Front Page Titles (by Subject) AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS - The Poems and Fragments
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AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS - Hesiod, The Poems and Fragments 
The Poems and Fragments done into English Prose with Introduction and Appendices by A.W. Mair M.A. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908).
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The Mortar and pestle
W. 423. Cut a mortar (ὅλμος) of three feet, a pestle (ὕπερος) of three cubits.
The most primitive of all methods of grinding corn would seem to have been the method here referred to—that of beating with a pestle in a mortar. Even when the other and more satisfactory method was invented of grinding between two stones the other method still survived for particular purposes, and particularly for the peeling of barley, &c. The grain was first parched and then put in the mortar and beaten with a pestle: quia apud maiores nostros molarum usus non-erat, frumenta torrebant et ea in pilas missa pinsebant, et hoc erat genus molendi unde et pinsitores dicti sunt, qui nunc pistores vocantur (Serv. ad Aen. i. 179).
We have an interesting reference to the use of the mortar in the Old Testament, Numbers xi. 8, when the manna came down from heaven for the children of Israel: ‘And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it’; here we have the mill and the mortar side by side. It furnishes a parable in Proverbs xxvii. 22: ‘Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.’ The reader may remember a passage in Robinson Crusoe:—
My next concern was to get a stone mortar to stamp or beat some corn in; for as to the mill, there was no thought of arriving to that perfection of art, with one pair of hands. To supply this want I was at a great loss; for of all trades in the world, I was as perfectly unqualified for a stone-cutter as for any whatever; neither had I any tools to go about it with. I spent many a day to find out a great stone big enough to cut hollow, and make fit for a mortar, and could find none at all; except what was in the solid rock, and which I had no way to dig or cut out; nor indeed were the rocks in the island of hardness sufficient, but were all of a sandy crumbling stone, which neither would bear the weight of a heavy pestle, or would break the corn without filling it with sand; so, after a great deal of time lost in searching for a stone, I gave it over, and resolved to look out for a great block of hard wood [how like Hesiod’s κατ’ ὄρος διζήμενος ἢ κατ’ ἄρουραν, W. 428!], which I found indeed much easier; and getting one as big as I had strength to stir, I rounded it, and formed it in the outside with my axe and hatchet, and then with the help of the fire, and infinite labour, made a hollow place in it, as the Indians in Brazil make their canoes. After this I made a great heavy pestle, or beater, of the wood called ironwood, and this I prepared and laid by against I had my next crop of corn, when I proposed to myself to grind, or rather pound, my corn into meal to make my bread.
The ὅλμος then is the Latin pila or moriarium, a hollow vessel of wood (as in Hesiod) or of stone, in which grain, barley especially, after being parched, was beaten with the pestle (ὕπερος, pilum, pistillum). It was sometimes set upon a stand (Poll. x. 114, referring to Aristophanes ἐν Ἀναγύρῳ), ὑϕόλμιον, just as the ἄκμων on the ἀκμόθετον. The cavity was sometimes of a more elaborate shape with pestle to correspond, as described by Pliny, N. H. xviii. 97, &c., but we are not concerned with that here.
Homer, who frequently refers to the mill, has but one reference to the ὅλμος: it occurs in a simile, Iliad xi. 147, ‘Him too (Hippolochos) did he (Agamemnon) smite to earth, and cut off his hands and severed his neck, and cast it (i.e. the trunk) like a mortar to roll through the throng.’ The verb κυλίνδεσθαι reminds us of the epithet κυλινδροειδής applied to the mortar by Eustath. ad Il. xi. 147. It may be that Dr. Leaf and L. L. M. are right in translating ‘tossed him’. The similar passage, Il. xiii. 202 sq. κεϕαλὴν δ’ ἁπαλη̂ς ἀπὸ δειρη̂ς | κόψεν Ὀιλιάδης, κεχολωμένος Ἀμϕιμάχοιο, | ἧκε δέ μιν σϕαιρηδὸν ἑλιξάμενος δι’ ὁμίλου, seems, however, in favour of ‘head’, rather than ‘trunk’. Il. xiv. 413, ατρόμβον δ’ ὣς ἔσσευε βαλών—‘made him spin like a top—’ is hardly in point; the blow was not even fatal. It is one thing to make a man spin like a top: another to roll a dead body like a mortar. The ὅλμος occurs again in Aristophanes, Wasps, 238, where the Chorus tell of a youthful exploit ‘when at Byzantium we were fellow soldiers keeping guard, you and I. And then we two, while taking our rounds by night, stole unobserved the baker-woman’s mortar, and then split it up and cooked some pimpernel.’ I know not why Mr. Starkie, ad loc., and Leaf on Il. xi, loc. cit., should translate ὅλμος here as ‘kneading trough’. The word undoubtedly bears its ordinary sense of ‘mortar’. The Schol., &c., explain it as μαγειρικὸν ἐργαλεɩ̂ον, in a sense rightly, since the grinding and the baking were equally done at home.
The working of the pestle and mortar is well figured on p. 22, vol. i, of Blumner’s Technologie und Terminologie der Gewerbe, &c., where we see two women each with a pestle working at the same mortar, which rests on a stand.
The ὅλμος corresponds exactly to the Scotch ‘knockin’ stane’—‘a stone mortar in which the hulls were beaten off barley with a wooden mallet. The hole in the stone was like an inverted hollow cone, and the mallet was made to fit it loosely’ (Jamieson). The ‘knockin’ stane’ is figured in Sir A. Mitchell’s The Past in the Present, p. 44; also on p. 293 of G. Goudie’s Antiquities of Shetland, from which I take the following note:—
In travelling through country districts in Scotland we not infrequently see at old farm-steadings a big lump of stone with a deep cup-like cavity excavated in its upper side. A first impression is apt to be that this is a font, or a ‘stoup’ for holy water from an ancient church, but the only information obtainable regarding it is usually that it is a dish for the feeding of pigs. In reality, however, this is the ‘knockin’ stane’ of other days, the contrivance for the preparation of barley for the broth-pot of the household. In Shetland the use of the ‘knockin’ stane’ continued much longer than in Scottish districts, and I have myself seen it frequently in use. The ‘bere’, or native barley, is first carefully prepared by drying, when it is placed in the cavity of the stone and hammered upon by the ‘mell’ or mallet until the husks are bruised off, when the grain is sifted and ready for the pot, or for being ground on the quern.
There is a very interesting chapter in Mr. Goudie’s book on ‘The Shetland Mill’. See also John Mair (Major), De Gestis Scotorum, Book I, chap. ii.
The ὕπερος (more usually ὕπερον) was of various shapes according to the shape of the mortar. The usual shape apparently in Greece was that figured in Blumner, loc. cit.—a long wooden stick, thin in the middle, thicker towards the ends. This explains the advice of Aeneas Tacticus, xxxiii. 2: among methods of setting fire to the tortoises (χελώναις) of besiegers one is this:—
Let there be prepared a piece of wood like a pestle (ξύλον οἧον ὕπερον), only much larger, and in the extremities of the wood nail iron spikes, smearing the rest of it up and down with a highly inflammable preparation, and let its form be like that of the thunder-bolt as represented in paintings. Let this be discharged on the approaching machine in such a manner as to impale upon it and the fire will spread over it.
The resemblance in shape to the thunderbolt will be realized on looking at any ancient representation of the thunderbolt of Zeus, e. g. Hill’s Illustrations of School Classics, p. 6, No. 9. The curious shape is referred to also in a Latin riddle quoted by Blumner, to which the answer is pistillus:
The method of holding it was sometimes with two hands, either both gripping the thin middle part, or one holding the middle, the other guiding the lower end; sometimes with one hand only, as Simylus in Vergil’s Moretum, 98 sq. ‘laeva vestem . . . fulcit; | dextera pistillo primum fragrantia mollit | Allia’; though the pestle here employed was probably differently shaped from the ancient Greek, and was rotated rather than moved vertically, as we see by ‘It manus in gyrum’ in line 102.
The pestle corresponds to the Scotch ‘knockin’ mell’ as mentioned above, which is figured in Goudie, loc. cit. It is quite differently shaped from the Greek and Roman pestle, and resembles an ordinary hammer or mallet.
As to the measurements given for the ὅλμος and the ὕπερος, the former is to be 3 feet, i.e. doubtless in diameter, though that seems very large. The mallet is to be 3 cubits, i.e. in length = 3 times the distance from the point of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger = 3 × 24, or 72 fingers, while the diameter of the mortar (doubtless measured right across and not merely the diameter of the cavity) = 3 × 16 fingers = 48 fingers.
The Mallet: σϕνˆρα, malleus
W. 425: ‘cut an axle of seven feet—. . . but if thou dost cut it of eight feet, thou canst cut therefrom a mallet.’ The mallet, σϕνˆρα, here referred to was used for various purposes. The measurement of one foot given here refers doubtless to the mallet-head, shaft and head alike being of wood; the head in later times, possibly in Hesiod’s time, was sometimes bound with iron.
The length of the shaft would vary with the purpose for which it was intended. It was used sometimes for driving a chisel; for driving stakes—I have seen it often used in Scotland for driving paling posts and the like.
The particular mallet here referred to was probably that used for breaking clods in the field. This is the instrument mentioned by Trygaios in Aristophanes, Peace, 566, ‘Yea, by Zeus, the mallet (σϕνˆρα) is brightly equipped’ (λαμπρὸν ἐξωπλισμένη), which seems to suggest a metal mallet, but may well refer to its being iron-bound. It is mentioned again in two epigrams in the Anth. Pal. vi. 104, 1, ‘the clod-destroying mallet’; 297, 3-4, ‘mallet that destroys the clods of the field’ (ὠλεσίβωλον ἀρούρης σϕνˆραν). It is the same, too, as the Scotch clod-mell, ‘a large mallet for breaking the clods of the field, especially on clayey ground before harrowing it.’ In general then the σϕνˆρα corresponds to the English mallet or beetle (anciently sometimes spelled ‘boytle’), and was used for a similar variety of purposes, breaking clods, driving chisels, wedges, stakes, piles, &c.1 It would correspond, too, to the Irish forcca or farcha, a mallet with wooden handle and wooden head, which was used for breaking clods in a ploughed field.
The sickle or reaping-hook is mentioned several times in Hesiod. Three times he refers to it under the name ἅρπη, W. 573, T. 175, 179: it is called δρέπανον in T. 162 (where the same instrument is referred to as in T. 175, 179): δρεπάνη in S. 292 is a specialized form of the same instrument used for pruning vines (the Roman falx putatoria), but in Hom. Il. xviii. 551 it is a reaping-hook. The word ἅρπη does not occur in Homer except as the name of a bird (Il. xix. 350), apparently a species of hawk (cf. falcon and falx). Homer has δρέπανον = sickle in Od. xviii. 368.
The reaping sickle is essentially a curved iron blade attached to a wooden handle. To the curved blade Homer refers in Od., loc. cit., where he calls the sickle εὐκαμπές, well-curved. The blade had sometimes apparently an ordinary plain edge. But characteristically the blade had a serrated edge. Hence Hesiod applies to it the epithet καρχαρόδους, T. 175, and to sharpen the sickle is χαρασσέμεναι, W. 573 (cf. ἐχάρασσον ὀδόντας of dragons, S. 235), χαρασσομένοιο σιδήρου, W. 387. The same epithet καρχαρόδους is applied also to the dog, W. 604, S. 303, in reference to its saw-like teeth (the opposite epithet being χαυλιόδους, e.g. Herodot. ii. 68 of the crocodile, ii. 71 of the hippopotamus; Aristotle, H. A. passim). Similarly Herrick in the famous Hock-Cart speaks of the ‘rough Sickle and crookt Sythe’. Homer, Il. xviii, loc. cit., applies the epithet ‘sharp’ to the sickle. But it does not necessarily follow that he was thinking of a plain sharp edge, any more than one would insist that χαράσσειν must always mean ‘to put a serrated edge’ on the sickle. But it seems likely that at a time when it was found difficult to put a sufficiently fine edge on a plain tool, the same end was attained by serrating: and for some purposes the serrated type would continue to possess advantages—like our modern rough-edged bread-knife. I remember an old farmer in Killearn—at the birthplace, by the way, of George Buchanan—telling me that in his younger days the rough-edged hook was used, while the plain edge came later. The serrated type accounts for the old Irish name for a reaping-hook, serr (the modern name being carrán). So, in Welsh, ser means ‘hook’, and while llif means ‘saw’, llifgryman means sickle.
No measurements are given by Hesiod for the sickle. The reader will find a convenient illustration of apparently the plain-edged variety in Hill, p. 133 (No. 161).
There is a fine example of an old Irish bronze reaping-hook figured in Joyce’s Social History of Ireland, p. 426 (small ed.).
The modern scythe is a simple evolution from the old reaping-hook. The hook was worked with one hand. The scythe with its longer shaft and heavier blade requires two: just as the early plough had but a single stilt and was guided with one hand, whereas the modern plough has two stilts and requires the use of both hands. A transition type is the Shetland scythe with a very long handle, enabling the reaper to stand erect, and its second grip in embryo.
The introduction of the scythe in place of the sickle in reaping corn is comparatively recent. Women shearers, i.e. with the hook, used in the earlier half of last century to go from the North of Scotland to the Lothians to shear the corn. The following is from the Aberdeen Magazine of September, 1797:—
We hear that Mr. Cumine, of Auchry, has introduced into the farming system the practice of cutting down all kinds of corn by the Sithe. He is convinced, by repeated experiments, that he can perform thereby as much harvest work with six servants as could be performed in the same space by eight servants in the ordinary way. His stubble is equally and closely cut; his fields are fully gathered, his sheaves are sufficiently neat, and his shocks are prepared by the drought of a very few days for the stackyard. A practice by which much time and expense may be saved in the busiest season of the year seems in these times to deserve due consideration from the intelligent farmer.
The Country Cart
W. 424-26: ‘Cut an axle of seven feet: . . . Cut a felloe (ἁψίς) of three spans (τρισπίθαμος) for a wagon of ten palms’ (δεκάδωρος ἅμαξα).
The traditional interpretation of this passage is as follows. It is assumed with the Scholiasts that the first of the measurements here given refers to the circumference of the wagon-wheel, the second to its diameter. The rim of the wheel is supposed to be made up of four segments or ἁψɩ̂δες, each of which measures three spans or σπιθαμαί, while the diameter measures ten palms or δωˆρα. Assuming this hypothesis to be correct, we have next to consider these measurements.
The student may find a table of Greek lineal measures useful: 4 fingers (δάκτυλοι) = 1 handbreadth or palm (παλαιστή or δωˆρον); 1 span (σπιθαμή) = ½ cubit; 1 foot (πούς) = 16 fingers; 1 short cubit (πυγών—being the distance from the point of the elbow to the knuckles) = 20 fingers: 1 standard cubit (πη̂χυς or πη̂χυς δίκαιος being the distance from the point of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger) = 24 fingers; 6 feet = 1 fathom (ὄργυια, distance from finger-tips to finger-tips when both arms are outstretched). There are of course other measures, but they do not concern us here. Neither need we concern ourselves with the exact relation of the ‘foot’ in Homer or Hesiod to the English foot.
In the above list I have adopted the usual assumption of the identity of δωˆρον and παλαιστή. δωˆρον first occurs in Hom. Il. iv. 109, in the compound ἑκκαιδεκάδωρα, where Leaf strangely says ‘δωˆρον in this sense seems not to recur’. It is there defined by the scholiast as =4 fingers and equivalent to παλαιστής. The diameter then of Hesiod’s wheel will be 10 × 4 = 40.
Now the span is = half a cubit. If then we take the standard cubit, the σπιθαμή will be = 12 fingers, and thus the total circumference will be 3 × 12 × 4 = 144 fingers, giving us a ratio of circumference to diameter of 144/40, which makes the circumference too large for the diameter. On this assumption we might suppose a certain amount of wood was absorbed in fitting the segments together. If, on the other hand, we take the short cubit of 20 fingers, the σπιθαμή will be 10 fingers (as it is given by Professor Ridgeway in the Cambridge Companion to Greek Studies, p. 439, where, however, by a curious oversight he writes, ‘πη̂χυς does not occur as the name of a measure in Homer.’ But see Iliad vi. 319 ἑνδεκάπηχυ (v. l. δεκάπηχυ), viii. 494 ἑνδεκάπηχυ, xv. 678 δυωκαιεικοσίπηχυ, xxiv. 270 ἐννεάπηχυ; Od. xi. 311 ἐννεαπήχεες; Hom. Hymn. Ap. 104 ἐνν[Editor: illegible character]άπηχυν), and thus the circumference will be 4 × 3 × 10 = 120, giving us 120/40 or a ratio of circumference to diameter of 3:1, which is a sufficiently accurate approximation to the usual formula π = 22/7. Of course we do not know in any case exactly how Hesiod’s measurements were intended to be taken.
It must be confessed, however, that the above interpretation involves two considerably bold assumptions; first, that the word ἁψίς here means, not, as it usually does, the whole wheel, but only a segment of it, and secondly that it normally consisted of four segments. The latter is by far the more difficult assumption of the two, because one is quite willing to admit that ἁψίς from ἅπτειν, ‘join,’ might easily be applied first to a single segment and thence transferred to the whole circumference. Indeed, our own felloe or felly shows an exactly similar history. Derived from A.-S. feolan, ‘to stick,’ O.H.G. felahan, ‘to put together,’ it denoted first one of the curved pieces of wood which were dowelled together to form the circumference, and afterwards came to denote the entire circumference.
An entirely different explanation has been proposed by E. Thraemer. He takes ἁψίς to mean the whole wheel, and τρισπίθαμος the measure of the wheel diameter. He takes ἅμαξα in its ordinary sense as = wagon, and he is then confronted with the difficulty of explaining δεκάδωρος. This he takes to refer to the frame or body of the wagon. Then arises the question, Is it the breadth, or the height, or is it the depth (i.e. the length measurement) of the frame? Now as the axle is defined as seven feet, if we allow 1 foot for the portions of the axle projecting from the wheel on either side, we get about 6 feet for the breadth of the frame or body of the wagon. It follows then that the measurement now given must refer either to the height or the depth. Now, says Thraemer—and here I confess a plain Scot finds the reasoning hard to follow—since in the case of the wheel it is the height that is given, it is most natural to assume that it is the height also which is given in the case of the body! Thus we have a frame 6 feet (roughly, two metres) in breadth and 83 centimetres high.
The Hesiodic cart was doubtless a two-wheeled vehicle. But a full discussion of its probable character and construction would lead us too far afield.
W. 427 sqq.: ‘Cut therewithal many bent planks. And bring home a plowbeam (γύης), when thou findest it by search on hill or field—of holm-oak (πρɩ̂νος); for this is the strongest to plow with, when Athene’s servant (i.e. the carpenter) fasteneth it in the share-beam ([Editor: illegible character]λυμα) and fixeth it with dowels (γόμϕοι) to the pole (ἱστοβοεύς). Get thee two plows, fashioning them at home, one of the natural wood (αὐτόγυον), the other jointed (πηκτόν), since it is far better to do so. If thou break the one, thou canst yoke the oxen to the other. Freest of worms are poles of bay or elm. Get thee then sharebeam of oak, plowbeam of holm-oak.’
The simplest form of the primitive plough is merely a tree-branch so forked or bent naturally as to form a suitable implement for scratching the surface of the ground. A good example of this is the Scottish caschrom (Mitchell, Past in the Present, p. 95), though the latter was usually composite, being essentially a wooden spade with a projecting end-piece on which the foot was pressed to drive it into the ground. This implement continued in use among the poorer crofters in the West Highlands of Scotland up to a very recent period (Statistical Account of Scotland, Ross, and Cromarty). A similarly primitive plough is found in most countries. Thus Volney, Travels through Syria and Egypt, 1783-85 (Eng. trans., p. 413), in speaking of the Syrian peasant says: ‘The husbandman is destitute of instruments or has very bad ones; his plough is frequently no more than the branch of a tree, cut below a bifurcation, and used without wheels.’ With such a plough cf. that figured in Rich, p. 48, s.v. Arator.
Here the part which the left hand holds is the plough stilt or handle; the part projecting between the oxen and attached to the yoke is the pole; the central part is the plough-beam; and the part which pierces the earth is the share. In the primitive plough the whole consists of a single piece of wood, even the pole being merely a projecting portion of the beam, just as in the primitive cart the pole is simply a projection of the central plank of the bottom of the cart-body.
Here then we have in germ all the main parts of the later plough, and it is quite easy to follow the course of its evolution. The first stage, which we find already in Homer and Hesiod, is that the different parts of the plough are no longer formed of a single piece of wood, but of a number of separate pieces dowelled or lashed together. Obviously this enabled the various parts of the plough to be more carefully adapted to the particular end which each was meant to serve. Nay more, it made it possible to construct a much larger plough, and also to choose different kinds of wood in accordance with their special merits for particular purposes. Thus Hesiod, we observe, advises that the γύης or plough-beam (Latin, buris) should be made of holmoak (πρɩ̂νος): now why? Simply because the γύης was the critical part of the plough on which the chief stress fell, and the holm-oak was famous for its toughness. ‘Strong as holm-oak’ was proverbial, and the wood was used accordingly for purposes requiring a strong wood, e.g. it was used, Theophrastos tells us, for making axles and lyre ‘bridges’. Every reader of Aristophanes will recall such uses of the word, as of the sturdy Acharnians (Ach. 180)—στιπτοὶ γέροντες πρίνινοι, like our ‘hearts of oak’. Again the pole (Latin, temo) is to be made of bay or elm, while the share-beam (Latin vomer) is to be of oak: now why? Again we find our answer in Theophrastos, who tells us (C. P. v. 9, 4) that ‘wood of a bitter taste is least liable to be worm-eaten (ἥκιστα σκωληκονˆται), not merely because they do not rot, but also because their bitterness prevents them from breeding worms (ζωογονεɩ̂ν). A proof of this is the case of the bay (δάϕνη), which rots rapidly [in the case of the pole, being above ground, this would be a secondary consideration] but is not so liable to be worm-eaten.’ Again in H. P. v. 4, 3, he tells us: ‘The immunity of woods from rotting varies according to the purpose for which and the element in which they are employed; for instance, the elm (πτελέα) is comparatively immune when used above ground [lit., in the air, as would be the case with the pole], the oak when buried in the earth [as would be the case with the sharebeam].’
The general type of the plough which Hesiod calls πηκτόν, jointed or compacted, can be gathered from various ancient representations. The reader may be referred to Baumeister, p. 10 sqq.; Rich, s.v. Aratrum; Hill’s Illustrations, pp. 306 and 310; Cambridge Companion, p. 539 (where, however, the Hesiodic plough is provided with an iron share or ὕννις, which has no Hesiodic authority. Also, p. 540, αὐτογύες should be αὐτόγυον). In this the plough consists of several pieces dowelled or lashed together. As I have said, Hesiod makes no mention of the iron ὕννις or share (the point of which was called νύμϕη), but that in itself is not conclusive evidence. I do not remember any reference in Greek literature to the shoeing of oxen; yet in Scotland certainly oxen when employed on the roads were sometimes shod. Thus about 1900 there was found at Cairnhill in Aberdeenshire an ox-hoof with a shoe on it, consisting of a thin plate of sheet iron covering half the sole of the foot, and attached to the outer edge of the hoof by square-headed nails neatly clinched. It may be noted further that the ploughman usually grasped the plough-handle or stilt with the right hand, while in his left he carried a whip sometimes, but more often a goad. The curious broad point which the goad has in some ancient representations is owing to the fact that it was used, like the Scottish ‘pattle’ (English paddle, paddle-staff), for clearing off wet earth adhering to the share. This is the implement referred to by Burns in his poem to the mouse whose ‘wee bit housie’ he had disturbed with the plough: ‘I wad be laith to rin and chase thee | Wi’ murd’ring pattle.’ In ploughing it was usual to press the left foot1 on the projecting hinder part of the share-beam so as to drive the share into the ground, exactly as was done with the caschrom and the ordinary spade. So in Scotland in the eighteenth century a man in some places attended the plough whose whole duty was to keep the plough in the ground, by pressing on the end of the beam with his whole weight. In the Geoponica it is recommended (2, 2, 3) that the ploughman be rather tall in stature (cf. Hesiod’s ‘stout man of forty years’); ‘for such a man pressing strongly on the plough-handle weighs down the whole share (ὕννις), so that the furrow will not be a superficial one.’ Hesiod makes no mention of mould boards and the early plough had none.
Exactly what is meant by the αὐτύγυον ἄροτρον is more difficult to determine. Some have thought it means a plough made entirely of a single piece of wood; others take it to mean that γύης and ἱστοβοεύς, i.e. beam and pole, were of one piece. From Hesiod’s words, W. 430, ‘fastening it (i.e. the γύης) in the sharebeam’ (ἐν ἐλύματι πήξας), I strongly suspect that the αὐτόγυον had these pieces, i.e. beam and share-beam, of one piece, and thus differed from the πηκτόν. Clearly the reference to breaking the plough refers to some serious breakdown. Now if the disaster referred to the junction of beam and pole, that would have been comparatively easily repaired.
The reader will note that the ancient plough had only one stilt. So in Shetland the one-stilted plough obtained up to a comparatively recent time.
[1 ]The beetle with a long head was also used to beat clothes in washing. From the bluntness of the head arose the proverb ‘As blunt as a beetle’.
[1 ]In Apollonius, Argonaut. III., 1335, where MSS. give λαɩ̂ον or βαθμόν, I imagine the correct reading is λαιῷ ἐπὶ στιβαρῷ πιέσας ποδί—βαθμόν (the projecting foot-rest) being a gloss.