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Galen classed the discus in the medicinal gymnastics, in hurling which he was declared the victor who sent it highest in the air, the preate.* t distance, and the nearest to the mark. Circular quoits, resembling a broad ring, and made of iron, are still used in England, but it is extremely doubtful whether the most experienced player could rival the inferior discoboli of ancient times.
Wrestling was the only exercise of those already mentioned, which could be said to be improper or dangerous. Tertnllian reprobated it, and Galen suffered a dislocation of his shoulder when wrestling, which satisfactorily accounts for his enmity to the •port. It is rather singular that this method of trying muscular strength should have prevailed, when it is remembered that strains of the muscles and dislocation of the joints, and even fractured limbs and skulls, were consequences not improbable; in addition to these objections it must be allowed that no method more certain could be devised for the excitement of sudden anger and blows. To obviate the first of these disadvantages, the Grecian athletes anointed their bodies with oil, hoping by this means to render their joints more flexible, though some authors have supposed the practice originated from an intention to prevent their adversaries obtaining a firm grasp of the limbs, and others think it was done to check profuse and debilitating perspirations. The mode adopted to save the limbs from fractures was absurd indeed, they lived well and contrived every possible way to make themselves corpulent, that their flesh might act between their bones and the earth, as a medium or cushion, forgetting, that as their gravity increased, the bruises they received were proportionally more violent, and a fracture more difficult to reduce.
Besides the application of oil, and rubbing it on the surface of the skin till the friction produced a glow; it is said they added dust or sand, but for what purpose, unless to close the pores, cannot well be decided. Salzmann says, "after this preparation the exercise itself commenced. The combatants began with handling each other slightly, each pressing or pulling his antagonist backwards and forwards, till they grew warm, then butting him with his head, thrusting him from his ground, assailing him with all his force, wrenching his limbs, shaking him, twisting his neck so as VOL. III.
to choke him, lifting him up in his arms, &c. This kind of wrestling was called op^to «a«, because it was performed standing: and h« was declared victor who threw his antagonist thrice. Another kind was performed on the ground. This was called avaxXivozreXji. Every thing was practised in this that was in wrestling erect, as far as the posture would allow. The combatants voluntarily lay down, and he whose strength was first exhausted lost the victory, which he acknowledged by words, or by holding up one of his fingers.
"With wrestling, the athletes afterwards united the savage practice of boxing, which was known before the Trojan war. Hence arose the two-fold contest called myxaanot, which was pursued to excess by the athletes, bnt could scarcely be considered as a part of medicinal gymnastics in the schools. No ancient physician recommends boxing in a medical view. The boxers likewise laid great stress on rendering their bodies corpulent, that they might be the better able to bear the blows of their antagonists." The same author adds, "The boxers fought erect, never hugging their antagonist, and throwing him down, but merely striking him: the wrestlers were not allowed to strike: the pancratiasts united the two, both wrestling and striking."
Kennet refers the Ludus Troja?, celebrated by bands of boys, to the invention of Ascanius. The youths engaged in this exercise were selected from the most honourable families of Rome, were elegantly habited, and armed with weapons of a size proportioned to their age. The commander received the title of Princeps Juventutis, and was sometimes the son of a senator, and not nnfrequently the heir to the empire. Augustus was extremely partial to their infantile imitations of the ardour of manhood; and Virgil, aware of his partiality, introduced a description of their celebrations in his Eneid. They wore chaplets of flowers on their heads, and their hair flowed loose from beneath it; their vests were purple; and twists of gold, disposed in circles, attached to the neck, spread down their breasts; quivers hung on their shoulders ; they carried two spears; and were mounted on spirited horses. Virgil, in the passage alluded to, divides the youths into three troops, each consisting of twelve, under the command of a captain, amounting in the aggregate to thirty nine Ee
individuals. Thus equipped they walked their horses round the circus.
"When sage Epytides, to give the sign, Crack'd his long whip, and made the course begin."
They then started forward at full speed, and afterwards formed into divisions, returning back.
« while from their fingers borne,
Their hostile darts aloft upon the wind
Fly shivering: then in circling numbers join'd,
The manag*d coursers with due measures bound,
And run the rapid ring, and trace the mazy round.
Files feeing (iles, their bold companions dare,
And wheel and charge, and urge the sportive war.
Now flight they feign, and naked backs expose;
Now with turn'd spears drive headlong on the foes;
And now confederate grown, in peaceful ranks they close."
The ehariot races do not strictly belong to this article, but they were so far connected with personal exercises in the Circus, that it would be almost unpardonable to pass them without notice. Strength and agility were entirely useless in the conduct of the chariot; courage and address in guiding the fiery steeds were all that was requisite in the driver. The charioteers were formed into companies in the Roman Cir. censian spectacles, and they excited great interest throughout Rome, the inhabitants of which were generally divided into parties each attached to their favourite company. This, in common with their other sports, was derived from the Greeks. The different ancient divisions were distinguished by the colours of their habits, which were green, red, white, and blue; and they were termed the Prasiua, the Russata, the Alba, and the Veneta.
The antiquity of the Pyrhica, or Saltatio Pyrhica, led ancient authors into many fanciful ideas, whence this warlike dance originated. Homer introduces it in its primitive state, in his description of the twelfth department of the shield of Achilles. •' The skilful Vulcan then designed the
figure and various motions of a dance, like that which Daedalus, of old, contrived in Gnossus for the fair Ariadne. There the young men and maidens danced hand in hand; the maids were dressed in linen garments, the men in rich and shining stuffs; the maids had flowery crowns on their heads, the men had swords of gold hanging from their sides in belts of silver. Here they seem to run in a ring with active feet as swiftly as a wheel runs round when tried by the hands of the potter. There they appeared to move in many figures, and sometimes to meet, sometimes to wind from each other. A multitude of spectators stood round delighted with the dance. In the middle, two nimble tumblers exercised themselves in feats of activity, while the song was carried on by the whole circle."
At the period when the dance was practised in the Roman amphitheatres, it had assumed a warlike appearance, the performers advancing and flying alternately as if engaged in battle. Claudian says,
"Their moving breasts in tuneful changes
rise, The shields salute their sides, or straight
are shewn In air high waving; deep the targets
groan, Struck with alternateswords which thence
rebound, And end the concert and the sacred
Scaliger informs us, with some degree of vanity, that he had often danced the pyrhic in presence of the Emperor Maximilian, to the admiration and amazement of the inhabitants of Germany, and, as it appears, to that of the Emperor, who, he adds, exclaimed, "This boy either was born in a coat of mail, instead of a skin, or else has been rocked in one instead of a cradle."
Real or supposed improvements in the customs of the European nations, have now nearly abolished or altered almost all of the ancient gymnastic exercises; active feats and sudden turns of the body, or tumbling, are totally despised and confined to the most pitiful public exhibitions; playing with the ball is very little practised; leaping and foot races are limited to a few wagers; pitching the quoit seldom extends beyond the apprentice and the labourer; throwing the javelin is entirely discontinued; wrestling, long a favourite athletic exercise in
England, belongs almost exclusively to the wanton school-boy; boxing, (thanks to our morals) to the lowest wretches in society; the tournament, evidently derived from the Ludus Trojan is nearly forgotten; the chariot race is in the same state of disuse; and we have nothing which resembles the military pyrhic; and even the faint similarity of the games enumerated are supported by the caprice of a few individuals, who are often condemned for employing their time to so little purpose.
On the other hand, if we turn our attention to the rest of the world, we shall find that many of the gymnastic sports are in full use at this moment, without the inhabitants suspecting that nations very remote from them had similar some thousand years past Two instances of this fact are so exactly in point, that we cannot refrain from giving them. Mr. Cordiner, who very lately presented the public with an excellent work, descriptive of the island of Ceylon, relates the particulars of a Cingalese play, in the following words:
"Gay and noisy amusements do not often interrupt the predominant repose of the genuine Ceylonese; but a sort of comical representation is sometimes attempted, to gratify a man of elevated rank, or to celebrate an occasion of extraordinary festivity. On the 28th of December, 1803, while Lord Viscount Valentia was visiting Governor North, at Columbo, a numerous company of the British inhabitants were favoured, after dinner, with the sight of an exhibition, called by the natives a Cyngaless play, although from the rude nature of the performance it can hardly be ranked among the productions of the dramatic art. The stage was1 the green lawn before his Excellency's villa at St. Sebastian, and the open theatre was lighted with lamps supported on posts, and flambeaus held in men's hands. The entertainment commenced with the feats of a set of active tumblers, whose naked bodies were painted all over with white crosses. They walked on their hands, and threw themselves round, over head and heels, three or four times successively, without a pause. Two boys embracing one another, with head opposed to feet, tumbled round like a wheel, but necessarily with a slower motion, as a momentary stop was required when each person touched the ground. The young performers, singly, twisted their bodies with a quickness and flexibility which it would be difficult to imitate in a less relax
ing climate. Some of the movements produced sensations by no means agreeable, as they conveyed the idea of occasioning uneasiness to the actors. After this, six or seven professed dancers appeared on the stage. They were dressed like the gay damsels on the coast of Coromandel; but the greater part of them appeared not to be females, and an inferiority of gesticulation was visible in the style of their performance. Two men, raised upon stilts, walked in amongst them, exhibiting a most gigantic stature; pieces of bamboo were tied round their legs, reaching only a little above the knee, and elevating them three feet from the ground; they moved slowly, without much ease, and had nothing to support them but the equipoise of their own bodies:" a man then appeared, masked, armed with a sword and switch, and habited in the old Portuguese dress; two others, resembling Dutchmen, and masked, preceded, who skipped about and drove all before them in an imperative manner; croupes of horrible masks, set with teeth, one of which had the head and proboscis of an elephant, followed; the persons who bore them carried lighted torches in each hand, those they whirled rapidly round, alternately lighting and extinguishing them in the course of their revolutions; these personified devils, and sometimes laughed to excess, but said little; imitations of wild animals next appeared; "but the prettiest part of the entertainment was a circular dance, by twelve children about ten years of age; they danced opposite to one another, two and two, all courtesied at one time down to the ground, shook their whole bodies with their hands fixed in their sides, and kept time to the music with two little clattering sticks, one in each hand. Going swiftly round, being neatly dressed, of one size, and perfect in the performance, this youthful dance produced a very pleasing effect, and brought to remembrance the pictures of the fleeting hours."
Captain Cook relates, in the second volume of the account of his voyage to the Pacific Ocean and the Sandwich Islands, that the natives play at bowls with pieces of whetstone, in shape resembling a small cheese, rounded at the edges, highly polished, and weighing about a pound. "They also use, in the manner that we throw quoits, small, flat, rounded pieces of the writingslate, of the diameter of the bowls, but scarcely a quarter of an inch thick, also well polished."
GYMNOTHORAX, the mvrma, in narural history, a genus of fishes of the order Apodcs. Generic character: body eelshaped, no pectoral fins; spiracle single, on each side the neck, small, oval, and uncovered. There are four species according to Gmelin, but Shaw enumerates eleven. The G. roniana abounds ou the Mediterranean coasts, and attains nearly to the size of the common eel. It is principally found in salt water, but will live equally well in fresh. It is highly voracious, and preys upon a vast variety of smaller animals. It was regarded by the Romans as one of the first of delicacies, and the rich and noble frequently kept these fishes in large reservoirs, in which they were at once fed for the table, and afforded entertainment by the tameness and familiarity to which they were easily disciplined. V. Pollio once ordered a slave, who had offended him by neglect, in the presence of the Emperor, to be cut in pieces and given for food to his munenas, at which the Emperor Augustus was so much disgusted, that he instantly ordered the ponds of this nobleman to be filled up, and his slave to be liberated, and was induced to spare the life of this tyrant, only from a regard to an acquaintance of considerable duration.
GYMNOTUS, the gymnote, in natural history, a genus of fishes of the order Apodes. Generic character: the head with lateral operqila; two tentacula on the upper lip; eyes covered by the common skin j gill-membrane five-rayed; body compressed, generally without a dorsal fin, but carinated by a fin beneath. There are nine species, of which we shall notice G. electricus or the electrical gymnote. This is generally of the length of three or four feet, is of an unpleasant appearance, much like a large eel, but thicker in proportion to the length, and always of the colour of a blackish brown. It has, occasionally, been seen of the length of ten feet. It is found in the hot climates of Africa and America, particularly in the rivers of Surinam and Senegal. Towards the close of the 17th century, a memoir was presented by M. Richer to the French Academy, announcing his discovery of a very peculiar quality of this fish, by which it communicated to the person touching it a very sudden and violent shock. This statement, however, was considered as fabulous for a considerable time, and it was not till about the middle of the last century that all scepticism on this subject, even among learned and scientific
men, completely vanished, and this very peculiar property was universally allowed to attach to the fish in question. Dr. Garden, of Charlestown, in South Carolina, after giving an elaborate description of the form and structure of this animal, adds, that it has the power of giving an electrical shock to any person, or to any number of persons who join hands together, the extreme person on each side touching the fish. There were five of these fishes under his immediate inspection at the above town, all which possessed this property in a high degree, and they could communicate the shock to any number of individuals, either by the immediate touch of the fish by one of them, or through the medium of a metalline rod; but when they were first caught this power was more fully possessed by them than sometime afterwards. He observed that, in his own case, the shock was never experienced, when the fish was laid hold of by him with one hand only; when it was held by both hands at a considerable distance apart, he never failed to receive a sensible and smart one. Indeed if it be held by on« hand, and the other hand be immersed in the water immediately over the body of the fish, the same effect will follow as if the fish were held by both hands, and so it will be with respect to any number of persons joining in a circle, one hand of the person at one extremity holding the fish, and the person at the other extremity, placing his hand in the water over the gymnote. This shock is considered as completely electrical, all the circumstances of it resembling those of the electricity of the atmosphere. It is passed by the same conductors, and interrupted by the same electrics. These fishes are caught in Surinam river, considerably above the reach of the sea-water. They subsist on fishes, worms, or any animal food, which is small enough for them to swallow; and when any fish is thrown at them, they will immediately communicate to it a shock, by which it is stupified. If the fish be large, several shocks are requisite, and are applied for this purpose, and many are tints destroyed by the gymnote which it is unable to swallow, and after repeated attempts finds itself obliged to abandon. The shock inflicted by these creatures on others intended by them for prey, is by no means always, nor perhaps generally fatal, and many have been speedily recovered after being removed into another vessel from that in which they received the shock, and in which they were rendered motionless, and to all appearance dead by it. It appears that the electrical fish has no teeth, and the most minute examination of the fishes contained in their stomachs could discover no marks of laceration, even in the slightest degree. Gymnotesof three feet in length are incapable of swallowing any li-h larger than three inches and a half. It appears that the strength of their peculiar talent is in proportion to their magnitude, and it is stated that there are some in Surinam's river, whose length is twenty feet, and whose shock is followed by immediate death to any human being,who is so unfortunate as to be exposed to it. It is observed, that even after the electrical fish is dead, it retains, for a considerable time, more or less of this singular property. It is a fish greatly and justly dreaded by the inhabitants of those countries, the rivers of which it frequents; it is however, notwithstanding this circumstance, used by them for food, and even by some, considered as a capital delicacy. For a representation of the gymnotus electricus, see Pisces, Plate IV. fig. 5.
GYNANDRIA, in botany, the name of the twentieth class in the Linnaran system. It consists of plants with hermaphrodite flowers, in which the stamina are placed upon the style, or upon a pillar-shaped receptacle resembling a style, which rises in the middle of the flower, and bears both the stamina and point il. There are seven orders in this class, each of which is founded on the number of the stamina in the plants t which compose it. See Botany.
GYNOPOGON, in botany, a genus of the Pontandria Mouogynia class and order. Natural order of Apocineae, Jussieu. Essential character: calyx half five-cleft, inferior, permanent; corolla five-parted, tube veutricoac below the tip, throat contracted , stigma globular, two-lobed ; berry pedicelled, sub-globular; seed cartilaginous, sub-bilocular. There are three species, natives of the islands in the South Seas.
GYPSIES. There are several statutes against them, by which they are treated as rogues and vagabonds.
GYPSOPHILA, in botany, I genus of the DecandrU Digynia class and order. Natural order off Jiryophyllei. Essential character: calyx one-leafed, bell-shaped, angular; petals five, ovate, sessile ; capsule globular, one-celled. There are twelve species.
GYPSUM, a substance well known to the ancients, and one that is very abundant in nature, and is now denominated, according to the new chemical arrangement, the sulphate of lime. It forms immense strata, compo&mg entire mountains ; it is found in almost every soil, either in greater or less quantities; it is contained in the waters of the ocean, and in/ almost all river and spring water. In these its presence is the cause of the quality termed hardness, which may be known by the water being incapable of forming a solution of soap, the sulphuric kcid seizing on the alkali of the soap, and the oil forming a compound with the lime. Sulphate of lime is insipid, white, and soft to the touch. Wuter will not hold a 500th part of it in solution. Exposed to heat it appears to effervesce, which phenomenon is caused by the expulsion of water. It becomes opaque, and falls into powder. This ponder, when its water has been driven off by the application of a red heat, absorbs water rapidly, so that if it be formed into a paste with water, it dries in a few minutes. In this state it is called plaster of Paris, and is employed for forming cists, and for a variety of purposes in the art or'statuary,
GYRINUS.in natural history, vatcr-fiea, a genus of insects of the order Colenptera. Antenna; cylindrical; jaws homey, onetoothed, sharp-pointed; eyes four, two above and two beneath ; thorax and shells margined, the latter shorter than the body; legs formed for swimming. The insects of this genus are to be found on the surface of waters, on which they run, and describe circles with a great degree of swiftness; when attempted to be taken, they plunge to the bottom, drawing after them a bubble very similar to a globule of quicksilver. Eleven species of the gyrinus have been described, of which one only is found in Europe, ri:. G. catator, a small insect, not more than a quarter of an inch long, of a blackish colour, but with so bright a surface as to shine like a mirror in the sun. The larva is of a very singular aspect, having it lengthened body, furnished with many lateral appendages down the body, exclusively of six legs. Dr. Shaw says, its motions are extremely agile, swimming in a kind of serpentine manner, and preying on the smaller and weaker water-insects, minute worms, 4c. It is a highly curious object for the microscope. When its change arrives, it forms for itself a small oval cell or case on a