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Thread: Bow made of ibex horn in the Iliad - a bit highbrow perhaps.

  1. #1

    Bow made of ibex horn in the Iliad - a bit highbrow perhaps.

    I'm currently reading Homer's Iliad, and this morning, as I was commuting to work on the Tube, I read this part of Song 4, in which Athena convinces an archer on the Trojan side called Pandarus to try to shoot Melenaus. By the sounds of it, this chap has rather an interesting bow made of ibex horn:

    "His fool's heart was persuaded, and he took his bow from its case. This bow was made from the horns of a wild ibex which he had killed as it was bounding from a rock; he had stalked it, and it had fallen as the arrow struck it to the heart. Its horns were sixteen palms long, and a worker in horn had made them into a bow, smoothing them well down, and giving them tips of gold."

    Now Pandarus is from a city called Zelea, on the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara, as shown in this old map:

    Attachment 43162

    Finally, "sixteen hands" is 1.28m. So here's my question: what sort of ibex with horns that long did Pandarus stalk in that part of the world, four thousand years ago? And does anyone know of any instances of bows being made with ibex horn?

  2. #2
    I Can't be much help but googled ibex horn bow and it appears that they have been used in composite bows.
    Last edited by palmer_mike; 09-06-2014 at 17:25.

  3. #3
    back to front double s shaped
    DONT START

  4. #4
    I used to make a few bows when I had spare time. Long/recurve Bows come in a couple flavors. The first is a self bow, basically just wood. You English types were famous for your yew self bows (Battle of Agincourt and all that).

    The he other flavor is a composite bow. These may have horn or other material on the face (front) of the bow to stiffen and strengthen it. Often this was horn. The belly of the bow was often covered with sinews that were covered and adhered to the wood with hide glue. In some cases wood was omitted completely and the main body of the bow was scraped down horn.

    Quite a a few bows also used horn or antler at the tips to hold the bow string.

  5. #5
    Asian Ibex, horns easily go over a metre.

    Moose

  6. #6
    yon mongol bows were composite and far outranged the chineese,hungarian and polish bows of the armys they destroyed.the odyssey is a better book
    Last edited by tozzybum; 09-06-2014 at 20:03.

  7. #7
    SD Regular Mr. Gain's Avatar
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    I think you have already found your answer, but if you haven't seen this

    http://www.atarn.org/chinese/Yanghai..._bow_ATARN.pdf

    already you may find pp.2-3 of particular interest.
    "Docendo discimus" - Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC – 65 AD)
    “Comodidad, tranquilidad y buena alimentacion” - A Spanish recipe for contentment that oddly omits hunting.
    "I'm off to spend some time at the top of the food chain..." - (after) Tulloch
    "Oh [dear], they probably heard that in the village!" - RickoShay

  8. #8
    Mr. Gain, that's the jackpot, and a fascinating discovery! On the first page, the authors of the study point out that Herodotus mentioned the Scythians and their bows, but that it's an incomplete description. But Homer, writing over 400 years before Herodotus, gives us construction materials and the correct dimensions! The paper states that the bows are all about 115cm long, and Homer's ibex is 128cm. Figure 12 shows that there's a considerable loss of horn, so that all makes sense. Homer is describing events that happened something like 400 years before him, which places this bow perhaps 200 years before the oldest ones described in this paper. Maybe Homer had seen bows like this in his time, who knows. Nevertheless, this matching of archaelogical record with a detail of an almost 3000 year old poem is amazing.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Marten View Post
    Homer is describing events that happened something like 400 years before him, which places this bow perhaps 200 years before the oldest ones described in this paper. Maybe Homer had seen bows like this in his time, who knows. Nevertheless, this matching of archaelogical record with a detail of an almost 3000 year old poem is amazing.
    As a kid I was taught the Odyssey and the Iliad at school at the original. I remember the teacher explaining that what we were reading was not fiction, but actual History, and that all places, events and details were to be treated as historical fact. As an 11 year old I found that odd, but growing up and visiting some of the places and seeing artefacts described in these two poems (written in the most amazing meter, the hexameter [look it up, it is a difficult feat to achieve]) I was amazed at not only the fact that the poet lived so long after the events he was describing, but on the fact that, despite these poems being passed on orally generation by generation, they were so accurate...

  10. #10
    SD Regular Mr. Gain's Avatar
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    I'm glad it hit the spot - and your synopsis of the paper does the same! A+
    "Docendo discimus" - Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC – 65 AD)
    “Comodidad, tranquilidad y buena alimentacion” - A Spanish recipe for contentment that oddly omits hunting.
    "I'm off to spend some time at the top of the food chain..." - (after) Tulloch
    "Oh [dear], they probably heard that in the village!" - RickoShay

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