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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 actíon, 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.
rally between six and seven feet long, including the point. But we incline to think that perhaps the most probable representation of the Hebrew spear, is that still retained by the Arabs, and which serves both for thrusting and for throwing to a short distance. It is about twelve feet long, with a pointed head of iron or steel. It is often quite plain; but sometimes it has two balls or tufts of black ostrich feathers, as large as fists, placed at a short distance from each other towards the top; the upper ball being fringed with short white ostrich feathers. These ornaments give the weapon a rather elegant appearance. It is only thrown by an Arab to a short distance, and when he is sure of his aim,-generally at a horseman whom he is pursuing and cannot overtake. To strike with the lance, he poises it for a time over his head, and then thrusts it forward, or else holds and shakes it at the height of the saddle. A pur sued Arab continually thrusts his lance backward to prevent the approach of the pursuer's mare, and sometimes kills either the pursuer or his mare, by dexterously throwing the point of his lance behind. It will be observed that the weapon has at the lower extremity an iron spike, which alone is often sufficient for these purposes. The Hebrew spears were furnished in the same manner, and applied to exactly the same uses. Abner was pursued by the swiftfooted Asahel, who would not be persuaded to desist:-" He refused to turn aside, wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him, and he fell down there and died.” (2 Sam. ii. 23.) This spike at the lower end is intended for the purpose of sticking the spear into the ground when the warrior is at rest. This is a common custom in the East; and it was usual among the Hebrews When Saul pursued David into the wilderness of Ziph, he is described as asleep in his encampment, with “his spea stuck in the ground at his bolster” (1 Sam. xxvi. 7). This also was the custom among Homer's warriors, whose spear, were similarly furnished for the same purpose. Thus, when Nestor and Ulysses go in the night to Diomede
“Him sleeping arm'd before his tent they found
Amidst his sleeping followers; with their shields
All glitter'd like Jove's lightning from afar.” The Arabs have also a shorter kind of lance, which we may properly call the javelin, perhaps answering to that of the Hebrews, and which can be hurled to a considerable distance. This, among them, is chiefly used by those who act on foot. The ancient darts and javelins were too various for us to describe particularly. The cuts exhibit
Egyptian Combat. From a Sculpture on the walls of the Palace at Thebes ; showing the form of the “Spear,” or Javelin. the principal forms of these missiles. We are perhaps best acquainted with those of the Romans, which may be fairly taken as types of the rest. One of them was a light kind of dart, about three feet long, and not more than an inch thick, with a point four inches long. It was a sort of hand-arrow. The point was made to taper to so fine an end, that it bent at the first stroke, so as to prevent the enemy from throwing it back again. These weapons were used by the light armed troops, who carried several of them in the left hand, with which they held the buckler, leaving the right hand free either to throw the darts or use the sword. Something of this sort, but probably less delicate, may have been the “darts.” Of this kind seem to have been the “darts” (D'DU, shebatim) of which Joab took three in his hand, and struck them through the heart of Absalom, as he hung in the tree (2 Sam. xviii. 14). Besides these slender darts, the Romans had other javelins longer, and stronger and heavier. The two principal sorts were between four and five feet long; and the metal was carried halfway down the haft, which in one sort of javelin was square, and in another round. These weapons were discharged as the enemy in commencing an action ; but if there was no time or distance for this, the soldiers threw their missiles to the ground, and assailed the foe sword in hande
There are many allusions in the Greek and Latin poets and some in Scripture to poising of the javelin, its whistling motion through the air, and the clash of the adverse missiles striking against each other. So Virgil:
"Pois'd in his lifted arm, his lance he threw :
"Thick storms of steel from either army fly,
The particulars given concerning the spears and javelins of the Romans will be found to illustrate the subject generally; since they confessedly derived their weapons of this sort from the Greeks, through whom we may trace them to Egypt and Western Asia.
The ancient javelins were not always discharged entirely by the hand, the projection being in some instances assisted by a strap girt around the middle. There was also in use a sort of harpoon-that is, a dart to the head of which was fastened a long strap, which the warrior retained, when he discharged the dart, in order to draw it back again.
MODERN ORIENTAL SHIELDS AND SPEARS.
a, large Arabic Shield; b, small do.; c, side view of the same; d, large Turkish Shield; e, Mameluke Shield; f, Arabian Spear; 9, Turkish; h, Mameluke.
10. "Ye that ride on white asses."-Commentators have been rather perplexed by this, not understanding that there were asses that could be described as positively white. Some have therefore chosen to refer the whiteness not to the asses, but to their trappings or furniture; while others, taking the Arabic sense of the word, tzachor, render it "streaked" or "parti-coloured asses," and understand it to mean a sort of zebra. We think we can explain this. In the first place, white asses-perfectly white-are by no means uncommon in Western Asia. They are usually in every respect the finest of their species, and their owners certainly take more pride in them than in any other of their asses. They also sell at a much higher price; and those hackney ass-men who make a livelihood by hiring out their asses to persons who want a ride, always expect better pay for the white ass than for any of the others. The superior estimation in which they are held is indicated by the superior style of their furniture and decorations; and in passing through the streets, the traveller will not fail to notice the conspicuous appearance which they make in the line of asses which stand waiting to be hired. The worsted trappings are of gayer colours, the beads and small shells are more abundant and fine, and the ornaments of metal more bright. But, above all, their white hides are fantastically streaked and spotted with the red stains of the henna plant-a barbarous kind of ornament, which the western Asiatics are also fond of applying to their own beards, and to the tails and manes of their white horses. Here then we have an account of both senses of the word. If we take the Hebrew meaning, that of "white," then we have here the white asses; but if we take the Arabic meaning, then we have it here also; for tzachor, the word in question, is that which the Arabs apply to these white asses when spotted and striped with the henna dye-not to every parti-colour, but to this parti-colour of white and red. As we are unwilling to suppose that the Hebrews disfigured these beautiful animals in this style, we certainly prefer the simple sense of white." These white asses being less common than others, and being, so far as we have had opportunities of observing, usually larger and finer than most others of their species, we can easily understand why it should be a sort of distinction to ride them, in a country where horses were not employed. See the cut in page 606.
11. "Delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water."-From this it would seem as if, in the state of oppression from which the Hebrews had now been delivered, it had been dangerous for them to go to a little