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Hasta (spear): Wikis

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Hasta is a Latin word meaning spear. Hastae were carried by early Roman Legionaries, in particular they were carried by and gave their name to those Roman soldiers known as Hastati. However, during Republican times, the hastati were re-armed with pila and gladii and the hasta was only retained by the triarii.

As opposed to the pilum, verutum or lancea, the hasta was not thrown but used for thrusting.

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Description

A hasta was about six and one-half feet (2 m) in length with a shaft generally made from ash, while the head was of iron.

Symbolic uses

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Hasta pura

Image from Nordisk familjebok

The Hasta pura or Arrow without a Head was a silver spear without the iron head used in combat. From Tacitus and other Roman writers, we know that a hasta pura was given as a decoration. Such decorations were bestowed upon soldiers by Roman generals, more especially for saving the life of a fellow-citizen:

In this engagement Rufus Helvius, a common soldier, won the honour of saving a citizen's life, and was rewarded by Apronius with a torc and a spear. To these the emperor added the civic crown, complaining, but without anger, that Apronius had not used his right as proconsul to bestow this further distinction.[1]

This gift was also given to the Primus Pilus when he had completed his period of service. Also, such a gift is sometimes recorded in funereal inscriptions.

Hastarium

A hasta was also used as a sign that would be conventionally understood in Roman culture as announcing an auction. Hence, an auction was called hasta and an auction-room a hastarium.

Post-Roman era

The Latin word hasta passed in modified form and/or meaning into several Romance languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Italian) and also into Albanian (heshtë, "spear").

Notes

  1. ^ Tacitus. Annales, 3.3: MIT.edu; TheLatinLibrary.com

See also


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