄντυγές εἰσι,
Il. 5.728) are to be explained
either with Grashof (Ueber das Fuhrwerk bei Homer und
Hesiod, p. 28) of a double rim, one rising above the other,
or with Helbig (op. cit. p. 105) of a rim at both
sides of the chariot. The former perhaps suits the sense of περι- ( “all round,” in
opposition to ἀμφι-,
“on both sides” ) better than the latter. The ἄντυξ often served to fasten the reins
to (Il. 5.262). As the ἄντυξ was curved, a pliant wood was
required for it; and Homer (Hom. Il.
21.37) mentions the wild fig-tree as so used. The term
ἄντυξ is sometimes applied to
the whole chariot (Soph. El. 746).
- 2. The axle, usually made of oak (φήγινος ἄξων,
Hom. Il. 5.838, imitated by Virgil,
faginus axis, Georg. 3.172), and sometimes also
of ilex, ash, or elm (Plin. Nat.
16.229). It was of iron or brass in the chariots of the gods
(Il. 5.723; 13.30). The extremities were called
ἀκραξόνια (Poll. 1.145) or χνοαί (Hesych. sub
voce), and sometimes ended in the head of an animal (Guhl
and Koner, Das Leben der Griechen und
Römern, p. 306, ed. 4). The iron plates on the axle
round which the wheels revolved were called εὑραί (Poll. 1.145). The axle was about seven feet
long (Guhl and Koner, p. 304).
- 3. The wheels (κυκλά, τροχοί,
rotae) revolved upon the axle, as in
modern carriages. They consisted of (a）
radii), usually four in number, but in
the chariot of Hera there were eight (ὀκτάκνημα,
Il. 5.723). With tips of iron
(ἀετοί, Poll. 1.145) at each end
on the outer side, they were fixed in (b) a felloe (ἰτύς), consisting of four or more arcs, ἁψῖδες (Hesiod, Op. 426;
σῶτρα, Poll. 1.144), which of
course had to be of flexible wood (Il.
4.482-486; 21.37), heat being used to assist in
producing the curvature (Theocr. 25.247-251), bound on the outside
by (c) an iron tire
Il. 23.519; ἐπίσσωτρα,
Il. 5.725; canthus, Pers. 5.71). In Hera's chariot the tire was
of bronze and the felloe gold (Il.
5.725). On the inner side they were fixed in (d) the nave
II. 5.726; χνοή, Aesch. Theb. 153; modiolus,
Plin. Nat. 9.8). There are several
technical terms for the different parts of the nave (Poll. 1.145).
The external ring of iron into which the spokes fitted was called
θώραξ or πλημνόδετον. The internal ring round the hole through
which the axle passed was γάρνον or
δέστρον. What was probably a flat
ring prevented the wheels slipping off, and was called παραξόνιον, ἐπίβολος, ἔμβολος: it was
itself kept in its place by the linchpin (ἐμβολοδέτης). The wheels (Buchholz, op. cit. p. 224) were not more than thirty
inches in diameter: this appears to rest on Hesiod,
Op. 426, where Proclus and Tzetzes take ἅμαξα as the wheel.
- 4. The body of the chariot, δίφρος, also called ὑπερτερία by Poll. 1.144, though in Homer that word
appears to mean the upper part shaped like a cart. (See Ameis on
Od. 6.70, who refutes
Göbel's view that it is a covering to keep off sun and
rain.) All efforts were made to lessen the weight of the chariot,
and we have evidence that they were very light. They drive over
heaps of arms and corpses (Il.
11.534), and even across ditches (Il. 8.179); and Diomede thinks of carrying a chariot on
his shoulders (Il. 10.505). It
consisted of some kind of interlaced straps of leather (ἱμάντωσις, τόνος, Poll. 1.142). In
Hera's chariot they were of gold and silver cords (Il. 5.727). Doubtless this was bound
around to a narrow frame of some rigid substance, wood or iron; and
it is to this perhaps that the epithets πρωτοπαγής, κολλητός, which are applied to the δίφρος (Il.
5.193; 19.395), refer.
Possibly this framework at the back of the chariot, which was always
cut straight, is what Pollux (1.144) means by πτέρνα (τὸ δὲ πρὸ ποῦ τόνου
οὗ πρῶτον ἐπιβαίνουσιν οἱ ἀναβαίνοντες,
πτέρνα); though Guhl and Koner (p. 305) say it is the
boards which were placed over the straps and on which the
charioteers stood. If we allow a foot on each side of the axle for
the wheels, the breadth of the δίφρος
would be about five feet.
- 5. The pole (ῥυμός,
temo), made of wood and polished (Il. 24.271). From representations of
chariots, we find the pole sometimes as it were a continuation of
the flooring of the δίφρος,
sometimes fastened into the axle, sometimes above it. It is found
fastened by two forked stays (στήριγμα,
furca, Plut. Cor.
Plut. Cor. 24). These were either
projecting from the axle, or, as is more probable, at the inner end
of the pole (Marquardt, Privatl. der Römer,
p. 182). The pole was sometimes straight for some distance from its
point of fastening, and curved rapidly upwards at its extremity
(πρώτη πέζα, ἀκρορρύμιον),
or else was in its whole length quite straight and inclined at an
angle: in any case the top of the pole was on a level with the necks
of the horses. The extremity of the pole
at times ended in the head of a bird, a ram, or the like.
Towards the extremity of the pole the yoke was fastened about a pin
(ἕστωρ) fixed in the pole. There
was frequently a fastening running from the top of the pole to the
ἄντυξ, in order to divide the
traction-force on two points. For details as to the yoke and its
fastening, see JUGUM; ; and for the reins,
All the parts now enumerated are seen in an [p. 1.579]
chariot preserved in the Vatican, a representation of which is given in the
Carriages with two or even three poles were used by the Lydians (Aesch. Pers. 47
). The Greeks and Romans, on
the other hand, appear never to have used more than one pole and one yoke,
and the currus thus constructed was commonly drawn by two horses, which were
attached to it by their necks, and therefore called δίζυγες ἵπποι
, § 1), gemini jugales
(Verg. A. 7.280
), equi bijuges
3.91). We occasionally
find in Homer that only one horse was used (Il.
), and it must have been fastened by
traces; but a pair of horses is much the most frequent. They drew the car by
means of the yoke and its collars (λέπαδνα
); for they were not, Helbig thinks (op. cit.
106), fastened to the chariot by traces. Thus in the
Iliad, when the pole breaks (6.38 if., 16.360), the horses simply run on
with the yoke and front part of the broken pole, and the car is left behind;
again, when the yoke breaks and the horses run to different sides, they do
not, Helbig says, upset the chariot, as they would do if they had been
fastened by traces (Il. 23.392
this latter passage, however, it seems most probable that the shock which
could throw Eumelus out with such violence must have upset the light
chariot. Besides the yoke horses, there was sometimes a παρήορος
(Soph. El. 722
(Aesch. Ag. 842
(Stat. Theb. 6.462
18.33), which was fastened by a trace affixed to
(Guhl and Koner, op. cit.
p. 305), if we may judge from vase-pictures
and as the word σειραφόρος
would lead us to
infer. But the main work of traction was done by the yoke horses (cf. Aesch. Ag. 1640
[corrected from 1679]).
Helbig (op. cit.
p. 91) thinks that they were
fastened to the yoke or to one of the yoke-horses; yet he holds (p. 106,
note 6) that traces were used in the case of a team of four horses. At any
rate the fastenings of the παρήορος
). These outriggers had often
Currus, with three horses. (Ginzrot, i. p. 342.)
riders like our postilions (cf. Suet. Tib.
, and Saglio, Dict.
fig. 2223). A team of four
horses is mentioned three times in Homer (Hom. Il.
; Od. 13.81
), but the passages are not by any
means sufficient to prove a general use of four horses, and they seem to
refer to the Olympic games (see Buchholz, op. cit.
1.2, 177-8). In the above cut we also observe traces passing between the two
and proceeding from the front
of the chariot on each side of the middle horse. These probably assisted in
attaching the third, or extra horse.
The Latin name for a chariot and pair was bigae
(Verg. A. 2.272
; Plin. Nat.
, et alibi
); in later: Latin
; Plin. Nat. 39.89
2, 45, et
). When a third horse was added, it was called triga
) or trigae
18.36); and by
the same analogy a chariot and four was called quadrigae
(Verg. G. 1.512
Div. 2.7. 0
, 144, et
), in later Latin quadriga
; Suet. Vit. 17
); in Greek, τετραορία
Four horses were the largest
number usually employed, but we also read of a chariot drawn by six horses,
called sejugis (Orelli,
2593, 6179), but more usually in the plural sejuges
; Plin. Nat.
; Apul. Flor.
p. 356, No. 16),
18.36), like bigae and quadrigae; of a chariot drawn by eight horses
6179); and of one drawn by ten horses (decemjugis,
), which was the number driven by Nero in
the Olympic games (Suet. Nero 24
). In all
cases the horses were driven abreast.
As the works of ancient art, especially fictile vases, abound in
representations of quadrigae, numerous instances may be observed, in which
the two middle horses (ὁ μέσος δεξιὸς καὶ ὁ
Aristoph. Cl. 122
) are yoked together as
in the bigae; and, as the, two lateral ones (ὁ
δεξιόσειρος, ὁ ἀριστερὸς σειραῖος,
dexterior, sinisterior funalis equus,
Suet. Tib. 6
; and cf. Jebb on Soph. El. 721
) have collars (λέραδνα
) equally with the yoke-horses, we may
presume that from the top of these proceeded the ropes which were tied to
the rim of the car, and by which the trace-horses assisted to draw it. The
first figure in the following woodcut is the chariot of Aurora, as painted
on a vase found at Canosa. (Gerhard, Ueber Lichtgottheiten,
pl. iii. fig. 1.) The reins of the two middle horses pass through rings at
the extremities of the yoke. All the particulars which have been mentioned
are still more distinctly seen in the second figure, taken from a
terra-cotta at Vienna. (Ginzrot, vol. ii. pp. 107, 108.) It represents a
chariot over-thrown in passing the goal at the circus. The charioteer having
fallen backwards, the pole and yoke are thrown upwards into the air; the two
trace-horses have fallen on their knees, and the two yoke-horses are
prancing on their hind legs.
If we may rely on the evidence of numerous works of art, the currus was
sometimes drawn by four horses without either yoke or pole; for we see two
of them diverging to the right hand and two to the left, as in the cameo in
the royal collection of Berlin, which exhibits Apollo surrounded by the
signs of the zodiac. If the ancients really drove the quadrigae thus
harnessed, we can only suppose the charioteer to have checked its speed by
pulling up the horses, and leaning with his whole body back-wards, so as to
make the bottom of the car at its hindermost border scrape the ground, an
act and an attitude which seem not unfrequently to be intended in antique
The currus, like the cisium, was adapted to carry two persons, and on this
account was called in Greek δίφρος.
the two was of [p. 1.580]
course the driver. He was called
because he held the reins,
and his companion παραιβάτης,
from going by
his side or near him. Though in all respects superior, the παραιβάτης
was often obliged to place himself
He is so represented in the bigae at p. 129, and in
the Iliad (19.397
) Achilles himself stands
behind his charioteer, Automedon. On the other hand, a personage of the
highest rank may drive his own carriage, and then an inferior may be his
as when Nestor conveys
Machaon (πὰρ δὲ Μαχάων βαίνε,
), and Hera, holding the reins and whip, conveys Athena, who is
in full armour (5.720-775). In such cases a kindness, or even a compliment,
was conferred by the driver upon
Currus with four horses. (See p. 579 b.).
him whom he conveyed, as when Dionysius, tyrant of Sicily,
“himself holding the reins, made Plato his παραιβάτης.
” (Aelian, Ael.
Chariots were frequently employed on the field of battle not only by the
Asiatic nations, but also by the Greeks in the heroic age. The ἀριστῆες,
i. e. the nobility, or men of rank,
who wore complete suits of armour, all took their chariots with them, and in
an engagement placed themselves in front. In the Homeric battles we find
that the horseman, who for the purpose of using his weapons, and in
consequence of the weight of his armour, is under the necessity of taking
the place of παραιβάτης
(see above the
woodcut of the triga), often assails or challenges a distant foe from the
chariot; but that, when he encounters his adversary in close combat, they
both dismount, “springing from their chariots to the ground,”
and leaving them to the care of the ἡνίοχοι.
Hes. Scut. Herc.
370-372.) As soon as the hero had finished
the trial of his strength with his opponent, he returned to his chariot, one
of the chief uses of which was to rescue him from danger.
In later times the chariots were chiefly employed in the public games. The
usual form of those used in the Grecian public games appears on the coins of
victors, as in the annexed coin of Hieron II. of Syracuse. Those used in the
Roman games of the Circus are figured under CIRCUS
Their form was the same, except that they
Chariot in Grecian public games. (Coin of Hieron H. of Syracuse.
were more elegantly decorated. They had no ἄντυγες,
but were raised in front. They had low wheels,
quite at the back, and there was no space to stand in behind the wheels.
(See cut p. 434.) Chariots were not much used by the Romans. The ancient
Italians never fought from chariots. When such appear, they are either in
representations of Greek events or are triumphal cars (Saglio,
p. 1641). In a Roman triumph the general ascended to
the Capitol in a chariot adorned with ivory (currus
Ov. Tr. 4.2
or gold (aureos,
9.22), which was cylindrical, with sides very much higher than the Greek
chariots. An example may be seen in the cuts under TRIUMPHUS
which in a measure
exemplify what Zonaras says (7.21): τὸ δὲ ἅρμα ἐς
πύργον περιφεροῦς τρόπον ἐξείργαστο.
The utmost skill of
the painter and the sculptor was employed to enhance its beauty and
splendour. More particularly the extremities of the axle, of the pole, and
of the yoke, were highly wrought in the form of animals' heads. Wreaths of
laurel were sometimes hung round it (currum
Claudian, de Laud. Stil.
130), and were also fixed to the heads of the four
snow-white horses. (Mart. 7.8
.) The car was elevated so that he who triumphed
might be the most conspicuous person in the procession, and for the same
reason he was obliged to stand erect (in curru stantis
Ovid, Ov. Pont. 3.4
). The triumphal car had in general no
pole, the horses being led by men who were stationed at their heads.
Chariots executed in terra-cotta (quadrigae fictiles,
Plin. Nat. 28.16
), in bronze, or in
marble, an example of which last is shown in the following woodcut from an
ancient chariot in the Vatican, were among the most beautiful ornaments of
temples and other public edifices. No pains were spared in their decoration;
and Pliny informs us (e.g. H. N.
34.86) that some of the most
eminent artists were employed upon them. In numerous instances they were
designed to perpetuate the fame of those who had conquered in the
chariot-race (Paus. 6.10
). As the emblem of victory, the quadriga was sometimes adopted by
the Romans to grace the triumphal arch by being placed on its summit; and
even in the private houses of great families, chariots were displayed as the
indications of rank, or the memorials of
conquest and of triumph. (Juv. 8.3
The chief works on the subject of the chariot are: Grashof, Ueber das
Fuhrwerk bei Homer und
Buchholz, Die homerischen Realien,
217-232; Guhl and Koner, Das Leben
der Griechen und Römern,
pp. 304-308; Helbig,
Das homerische Epos,
pp. 88-110; Saglio in Dict.
1.1633-1643. The last two works give numerous