The Ancient Library

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On this page: Accius – Attius – Achaeus – Achelous – Acheron – Achilles


rear rank of the third line, ready to pick up the arms of the fallen and fill their places. They were also used as assistant workmen and as orderlies. This last employment may have caused the term accensus to be applied to the subordinate officer whom consuls and proconsuls, praetors and pro-prsetors, and all officers of consular and praetorian rank had at their service in ad­dition to lictors. In later times officers chose these attendants out of their own freedmen, sometimes to marshal their way when they had no lictors or had them march­ing behind, sometimes for miscellaneous duties. Thus the prater's accensus had to cry the hours of the day, 3, 6, 9, and 12. Unlike the subordinate officers named apparitors, their term of office expired with that of their superior.

Accius, or Attins (Lucius). A Roman poet, who was born 170 b.c. of a freedman and freedwoman, at Pisaurum in Umbria, and died about 90 b.c. He was the most prolific and, under the Eepublic, the most highly esteemed of tragic poets, especially for his lofty, impassioned style and power­ful descriptions. His talents seem to have secured him a respectable position in Roman society, which he maintained with full con­sciousness of his merits. His poetical career can be traced through a period of thirty-six years, from b.c. 140, when he exhibited a drama under the same sediles as the octo­genarian Pacuvius, to b.c. 104. Of his tragedies, the titles and fragments of some fifty are preserved. Two of these treat of national subjects (see pk/etexta), viz., the Brutus and the Decius. The former dealt with the expulsion of the Tarquins; the latter with the heroic death of Decius at Sentinum, B.C. 295. The rest, composed after Greek models, embrace almost all cycles of legend, especially the Trojan, which is treated in a great variety of aspects. ! Accins likewise handled questions of gram­mar, literary history, and antiquities in the Alexandrine manner and the fashion of his j own time, and in many different metres. These works (the DidasciMca in at least j nine books; the Pragmdilca on dramatic poetry and acting, etc.) have also perished. Achaeus. A Greek tragic poet of Eretria, born about 482 b.c., a contemporary of So­phocles, and especially famous in the line of satyric drama. He wrote about forty plays, of which only small fragments are preserved. Not being an Athenian, he only gained one victory.

Acheloiis. The god of the river of that

name between jEtolia and Acarnania; eldest of the 3000 sons of Oceanus and Tethys, and father of the Sirens by SterSpe, the daugh­ter of Porthaon. As a water-god he was capable of metamorphosis, appearing now as a bull, then as a snake, and again as a bull-faced man. In fighting with Heracles for the possession of Delfineira, he lost one horn, but got it back in exchange for the horn of Amaltheia (q.v.). As the oldest and most venerable of river-gods, he was worshipped all over Greece and her colonies, especially Rhodes, Italy, and Sicily. The oracle of Dodona, in every answer which it gave, added an injunction to sacrifice to Achelous; and in religious usage his name stood for any stream or running water.

Acheron. A river in the lower world. (See hadei^ realm of.)

Achilles (Gr. Achilleus). (1) Son of Peleus (king of the Myrmidons in Thessalian Phthia) by the Nereid Thetis, grandson of .ffiacus, great-grandson of Zeus. In Homer he is duly brought up by his mother to man's estate, in close friendship with his older cousin Patroclus, the son of Menostius, a half-brother of jEacus; is taught the arts of war and eloquence by Phmnix (q.v.) and that of healing by the centaur Chiron, his mother's grandfather. But later le­gends lend additional features to the story of his youth. To make her son immortal, Thetis anoints him with ambrosia by day, and holds him in the fire at night, to destroy whatever mortal element he has derived from his father, until Peleus, coming in one night, sees the boy baking in the fire, and makes an outcry; the goddess, aggrieved at seeing her plan thwarted, deserts husband and child, and goes home to the Nereids. According to a later story she dipped the child in the river Styx, and thus made him invulnerable, all but the heel by which she held him. Then Peleus takes the mother­less boy to Chiron on Mount Pelifin, who feeds him on the entrails of lions and boars, and the marrow of bears, and instructs him in all knightly and elegant arts. At the age of six the boy was so strong and swift that he slew wild boars and lions, and caught stags without net or hound. Again, as to his share in the expedition to Troy, the legends differ widely. In Homer, Achilles and Patroclus are at once ready to obey the call of Nestor and Odysseus, and their fathers willingly let them go, accompanied by the old man Phoenix. In later legend, Thetis, alarmed by the prophecy of Calchas that Troy cannot be taken without Achilles

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