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 p1133  Tintinnabulum

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp1133‑1134 of

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

[image ALT: An engraving depicting a number of different kinds of ancient Greek and Roman bells.]

TINTINNA′BULUM (κώδων), a bell. Bells were used for a great variety of purposes among the Greeks and Romans, which it is unnecessary to particularize here. One use, however, of them, for the purpose of keeping watch and ward in the fortified cities of Greece, deserves mention (Thucyd. IV.135; Aristoph. Aves, 843, 1159; Schol. in loc.). A guard (φύλαξ) being stationed in every tower, a περίπολος (see p463A) walked to and fro on the portion of the wall between two towers. It was his duty to carry the bell, which he received from the guard at one tower, to deliver it to the guard at the next tower, and then to return, so that the bell by passing from hand to hand made the circuit of the city. By this arrangement it was discovered if any guard was absent from his post, or did not answer to the bell in consequence of being asleep. Hence to prove or try a person was called κωδωνίζειν (Aelian, H. A. XVI.25); to perform the office of patrole was κωδωνοφορεῖν.

The forms of bells were various in proportion to the multiplicity of their applications. In the Museum at Naples are some of the form which we call bell-shaped; others are more like a Chinese gong. The bell, fig. 1 in the annexed woodcut, is a simple disk of bell-metal; it is represented in a painting as hanging from the branch of a tree (Bartoli, Sep. Ant. 13). Figure 2 represents a bell of the same form, but with a circular hole in the centre, and a clapper attached to it by a chain. This is in the Museum at Naples, as well as the bell, fig. 3, which in form is exactly like those still commonly used in Italy to be attached to the necks of sheep, goats, and oxen. Fig. 4 is represented  p1134 on one of Sir W. Hamilton's vases (I.43) as carried by a man in the garb of Pan, and probably for the purpose of lustration (Theocrit. II.36; Schol. in loc.). Fig. 5 is a bell, or rather a collection of twelve bells suspended in a frame, which is preserved in the Antiquarium at Munich. This jingling instrument, as well as that represented by fig. 6 (from Bartoli, Luc. Sep. II.23), may have been used at sacrifices, in Bacchanalian processions, or for lustration. Fig. 7 is a fragment of ancient sculpture, representing the manner in which bells were attached to the collars of chariot-horses (Ginzrot, über Wägen. II. pl.57).

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Page updated: 8 Apr 10