Friday, 20 July 2012

A nasty kick

The original Onager...the siege machine's namesake

So how did the Onager get its name? Well, Onager means "Wild Ass" in Latin - and this machine got that name because of its wild bucking when it fired. Unlike the two-armed torsion weapons such as the balistae - where all the force was projected onto the missile, the forward motion of the onager's single arm would cause the rear of the machine to lurch upwards when it fired, kicking like a horse. For the uninitiated artilleryman, the angry lurching would have been hard to get used to after working with the quiet and efficient Greek-style siege machines.