Chariots, Bits and Greeks

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at
Fri Feb 5 15:48:38 UTC 1999

[ snip of private note to moderator ]

X99Lynx at  wrote:
> But Homer (Illiad 19.393-94) has Achilleus' chariot horses not only yoked but
> also specifically says that bits were placed within their jaws - "en de
> chalinous gampheleis ebalon."

Dorsal yokes may not go back before the `geometric period'. That is
apparrently when such representation on vase painting appear. Bits,
on the other hand, date back to 14th c. BCE. On the other hand,
spiked cheek-pieces have also been found in Myc. sits. In the Near
East both co-existed for a while.

And then there is the problem of dating Homer and knowing the
extent of anachronistic descriptions of arms in his work.

> It is also clear that Homer considered the reins, not the "neck forks",

I am afraid that you are confusing traction (the transmission) with
control (steering). Neck forks transmit the push of the horses as
pull to the body of the chariot via the yoke and the pole. [BTW,
I ought to have added that this is a rather inefficient and primitive
form of horse collars. The push comes from the same place in both
neck forks and horse collars.]

Anyway, both nose-bands and bits use reins. The difference is in how the
pulling the reins affects the horse.

> And finally, it is hard to see how chariots in Tut's tomb prove
>anything about how horses were bridled in Classic Greece.

I thought that I explicitely said that the yoking systems were
different and that I said nothing about the bridles of Classical
Greece. [I don't know any direct evidence about Myc. Greece.]


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