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Another Hebrew shield was the 90, magen, which is the first that the Scripture mentions (Gen. xv. 1), and seems to have been that which was most commonly in use; being conveniently portable, and perhaps really more useful than the large one ; for although it did not protect the whole person, it could be turned with facility to ward off a coming blow or missile. This kind of shield is generally mentioned in connection with arrows and swords ; but the tzinnah with spears. It was about half the size of the latter, as we see that Solomon only appropriated three hundred shekels of gold for the manufacture of a magen, but six hundred for a tzinnah. Among the ancients the lesser shield seems to have been always used by horsemen and persons who fought in chariots, and occasionally by lightly armed footmen. The large shield was not the only one in use in the Homeric period. Neptune's advice to the Argives shows this :
“The best and broadest bucklers of the host,
And brightest helmets put we on, and arm'd
- Ye then, who feel your hearts
Their stronger shields and broader take yourselves.” And again :
“With many a stroke
The bull-hide shields and lighter targes rang." Perhaps, however, there was not such a contrast of size between the smaller and larger shields mentioned here, as between the tzinnah and magen. The latter is the shield which the present text mentions, and is thought by Gesenius to be analogous to the Roman clypeus. In this opinion we concur, because both seem to have been shields of average form and size. The Roman clypeus was a medium-sized shield, round, oval, or hexangular in figure; and had sometimes a boss in the centre, as had the Hebrew mayen, to which bosses are assigned in Job xv. 26—“The thick bosses of his bucklers.” The central boss, which was a kind of projecting dagger, does not however seem to have been peculiar to any one kind of shield. It rendered the shield the same time an offensive as well as a defensive weapon, and was of great use in bearing down the enemy in close fight. The shield of Agamemnon had twenty-one bosses,—twenty surrounding bosses, and one in the centre. See infra.
The Hebrews must have had a considerable variety of shields; for besides these two, which occur most frequently, there are others of which we know nothing distinctly; but may infer that the different terms describe peculiarities of form and size. One of these is the 77,7D, sohairah, which, from the etymology, would seem to have been of a round form, which was and is a very common shape for the smaller kind of shields, and sometimes for the larger, as will appear by our cuts. It may well be taken as the type of the Roman shield called parma, a small round shield much
Roman Combat with the Spear and the small round Shield (called parma). From a Bas-relief at Pompeii. used by the cavalry and light armed foot, and now very common in the East. Another is the wbw, shelet, (which occurs only in the plural,) and as it appears, from a comparison of parallel passages, to be sometimes used as synonymous with mugen, we may infer that the former was essentially the same as the latter, with some small variation of make or ornament. See, for instance, Sol. Song, iv. 4, " Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers (magen), all shields (shiltai, sing., shelet) of mighty men.” The last clause is evidently a repetition of the preceding, shelet being used as a verbal change for magen. We do not notice the 777'), kidon, translated“ target” and “shield,” in 1 Sam. xvii. 6, 45 ; because it is more than doubtful that any thing of the kind is intended.
Thus much for the different descriptions of shields. The varieties of form and size in which they were cast the wood-cuts will sufficiently represent. We have now to mention the materials of which shields were made. They were sometimes of wood, as they still are in several barbarous nations. Xenophon describes the bucklers of the Egyptians who served in the army of Artaxerxes at the battle of Cunaxa, as long wooden shields which reached down to the feet. Plutarch in his Life of Camillus ' says, that the Romans used wooden shields till the time of that general, who caused them to be covered with plates of iron. This agrees with the description of Polybius, who says, that the larger Roman shields were in his time composed of two planks glued together, and covered first with linen and then with hide. The extreme edges, both above and below, were guarded with plates of iron; as well to secure the shield against the strokes of swords, as that it might, without injury, be rested on the ground. To the surface was likewise fitted a shell of iron, to turn aside the more violent strokes of stones, spears, or other ponderous weapons. But the ancient shields with which we are historically best acquainted were made wholly of bull's hide doubled or tripled, or even more thickly folded. A previous extract from the Iliad shows Hector's shield to have been of this material, and this seems to have been the case with the shields of most of the Homeric beroes, whether Greeks or Trojans. These shields were
Form and manner of using the Roman Shields, as contrasted with those of Barbarians. From the Column of Trajan.
often anointed and rubbed, to keep them in good condition, and prevent cracking or injury from wet, as were also those of metal, to preserve them from rust. To which there are allusions in Scripture, as in 2 Sam. i. 21, 22; and in Isa. xxi. 5 :" Arise ye princes and anoint the shield.” These shields of skin had often a metallic border, to preserve the margin from injury. The hides were often plated and otherwise strengthened and ornamented with metal; most commonly brass, but often silver and gold. Such were many of the shields of Homer's heroes. That most fully described is the shield of Ajax, and the description is most instructive. It is given in the account of the fight between that hero and Hector :
“ Ajax approach'd him, bearing, like a tow'r,
His seven-foll brazen shield, by Tychius wrought
of fatted beeves, all plated o'er with brass.": Hector birls his spear at Ajax :
“ It struck the shield of Ajax; through the brass,
Its eighth integument, through six of hide
It few, and spent its fury on the seventh.”
" Retiring, heav'd
Its central boss ; loud rang the brazen rim.” We beg to direct attention to the circumstance, that this shield is called a brazen shield, though seven of its eight integuments were of skin. We may therefore infer with probability that the “brazen” shield of Goliath was merely covered with brass, for if it had been of solid metal, and had been, like his other weapons, proportioned to his gigantie bulk, it is not easy to understand how his armour-bearer could have supported its weight. This conjecture might also apply to the golden shields which were made by Solomon ; and for which, after they had been taken away by Shishak, king of Egypt, Rehoboam substituted shields of brass. However, we will not insist on this, because such shields, hung up for display in armouries and sacred places, were often, among the heathen, of solid metal. (See 1 Kings .. 16, 17; and xiv. 25—28, with the note on the first of these texts.) Men prided themselves on keeping these plated shields bright and polished, whence Homer so frequently applies to them epithets expressing their brightness and splendour. They were kept in a case, seemingly of leather, when not in use : and hence to " uncover the shield” is an expression denoting preparation for battle (Isa. xxii. 6).
But although shields for action were generally plated with metal, those entirely of metal were also known. Hadadezer had golden shields, which became the prey of David (2 Sam. viii. 7). Alexander the Great had a body of Argyr. aspides, or soldiers with silver shields; and Alexander Severus established a troop of Chrysaspides, or soldiers with golden shields. Judging from the account of the famous shield of Achilles, we should suppose that the shields then used were not of a solid mass, but that their thickness was composed of several plates of the same or different metal. Of this shield we learn incidentally, in the account of the owner's combat with Aneas, that
“ With five folds Vulcan had fortified it ; two were brass ;
The two interior, tin; the mylmost, gold.”
The mention of this shield leads us to notice the elaborate and costly ornamental work with which the higher class of shields were ornamented, and which, very probably, belonged to the golden shields of Solomon. There was, in fact, no part of their armour which the ancients prized so highly and took so much delight in ornamenting. They adorned its broad disk with all sorts of figures-with birds, beasts, and the inanimate works of nature—with representations of their own or other exploits_with historic scenes—with the picturesque circumstances of life—and with the effigies of gods and heroes. Like the gorgeous works in metal described by Spenser, they were
“Wrought with wilde antickes which their follies play'd,
In the rich metall as they living were.” Of all the shields of this sort, the most astonishing for its workmanship and splendour, is that which Homer describes as having been made for Achilles by Vulcan, and to which we have adverted above. The description itself is, perhaps, the finest piece of descriptive poetry extant in ancient or modern literature. A faithful prose translation of this description will be found in the Penny Magazine,' No. 30, to which, or to Cowper’s translation, we may refer the general reader for particulars, as the length to which the practical part of this note has extended, precludes us from quotation. The cut which we have prefixed to this note, is copied from · Le Jupiter Olympien,' a splendid work on ancient art, by M. Quatremère de Quincy, who has designed it after the description of Homer. The original has a nearly blank outer circle, intended to represent the ocean, which, as not essential for the purpose of illustration, and in order to save room, our copy omits. We pass over the description of the various groupes and scenes which it exhibits with the less reluctance, because we shall have future occasions to refer to them, on account of the striking illustrations of ancient manners which they portray. The shield is described by the poet as the work of Vulcan. But this alleged origin ought not to prevent us from receiving it as a satisfactory illustration. However much it may have been embellished by Homer's imagination, models doubtless existed on which the description was founded : and, what is more, these models probably originated in Western Asia. The Greeks themselves could not, at this time, have executed works of this description; and Homer himself gives an Asiatic origin to all the fine works in metal of which he speaks, whenever he mentions the place from which they came. He most frequently mentions Sidon (see the note on Josh. xix. 28); and it is a remarkable fact in connection with this, that Solomon obtained the services of a Tyrian to execute the rich metallic ornaments of the Temple; and there is every probability that this person made the golden shields to which we have so often referred. We can thus, in Homer's own time, and with his consent, bring the manufacture of the admirable works he describes to the very doors of the Hebrews, who were themselves no mean workers in metal, as we see by the various rich and costly utensils which they executed for the tabernacle.
Next to the shield of Achilles, the most striking of any described by Homer is that of Agamemnon. No divine origin is assigned to this; and as the description is short, and distinctly portrays the shield itself, as well as its ornaments, we here give it.
“His massy shield, o'ershadowing him whole,
High wrought and beautiful, he next assum'd.
Ancient Persian Shields and Spears. From Sculptures at Persepolis. The use of the large appendage from the belt of the third figure is doubtful.
We have endeavoured to make this note as complete, for the purposes of Seripture illustration, as our limits would allow. We have given such particulars concerning the shields of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans as our object required. With those of ancient Persia, the Hebrews were certainly at one time acquainted, and we therefore give specimens taken from the existing sculptures of that country. We have little to add to the information which the cuts afford. It will be seen that the shields were round or oval, those for the cavalry being, as usual, the smallest. From ancient authors we only learn that some of their shields were light, being formed of covered osier work: but they had others of brass, and of very large size.
Under the impression that the forms of the ancient offensive and defensive arms are in general well preserved in the East, we give a group of modern Oriental shields and spears. Those of Arabia deserve particular attention. The shields now used by the Arabs are generally round, and may vary from ten to eighteen inches in diameter. The most valued are made of the hide of the wild ox or the hippopotamus: they have also a sort made of the skin of a fish, which Sir William Ouseley could only get them to describe as “ a great fish';" Morier says it was the whale ; but we have no doubt it was the manat (Trichechus manałus, Linn.), with the skin of which the Arabs make shields said to be musket-proof. They have, besides, shields of metal, generally copper, and also of hard wood: the latter are sometimes plated with copper, or covered with iron bars. The others require no remark, unless to direct the attention of the reader to the general resemblance of the Mameluke shield to the scutum of the Romans. (See the cut below as an illustration to the notice of “Spears.")
Spears.—Spears, as offensive weapons, are as ancient and as universal as the shield is for defence. In fact, these two seem, of all others, to be the most general of offensive and defensive arms. The origin of a spear is very easily traced. A stick sharpened at one end, and hardened in the fire, was probably the first spear, and continues to be the only offensive weapon of some savages. Attention would of course be directed to the improvement of its point, in order to render it a more complete instrument of destruction ; and, for this purpose, horn, fish-bone, flints, &c. were employed, as they still are by the rude people to whom the use of metals is unknown. Brass, or rather copper, was no doubt the first metal used for this and other purposes, and it continued to be employed long after the use of iron was known. The epithet brazen” is continually applied to spears in Hoiner; and we might almost suspect that they were wholly of brass, were it not probable that he merely intended to describe them as having the head and heel of that metal, the wooden shaft being also perhaps covered or decorated with it. It seems certain, at all events, that the spearheads were of brass ; for all those that are not simply mentioned as “ brazen spears” are, with some variety of expression, like that of Teucer,
“ Rough-grain’d, acuminated sharp with brass.” Even the gods in Homer are furnished with brazen spears. Herodotus, in speaking of the Massagetæ (Clio, 215), tells us that their spears, the points of their arrows, and their battle-axes, were of brass. From this it is clear that the whole was of brass, or covered with brass, else he would have said, as well of the spears as of the arrows, that they were headed with that metal. Such seem to have been known to the Hebrews, since the spear is, in the Hebrew poetry, sometimes called, as in Homer, the “glittering spear,” which seems to imply, that something more than the head was of polished metal. Indeed, the lance which Goliath carried, besides his great heavy spear, is expressly described as a brazen lance (improperly rendered “target," 1 Sam. xvii. 6). Iron, steel, and other metals, were afterwards employed in pointing and decorating the spears.
We know little about the construction of the Hebrew spears; and, in so simple an instrument, nothing very peculiar is to be expected, as we find the same forms, with little variation, in nations the most remote from each other. Our wood-cuts will exhibit the forms of those which were anciently in use, and the manner in which they were employed. Like other nations, the Hebrews seem to have had two kinds of spears-one a missile, to be discharged at the foe, and the other for giving thrusts. It would seem, however, that the same weapon was often made to serve both purposes on occasion, as it certainly did with Homer's heroes. They begin their combats with throwing their spears at each other; then each endeavours to recover the spear he has thrown, and falls to close onset. It is evident that, in this case, a per son who could not recover his own spear, would, in most instances, be able to secure that which had been thrown by the other; and as, no doubt, every one preferred his own weapon, there was perhaps an understanding between the combatants, that each should be allowed to recover his own, if both had been ineffectually thrown. It is else difficult to understand how it happens that the heroes so long retain possession of the same favourite spear, which they are continually throwing away. Some of the heroes came into action, however, like Goliath, with two spears, one carried behind The buckler, and the other in the right hand. Probably one was a lance intended to be thrown in the first instance, and the other a spear for closer action; or, it is possible, that the one was merely intended as a provision against the loss of the other. So far as the spear and javelin were distinct, the former seems to have no determined size any more than the latter. We read of them as long and short among different people or individuals. Great length in the spear was, however, usually affected. Of Hector, it is said :
“Eleven cubits' length Of massy spear he bore, its brazen point
Star-bright, and collar'd with a ring of gold.” This was a moderate length of spear, compared with the sarissa of the Macedonians, which is stated, by different ancient authors, to have been of the scarcely credible length of sixteen cubits, that is, about eight yards. That some of the Hebrew spears were of great length (perhaps the length was a token of dignity) will be inferred from the fact, that Joshua's spear, when he held it up, served as a signal to the ambuscade in the affair of Ai (Josh. viii. 18—26). The Romans reduced their spears to more moderate length. Those used in the time of the emperors were gene
Roman Attack, with Spear, on a Barbarian protected by a large Shield of very ancient form. From an Antique Gem.