Hasta (spear)

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Hasta (plural: hastae) 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.

Unlike the pilum, verutum and lancea, the hasta was not thrown, but used for thrusting.

Description[edit]

A hasta was about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in length, with a shaft generally made from ash, while the head was of iron.

Symbolic usage[edit]

A little spear with which a bride's hair was parted into locks.[1][2]

A spear, as a gymnastic weapon.[2][3]

Hasta pura[edit]

The hasta pura was a spear without iron – presumably without the iron tip that was used in combat, or with the tip made of another material – that was awarded as a military decoration.[4]

Hastarium[edit]

Hastae were also used as signs that would be conventionally understood in Roman culture as announcing an auction. Hence, an auction was called a hasta and an auction-room a hastarium.[2]

Post-Roman era[edit]

The Latin word hasta still exists in Portuguese with the same meaning, exists in French with the spelling haste and, having lost the aspiration, is used in Italian and Spanish with the spelling asta and may have passed in modified form or meaning into other languages such as Albanian (heshtë, "spear").

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ovid. F. 2, 560
  2. ^ a b c Lewis & Short (1879). A Latin Dictionary. Perseus Project: Clarendon Press. pp. entry 'hasta'.
  3. ^ Plaut. Bacch. 1, 1, 38; 3, 3, 24
  4. ^ Rev. John Selby Watson, M.A. (1899). Sallust. The Jugurthine War. Perseus project: Harper & Brothers. pp. Footnotes to Sal. Jug. 85.