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Home > Books > An Essay on Archery > Chapter III
Chapter III
Of the figure of the Bow
Part 2 of 4

In both thefe quotations the Scythian Bow is called crooked, becaufe it was fo in a degree greater, than the Bows of other countries. This incurvation is faid to be fo remarkable as to reprefent a femicircle, or half moon. Hence the Shepherd, in Athenaeus, fays Potter, being to defcribe the letters in the name of Thefeus, and expreffing each of them by fome aopofite refemblance, compares the third to the Scythian Bow, meaning not the more modern character sigma , but the ancient C, and bears the third place in GREEK TEXT.32

I have confulted the plates in Montfaucon, in order to difcover the difference between the Grecian and Maeotian Bows; But there is nothing which points out a very great diffimilarity. Among the Romans, in a combat againft the Sarmatians, plate 52, vol. iv. of this work, there are fome figures drawing the Bow, which Bows are infinitely more curved than any of the Scythian I have feen. Indeed, all Bows eagerly drawn, nearly form fecmicircles.

But let us fee if a true and marked characteriftic cannot be found.

The figure of a modern Tartar Bow will, I think, enable us to point out what is intended by this peculiar incurvation, and render the matter intelligible. The figure I allude to is drawn in Plate I, Fig. 5, and is nearly the appearance of an unftrung Tartar Bow. This has a remarkable incurvation backwards, and is extremely different from any other fpecies of Bow.33 The ends, which in this reprefentation are inflected, are drawn on the oppofite fide, when ftrung; and in that cafe the Bow does not appear very different from others. This curve backwards is the circumftance, as I imagine, which characterifed the ancient Scythian Bow. Hence we may conclude, that when authors fpeak of the peculiarity belonging to this weapon, it is to be underftood of it, the figure it prefents when unftrung, and not its form as feen in the hand of one fhooting.

The Bows ufed by the Daci, a people formerly inhabiting that country, now called Tranfylvania, and with whom the Romans had frequent contefts, were made in a very beautiful curve, and ornamented at one end with the head of a Swan, and at the other with that of a Dragon; becaufe thefe figures were the common enfigns ufed by that people in battle. (See Plate I, Fig. 2.)

There is a view of one of thefe Dacian weapons in the hand of a warrior, pictured among a contending group in Montfaucon. The lower part of the Bow is hidden by the interpofition of another figure, but the upper end is diftinct:, and the Swan's head clearly vifible upon it. The Saxons feem to have been in the practice of ornamenting one end of their Bows in this manner alfo. (See Plate I, Figure 8, a Saxon Bow, from Strutt.)

I fhall take the form of the Roman Bow (See Plate I, Fig. I) from a ftatue given by Spon and Montfaucon.

This ftatue reprefents a Mafter of Archery, and one who inftructed in the art of managing the Bow.

The figure is reprefented without cloathing to the waift, and refting the right hand on the upper end of the Bow; the lower end of which is on the ground. This ftatue, when found, was placed on a pedeftal, bearing the following infcription:—

T Flavio Expedito
Doctori Sagittar:
Flavia Euphrosine
Et Attica Filliæ
Patri. BM.
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