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History of Cane 7

The Canes in Ancient Greece


In Greek mythology, pagan Gods are usually carrying canes, (in fact a symbolic sceptre) completing their status:
this is the case of Hermes , messenger of gods and protector of travellers, with his caduceus.


The same goes for Poseidon and his trident,


Dyonisios and his Thyrse,


Athena and his Kerukeion. These canes all have a symbolic meaning.


Demi-Gods, as well as simple mortals, such as princes, doctors , judges, priests , teachers and gymnasts …all carried a cane! After all, wasn’t the sceptre of all heroes of Homere, a cane?


Ulysses had a superb cane, whose ornate knob represented a deity; he used it, to severely punish the mockeries of Thersite.


To command, man naturally raises his arm, as a way to heighten himself, above his subordinates and to be visible from afar. With a cane acting as a prolongation of his arm, he appears even taller. Generals from Lacedemonia used in this way, a baton of command, which helped them to communicate with their superiors . Their message was written on a strap of leather wrapped around a stick . It could only be read, once re-wrapped around a stick of same diameter called a Scytale.

During the battle of Salamine, the stick played a part: the assembled leaders were involved in a heated debate, and the Lacedemonian General Erybiale, did not want to give in, to the Athenian Themistocle . Erybiale lost his temper, and with his stick, called a Scytale, threatened Themistocle who turned his back, and coldly uttered these famous words : “ Hit me but listen!”


The Greeks carried very simple canes which they used with great elegance, leaning gracefully on it, to enhance their stance. As such, it was a utilitarian object, rather than luxury item.

The most common cane, was a long stick ending up with a T bar; Ulysse, on his way back from Ithaca, was carrying one such cane.


It is with a robust cane with a knob, shaped as a crutch, that Oedipus went on the road to look for the Sphynx.

Sometimes, the cane was used as an introduction: in such a case, the seal of the cane’s owner was engraved in it.

Lending one’s cane, was considered a great proof of friendship.