Artillery of Roman Legion

Oct 2011
518
Croatia
I was under the impression that petroboloi/lithoboloi/ballistae are stone-throwers, katapeltika/catapultae are arrow-throwers, and scorpions are small arrow-throwers. But this entry states that the Latin terms ballista and catapulta became interchangeable: Latin Word Study Tool
You have to differentiate between Classical Latin of Antiquity and Traditional Latin of Middle Ages. In Middle Ages, ballista was indeed a term used for an arrow-thrower. But in Classical (Roman) Latin, ballista is a stone-thrower and catapulta is arrow-thrower.
 
Oct 2018
1,870
Sydney
You have to differentiate between Classical Latin of Antiquity and Traditional Latin of Middle Ages. In Middle Ages, ballista was indeed a term used for an arrow-thrower. But in Classical (Roman) Latin, ballista is a stone-thrower and catapulta is arrow-thrower.
This distinction is indeed how it originally was, but that distinction appears to have become blurred already in Classical Latin. Note the different usages by Vitruvius: Vitruvius Pollio, The Ten Books on Architecture, BOOK X, CHAPTER XVI: MEASURES OF DEFENCE

16.4: 'He strengthened it with hair and rawhide so that it could withstand the blow of a stone weighing three hundred and sixty pounds shot from a ballista...'

16.12: 'Again, when a rampart was being prepared against the wall in front of them, and the place was heaped up with felled trees and works placed there, by shooting at it with the ballistae red-hot iron bolts they set the whole work on fire.'
 
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