1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Caestus
CAESTUS, or Cestus (from Lat. caedo, strike), a gauntlet or boxing-glove used by the ancient pugilists. Of this there were several varieties, the simplest and least dangerous being the meilichae (μειλίχαι), which consisted of strips of raw hide tied under the palm, leaving the fingers bare. With these the athletes in the palaestrae were wont to practise, reserving for serious contests the more formidable kinds, such as the sphaerae (σφαῖραι), which were sewn with small metal balls covered with leather, and the terrible murmekes (μύρμηκες), sometimes called “limb-breakers” (γυιοτόροι), which were studded with heavy nails. The straps (ἳμαντες) were of different lengths, many reaching to the elbow, in order to protect the forearm when guarding heavy blows (see J.H. Krause, Gymnastik und Agonistik der Hellenen, 1841). The caestus is to be distinguished from cestus (=embroidered, from κεντεῖν), an adjective used as a noun in the sense of “girdle,” especially the girdle of Aphrodite, which was supposed to have the power of exciting love.