Hasta (spear)

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The hasta (pl.: hastae) was the spear carried by early Roman legionaries, for which the Roman soldiers known as hastati were named. In later republican times, the hastati were re-armed with pila and gladii, and the hasta was only retained by the triarii.

Unlike the pilum, verutum and lancea, the hasta was not thrown, but used for thrusting. It was about 2.4 metres (8 feet) in length, with a shaft generally made from ash, while the head was of iron.

Hasta also referred to a spear that was a gymnastic weapon.[1][2] The hasta prapilata was a spear with its point either covered by a ball or muffled. This type of spear was used by soldiers during training.[3]

Hasta pura[edit]

The hasta pura was a spear used in the Roman army as a military decoration for a soldier that distinguished themselves in battle.[4]

Symbolic hastae[edit]

Hasta caelibaris[edit]

The hasta caelibaris ("celibate spear") was used during weddings to dress the bride's hair, like a ritual hairpin.[3][5][1]

Hasta pampina[edit]

The hasta pampina was another name for the thyrsus of Bacchus, with the point of the spear was buried in vine leaves.[6]

Hasta publica[edit]

A hasta publica was a spear used to convey that a public auction was taking place. Hence, an auction room was called a hastarium.[1]

Hasta graminea[edit]

The hasta graminea was a spear made of an Indian reed that was used in statues of Minerva.

Post-Roman era[edit]

The loanwords of Latin word hasta still exists in some languages used in regions that were previously part of the Roman Empire. For example, it is used French with the spelling haste and, and Italian and Spanish with the spelling asta. Other languages also used a modified form or meaning such as Albanian (heshtë, "spear").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lewis & Short (1879). A Latin Dictionary. Perseus Project: Clarendon Press. pp. entry 'hasta'.
  2. ^ Plaut. Bacch. 1, 1, 38; 3, 3, 24
  3. ^ a b Sebesta, Judith Lynn (2001). The World of Roman Costume. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-029-913-854-7.
  4. ^ Rev. John Selby Watson, M.A. (1899). Sallust. The Jugurthine War. Perseus project: Harper & Brothers. pp. Footnotes to Sal. Jug. 85.
  5. ^ Ovid. F. 2, 560
  6. ^ Rich, Anthony (1901). A Dictionary of Roman and Greek Antiquities with Nearly 2000 Engravings on Wood from Ancient Originals Illustrative of the Industrial Arts and Social Life of the Greeks and Romans. Longmans, Green, and Company.