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On this page: Merenda – Meridiani – Metae – Metageftnia – Metallum G


the practice of paying their own citizens for their service in the army [stipendium], but merce­ nary troops, in the usual acceptation of the 'term, were unknown among them till at a very late period. [C. U.K.]

MERENDA. [cokna, p. 306, k]

MERIDIANI. [gladiatores, p. 575, b,]

METAE. [circus, p. 284, a,]

METAGEFTNIA (peraywyut), a festival celebrated by the Attic demos Melite, in honour of Apollo Metageitnios. The chief solemnities consisted in offering sacrifices, and the festival was believed to commemorate the emigration (ycirvla-crts 7rpbs erepous) of the inhabitants of Melite to Diomis. (Pint, de Exil. p. 601, b. ; comp. Suidas, and Harpocrat. s. v. MerayeiTViwv.} [L. S.]

METALLUM GucVaAAoy). The Greek word originally signified a pit or cave, where anything is sought for by digging, hence a mine, and hence any mineral found in a mine, especially metal. In Latin, the word means both a mine and metal, the latter sense, however, preponderating in use. The object of this article is to give a brief general view of the acquaintance which the Greeks and Romans had with the metals, and the uses to which they applied them.

The metals which have been more or less known from the earliest period of which we have any in­formation are those which were long distinguished as the seven principal metals, namely, gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, lead, and mercury. (Some very interesting information, which does not fall within the province of this work, may be read in Beck-mann's History of Inventions, by Johnston, vol. ii. pp. 23, &c. 4th ed.) If to this list we add the compound of gold and silver called electvum, the compound of copper and tin called xa^KOS ar>d aes (bronze), and steel, we have, in all probability, a complete list of the metals known to the Greeks and Romans, with the exception of zinc, which they do not seem to have known as a metal, but only in its ores, and of brass, which they regarded as a sort of bronze. (See below).

The early Greeks were no doubt chiefly in­debted for a supply of the various metals to the commerce of the Phoenicians, who procured them principally from Arabia and Spain, and tin from our own island and the East. In the Homeric poems we find an allusion to this traffic as one in which the Greeks of the western coast were already engaged ; where Athena personates Mentes, the ruler of the Taphians, carrying shining iron to Temesa in Cyprus, to exchange it for copper. ( Od. i. 184, comp. Nitesch's note.) The Homeric poems furnish ample proofs of how much more plentiful copper was than iron. The former is the common material of arms, instruments, and vessels of various sorts [aes] ; the latter is mentioned much more rarely, and is distinguished by an epithet implying the difficulty of working it (TroAu/c^ros, //. vi. 48), and its adjective is frequently used metaphorically to express the greatest stubbornness (Od. v. 191, &c. : see Seiler and Jacobitz, s. vv. aiSripos and cnSTjpeos). Hesiod carried us back to a period when iron was unknown (Op. et Di. 150, 151) :

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and though the period thus described is mythical, yet the idea of it was clearly connected with the belief that iron had been the last discovered of all


the metals. (See Hockh, Creta, vol. i. p. 260 j Miilin, Mineralogie Homerique.) The importance of hardening the copper used for arms and armour, and so forth, is a presumption in favour of the knowledge and use of tin ; but we have also de­finite mention of this metal (Katrcrirepos) several times in the Iliad ; and it seems not improbable than then, as now, it was generally plated on another metal. (See Liddell and Scott, and Seiler and Jacobitz, s. v. ; Beckmann, vol. ii. p. 206, foil.) The art of hardening copper by the admixture of tin was known before the historical period. (Comp. aes.) With respect to steel, it is a much disputed point whether this metal is the proper sense of the word Kvavos in Homer (//. xi. 24, 35, Od. vii. 87) and Hesiod (Sent. 143), but at all events it is highly probable that this is the meaning of a5a/ms in Hesiod (Scut. 231, Theog. 161 ; see the lexi­cographers, s. vv., the commentators on Homer and Hesiod, in //., and Beckmann, vol. ii. p. 324). It would appear from the manner in which Aeschylus refers to the Chalybes, taken in connection with the traditions respecting the early intercourse of the Greeks with the shores of the Baltic, that the iron and steel works of that people were known at a very early period, and that it was from them chiefly that the Greeks procured their iron and steel. (Aesch. Prom. 720 ; Apollon. Rhod. ii. 1000 ; Xen. Anab. v. 5. § 1 ; Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. ii. p. 776 ; Hockh, Greta, vol. i. p. 294.) Enough has already been said respecting the early knowledge of the precious metals, separately and in combina­tion, under argentum, aurum, andELECTRUM, In drawing inferences, however, from Homer's al­lusions to these and the other materials of the useful and fine arts, we must be on our guard not to make the poet's imagination our standard of their actual abundance. (See further, concerning the real or supposed knowledge of metals and metallurgy in the earliest times, Plin. H. N. vii. 56, s, 57.)

If we turn from the metals themselves to the art of working them, still taking the poems of Homer and Hesiod for our guide, we find the Greeks of that early period perfectly acquainted with the processes of "smelting the metal from the ore and of forging heated masses into the required shapes, by the aid of the hammer and tongs. It may, indeed, be doubted whether the x&woi, into which Hephaestus throws the materials of the shield of Achilles, and which are worked by the blast of twenty pairs of bellows (<£wrcu) are smelt-ing-fumaces or mere smith's forges (//. xviii. 470), but the former sense seems to be required in the passage of Hesiod, (Theog. 863.) Both Homer and Hesiod refer to the smith's workshop (xaA/c^Vas S^uos, x^A/cejos &wkos) as a common lounge and

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as a place of shelter to which the poor resorted for its warmth, (Od. xviii. 328, Op. et Di. 491.) The whole of Homer's description of the workshop of Hephaestus deserves careful study (H. xviii. 3C9, &c.). The smith's instruments were the anvil (^K/xwy) with the block on which it rested (et/c/x^-Qerov), the tongs (irvpdypri), and the hammer (pdiffr^p, ff(pvpa9 II. I. c., Od. iii. 433—435). [incus, forceps, malleus.] The arts of casting metals into moulds, and of welding, or even of sol­dering pieces of metal together, were as yet unknown. In large works, hammered plates were united by mechanical fastenings, nails, pins, rivets, cramps, or dovetails (Sec^-toi, TJAot, Trep6vai, /ceVrpa), and specimens of this sort of work in the bronze statues

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