rarely E´SSEDA--AE (Sen. Ep.
56.4), said to be a
Celtic word (Jornand. de Reb.
100.2; cf. Ginzrot, 1.377), the name of a chariot used,
especially in war, by the Britons, Gauls, and Belgae, perhaps also by the
Germans, (Verg. G. 3.204
; Serv. ad
; Pers. 6.47).
According to the account given by Caesar (Bell. Gall.
and confirmed by Diodorus Siculus (5.21, 29), the method of using the
essedum in the ancient British army was very similar to the practice of the
Greeks in the heroic ages, as described by Homer and in the article CURRUS
The principal difference
seems to have been that the essedum was stronger and more solid than the
that it was open before instead
of behind; hence the driver was able to run along the pole (de temone Britanno excidet,
), and then to retreat with the
greatest speed into the body of the car, which he drove with extraordinary
swiftness and skill. From the extremity of the pole he threw his missiles,
especially the cateia
(Val. Flacc. Argon.
6.83). It appears also that these cars were
purposely made as noisy as possible, probably by the creaking and clanging
of the wheels (strepitu rotaum,
Caes. l. c.;
compare Tac. Agric.
and that this was done in order to strike dismay into the enemy. The drivers
of these chariots were called in Latin Essedarii
(Caes. Gal. 4.24
Cic. Fam. 7.6
); there were about 4,000 of
them in the army of Cassibelaunus (Caes. Gal.
). Tacitus (Agric.
12) observes that the driver of
the car ranked above his fighting companion, which was the reverse of the
The essedum was adopted for purposes of convenience and luxury among the
Romans (Propert. 2.1, 76; Cic. Att. 6.1
2.16, 49). Cicero (Phil. ii.
24.58) mentions the use of it by Antonius as a piece of effeminacy
disgraceful to a tribune of the people: in the time of Seneca it seems to
have become common; for he reckons “esseda deaurata” among
things “quae matronarum usibus necessaria sint” (fr.
48, Haase). We find emperors and generals using
it as a travelling carriage (Suet. Calig.
6). As used by the Romans, the essedum had no seat for
the driver: the traveller drove himself (Ov. l.c.), and always, it would
seem, with a pair of horses, whereas with the cisium the number varied. The
essedum, like the cisium, appears to have been kept for hire at the
post-houses or stations (Salonem quinto
] The essedum must have been similar to the
except that the
latter had a cover. (Marquardt, Privatl.
712 f.) The essedarii
of inscriptions are explained by Marquardt
706) as the builders, not the drivers of
esseda: but other essedarii
at Rome seem to
have been popular favourites in connexion with the gladiatorial shows, and
these perhaps were captive Britons compelled to fight in the arena (Suet.