On coming into action the machine was laid for direction and elevation. The block and with it the bowstring was next forced back against the resistance of the twisted skeins to the rear end of the trough, this being effected by a windlass attachment. The trigger being then pressed or struck with a hammer, the bowstring was released from the block, the stiff arms were violently brought back to the frame by the untwisting of the skeins, and the arrow was propelled through the centre “window” with great velocity. A small machine of the type described weighed about 85 ℔, and sent a “three-span” (26-in.) arrow weighing 1 ℔ at an effective man-killing velocity somewhat over 400 yds.
The ballista was considerably larger and more expensive than this. In Scipio’s siege train, at the attack of New Carthage (Livy xxvi. 47. 5), the number of the ballistae was only one-sixth that of the catapults. In the ballista the rear end of the trough (which projected in front of the frame) always rested upon the ground, or rather was fixed to the framework of the pedestal—which was a heavy trestle construction—and the trough was thus restricted to the angle of elevation, giving the maximum range (45°). Even so the range was not appreciably greater than that of a catapult, and in the case of the largest ballistae (ninety-pounder) it was much less. These enormous engines, which, once in position, could not be laid on any fresh target, were used for propelling beams and stones rather than for shooting arrows, that is, more for the destruction of material than for man-killing effect. The skeins that supplied the motive force of all these engines were made of the sinews of animals, twisted raw hide, horsehair rope, and, in at least one celebrated case, of women’s hair. In 146 B.C., the authorities of Carthage having surrendered their engines to the Romans in the vain hope of staying their advance, new ones were hurriedly constructed, and the women and virgins of the city cut off their hair to supply the needed skeins.
The modern implement known as a “catapult” is formed by a forked stick, to the forks of which are attached the ends of a piece of elastic. To the middle of this elastic a pocket is fitted to contain a bullet or small stone. In use the forked stick is held in the left hand and the pocket drawn back with the right. Aim is taken and, the pocket being released, the missile flies through the fork of the stick. Though classed as a toy, this weapon can do considerable execution among birds, &c., when skilfully used. The name of “catapult” has also been given to a bowling machine which is used for cricket practice.
CATARACT (from the Lat. form cataracta of the Gr. καταρράκτης, a floodgate, or waterfall, properly something which rushes down), a downpour of water, a waterfall. The earliest use in English is of a floodgate or portcullis, and this survives in the name of a disease of the eye (see Eye: Eye Diseases), in which the crystalline lens becomes opaque, and forms an apparent grating over the eye. The term is also used of a device to regulate the strokes in certain types of steam-engine.
CATARGIU (or Catargi), LASCAR (1823–1899), Rumanian statesman, was born in Moldavia in November 1823. He belonged to an ancient Walachian family, one of whose members had been banished in the 17th century by Prince Matthew Bassaraba, and had settled in Moldavia. Under Prince Gregory Ghica (1849–1856), Catargiu rose to be prefect of police at Jassy. In 1857 he became a member of the Divan ad hoc of Moldavia, a commission elected in accordance with the treaty of Paris (1856) to vote on the proposed union of Moldavia and Walachia. His strongly conservative views, especially on agrarian reform, induced the Conservatives to support him as a candidate for the throne in 1859. During the reign of Prince Cuza (1859–1866), Catargiu was one of the Opposition leaders, and received much assistance from his kinsman, Barbu Catargiu (b. 1807), a noted journalist and politician, who was assassinated at Bucharest on the 20th of June 1862. On the accession of Prince Charles in May 1866, Lascar Catargiu became president of the council, or prime minister; but, finding himself unable to co-operate with his Liberal colleagues, I. C. Bratianu and C. A. Rosetti, he resigned in July. After eight more ministerial changes, culminating in the anti-dynastic agitation of 1870–1871, Catargiu formed, for the first time in Rumanian history, a stable Conservative cabinet, which lasted until 1876. His policy, which averted revolution and revived the popularity of the crown, was regarded as unpatriotic and reactionary by the Liberals, who resumed office in 1876; and a proposal to impeach the whole Catargiu cabinet was only withdrawn in 1878. Catargiu remained in opposition until 1889, when he formed another cabinet, taking the portfolio of the Interior; but this administration fell after seven months. In the Florescu ministry of March 1891 he occupied the same position, and in December he again became president of the council, retaining office until 1895. During this period he was responsible for several useful reforms, chiefly financial and commercial. He died suddenly at Bucharest on the 11th of April 1899.
CATARRH (from the Gr. καταρρεῖν, to flow down), a term principally employed to describe a state of irritation of the mucous membrane of# the respiratory passages, or what is called in popular language a “cold.” It is the result of infection by a micro-organism in one or more of various predisposing conditions, damp, chill, fatigue, &c. The complaint usually begins as a nasal catarrh or coryza (Gr. κόρυς, head), with a feeling of weight about the forehead and some degree of difficulty in breathing through the nose, increased on lying down. Fits of sneezing accompanied with a profuse watery discharge from the nostrils and eyes soon follow, while the sense of smell and to some extent that of taste become considerably impaired. There is usually present some amount of sore throat and of bronchial irritation, causing hoarseness and cough. Sometimes the vocal apparatus becomes so much inflamed (laryngeal catarrh) that temporary loss of voice results. There is always more or less feverishness and discomfort, and frequently an extreme sensitiveness to cold; After two or three days the symptoms begin to abate, the discharge from the nostrils and chest becoming thicker and of purulent character, and producing when dislodged considerable relief to the breathing. On the other hand the catarrh may assume a more severe aspect and pass into some form; of pulmonary inflammation (see Bronchitis) or influenza (q.v.).
When the symptoms are first felt it is well to take a good purge, and to encourage free perspiration by a hot bath, some diaphoretic drug, as spirits of nitrous ether, being taken before retiring to bed. Some of the older school of physicians still pin their faith to a dose of Dover’s powder. When the cold manifests itself by aches and pains in back and limbs, aspirin taken three or four times in the first twenty-four hours will often act like magic. Locally a snuff made of menthol 1 part, ammonium chloride 3 parts and boracic acid 2 parts will relieve the discomfort of the nose. Also, remembering the microbic origin of the disease, gargling and nasal syringing should be repeated at intervals. As soon as the attack shows signs of subsiding, a good tonic and, still better, a change of air are very helpful.
The term catarrh is used in medical nomenclature in a wider sense to describe a state of irritation of any mucous surface in the body, which is accompanied with an abnormal discharge of its natural secretion, hence the terms gastric catarrh, intestinal catarrh, &c.
CATARRHINE APE, the term used to describe those apes which have the nostrils approximated, the aperture pointing downward, and the intervening septum narrow; distinguishing features of both the lower “doglike” apes (Cynomorpha) and the higher “manlike” apes (Anthropomorpha). The Catarrhini are restricted entirely to the Old World, and include the gorilla, the chimpanzee and orang-utan.
CATASTROPHE (Gr. καταστροφή, from καταστρέφειν, to overturn), a term of the ancient Greek drama for the change in the plot which leads up to the conclusion. The word is thus used of any sudden change, particularly of a violent or disastrous nature, and in geology of a cataclysm or great convulsion of the earth’s surface.