The Ancient Library

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On this page: Susarion – Sword – Sycophant – Symbola – Symmachus



with their faces the threshold of the sanc­tuaries, prostrated themselves before the statues of the gods, clasping their knees and kissing their hands and feet. While the prayers were being said, incense and wine were offered, the prayers being re­hearsed by the members of the collegium entrusted with the care of the Sibylline books (sec sibyll^e), and the performance of the holy rites prescribed by them. On such days the temples ordinarily closed to the public, or only accessible under certain restrictions, were (so far as practicable) thrown open to all. The thanksgivings decreed by the Senate after great victories were celebrated in a similar manner. These originally lasted only one day, but in the course of time were lengthened, until, at the end of the Republic, they sometimes extended over forty or fifty days, and were often united with a public feasting of the people.

Susarlon. The originator of the Attic comedy. (See comedy, 1.)

Sword. The ordinary sword of the Greeks (xlphtjs, figs. 2 and 5), had a straight two-edged blade 16 to 18 inches long, and 2 to 2j inches broad; the handle, which was often made in oun piece with the blade,

123 4 6

(1) Scabbard (Gerhard, Aiaerleg. Vatenbilder, Tat cci).

(2) Sword (ilo.).

(3) Sword (Millingen, Peinturet det Vatas, pi. v).

(4) Mnchflira in sbeath (ib. pi. Ivii). (6) Sword (Monumenti dell' Insi., 1866, tav. x). GREEK SWORDS AND SCABBARDS. (Guhl and Koner, fig. 277.)

was 4 to 5 inches long, and without a bend, but with a cross or shell-shaped guard. The scabbard was of metal or leather mounted with metal, and frequently covered the hilt as well as the blade (see fig. 1). It hung by a belt thrown over

i the shoulder, usually on the left side, on a, level with the hip. At the beginning of the 4th century b.c., a sword of nearly double this length was introduced by Iphicrates for the light infantry called peltasts. A sword slightly curved on one side from the hilt upwards, and only sharpened on this side, was the mdcJtnira (figs. 3 and 4). This was the shape of the Spartan sword (xyele), which was peculiarly short. For the Roman sword, see gladius.

Sycophant (Gr. sukophantes), originally signified, according to the popular deriva­tion, one who brought into notice cases of the prohibited export of figs from Attica. The term was afterwards applied to a professional informer and accuser. There were many such persons, who carried on a lucrative business in Athens at the time of the decay of the democracy, in spite of the fact that the authors of false accusations were punished most severely.

SymbSla. The Greek term for treaties between two states, determining the pro­cedure in the event of lawsuits taking place between their respective subjects. A com­mon provision of these contracts was that a party who lost his cause, when tried by the laws of the foreign state, could appeal to those of his own; and similarly the party who had been worsted in his own state was allowed to appeal to the law in his opponent's state. Such treaties were made chiefly to facilitate commercial com­munications between different states.

Symmachus (Quintus AurCllus). A Ro­man orator and writer of letters, who lived in the latter part of the 4th century a.d. He was of noble birth, and was prefect of Rome in 384 under Theodosius the Great, and afterwards consul in 391. Although he fearlessly adhered to the decaying paganism, and even moved the restoration of the altar of Victoria in the council-chamber of the Senate in an address to the emperor, he was nevertheless respected by his Christian opponents for the purity of his life, and for his great learning. The fragments of his Orations consist of three not entirely complete panegyrics on Valentinian I and his son Gratian, written in his youth, and larger fragments of six senatorial orations. We possess a collection of his Letters arranged apparently by his own son, who also was a statesman of mark. It is divided into ten books on the same plan as those of Pliny, and containing in the last book the official correspondence (rllattones) of father and son with the

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