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 p944  Portisculus

Unsigned article on p944 of

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

PORTIS′CULUS, (κελεύστης), an officer in a ship, who gave the signal to the rowers, that they might keep time in rowing. The same name was also given to the pole or hammer, by the striking of which he regulated the motion of the oars (Festus, s.v.). The duties of this officer are thus described by Silius Italicus (VI.360, &c.):—

"Mediae stat margine puppis,

Qui voce alternos nautarum temperet ictus,

Et remis dictet sonitum, pariterque relatis

Ad sonitum plaudat resonentia caerula tonsis."

This officer is sometimes called Hortator (Ovid, Met. III.618; Plaut. Merc. IV.2.5; Virg. Aen. III.128) or Pausarius (Cf. Blomfield, ad Aesch. Pers. 403).

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Page updated: 21 Jun 08