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[image ALT: A woodcut of zzz. It is an ancient Greek spur, discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 1006. — Spur.

T. I, Vol. 2
p814
Calcar

Article by Edmond Saglio in

Daremberg & Saglio,
Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines,
Librairie Hachette et Cie., Paris, 1877‑1919.

translation and © William P. Thayer

Calcar, κέντρον, έγκεντρίς, μύωψ, spur. — The word κέντρον is found in Homer,1 but it means a goad with which a driver urges on his horses, and in most passages of Greek authors in which κέντρον and its synonyms έγκεντρίς and μύωψ are used,2 even when not speaking of horses harnessed to a chariot, but rather of horses mounted by riders, one may hesitate to give these words the meaning of spur. The only texts that leave no doubt as to the use the Greeks made of the spur are those where it is clear that it is a spike attached to the foot. Those texts are not very old;3 the item certainly became part of the horseman's equipment much earlier.

[image ALT: A woodcut of zzz. It is an ancient Greek spur, discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 1007. — Attachment for a spur.


[image ALT: A woodcut of zzz. It is an ancient Greek spur, discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 1009. — Greek Spur.

Theophrastus4 gives us a portrait of the vain man who keeps his spurs on to walk about in the Agora, after having taken part in the cavalcade in a sacred ceremony. In a red-figure vase,5 which may date to the 4th century, an Amazon can be seen with a spur, on one of her feet only, fig. 1006: its shape is that of a rather wide blade, tied to the ankle by a strap. The statue of the Amazon in the Vatican Museum,6 which is held to be a copy of that by Phidias, similarly has, around the left foot, an attachment to which a spur was fixed, the spike of which has disappeared (fig. 1007). Among the objects recovered in the recently rediscovered ruins of the sanctuary of Dodona,7 were found several bronze p815spurs. We see one here (fig. 1008) with a short spearhead point; the arms are curved back at the ends to provide grip for a strap. The Paris artillery museum8 has more or less similar spurs, found in southern Italy, the arms of which end in a little tab pierced with a hole thru which the strap was threaded (fig. 1009).º

[image ALT: A woodcut of zzz. It is an ancient Roman spur, discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 1008. — Greek Spur.

The formation of the Latin word calcar, from calx, heel,9 leaves no uncertainty as to the thing having been used in ancient Italy, but it is not possible to state the precise period of its first use. Roman spurs have been found in various places: the spike is conical or rectangular, and usually straight, though occasionally claw-shaped, and it sometimes has a stop preventing it from pushing too far into the flanks of the horse; the stop consists in a short bar or a hook, like the one seen (fig. 1010) on a bronze spur, found in the Seine, belonging to the Artillery Museum.10 We illustrate here another noteworthy specimen (fig. 1011); a spur found at Saverne,11 with a conical spike, in which the stop, perpendicular to the spike, is curved back and ends in a horse's head.

[image ALT: A woodcut of zzz. It is an ancient Roman spur, discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 1010. — Roman Spur.


[image ALT: A woodcut of zzz. It is an ancient Roman spur, discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 1011. — Roman Spur.

This spur and another which is at the museum of Wiesbaden,12 were attached, not by laces passing thru openings at the ends of the arms, but by buttons, flat on the inside.13 Montfaucon showed the figure of a spur the arms of which curve back at the ends; one of the ends, probably the one on the outer side of the foot, is ornamented with a small head of a man. Finally, here is one last example (fig. 1012): that of a spur which, in addition to the tie laced thru the openings, was kept in place by a metal band passing under the foot.14

[image ALT: A woodcut of zzz. It is an ancient Roman spur, discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 1012. — Roman Spur.


The Author's Notes:

1 Il. XXIII.387, 430; cf. V.102.

2 Plat. Apol. p30; Xen. Cyr. VII.1.15; De re eq. IV.5; VIII.5, X.1 and 2; Schol. Aristoph. Nub. 449; Diog. Laërt. V.39; Eust. ad Il. p811.

3 Diod. Sic. XVII.20; Pal. Anthol. V.203; Pollux I.210; X.54.

4 Char. 21.

5 Bull. de l'Acad. de Bruxelles, XI, p76.

6 Musée français, III.14; Bouillon, Musée des antiq. II.10; Visconti, Mus. Pio‑Clem. II.38; Clarac, 811, 2031; Clarac, Mus. de sculpt. pl. 811, no. 2031.º

7 See the communication of Mr. Carapanos to the Académie des inscriptions, June 1877.

8 Catal. du Musée d'artill. C 37 and 38 (1862).

9 Isid. Orig. XX.16.6; Plaut. Asin. II.3.118; Lucr. V.1074; Cic. de Or. III.9.36; ad Att. VI.12; Varr. ap. Non. s.v. Anticipare; Liv. IV.33; VIII.30; XXII.6; XXXV.11; Virg. Aen. VI.881.

10 Catal. C 36.

11 Lindenschmidtº Alterthümer unsern heidn. Vorzeit, II.1, pl. VII, 2.

12 Ib. n1. See others on the same plate, and Caylus, Rec. d'ant. III, pl. LXIX, 5; Lyson, Woodchester, pl. XXXV; Grivaud de la Vincelle, Arts et métiers des anc. pl. XV; Comarmond, Musée de Lyon, p431; Archaeologia Aeliana, t. II, p108, pl. II, 5.

13 Ant. expl. IV, Suppl. pl. XII bis, p26.

14 Lindenschmidt, op. cit.


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