The Ancient Library

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On this page: Harpylae – Haruspex – Hasta – Hebe



has survived, though in a very fragmentary form. It contains, in alphabetical order, notes on the matters and persons men­tioned by the orators, with explanations of the technical expressions; thus form­ing a rich store of valuable information on matters of history, literature, and the con­stitution and judicial system of Athens.

Harpyise. The Harpies were originally the goddesses of the sweeping storm, sym­bolic of the sudden and total disappearance of men. Homer only names one of them, Podarge, or the swift-footed, who, in the shape of a mare, bore to Zephyrus the horses of Achilles. In Hesiod the Harpies appear as winged goddesses with beautiful hair, daughters of Thaumas and Electra, sisters of Iris, with the names of Aello and Okypete. In the later story their number increased, their names being Aellopus, Okrthoe, NikothSe, and Ceteno. They are now represented as half-birds, half-maidens, and as spirits of mischief. In the story of the Argonauts, for instance, they torment Phineus by carrying off and polluting his food till they are driven off by Calais and Zetes, and either killed or banished to the island of the Strophades, where they are bound on oath to remain. (Cp. sculpture, fig. 4.)

Harnspez. An Etruscan soothsayer, whose function it was to interpret the divine will from the entrails of sacrificial victims, to propitiate the anger of the gods as indicated by lightning or other marvels, and to interpret their significance according to Etruscan formulae. This art had long been practised in Etruria, and was referred to a divine origin. In the course of the republican era it found a home in the private and public life of the Romans, win­ning its way as the native priesthoods, entrusted with similar functions, lost in repute. From the time of the kings to the end of the republic, haruspices were ex­pressly summoned from Etruria by decrees of the senate on the occurrence of prodigies which were not provided for in the Ponti­fical and Sibylline books. Their business was to interpret the signs, to ascertain what deity demanded an expiation, and to indi­cate the nature of the necessary offering.

It then lay with the priests of the Roman people to carry out their instructions. Their knowledge of the signs given by lightning was only applied in republican Rome for the purpose of averting the omen portended by the flash. (/SfeePuxEAL.) But under the Empire it was also used for consulting the

lightning, either keeping it off, or drawing it down. From about the time of the Punic Wars, haruspices began to settle in Rome, and were employed both by private indi­viduals and state officials to ascertain the divine will by examination of the liver, gall, heart, lungs, and caul of sacrificial victims. They were especially consulted by generals when going to war. Their science was generally held in high esteem, but the class of haruspices who took pay for their services did not enjoy so good a reputation. Claudius seems to have been the first emperor who instituted a regular collegium of Roman haruspices, consisting of sixty members of equestrian rank, and presided over by a haruspcx maxlmus, for the regular service of the State. This col­legium continued to exist till the beginning of the 5th century A.D.

Hasta. The Roman lance. In the earlier times of the army the four first classes in the Servian constitution, and in later times, the triaml, or hindmost rank, were armed with this weapon. (See legion.) At length, however, the pllum was introduced for the whole infantry of the legion. (See pildm.) To deprive a soldier of his hasta was equivalent to degrading him to the rank of the velites, who were armed with javelins. A blunt hasta with a button at the end (hasta pura) continued to be used in later times as a military decoration. The hasta indeed was employed in many symbolical connexions. The fetlaMs, for instance, hurled a blood-stained hasta into the enemy's territory as a token of declaration of war, and if a general devoted his life for his army he stood on a hasta while repeat­ing the necessary formula. The hasta was also set up as a symbol of legal ownership when the censor farmed out the taxes, when state property, booty for instance, was sold; at private auctions (hence called subhastatlongs), and at the sittings of the court of the centumvlri, which had to de­cide on questions of property.

Hebe. Daughter of Zeus and Hera, goddess of eternal youth. She was repre­sented as the handmaiden of the gods, for whom she pours out their nectar, and the consort of Heracles after his apotheosis. She was worshipped with Heracles in, Sicyon and Phlius, especially under the name Ganymede or Dia. She was repre­sented as freeing men from chains and bonds, and her rites were celebrated with unrestrained merriment. The Romans identified Hebe with ItivenMs, the personi-

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.