The Ancient Library

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On this page: Reus – Rex



Its Latin names are found in the passages of Vir­gil's Georgics, and of the Vulgate Bible above re­ferred to, in Plautus, Asinar. i. 1. 87, True. i. 1. 14 ; and in Isid. Hisp. Orig. xix. 5.

The English term sean (which is also in the south of England pronounced and spelt seine, as in French), has been brought into our language by a corruption of the Greek (rayf]vy through the Vul­ gate Bible (sagena) and the Anglo-Saxon. (Ezek. xxvi. 5,14, xlvii. 10 ; St. Matt. xiii. 47,48 ; St. John xxi. 6 — 11.) This net, which, as now used both by the Arabians and by our own fishermen in Cornwall, is sometimes half a mile long, was pro­ bably of equal dimensions among the ancients, for they speak of h as nearly taking in the compass of a whole bay. (Horn. Od. xxii. 384—387 ; Alci- phron, i. 17, 18.) This circumstance well illus­ trates the application of the term to describe the besieging of a city : to encircle a city by an unin­ terrupted line of soldiers was called ffajyy]V€v^iv. (Herod, iii. 145, vi. 31 ; Plato, de Leg. iii. sub fin. ; Heliodorus, vii. p. 304, eel. Commelini.) The use of corks (</>eAAoi, cortices suberini, Sidon. Apollin. Epist. ii. 2 ; Plin. H. N, xvi. 8. s. 13) to support the top, and of leads (jttoAtgSiSes) to keep down the bottom, is frequently mentioned by ancient writers (Ovid. Trist. iii. 4. 11, 12 ; Aelian, //. A. xii. 43 ; Pausan. viii. 12. § 1), and is clearly exhibited in some of the paintings in Egyptian tombs. Leads, and pieces of wood serving as floats instead of corks, still remain on a sean which is preserved in the fine collection of Egyptian anti­ quities at Berlin. (See Yates, Teoctrinum Anti- quum* Appendix C.) [J. Y.]

REUS. [ actor ; obligationes, p. 658.]

REX (jSacnAetfs, &va£), king. 1. greek. In the earliest ages of Greece, of which we have any au­thentic records, we find the kingly form of govern­ment everywhere prevalent. On this point we may safely trust the pictures of society found in the Homeric poems ; for whatever amount of historical truth there may be in the legends which form their subject, there cannot be the smallest question that the poems present a faithful reflection of the feel­ings, condition and manners of the society in the age of which they were composed.

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Whether in early times absolute monarchies ex­isted in Greece, we have no historical data for determining. The first of which we can trace the features are hereditary monarchies with limited functions (irporepov oe ^ffav eVi pr]To7s irarpucal /BacnAeTcu, Thuc. i. 13 ; 7) ^pan/cobs XP°VOVS [^acrtAeta] -$\v e/c<W«j> riffi §' apurfjievois, Arist. Pol. iii. 10j ed. Gottl. 14, ed. Bekker ; comp. Dionys. Halic. v. 74). By this we are to understand, not only that the kings were themselves under the control of law or custom, but that only a portion of the functions of political sovereignty were in their hands. This is the fourth species of /3a<nAeia which Aristotle re­cognises ; the others being, a. the royalty of the Spartan kings ; b. the royalty of barbarian kings (an hereditary despotism administered according to law) ; c. the government of an aesymnetes (Arist. Pol. iii. 9 or 14). It is not to be supposed, how­ever, that the Grecian kings of the heroic age were constitutional kings, or were responsible to their subjects in any recognised sense. Their authority was founded purely on the personal feeling and reverence entertained for them by their subjects. &nd its limitations were derived not from anv dc-


finite scheme, or written code, but from the force of traditionary usage, and the natural influence of the circumstances in which the kings were placed, sur­rounded as they were by a body of chiefs or nobles, whose power was but little inferior to that of the kings themselves-. Even the title flaffihyes ig ap­plied to them, as well as to the king (Horn. 11. ii 86, Od. i. 394, vii. 55, viii. 391). The main­tenance of regal authority doubtless depended greatly on the possession of personal superiority in bravery, military prowess, wisdom in council and eloquence in debate. When old age had blunted his powers and activity, a king ran a great chance of losing his influence. (Od. xi. 496 ; comp. //. xii. 310, &c.) There was, however, an undefined notion of a sort of divine right connected with the kingly office (e/c 5e Atbs /BatTiA^es1, Hesiod. Theog. 96 ; comp. Horn. Od. xi. 255. Hence the epithet Siorpe^s, so commonly applied to kings in Honier). This, in most cases, was probably strengthened by a belief in the divine descent of kingly families.

Besides the more ordinary kingly accomplish­ments, there were various others, proficiency in which gave increased dignity and consideration even to a king. To be a skilful carpenter or ploughman was considered not unworthy of being made a matter of boast (Horn. Od. v. 246, xviii. 365, xxiii. 188). Prowess in boxing and other athletic exercises was more closely connected with superiority in the use of arms. (Od. viii. 180, &c. II. xxiii. 257, &c.)

Aristotle {I. c.) mentions, as the functions of the kings in the heroic age, the leadership in war, the offering of such sacrifices as were not appropriated to particular priests, and the duty of deciding judicial causes. But both in the field and in the agora the king always appears in connection with the-/BouAT?, or council of chiefs and elders, of which he acts as president. Even before Troy Agamemnon submits his plans to the assembled chieftains and soldiers (11. ii. 53, &c. x. 195, &c.). The restrictive influence of these assemblies was, hoAvever, rather, indirect than ostensible. The chieftains or princes merely offer their advice (//. ix. 95, &c.), and the multitude a&sembled outsid'e the circle in which they sit take no part in the deliberations. They only listen, and sometimes applaud (//. ii. 100 ; Aristot. ap. Schol. ad 11. ix. 17). Still less is the matter in hand put in any formal way to the vote of either the /3ouA7^ or the assembly of freemen. The assemblies described in the second book of the Iliad and the second book of the Odyssey will give a good idea of their nature. In judicial trials the council of elders seems always- to have held a


prominent place. (II. xviii. 50*4 j Hesiod. Tkeog, 85,- Op. et D. 37.) Theoretically the govern­ment of the heroic age was in the strictest sense' monarchical (see especially the remarkable pas­sage II. ii. 204). Here and there the poet repre­sents kings as using language which wottld imply a power on the part of the king to deal with his do­minions and subjects in a very summary manner (see the offer of Agamemnon to make over to Achilles seven cities, //. ix. 153 ; and of Menelaus, to depopulate one of his towns to make room for Ulysses, Od. iv. 176). No doubt the power of different kings varied, and in the absence of definite constitutional restrictions the actual amount of power in the hands of each depended mainly on his individual qualifications and address. The cases, however, must have been extremely rare ia

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