The Ancient Library

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On this page: Nessus – Nestor – Newspapers – Nexum



Nessns. A Centaur, who used to ferry travellers over the river Evenus. On attempting to outrage Delanira, the wife of Heracles, he was shot by the latter with one of his poisoned arrows. Upon this he presented Deianira with a portion of his poisoned blood, professedly to enable her to regain her husband's affections, should he prove false to her. The robe smeared with the blood proved fatal to Heracles (q.v.). [Cp. Soph., Trachiniw, 558, 1141.]

Nestor. Son of Neleus and Chloris, ruler of the Messenian and Triphylian Pylus, and later also, after the extinction of the royal family there, of Messenia; wedded to Eurydice, by whom he had seven sons and two daughters. He was the only one of twelve sons of Neleus who escaped i being slain by Heracles, since he was, it is j said, living at the time among the Gerenians in Messenia, from whom he derives the name G&renVos, given him in Homer. After this disaster, the king of the Epeans, Augeas, illegally keeps back a four-horsed chariot, which Neleus has sent to Elis to compete in a contest. Neleus, as yet hardly a youth, retaliates by driving off the herds of the Epeans; upon which the latter with a large army besiege the Pylian fortress of Thyroessa on the Eurotas. Neleus forms one of the relieving army, serving as a foot- j soldier, owing to his father's having, from regard to his youth, had the war-horses concealed from him. He slays in battle Augeas' son-in-law, and, fighting from the dead man's chariot, wins a most brilliant victory, so that the Pylians offer thanks to him among men even as they offer them to Zeus among the gods. In like manner in the war against the Arcadians, when he was the youngest of all the combatants, he killed the gigantic and much dreaded hero Ereuthalion. He also took an important part in the battle between the Centaurs j and the Lapltha?. In old age, when he was ruling over the third generation of his people, he was involved in the expedition against Troy, owing, as the story went, to ; the obligation incurred by his son Antilo-chus as a suitor of Helen ; with Odysseus he gains the help of Achilles and Patroclus for the undertaking, and himself sails, in the company of his sons Antilochus and Thrasj'medes, with 90 ships to the seat of war at Ilium. Here, according to Homer, "Neleus the horseman," in spite of his great age, takes a prominent part among the heroes in council and battle alike : the qualities which adorn him are wisdom,

justice, eloquence (" from his lips flows language sweeter than honey " [//. i 248]), experience in war, unwearied activity, and courage. All value and love him, none more than Agamemnon, who wishes that he had ten such counsellors: in that case, he says, Troy would soon fall [II. ii 372]. He is so great a favourite with Homer that ia ancient times it was conjectured that the poet was himself a native of Pylos. After ! the destruction of Troy he returns in safety with his son Thrasj'medes to Pylos, Antilochus (q.v.) having for the sake of his father, who was in sore peril, sacrificed his own life in battle against Memnon. Ten years afterwards, Telemachus still finds him at Pylos, amidst his children, in the enjoyment of a cheerful and prosperous old age. [On the " cup of Nestor," see toreutic art.] Newspapers. See acta. Nexum. In the old Roman legal system the solemn process on entering upon a relationship of debtor and creditor under the form of manclpatio (q.v-}. In the for­mula used therein the borrower gave the lender, in case of non-fulfilment of the obligation incurred, the right to seize him without more ado as his bondsman. There was no limit in respect of time to the right of the creditor over a debtor whose person thus became forfeit to him : it consisted im the fact that the creditor could keep the nexus in prison and make him work as a slave for him. The latter, however, con­tinued to be a citizen; but, as long as the debt existed, was considered dishonoured, and was accordingly excluded from service in the legion and voting in the assemblies of the people. After the Lex Pcetelia PSpiria of 326 b.c. had, in the interest of the plebeians, for the most part abolished personal security, the nexum gradually passed into a mere contract of loan.

[In Prof. Nettleship's Lectors and Essays, pp. 363-6, there is a note showing that the proper meaning of n?x\nn is "a thing pledged (bound)," and of nexus -i, " a pri­soner"; that the evidence for making nexum mean " a solemn process " is very weak; and that nexus -us is the proper word for the con­tract or bond between debtor and creditor. In almost all the passages where nexum -i is supposed to mean " a process," it might as well come from nexus -us. Cicero, how­ever, in Pro Ccp.cina 102, has nexa atque hereditates ; and in dc Rep. ii 59, propter unius libidinem ornnia nexa civium libe-rata ncctierque postea dcsitum.]

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