Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Ancient History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Ancient History Ancient History Forum - Greece, Rome, Carthage, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and all other civilizations of antiquity, to include Prehistory and Archaeology discussions


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old September 6th, 2017, 05:02 PM   #1
Academician
 
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 98
Athenians cut thumbs off Aeginetans


I came across a reference in Cicero to the Athenians having cut off the thumbs of the Aeginetans. Can anyone provide a contemporary reference; Thucydides?
Jauchart is offline  
Remove Ads
Old December 23rd, 2017, 04:55 AM   #2
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2017
From: The moment
Posts: 5

While not a direct reference, the Aeginetans are noted in the thirteenth volume of the American Journal of Archaeology to have made marble sculptures depicting archers drawing back bowstrings with their thumbs. As there is a long and bloody history of claims involving chopping off archer's favored fingers, it stands to reason any conflict involving captured archers between Athenians and Aeginetans could plausibly include loss of thumb. Thucydides' record that all the captives had been killed is, however, equally plausible, since that takes them out of the fight entirely.

There is a footnote referencing this in the book Athenian Generals: Military Authority in the Classical Period by Dr. Debra Hamel, an expert in ancient Greek law and military history, which states that the idea of Aeginetans having their thumbs cut off may have been a mix up with a previous decree to chop off the hands of enemy captives should they win an upcoming naval battle at Aigospotami (they lost). Still, such a tactic would serve as both deterrent and a way to decrease the fighting forces of the enemy while still leaving the maimed soldiers alive to spread the word and, hopefully, panic.

Last edited by Phasmophobia; December 23rd, 2017 at 05:00 AM.
Phasmophobia is offline  
Old December 29th, 2017, 09:07 AM   #3
Archivist
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: Kent
Posts: 160

Although not directly answering your question concerning the cutting off the thumbs of archers the English archers of the 14th and 15th centuries whose longbow was the guided missile of the day would if captured have their first and second fingers (the two fingers that draws the bow) cut off. Therefore, while waiting to be attacked they stuck the two fingers in the air towards the enemy to show they could still pull a bow. This gesture came to represent telling someone to `get lost` or words to that effect
Rainham Red is offline  
Old December 29th, 2017, 10:03 AM   #4

Linschoten's Avatar
nonpareil
 
Joined: Aug 2010
From: Wessex
Posts: 13,872
Blog Entries: 11

Aelian Varia Historia 2.9., here is an old translation:

"What Decrees did the Athenians make, and those in a Democracy ? That every one of the Æginetæ should have his thumb cut off from his right hand, so that he might for ever after be disabled from holding a Spear, yet might handle an Oar. That all the young men of Mitylene should be put to death : Which Decree was made at the instigation of Cleon son of Cleænetus. That such as had been taken Prisoners by the Samians should be branded in the face with the mark of an Owl. This also was an Athenian Decree. I wish, O Minerva, Guardian of the City, and Jupiter Eleutherius, and all the Gods of the Grecians, that the Athenians had never done these things, and that it might never have been said of them!"

c.f.:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...thumbs&f=false
Linschoten is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Ancient History

Tags
aeginetans, athenians, cut, thumbs



Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
300 Spartans vs. 300 Athenians vs. 300 Macedonians Thessalonian Speculative History 11 January 21st, 2012 11:27 AM
Thumbs down to gigantism corrocamino Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology 2 November 13th, 2011 04:13 AM
Athenians of the 5th century BC-Characteristics, traits Alcibiades Ancient History 57 August 27th, 2011 04:39 AM
Thumbs up or Down Lawnmowerman Ancient History 15 December 17th, 2010 05:55 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.