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Full Version: Belosphendone
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One of the missiles thrown from behind the Roman lines of Sulla against the sarisa bearing phalanx of Archelaos Plutarch calls a belosphendone (βελοσφενδόνη). I have never seen this term before and LSJ defines it with the impossible :

βελοσφενδόνη, ἡ, dart wrapped with pitch and tow, and thrown while on fire from an engine, Plu.Sull.18.

This definition is obviously wrong and has nothing to do with the very etymology of the term which is comprised of the words belos (=missile, arrow) and sphendone (=sling) while engines are not mentioned in the text nor would it be possible to fire over the Roman lines and against an engaged opponent with one, let alone missiles lit with fire...

The whole text reads : αἵ τε βελοσφενδόναι καὶ οἱ γρόσφοι, χρωμένων ἀφειδῶς τῶν κατόπιν Ῥωμαίων, ἀπέστρεφον καὶ συνετάραττον.

TLG turns back no other use of this term in its entire corpus. Is there any Latin term that resembles this, which maybe Plutarch translated into Greek? My best guess at the time would be some kind of sling propelled javelin.

What do you think, guys?
I only know of the cestosphendone, a dart thrown by a sling, but the word 'belosphendone' seems to be unique to Plutarch. Maybe it's artilley? I can't see the practicality of throwing a burning object with a sling...