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405
SCIMITAR—SCIPIO

amongst other relics, the only perfect “kistvaen,” or sepulchral chamber of stone, which has been disinterred from any Cornish tomb.

Although the Scilly Isles have been regarded as the remains of Lyonesse, as identical with the Cassiterides, and as the object of an expedition and of conquest on the part of Athelstan in pursuance of a vow made at the shrine of St Burian, it is not until the reign of Henry I. that we have indisputable evidence concerning them. The king gave all the churches of Scilly and the land, as the hermits held it in the days of the Confessor, to the abbot and church of Tavistock. A confirmation of this grant and a further grant to the monks of all wrecks except whole ships and whales was made by Reginald, earl of Cornwall. In 1180 the bishop of Exeter confirmed a grant by Richard de Wicha of tithes, hitherto withheld, and of rabbits. Secular priests were temporally substituted for regulars by the abbot of Tavistock in 1345. Sharing the dignity of lords of Scilly with the abbot, holding apparently the better half of St Mary’s Island, which was already furnished with a castle and a prison, and like the abbot practically beyond the jurisdiction of the hundred courts, the family of Blanchminster (de Albo Monasterio), at the beginning of the 14th century, held of the earldom of Cornwall lands in Scilly at a yearly service of 6s. 8d. or 600 puffins. The Year Books tell us that in cases of felony the punishment under this family was for the convicted person to be taken to a certain rock in the sea with two barley loaves and one pitcher of water and to be left on the rock until drowned by the tide. The Blanchminsters resisted and imprisoned the coroner of Cornwall and in 1319 were granted a coroner of their own. In 1345 they are found petitioning the king for a remedy owing to an invasion by 600 of the king’s Welsh troops, who, being becalmed at Scilly, had carried away everything, and so impoverished the tenants that they were unable to pay their yearly rent of £40. In 1547 Silvester Danvers, as representing the Blanchminsters, being one of the coheirs, sold his moiety of Scilly to Sir Thomas Seymour, by whose attainder in 1549 this and probably the other moiety fell to the crown. The suppression of the religious houses had already placed the church’s land and revenues at the king’s disposal. During the Civil Wars, Hugh Town stood for the king, and in 1645 afforded a temporary shelter to Prince Charles, until his escape to Jersey. In 1649 the islands were occupied by a royalist, Sir Richard Grenville, and formed the base from which he swept the surrounding seas for two years, before a fleet under Admiral Blake and Sir John Ayscue forced him to surrender. In ancient times a haunt of pirates, the islands were afterwards notorious for smuggling. In 1687 the whole of Scilly was granted to Sidney Godolphin for eighty-nine years from the expiration of the lease for fifty years granted to Francis Godolphin in 1636 by Charles I. In 1831 Augustus Smith succeeded the Godolphins as lessee or lord-proprietor, and under his and his nephew’s wise autocracy the islands prospered.


SCIMITAR, the term generally used of all oriental single-edged curved or crescent-shaped swords (see Sword). The word has appeared in a variety of forms in English, due to Fr. cimetare, It. scimitarra or Span. cimitarra; it has even been corrupted into “smyter,” as if connected with “smite.” Most probably it represents an early Western corruption of the Persian word for a sabre, shamshir or shimshir, which means literally “lion’s claw” (sher, lion, in Hindustani “tiger,” and sham, nail, claw).


SCIOLIST, one who, with only a superficial knowledge or a smattering of knowledge on any particular subject, claims or pretends to a complete or profound learning. The Lat. sciolus, a diminutive of scius, learned, from scire, to know, is only found in post-classical times, e.g. Hieronymus, A.D. 420, Epist. 48. 18. It first appears in English at the beginning of the 17th century.


SCIOMANCY (Gr. σκιά, shade, shadow, and μαντεία, soothsaying, divination), a form of divination by means of supposed communication with the shades or spirits of the dead. The calling up of the spirit of Samuel by the Witch at Endor when consulted by Saul is the classical example (1 Sam. xxviii.).


SCION, a slip or cutting of a tree or plant used for grafting, hence a young shoot or twig. In a transferred sense the word is used of the heir or any young member of a family, a descendant. The word in O. Fr. was cion or syon, mod. scion, and the early forms in English are syon, cion or cyon. These forms seem to disprove the usual etymology, which connects it with Fr. scier, to cut, Lat. secare.


SCIPIO[1] (“staff”), the name of a patrician branch of the Cornelian gens, of which the following are the principal historical representatives:-

1. Publius Cornelius Scipio, father of the elder Africanus. He was consul in 218 B.C., the first year of the Second Punic War, and sailed with an army from Pisa to Massilia, with the view of arresting Hannibal’s advance on Italy. Failing, however, to meet his enemy, he hastened to return by sea to Cisalpine Gaul, having sent back his army to Spain under the command of his brother Gnaeus, with instructions to hold the Carthaginian forces there in check. On his return to Italy he at once advanced to meet Hannibal. In a sharp cavalry engagement in the upper valley of the Po, on the Ticinus, he was defeated and severely wounded. Again, in December of the same year, he witnessed the complete defeat of the Roman army on the Trebia, his colleague T. Sempronius Longus having insisted on fighting contrary to his advice. But he still retained the confidence of the Roman people; his term of command was extended, and we find him with his brother in Spain in the following year, winning victories over the Carthaginians and strengthening Rome’s hold on that country, till 212 (or 211). The details of these campaigns are not accurately known, but it would seem that the ultimate defeat and death of the Scipios were due to the desertion of the Celtiberi, bribed by Hasdrubal, Hannibal’s brother.

See Polybius iii., ’40; Livy xxi.-xxv.; Appian, Hannib. 5-8, Hisp. 14-16.

2. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the elder (237[2]–183 B.C.), son of the above. He was present at the disastrous battles of the Ticinus (where, according to one tradition, he saved his father’s life), the Trebia and Cannae. Even after the last of these he resolutely protested against several Roman nobles who advocated giving up the struggle and quitting Italy in despair (see Metellus, 2). The year after his father’s death, he offered himself for the command of the new army which the Romans resolved to send to Spain. In spite of his youth, his noble demeanour and enthusiastic language had made so great an impression that he was unanimously elected. All Spain south of the Ebro in the year of his arrival (210 or 209) was under Carthaginian control, but fortunately for him the three Carthaginian generals, Hasdrubal and Mago (Hannibal’s brothers), and Hasdrubal the son of Gisgo, were not disposed to act in concert and were preoccupied with revolts in Africa. Scipio, on landing at the mouth of the Ebro, was thus enabled to surprise and capture New Carthage, the headquarters of the Carthaginian power in Spain. He thus obtained a rich booty of war stores and supplies, and an excellent harbour. His kindly treatment of the Spanish hostages and prisoners brought many over to his side. In 209 he drove back Hasdrubal, from his position at Baecula, on the upper Guadalquivir, but was unable to hinder his march to Italy. After winning over a number of Spanish chiefs he achieved in 206 a decisive victory over the full Carthaginian levy at Ilipa (near Corduba), which resulted in the evacuation of Spain by the Punic commanders. With the idea of striking a blow at Carthage in Africa, he paid a short visit to the Numidian princes, Syphax and Massinissa, but at the court of Syphax he was foiled by the presence of Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, whose daughter Sophonisba was married to the Numidian chief. On his return to Spain Scipio had to quell a mutiny which had broken out among his troops. Hannibal’s brother Mago had meanwhile sailed for Italy, and in 206 Scipio himself, having secured the Roman occupation of Spain by the capture of Gades, gave up his command and returned to Rome. In the following year he was unanimously

  1. The first i is long—Scīpio.
  2. So Polybius: 235 according to Livy.