Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 602 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
PIKE, a word which, with its collateral forms " pick " and " peak," has as its basic meaning that of anything pointed or tapering to a point. The ultimate etymology is much disputed, and the interrelation of the collaterals is very confused. In Old English there are two forms (pie), one with a long and the other with a short vowel, which give " pike " and " pick " respectively. The first form gave in the 15th century the variant " peak," first with reference to the peaked shoes then fashionable, pekyd schone. In Romanic languages are found Fr. pie., Span. Pico, Ital. piccare, to pierce, &c. There are also similar words in Welsh, Cornish and Breton. The Scandinavian forms, e.g. Swed. and Nor. pile, are probably taken from English. While some authorities take the Celtic as the original, others look to Latin for the source. Here the woodpecker, picus, is referred to, or more probably the root seen in silica, ear of corn, and spina, prickle (English spike, spine). The current differentiation in meanings attached to pike, pick and peak are more or less clearly marked, though in dialects they may vary. (1) Pike: Apart from the use as the name of the fish (see above), probably a shortened form of pike-fish, from its sharp, pointed beak, the common uses of the word are for a long hafted weapon with sharply pointed head of iron or steel, the common weapon of the foot-soldier till the introduction of the bayonet (see SPEAR and BAYONET), and for a hill with a pointed summit, appearing chiefly in the names of such hills in Cumberland, Westmorland and North West Lancashire. It may be noticed that the proverbial expression " plain as a pike-staff " appears originally as " plain as a pack-staff," the flat plain sided staff on which a pedlar carried and rested his pack. The use of " pike " for a highway, a toll-gate, &c., is merely short for " turnpike." (2) Pick: As a substantive this form is chiefly used of the common tool of the navvy and the miner, consisting of a curved double-ended head set at right angles to the handle, one end being squared with a chisel edge, the other pointed, and used for loosening and breaking hard masses of earth, coal, &c. (see Toots). The other name for this tool, " pickaxe," is a corruption of the earlier pikoys, Fr. picois, M. Lat. picosium, formed from Fr. pie, the termination being adapted to the familiar English " axe." The sense-development of the verb " to pick " is not very clear, but the following meanings give the probable line: to dig into anything like a bird with its beak, in order to extract or remove something, to gather, pluck, hence to select, choose. (3) Peak: The chief uses are for the front of a cap or hat projecting sharply over the eyes, for the part of a ship's of Sejanus, to be procurator over part of the imperial province of Syria, viz. Judaea, Samaria and Idumea. He ruled ten years, quarrelled almost continuously with the Jews—whom Sejanus, diverging from the Caesar tradition, is said to have disliked—and in A.D. 36 was recalled. Before he arrived Tiberius died, and Pilate disappears from history. Eusebius relates (Hist. eccl. ii. 7)—but three centuries later and on the authority of earlier writers unnamed—that he was exiled to Gaul and committed suicide at Vienne. Pilate kept the Roman peace in Palestine but with little understanding of the people. Sometimes he had to yield; as when he had sent the standards, by night, into the Holy City, and was besieged for five days by suppliants who had rushed to Caesarea (Jos. Ant. 31; B. J. ii. ix. 2, 3); and again when he hung up inscribed shields in Jerusalem, and was ordered by Tiberius to remove them to the other city (Philo ad Gaium 38). Sometimes he struck more promptly; as when the mob piotested against his using the temple treasure to build an aqueduct for Jerusalem, and he disguised his soldiers to disperse them with clubs (Jos. Ant. xviii. 3, 2); or when he " mingled the blood " of some unknown Galileana " with their sacrifices " (Luke xiii. 1); or slew the Samaritans who came to Mt Gerizim to dig up sacred vessels hidden by Moses there (Jos. Ant. xviii. 4, 1)—an incident which led to his recall. Philo, who tells how any suggestion of appeal by the Jews to Tiberius enraged him, sums up their view of Pilate in Agrippa's words, as a man " inflexible, merciless, obstinate." A more discriminating light is thrown upon him by the New Testament narratives of the trial of Jesus. They illustrate the right of review or recognitio which the Romans retained, at least in capital causes; the charge brought in this case of acting adversus majestatem populi romani; the claim made by Jesus to be a king; and the result that his judge became convinced that the claimant was opposed neither to the public peace nor to the civil supremacy of Rome. The result is explained only by the dialogue, recorded exclusively in John, which shows the accused and the Roman meeting on the highest levels of the thought and conscience of the time. " I am come to bear witness unto the truth . . . Pilate answered, What is truth?" Estimates of Pilate's attitude at this point have varied infinitely, from Tertullian's, that he was " already in conviction a Christian "—jam pro sua conscientia Christianus- i in 4) to the summit. In 1905 a powerful searchlight was to Bacon's " jesting Pilate," who would not stay for a reply. erected on the summit. We know only that to his persistent attempts thereafter to get Pike's Peak was discovered in November 1806 by Lieut. his proposed verdict accepted by the people, came their fatal Zebuln- M. Pike. He attempted to scale it, but took the wrong answer, " Thou art not Caesar's friend," and that at last he path and found himself at the summit of Cheyenne Mountain. He pronounced the mountain unclimbable. In 1819 it was successfully climbed by the exploring party of Major S. H. Long.
End of Article: PIKE

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.