The Ancient Library

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On this page: Phytalus – Picumnus – Pious – Pigments – Pigres – Pilentum – Pilleus – Pilleus – Pilum



author of a detailed book on veterinary science (in the 4th century).

Phytalns. A hero of Eleusis; he received from Demeter the fig tree, as a reward for hospitable entertainment [Pausanias, i 37, § 2J. His descendants, the Phyt&ttdae, by ancient custom, performed the purification for blood-shedding in Attica, according to the legend, because they had absolved Theseus under similar circumstances [Plu­tarch, Thes. 12, 22]. (See theseus.)

Picunmus. An old Italian god of agri­culture, credited with the invention of the use of manure. He was said to be the hus­band of Pomona. His brother Pllumnus was honoured by bakers as the inventor of the pestle (pllum) for crushing corn ; and the two together were protecting deities to women in child-bed and to new-born infants. Hence, in the country, festal couches were set for them in the atrium when children were safely brought to birth. According to another ancient view, there were three divinities protecting mother and child, who prevented the mischievous intrusion of Silvanus into the house. These powers (representing the triumph of civilization over the wild forest life) were impersonated by three men, who went round the house in the night, and knocked on the threshold of the front and back doors, first with a hatchet and then with a pestle, and lastly swept them with a broom.

The names of these deities were Intercl-dona, god of the hewing of timbers, Pllum­nus, of the crushing of corn into meal by the pestle, and-D<?t'erra,ofthe sweeping together of grain [Varro, quoted by Augustine, De Civitate Dei, vi 9]. Picumnus, as appears in the name, is identical with Picus (q-v.).

Pious. An Italian god of agriculture, and especially of manure, hence called son of Stercutus (" the dunger," i.e. Saturn). He also appears as a forest-god with prophetic powers, and as father of Faunus [Vergil, ^En. vii 48], In Latin legend he plays a prominent part as a warlike hero, the earliest king of Latium, of great wealth, who was finally changed into a woodpecker, picus {ib. 187-190). [According to Ovid, Met. xiv 320-396] this was because he spurned the love of Circe and was faithful to the beau­tiful Nymph Canens. Probably Picus was originally the woodpecker, the symbol of Mars as giver of fertility and warlike prowess, and from this symbol there was developed a separate deity

Pletas. The Roman goddess of domestic affection. In Rome she had a special temple,

vowed at the battle of ThermSpylse in 191 B.C. by Acillus Glabrio, and consecrated by his son in 181. The popular legend was, that it was erected as a memorial to a daughter, who had supported with the milk from her breast the life of her mother (or father) when condemned to death by starvation [Valerius Max., v 4 § 7]. On coins the goddess appears as a matron strewing incense on an altar; her symbol is the stork.

Pigments. See painting (p. 447).

Pigres. A Greek poet, author of the Batrac?i5myOmdchia. (See homer, ad fin.)

Pilentum (Latin). A sort of spring-cart, used chiefly by women. (See chariots.)

Pilleus (Gr. plWs); [less correctly spelt plicus.] A round felt cap with little or no brim, lying close to the temples. It was the mark of fishermen, sailors, and artisans; hence Castor and Pollux, Odysseus, Charon, Hephaestus, and Dsedalus are represented with it. The upper classes wore it only

(1) Panofka, Bilder antdcen Lebeng, viii 5.

(2) Do., xiv 3.

(3) Mailer's D«nj™ul«r, I xlvii 215«.

in the country or when travelling; but it was worn in Rome by the whole people at the Saturnalia, and by freedmen as a sign of their new position. It was placed on the head of slaves when sold, as a sign that the Tender undertook no responsibility. (See cuts, and cp. odysseus, fig. 1, and coin under brutus.)

Pilum. The javelin of the Roman legionaries (about six feet long), which was hurled at the enemy's ranks at the begin­ning of the engagement, before proceeding to the use of the sword. It consisted of a wooden shaft three feet long, easily grasped in the hand, and an iron head of the same length, culminating in a barbed point, and provided with a socket to which the shaft was attached by iron rivets. Marias had the heads constructed of soft weak iron, the point only being steeled. In this way, if the point stuck in the shield of an enemy, the iron was bent by the weight ol the shaft, rendering the weapon useless and difficult to draw out, while it made the


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