Heraklas (Greek: Ἡρακλᾶς) was a Greek physician of the 1st century AD whose descriptions of surgeons' knots and slings are preserved in book 48 of Oribasius' Medical Collections (Ἰατρικαὶ Συναγωγαί, Iatrikai Synagogai) under the title From Heraklas.[1]

Heraklas' sling XIII, the plinthios brokhos is produced in the same manner as a string figure. This example is formed in a doubled cord for better visibility.
The diplous karkhesios brokhos or the modern bottle sling
The epankylotos brokhos or the modern Tom fool's knot

Describing them in detail, Heraklas discussed 16 different knots and slings,[1] including the earliest known written account of a string figure.[2] Accompanying illustrations of the knots were added later by Renaissance copyists, but modern analysis of the writings by knot experts has shown many of these early drawings to contain significant errors or misinterpretations.[3]

The knots identifiedEdit

The current understanding of Heraklas' knots results primarily from analysis and identification by Hjalmar Öhrvall, Lawrence G. Miller, and Cyrus L. Day, although slightly differing interpretations and refinements continue to be made.[1] The table below shows the knots believed to have been described by Heraklas.

Chapter Greek name Translated name Modern equivalent
I ertos brokhos threaded noose cow hitch
II nautikos brokhos nautical noose clove hitch
III khiestos brokhos crossed noose overhand noose
IV boukolikos brokhos or sandalios brokhos pastoral noose or sandal noose overhand noose variation
V drakon brokhos dragon noose overhand noose variation
VI haploun hamma brokhos single knot noose (No modern name)
VII lykos brokhos wolf noose reef knot[4]
VIII herakleotikon hamma Hercules knot reef knot
IX haplous karkhesios brokhos single jug-sling noose "true lover's knot" (ABOK #1038)
X–XII diplous karkhesios brokhos double jug-sling noose bottle sling
XIII tetrakyklos plinthios brokhos four-looped rectangular noose String figure, "The sun clouded over"[5]
XIV epankylotos brokhos interlooped noose Tom fool's knot
XV ota brokhos ears noose (No modern name)
XVI diankylos brokhos two-looped noose (No modern name)
XVII ankhon brokhos strangler noose true lover's knot (ABOK #1038)[6]
XVIII hyperbatos brokhos transposed noose clove hitch[7]

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Hage, J. Joris (April 2008), "Heraklas on Knots: Sixteen Surgical Nooses and Knots from the First Century A.D.", World Journal of Surgery, 32 (4), pp. 648–655, doi:10.1007/s00268-007-9359-x, PMID 18224483
  2. ^ Miller, Lawrence G. (1945), "The Earliest (?) Description of a String Figure", American Anthropologist, New Series, 47 (3): 461–462, doi:10.1525/aa.1945.47.3.02a00190
  3. ^ Day, Cyrus L. (1967), Quipus and Witches' Knots, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, pp. 86–89, 101–151
  4. ^ Although topologically identical, it is used in a different manner than "VII, Hercules knot". Specifically the bound object (e.g. a limb) is placed in the center of the reef knot.
  5. ^ See Caroline Furness Jayne's String Figures and How to Make Them (1906), p. 383, Roth Plate X, 1. and discussion p. 162. N. B. Miller (1945) correctly points out the difference of a single crossing in Jayne's fig. 359, p 161.
  6. ^ Although topologically identical, it is used in a different manner than "IX, single jug-sling noose".
  7. ^ Although topologically identical, it is used in a different manner than "II, nautical noose".