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 p1093  Taeda

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p1093 of

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

Taeda or Teda (δαΐς, Att. δᾴς, dim. δᾳδίον), a light of fir‑wood, called on this account pinea taeda (Catull. lxi.15;º Ovid. Fast. II.558). Before the adoption of the more artificial modes of obtaining light, described under Candela, Fax, Funale, and Lucerna, the inhabitants of Greece and Asia Minor practised the following method, which still prevails in those countries, and to a certain extent in Scotland and Ireland, as well as in other parts of Europe, which abound in forests of pines (Fellows, Exc. in Asia Minor, pp 140, 333‑335). A tree having been selected of the species Pinus Maritima, Linn., which was called πεύκη by the ancient Greeks from the time of Homer (Il. XI.494, XXIII.328), and which retains this name, with a slight change in its termination, to the present day, a large incision was made near its root, causing the turpentine to flow so as to accumulate in its vicinity. This highly resinous wood was called δᾴς, i.e. torch-wood; a tree so treated was called ἔνδᾳδος, the process itself ἐνδᾳδοῦν or δᾳδουργεῖν, and the workmen employed in the manufacture, δᾳδουργοί. After the lapse of twelve months the portion thus impregnated was cut out and divided into suitable lengths. This was repeated for three successive years, and then, as the tree began to decay, the heart of the trunk was extracted, and the roots were dug up for the same purpose (Theophrast. H. P. I.6 § 1, III.9 § 3, 5, IV.16 § 1, X.2 § 2, 3; Athen. XV.700F). These strips of resinous pinewood are now called δᾳδία by the Greeks of Mount Ida (Hunt and Sibthorp, in Walpole's Mem. pp120, 235).

When persons went out at night, they took these lights in their hands (Aristoph. Eccles. 668, 970), more particularly in a nuptial procession (Hom. Il. XVIII.492; Hes. Scut. 275; Aristoph. Pax, 1317; Ovid. Met. IV.326; Fast. VI.223). Hence taedae felices signified "a happy marriage" (Catull. 61.25; compare Prudent. c. Symm. II.165); and these lights, no less than proper torches, are attributed to Love and Hymen (Ovid. Met. IV.758).

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Page updated: 24 Jun 20