Spartan Mother (The), said to her son going to battle, as she handed him his shield, “My son, return with this or on it,” i.e. come back with it as a conqueror or be brought back on it as one slain in fight; but by no means be a fugitive or suffer the enemy to be the victorious party.

Why should I not play
The Spartan mother?

   —Tennyson: The Princess, il.

Spasmodic School (The), certain authors of the nineteenth century, whose writings abound in spasmodic phrases, startling expressions, and words used out of their common acceptation. Carlyle, noted for his Germanic English, is the chief of this school. Others are Bailey author of Festus, Sydney Dobell, Gilfillan, and Alexander Smith.

(Professor Aytoun gibbeted this class of writers in his Firmilian, a Spasmodic Tragedy, 1854.)

Spear. When a king of the ancient Caledonians abdicated, he gave his spear to his successor, and “raised a stone on high” as a record to future generations. Beneath the stone he placed a sword in the earth and “one bright boss from his shield.”

When thou, O stone, shalt moulder down and lose thee in the moss of years, then shall the traveller come, and whistling pass away.… Here Fingal resigned his spear, after the last of his fields.—Ossian: Temora, viii.

The Forward Spear, a sign of hostility. In the Ossianic times, when a stranger landed on a coast, if he held the point of his spear forwards, it indicated hostile intentions; but if he held the point behind him, it was a token that he came as a friend.

“Are his heroes many?” said Cairbar; “and lifts he the spear of battle, or comes the king in peace?” “In peace he comes not, king of Erin. I have seen his forward spear.”—Ossian: Temora, i.

Spear of Achillês. Telephos, son-in-law of Priam, opposed the Greeks in their voyage to Troy. A severe contest ensued, and Achillês with his spear wounded the Mysian king severely. He was told by an oracle that the wound could be cured only by the instrument which gave it; so he sent to Achillês to effect his cure. The surly Greek replied he was no physician, and would have dismissed the messengers with scant courtesy, but Ulysses whispered in his ear that the aid of Telephos was required to direct them on their way to Troy. Achillês now scraped some rust from his spear, which, being applied to the wound, healed it. This so conciliated Telephos that he conducted the fleet to Troy, and even took part in the war against his father-in-law.

Achillês’ and his father’s javelin caused
Pain first, and then the boon of health restored.

   —Dante: Hell, xxxi. (1300).

And other folk have wondered on … Achillês’ … spere,
For he couthe with it bothe heale and dere.

   —Chaucer: Canterbury Tales (“The Squire’s Tale,” 1383).

Whose smile and frown, like to Achillês’ spear,
Is able with the change to kill and cure.

   —Shakespeare: 2 Henry VI. act v. sc. I (1591).

Probably Telephos was cured by the plant called Achillea (milfoil or yarrow), still used in medicine as a tonic. “The leaves were at one time much used for healing wounds, and are still employed for this purpose in Scotland, Germany, France, and other countries.” Achillês (the man) made the wound, achillês (the plant) healed it.

Milfoil is called Achilea from Achillês who was taught botany by Chiron. Linnæus recommends it as a most excellent vulnerary and stiptic.

Spears of Spyinghow (The Three), in the troop of Fitzurse.—Sir W. Scott: Ivanhoe (time, Richard I.).

  By PanEris using Melati.

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