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 p894  Pharetra

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp894‑895 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

[image ALT: A woodcut of two archers, one kneeling on his right knee, one standing, both shooting arrows. Each carries a quiver on his left side: the kneeling archer so that its opening is behind him, the other archer with the opening of the quiver in front of him on the left side of his waist.]
PHARETRA (φαρέτρα, ap. Herod. φαρετρεών), a quiver. A quiver, full of arrows, was the usual accompaniment of the bow. [Arcus.] It was consequently part of the attire of every nation addicted to archery. Virgil applies to it the epithets Cressa, Lycia, Threïssa (Georg. III.345, Aen. VII.816, XI.858); Ovid mentions the pharetratus Geta (De Ponto, I.8.6); Herodotus represents it as part of the ordinary armour of the Persians (VII.61). The quiver, like the bow-case (corytus), which was principally made of hide or leather (Herod. II.141), and was adorned with gold (Anacr. XIV.6; aurata, Virg. Aen. IV.138, XI.858), painting (Ovid, Epist. Her. XXI.173), and braiding (πολύῤῥαπτον, Theocrit. XXV.265). It had a lid (πῶμα, Hom. Il. IV.116, Od. IX.314), and was suspended from the right shoulder by a belt [Balteus], passing over the breast and behind the back (Hes. l.c.). Its most common position was on the left  p895 hip, in the usual place of the sword [Gladius], and consequently, as Pindar says, "under the elbow" (Ol. II.150 s91) or "under the arm" (ὑπολένιον, Theocrit. XVII.30). It was worn thus by the Scythians (Schol. in Pind. l.c.) and by the Egyptians (Wilkinson, Man. and Cust. vol. I pp311, 391), and is so represented in the preceding figure of the Amazon Dinomache, copied from a Greek vase (Hope, Costume of the Ancients, I.22). The left-hand figure in the same woodcut is from one of the Aegina marbles. It is the statue of an Asiatic archer, whose quiver (fractured in the original) is suspended equally low, but with the opening towards his right elbow, so that it would be necessary for him in taking the arrows to pass his hand behind his body instead of before it. To this fashion was opposed the Cretan method of carrying the quiver, which is exemplified in the woodcut, p276, and is uniformly seen in the ancient statues of Diana.

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Page updated: 25 Jul 07