Clipeus

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For the insect anatomical structure, see Clypeus.
Clipeus of Iupiter-Ammon, conserved at Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona.
A clipeus

In the military of classical antiquity, a clipeus (Ancient Greek: ἀσπίς) was a large shield worn by the Greeks and Romans as a piece of defensive armor, which they carried upon the arm, to secure them from the blows of their enemies. It was round in shape and in the middle was a bolt of iron, or of some other metal, with a sharp point.

Decorative Use[edit]

An imago clipeata on a sarcophagus at the Villa la Pietra near Florence

Pliny the Elder also describes the custom of having a bust-portrait of an ancestor painted on a clipeus, and having it hung in a temple or other public place. From this round bas-reliefs in a medallion on sarcophagi and in other forms are known as clipeus portraits.[1]

Roman Use[edit]

The legionary scutum, a convex rectangular shield disappeared during the 3rd century. All troops adopted the auxiliary oval (or sometimes round) shield (clipeus).[2] Shields, from examples found at Dura and Nydam, were of vertical plank construction, the planks glued, and faced inside and out with painted leather. The edges of the shield were bound with stitched rawhide, which shrank as it dried improving structural cohesion. It was also lighter than the edging of copper alloy used in earlier Roman shields.[3]

Clipeus virtutis, Latin for 'shield of bravery' was an ancient Roman award for a soldier who had saved the life of a comrade in battle.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hall p. 78.
  2. ^ Elton (1996) 115
  3. ^ Bishop & Coulston (2006) 217

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D. "Clipeus". A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. John Murray, London, 1875.