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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 3:07 am    Post subject: Roman stirrups in 176AD? (Or what is that on his foot?)         Reply with quote

OK, So I'm studing up for my art history quiz on monday, and I come across the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
I'm looking at it, and what do I see on his foot but something that looks like a stirrup to me. Now, if you google the staute's name, you'll get lots of cloned articles saying he isn't using them, since they 'hadn't been introduced to the west yet' or some such.


So what is this he appears to have his foot shoved through? Wacky roman footware I've never heard of?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...tolini.JPG

Oh, whatever this is, does not appear present on the modern copy, so don't look at it if you go looking for more pictures.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
Joined: 21 Jul 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 3:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I know next to zip about roman footwear, but to me it looks like strapping from his shoes coming up to tie around the ankles. I cant see any sign of stirrup-straps connecting to the rest of the horse-harness either, so It really looks to me like somewhat elaborate strapping on his shoes.

Marc

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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Jeff A. Arbogast





Joined: 16 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 5:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well,
I don't know diddly about Roman footwear, but it sure looks like a stirrup of some sort to me. Did they just VAULT up onto their horses, and then slid of them like a bag of grain? Or did they all use slaves as footstools? Frankly, whatever the "experts" say, I find it hard to believe that the Romans, who had intimate contact with all sorts of cultures (friendly AND hostile) who DID use stirrups,even crushing Roman legions with their use, as at Adrianople, were too stupid to use them themselves, even for an Emperor. That's something I just find too hard to swallow.

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
Joined: 21 Jul 2008

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff A. Arbogast wrote:
Well,
Frankly, whatever the "experts" say, I find it hard to believe that the Romans, who had intimate contact with all sorts of cultures (friendly AND hostile) who DID use stirrups,even crushing Roman legions with their use, as at Adrianople, were too stupid to use them themselves, even for an Emperor. That's something I just find too hard to swallow.


Well, Adrianople was in 378, and this statue was erected in 176. Two hundred years makes a bit of a difference... It does seem incredible that the stirrup came into use so late in europe, but that's what the evidence seems to show. As for this picture, I really can't see stirrups or stirrup-straps on that statue, just a rather loose arrangement of shoe-straps being tied around the ankles. Maybe better eyes than mine or a close examination of the statue would see differently, but I'd be very surprised. Its not as if the dating of european stirrup use is a new question. "Experts" usually prefer argument to agreement. If there were any credible sign of stirrups on this well-known statue, I'd imagine there'd be a mountain of scholarly brouhaha about it dating back a couple of centuries at least.

I wish I could see stirrups here! I love a shaken paradigm! But I really can't.

Marc

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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Eric Meulemans
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Location: Southern Wisconsin
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff A. Arbogast wrote:
Well,
Did they just VAULT up onto their horses, and then slid of them like a bag of grain?


Yes, they did, and no, they didn't.

Xenephon writes, c. 350 BC.
"The master, let us suppose, has received his horse and is ready to mount. We will now prescribe certain rules to be observed in the interests not only of the horseman but of the animal which he bestrides. First, then, he should take the leading rein, which hangs from the chin-strap or nose-band, conveniently in his left hand, held slack so as not to jerk the horse's mouth, whether he means to mount by hoisting himself up, catching hold of the mane behind the ears, or to vault on to horseback by help of his spear. With the right hand he should grip the reins along with a tuft of hair beside the shoulder-joint, so that he may not in any way wrench the horse's mouth with the bit while mounting. In the act of taking the spring off the ground for mounting, he should hoist his body by help of the left hand, and with the right at full stretch assist the upward movement (a position in mounting which will present a graceful spectacle also from behind); at the same time with the leg well bent, and taking care not to place his knee on the horse's back, he must pass his leg clean over to the off side; and so having brought his foot well round, plant himself firmly on his seat."

Stirrups really aren't so necessary as so many have come to suppose. Even for those among us today who are excellent riders (with or without stirrups) it is difficult to imagine the level of skill derived from a life spent on horseback without their benefit, in peace and at war. They really are merely an aid, not a necessity, and honestly for one not used to them (or having had ridden without them for some time) they will feel more hindrance than help.

As to the statue in question, I myself see no evidence of a stirrup or stirrup strap in the original, nor would it seem any of those who have used this statue as a model for other monuments through the ages, who particularly during the Renaissance had a penchant for equipping their Kings la Romaine. Barring arguments of whether one can or cannot see what may or may not be some form of stirrup strap, more important is the overall position of the Emperor himself, with toes down, leg ahead of him and knees high, in a classical bareback position. Witness the many Greek marble reliefs which depict the very same position. Interestingly, Xenephon (and modern instructors) warn against this:

"But now, supposing the rider fairly seated, whether bareback or on a saddle-cloth, a good seat is not that of a man seated on a chair, but rather the pose of a man standing upright with his legs apart. In this way he will be able to hold on to the horse more firmly by his thighs; and this erect attitude will enable him to hurl a javelin or to strike a blow from horseback, if occasion calls, with more vigorous effect."
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R D Moore




Location: Portland Oregon
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 11:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a couple of links:
http://www.caerleon.net/history/army/page9.html

http://lostfort.blogspot.com/2007/07/roman-saddles.html

and some pics.

As an old country boy, I have to say these saddles look like a lot of pain! The phrase: "hard a--" takes on a new meaning!

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 6:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks to me like the Emperor is wearing the typical senatorial boots, which do indeed have straps coming up from the sole to criss-cross around the ankle and lower leg. I've made 2 pairs, and that's basically what they look like.

The Roman 4-horned saddle gives a very secure seat from which the rider can fight or shoot a bow without any fear of falling off. Experiments have included rides of a couple weeks along Roman frontier lines ("limes"), reenactments of Roman cavalry games and training contests, etc. No problems. Mind also that Roman horses were not all that big, so it's not such a long way to climb to get into the saddle!

Valete,

Matthew
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I can tell, the statue pictured is one of two reconstructed replicas ; 16th century, and 20th century era. I wonder how the more ancient original one appeared?
Something to bear in mind when considering antiquities' discussions of mounting horses by vaulting is that horses tended to be smaller, 13 to 15 hands being good sized for a war horse in dark ages. The present day Mustang being a pretty representative descendant of the Barb. Some of the 11th to 12th century era art seem to depict utilitarian mount riders with feet pretty close to the ground when mounted.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Oct, 2008 8:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
As far as I can tell, the statue pictured is one of two reconstructed replicas ; 16th century, and 20th century era. I wonder how the more ancient original one appeared?
.


No, That's the original Roman Bronze. It survived when most Roman metal statues did not because it was incorrectly believed to be of Constantine, the 'First Christian Emporer" (which is something historians debate on mind you, but isn't important right now.)

But, because of Contantine's religious significance, no one wanted to melt down his statue.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Douglas S





Joined: 18 Feb 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2008 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cothurni (sing. cothurnus) is the name for the footwear, i believe.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2008 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
That's the original Roman Bronze.


Thanks for the information on destruction of non-Christian statues! I had no idea..
There is a 16th century coat of arms from the artist on the statue outside in the square. The one inside the Palazzo Nuovo seems to be claimed to be the original (there is a 3rd version as well.) The proportions of legs and impression or lack there of of stirrups is very different for the image here of the one inside.



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Marcus Aurelius.jpg


Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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