The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Ship

SHIP

581

Shields sometimes bore devices in paint­ing or metal-work (figs. 1, 2); besides those chosen by' the fancy of the individual, devices indicating different nations came

(8) SOLDIER WITH PELTA.

(Va«e-painting j Stackelberg'B Grdber der Uellenen,

Taf. xxxviii.)

into general use after the Persian War. Many Grecian races, e.g. the Lacedemonians, displayed the first letters of their name. The Athenian token was an owl, the Theban a club or a sphinx.

The shields most in use among the Romans were (1) the large oblong scutum, bent in the form of a segment of a cylinder, cover­ing the whole of the wearer; this was con­structed of boards, covered with leather, and bound at the top and bottom with iron; it was always carried by the legionaries. (2) The circular leathern parma, carried by the light infantry. (3) The cetra, borrowed from the Spaniards; it resembled the parma, and was carried by the light auxi­liary cohorts. The different divisions of the force were distinguished by devices painted on their shields.

Ship. The difference between the long, narrow ship of war and the short, broad merchant-vessel was much more pronounced in antiquity than in modern times, and existed as early as the time of Homer [Od. t 250, ix 323]. The former type, however, •was not yet devoted to fighting by sea, but to the transport of troops, who also served as rowers. The merchant ships were generally worked as sailing vessels, and were only propelled by oars in case of need, so that they required a very small crew. On the other hand, the ships of war depended for propulsion on a strong crew of rowers, who sat in a line on both sides of the vessel. A vessel with one bank of oars (mdneres) was spe­cially described according to the total number of the rowers; e.g. apentfcon-turos was a vessel with fifty rowers (see fig. 1). For a long time the main strength of Greek Meets consisted in such vessels. Afterwards dlereis (Lat. birlmU), with two and (during the last ten years before the Persian Wars) trlereis

(irlrSmSs), with three banks of oars on either side, came into use. The latter were most generally employed until the end of the Pelo-ponnesian War. Next came the tetrSreis (qiiadriremes), introduced from Carthage. In 399 b.c. the elder Dionysius of Syracuse built pentereis (quiiiquSremes') and hesce-rcis; Alexander the Great heptereis, octt'reis, ennereis,a,nd d&cereis. In the wars of the successors of Alexander, a further advance was made to ships with fifteen and sixteen banks of oars, and (later still) thirty and forty banks. The most prac­tically useful form of war-vessel was the penteres, which was especially used in the Punic wars.

The rowers sat close together, with their faces toward the stern of the vessel; those in the highest row were called thrantta', those in the middle zeugltce, and the lowest thdldmltce ; but the question of the exact arrangement of their seats, and of the oars, is not yet made out with sufficient clear­ness. [Fig. 2, from an ancient monument, shows the thranitce and their oars; the rest of the rowers have their oars alone visible.] Figs. 3 and 4 are conjectural sketches, indi­cating the way in which the crew of a trireme was probably arranged. The num­ber of rowers in an ancient trireme was 170, that of a Roman quinquereme in the Punic wars, 300; it is recorded that an octoreme of Lyslmachus carried a crew of 1,600. The oars were very long, and the time was kept by means of the music of the flute, or solely by a stroke set by a boat­swain (Gr. keleustes ; Lat. hortator, pau-sarius) with a hammer or staff, or by his voice. The vessels were steered in ancient times by means of one or two large paddles at the side of the stern. The rigging of a ship of war was extremely peculiar. The mast, which was not very high, and carried a square sail attached to a yard, was lowered during an engagement, when a small fore­mast with a similar sail was used in its

(1) I'ENTECONTOBOS. (Millingen, Vases Grecs de Sir John Coghill, pi. Hi.)

stead. Only merchantmen appear to have carried three sails. The war vessels of antiquity were in length seven or eight times their breadth, and drew almost 3 ft.

Pages
About | First | Index

580

581

582
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


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