The Ancient Library

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On this page: Seven Wise Men – Severus, Archi of – Sextius Niger – Sextus Empiricus – Shield



the burial of Polynices, see antigone ; further see epigoni.

Seven Wise Men, The. Under this name were included in antiquity seven men of the period from 620-550 b.c., distinguished for practical wisdom, who conducted the affairs of their country as rulers, lawgivers, and councillors. They were reputed to be the authors of certain brief maxims in common use, which were variously assigned among them; the names also of the seven were differently given. Those usually mentioned are : cleobulus, tyrant of Lin-dus in Rhodes (" Moderation is the chief good"); periander, tyrant of Corinth, 668-584 (" Forethought in all things "); pittacus of Mltylene, born about 650, deliverer and cesymnetes of his native city ("Know thine opportunity"); bias of Prlene in Caria, about 570 B.C. (" Too many workers spoil the work"); thalbs of Miletus, 639-536 ("Suretyship brings ruin "); CnlLON of Sparta (" Know thy­self"); S6LON of Athens ("Nothing too much," i.e. observe moderation).

Sfiverus, Arch of. See triumphal arches.

Sextius Niger (Qiiintus). Lived during the last years of the Republic and under Augustus. He was the founder of a philo­sophical system, which aimed at the improvement of morals on the principles of the Stoics and Pythagoreans. Like his son, who bore the same name, he wrote in Greek. He is the author of a collection of Greek maxims of a monotheistic and ascetic character, a Christianized Latin transla­tion of which, written in the second half of the 4th century by the presbyter Ruflnus, is still extant.

Sextus Empirlcns (so called because he belonged to the empirical school of medi­cine). A Grecian philosopher, a follower of the Sceptical school, who lived at the beginning of the 3rd century a.d. He is the author of three works on philosophy, (1) the Pyrrhonistic Sketches in three books, an abridgment of the Sceptical philosophy of Pyrrho; (2) an attack on the dogmatists (the followers of the other schools of philo­sophy) in five books; (3) an attack on the mathematicians (the followers of positive sciences—grammar, with all the historical sciences, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astrology, and music) in six books. These works are remarkable for their learning and acuteness, as well as for simplicity and clearness of style. They form a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the general

philosophical literature of Greece, and the Sceptical philosophy in particular.

Shield. The most important weapon of defence among the peoples of antiquity. The Greeks had two principal forms of shield in use, with broad flat rims, and the

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OBEEK SHIELDS. (Guhl and Koner, 8g». 269, 270.)

curved surface of the shield rising above them : (1) the long shield of oval shape that covered the wearer from mouth to ankles, suspended by a belt passing [round the neck and] the left shoulder, with a handle for the left hand. A variation of this form is the Bosotian shield (figs. 3, 4), the two sides of which have in the middle a semicircular or oval indentation. (2) The round shield, covering the wearer from the chin to the knee, also called the Doric shield ; this had one loop, through which the left arm was inserted, and one which was held by the left hand (figs. 5 and 6). The shield of the Macedonian phalanx was round, but small enough to be easily handled, and with only one loop for the arm. Both forms were in use from ancient times; at a later date the Argolic shield seems to have predominated, though the long shield that was planted on the ground in a pitched battle remained a peculiarity of Spartan warfare until the 3rd century b.c. In Homer [II. vii 245, xviii 481, xx 274-281] shields are made of skins placed one over another, with one plate of metal above ; in later times the material appears to have been generally bronze, but also wood, leather, and wickerwork. The pelta is of Thracian origin; it was the defensive weapon of the light-armed peltasts, made of leather without a rim, and with a level surface, of small size and weight, and of various forms (square, round, and crescent-shaped, as in fig. 8).

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