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Headword: Πυρφόρος
Adler number: pi,3252
Translated headword: fire-bearer, fire-thrower
Vetting Status: high
Pasistrates[1] the Rhodian admiral used one. It was a funnel. From each side of the prow [of a ship] pairs of nooses extended along the inner side of the hull, into which were fitted poles stretching out into the sea to the waves;[2] on the end of these [poles] the funnel, filled with fire, hung by an iron chain, so that, in frontal attacks or broadsides [alike], fire is propelled out into the enemy vessel, while remaining, because of the angle, a long way from one's own.
Greek Original:
Πυρφόρος: ᾧ ἐχρήσατο Πασιστράτης ὁ τῶν Ῥοδίων ναύαρχος. ἦν δὲ κημός: ἐξ ἑκατέρου δὲ τοῦ μέρους τῆς πρώρας ἀγκύλαι δύο παρέκειντο παρὰ τὴν ἐντὸς ἐπιφάνειαν τῶν τοίχων, εἰς ἃς ἐνηρμόζοντο κοντοὶ προτείνοντες τοῖς κύμασιν εἰς θάλατταν: ἐπὶ δὲ τὸ τούτων ἄκρον ὁ κημὸς ἁλύσει σιδηρᾷ προσήρτητο πλήρης πυρὸς, ὥστε κατὰ τὰς ἐμβολὰς καὶ παραβολὰς εἰς μὲν τὴν πολεμίαν ναῦν ἐκταράττεσθαι πῦρ, ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς οἰκείας πολὺν ἀφεστάναι τόπον, διὰ τὴν ἔγκλισιν.
Polybius 21.7.1-4, on events of 191/0 BCE; summary cross-reference at the end of kappa 1520.
[1] The name is more exactly Pausistratos (and the Suda has more than one way of garbling it: cf. delta 635, epsilon 3377, pi 140).
[2] Editors of Polybius have emended κύμασιν , "to the waves", to κέρασιν , "with their extremities" (Schweighaeuser).
F.W. Walbank, A Historical Commentary on Polybius, iii (Oxford 1979) 97-99
Keywords: biography; geography; historiography; history; military affairs; science and technology; trade and manufacture
Translated by: David Whitehead on 30 October 2001@07:34:05.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth on 6 October 2002@00:54:22.
David Whitehead (expanded primary note; cosmetics) on 30 June 2004@07:04:43.
David Whitehead (x-ref; more keywords) on 24 March 2011@05:56:28.
David Whitehead on 1 December 2011@09:53:24.
David Whitehead on 24 October 2013@07:28:51.


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