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 p548  Frenum

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p548 of

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

FRENUM (χαλινός), a bridle. That Bellerophon might be enabled to perform the exploits required of him by the king of Lycia, he was presented by Athena with a bridle as the means of subduing the winged horse Pegasus, who submitted to receive it whilst he was slaking his thirst at the fountain Peirene. See the annexed woodcut, from an antique which represents this event, and compare Pindar, Olymp. XIII.85‑115. Such was the Grecian account of the invention of the bridle, and in reference to it Athena was worshipped at Corinth under the titles Ἵππια and Χαλινίτις (Paus. II.4 §§ 1, 5). The several parts of the bridle, more especially the bit, are engraved from ancient authorities in the treatises of Invernizi (De Frenis), Ginzrot (Ueber Wägen), and Bracy Clark (Chalinology, Lond. 1835).

[image ALT: an engraving of a man leading a winged horse by its bridle; the horse is pasturing at the foot of a ruined wall.]

The bit (orca, Festus, s.v.; δῆγμα, Brunck, Anal. II.237; στόμιον, Aeschyl. Prom. 1045) was commonly made of several pieces, and flexible, so as not to hurt the horse's mouth; for the Greeks considered a kind and gentle treatment the best discipline, although, when the horse was intractable, they taught it submission by the use of a bit which was armed with protuberances resembling wolves' teeth, and therefore called lupatum (Xen. De Re Eq. VI.13, X.6; Virg. Georg. III.208; Hor. Carm. I.8.7; Ovid, Amor. I.2.15).​a The bit was held in its place by a leathern strap passing under the chin, and called ὑποχαλινίδια, for which a chain (ψαλίον) was often substituted; a rope or thong, distinct from the reins, was sometimes fastened to this chain or strap by means of a ring, and was used to lead the horse (ῥυταγωγεὺς, Xen. l.c. VII.1; Aristoph. Pac. 154). The upper part of the bridle, by which it was fixed round the ears, is called by Xenophon κορυφαία (III.2), and it included the Ampyx, which was often ornamental. The cheek-pieces (παρήϊον, Hom. Il. IV.142; παραγναθίδιον, Eustath. ad loc.), which joined this upper portion to the bit, were also in some cases richly adorned, especially among the nations of Asia. Those who took delight in horseman­ship bestowed, indeed, the highest degree of splendour and elegance upon every part of the bridle, not excepting the bit, which, though commonly of bronze or iron, was sometimes silver or gold (fulvum mandunt sub dentibus aurum, Virg. Aen. VII.279). These precious metals were also either embossed (frena caelata, Apul. De Deo Soc.) or set with jewels (Claud. Epig. 34, 36).

Not only was the bridle dispensed with in the management of creatures invented by the imagination of the poet (Aeschyl. Prom. 294), but of some which were actually trained by man to go without it. Thus the Numidian Desultor guided his two horses by the whip, and the Gallic Essedarius, on the banks of the Rhone, directed and animated his mules entirely by the voice (Claud. Epig. 4).

Thayer's Note:

a also Isidore, Etym. XX.16.2.

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