August 22, 2008

Notes for a "History of the scepter"

In many cultures, staffs with a curved upper end were used to catch animals by their legs or horns; they are still used so today.

In Egypt, two scepters developed from them: the Heqat, an emblem of authority, and the Was-Scepter, which had a religious aspect as well. In the Near East, curved staffs primarily had a ritual function: a loosy curved staff (Gamlum) in the hand of the rulers, priests and gods was used in incantations. A strongly curved staff (Kalmus) is, in the case of Hittite rulers, also an allusion to ritual functions. The Etruscans adopted the strongly curved staff from the East. It seems to have been primarily a staff of command, including --as in Orient-- priestly functions. A point at the upper end could have served as a help for dividing up the sky of the earth.

For this purpose, the augurs in Rome used a staff very similar in shape, the Lituus. It was used to distinguish the various regions of the sky while foretelling the future from the flight of birds. Its introduction was attributed to the first mythical Roman kings, Romulus and Numa Pompilius. The augur's staff indirectly became an emblem of authority on a coin of Sulla; it shows that Sulla was in possession of the command of the army and was thus entitled to do the reading of signs (auspicia) himself at the start of a campaign. As a member of the four highest orders of priests, the Emperor Augustus used their emblems in order to underline his supreme authority in questions of cult. Later emperors followed his example: the augur's staff remained associated with the emblems of rule.

In this form, the Christians adopted the curved staff. Together with the mitra and the ring, it is part of official insignia of bishops and abbots in the Roman Catholic Church. It therefore combines a leadership function with a priestly one. So, in a figurative sense, it has become a shepherd's staff again.

More interesting information here, hier, ici.


Rodrigo said...

Hoy que recordé darle tus datos a una niña que conocí en una exposición fotográfica, que se iba a vivir a Alemania, me percaté que desapareciste del Libro Cara ¿qué pasó?

Enrique G de la G said...

tesis tesis tesis