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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Sceptre

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A rod or staff has always been regarded as a token of authority. Among the early Greeks the sceptre (o-K177rrpov) was a long staff used by aged men (Il. xviii. 416, Herod. 1.196), and came to be used by judges, military leaders, priests and others. It is represented on painted vases as a long staff tipped with a metal ornament, and is borne by some of the gods. Among the Etruscans sceptres of great magnificence were used by kings and upper orders of the priesthood, and many representations of such sceptres occur on the walls of the painted tombs of Etruria. The British Museum, the Vatican and the Louvre possess Etruscan sceptres of gold, most elaborately and minutely ornamented. The Roman sceptre was probably derived from the Etruscan. Under the Republic an ivory sceptre (sceptrum eburneum) was a mark of consular rank It was also used by victorious generals who received the title of imperator, and it may be said to survive in the marshal's baton. Under the empire the sceptrum Augusti was specially used by the emperors, and was often of ivory tipped with a golden eagle. It is frequently shown on medallions of the later empire, which have on the obverse a half-length figure of the emperor, holding in one hand the sceptrum Augusti, and in the other the orb surmounted by a small figure of Victory.

With the advent of Christianity the sceptre was often tipped with across instead of the eagle, but during the middle ages the finials on the top of the sceptre varied considerably. In England from a very early period two sceptres have been concurrently used, and from the time of Richard I. they have been distinguished as being tipped with a cross and a dove respectively. In France the royal sceptre was tipped with a fleur de lys, and the other, known as the main de justice, had an open hand of benediction on the top. Sceptres with small shrines on the top are sometimes represented on royal seals, as on the great seal of Edward III., where the king, enthroned, bears such a sceptre, but it was an unusual form; and it is of interest to note that one of the sceptres of Scotland, preserved at Edinburgh, has such a shrine at the top, with little images of Our Lady, St Andrew and St James in it. This sceptre was, it is believed, made in France about 1536, for James V. Great seals usually represent the sovereign enthroned, holding a sceptre (often the second in dignity) in the right hand, and the orb and cross in the left. Harold is so depicted on the Bayeux tapestry.

The earliest coronation form of the 9th century mentions a sceptre (sceptrum), and a staff (baculum). In the so-called coronation form of Ethelred II. a sceptre (sceptrum), and a rod (virga) are named, and this is also the case with a coronation order of the 12th century. In a contemporary account of Richard I.'s coronation the royal sceptre of gold with a gold cross, and the gold rod (virga) with a gold dove on the top, are mentioned for the first time. About 1450 Sporley, a monk of Westminster, compiled a list of the relics there. These included the articles used at the coronation of St Edward the Confessor, and left by him for the coronations of his successors. A golden sceptre, a wooden rod gilt and an iron rod are named. These survived till the Commonwealth, and are minutely described in an inventory of the whole of the regalia drawn up in 1649, when everything was destroyed.

For the coronation of Charles II. new sceptres were made, and though slightl y altered, are still in use. They are a sceptre with a cross called St Edward's sceptre, a sceptre with a dove, and a long sceptre or staff with a cross of gold on the top called St Edward's staff. To these, two sceptres for the queen, one with a cross, and the other with a dove, have been subsequently added.

See Cyril Davenport, The English Regalia; Leopold WickhamLegg, English Coronation Records; The Ancestor, Nos. 1 and 2 (1902); Menin, The Form, o'c., of Coronations (English translation, 1727).

Sceve, Maurice (c. 1500-1564), French poet, was born at Lyons, where his father practised law. Besides following his father's profession he was a painter, architect, musician and poet. He was the centre of the Lyonnese coterie that elaborated the theory of spiritual love, derived partly from Plato and partly from Petrarch, which was enunciated in Antoine Heroet's Parfaicte Amye. Sceve's chief works are Delie, objet de plus haulte vertu (1544); two eclogues, Anion (1536) and La Saulsaye (1547); and Le Microcosme (1562), an encyclopaedic poem beginning with the fall of man. Delie consists of 450 dizaines and about 50 other poems in praise of his mistress. These poems, now little read, were even in Sceve's own day so obscure that his enthusiastic admirer Etienne Dolet confesses he could not understand them. Sceve was a musician as well as a poet, and cared very much for the musical value of the words he used. In this and in his erudition he forms a link between the school of Marot and the Pleiade. Delie (an anagram for l'idee) set the fashion of a series of poems addressed to a mistress real or imaginary, followed by Ronsard in Cassandre and by Du Bellay in Olive. The Lyonnese school of which Sceve was the leader included his friend Claude de Taillemont and many women writers of verse, Jeanne Gaillarde - placed by Marot on an equality with Christine de Pisan - Pernette du Guillet, Clbmence de Bourges and the poet's sisters, Claudine and Sibylle Sceve. Sceve died in 1564. See also LABfi, Louise).

See E. Bourciez, La Litterature polie et les mceurs de cour sous Henri II (Paris, 1886); Pernetti, Recherches pour servir a l'histoire de Lyon (2 vols., Lyons, 1 757); and F. Brunetiere, "Un Precurseur de la Pleiade; Maurice Sceve," in his Etudes critiques, vol. vi. (1899).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Sceptre'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/s/sceptre.html. 1910.

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