Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/177

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161
SISTRUM—SITKA

of Rustchuk. Pop. (1906), 13,408. Despite the lack of railway communication, and the migration of the Turkish inhabitants after the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878), Sistova is an important commercial centre, exporting wine and grain and importing petroleum.

Sistova is identified with the Roman colony Novae mentioned by Ptolemy. The exact site appears to have been Staklen, to the west of the present town, which has gradually moved east- ward since the 16th century, when it was almost destroyed in the Turkish wars. It was at Sistova that the peace of 1790 was signed, by which the Austrian-Turkish boundary was determined. The town was burned in 1810 by the Russians; but after 1820 it began to revive, and the introduction of steam traffic on the lower Danube (1835) restored its prosperity. The Walachian town of Alexandria was founded by fugitives from Sistova in 1878.


SISTRUM (Gr. atiarpov, Ger. Rappel), an ancient Egyptian instrument of percussion of indefinite musical pitch, a kind of metal rattle. The sistrum consists of a metal frame in the shape of an egg, fastened to a handle, frequently surmounted by a grotesque head or by a figure of the sacred lioness Sekhet. The frame is crossed by four metal horizontal rods passing through holes large enough to allow them to rattle when the sistrum is shaken, the rods being prevented from slipping out altogether by little metal stops in the shape of a leaf; sometimes metal rings are threaded over the rods to increase the jingling. The sistrum is played also by beating it with a metal stick. This ancient instrument was extensively used by the priests in the temple of Isis to attract the attention of worshippers to different parts of the ritual. The Egyptians attributed to it, as well as to the tambourine, the power of dispersing and terrifying evil spirits and more especially the Typhon. Queen Cleopatra[1] made use of a large number of sistra at the battle of Actium (31 B.C.), and accordingly the instrument was satirically called Queen Cleopatra's war trumpet. (K. S.)


SISYPHUS, in Greek mythology, son of Aeolus and Enarete, and king of Ephyra (Corinth). He was the father of the sea-god Glaucus and (in post-Homeric legend) of Odysseus. He was said to have founded the Isthmian games in honour of Melicertes, whose body he found lying on the shore of the Istnmus of Corinth (Apollodorus iii. 4). He promoted navigation and commerce, but was avaricious and deceitful. From Homer onwards Sisyphus was famed as the crafties of men. When Death came to fetch him, Sisyphus put him into fetters, so that no one died till Ares came and freed Death, and delivered Sisyphus into his custody. But Sisyphus was not yet at the end of his resources. For before he died he told his wife that when he was gone she was not to offer the usual sacrifice to the dead. So in the under world he complained that his wife was neglecting her duty, and he persuaded Hades to allow him to go back to the upper world and expostulate with her. But when he got back to Corinth he positively refused to return, until forcibly carried off by Hermes (Schol. on Pindar, Ol. i. 97). In the under world Sisyphus was compelled to roll a big stone up a steep hill; but before it reached the top of the hill the stone always rolled down, and Sisyphus had to begin all over again (Odyssey, xi. 593). The reason for this punishment is not mentioned in Homer, and is obscure; according to some, he had revealed the designs of the gods to mortals, according to others, he was in the habit of attacking and murdering travellers. The subject was a commonplace of ancient writers, and was depicted by the painter Polygnotus on the walls of the Lesche at Delphi (Pausanias x. 31). According to the solar theory, Sisyphus is the disk of the sun that rises every day and then sinks below the horizon. Others see in him a personification of the waves rising to a height and then suddenly falling, or of the treacherous sea. It is suggested by Welcker that the legend is symbolical of the vain struggle of man in the pursuit of knowledge. The name Sisyphus is generally explained as a reduplicated form of σοφός (= “the very wise”); Gruppe, however, thinks it may be connected with σίσυς (“a goat's skin”), the reference being to a rain-charm in which goats' skins were used. S. Reinach {Revue archeologique, 1904) finds the origin of the story in a picture, in which Sisyphus was repre- sented rolling a huge stone up Acrocorinthus, symbolical of the labour and skill involved in the building of the Sisypheum. When a distinction was made between the souls in the under world, Sisyphus was supposed to be rolling up the stone per- petually as a punishment for some offence committed on earth; and various reasons were invented to account for it.

The way in which Sisyphus cheated Death is not unique in folk- tales. Thus in a Venetian story the ingenious Beppo ties up Death in a bag and keeps him there for eighteen months; there is general rejoicing; nobody dies, and the doctors are in high feather. In a Sicilian story an innkeeper corks up Death in a bottle; so nobody dies for years, and the long white beards are a sight to see. In another Sicilian story a monk keeps Death in his pouch for forty years (T. F. Crane, Italian Popular Tales, 1885). The German parallel is Gambling Hansel, who kept Death up a tree for seven years, during which no one died (Grimm, Household Tales). The Norse parallel is the tale of the Master Smith (E. W. Dasent, Popular Tales from the Norse). For a Lithuanian parallel, see A. Schleicher, Litauisehe Marchen, Sprichworte, Rdtsel und Lieder (1857) ; for Slavonic parallels, F. S. Krauss, Sagen und Marchen der Sildslaven, ii. Nos. 125, 126; see also Frazer's Pausanias, iii. p. 33; O. Gruppe, Grie- chische Mythologie (1906), ii., p. 1021, note 2.


SITAPUR, a town and district of British India in the Lucknow division of the United Provinces. The town is on the river Sarayan, half-way between Lucknow and Shahjahanpur, and on the Lucknow-Bareilly railway, 55 m. N.W. from Lucknow. Pop. (1 901) 22,557. It is a cantonment, garrisoned by a portion of a British regiment. It has a considerable trade, principally in grain.

The District of Sitapur has an area of 2250 sq. m. It presents the appearance of a vast plain, sloping imperceptibly from an elevation of 505 ft. above sea-level in the north-west to 400 ft. in the south-east. The country is well-wooded with numerous groves, and well cultivated, except in those parts where the soil is barren and cut up by ravines. It is intersected by numerous streams, and contains many shallow ponds and natural reservoirs, which overflow during the rains, but become dry in the hot season. Except in the eastern portion, which lies in the doabs between the Kewani and Chauka and the Gogra and Chauka rivers, the soil is as a rule dry, but even this moist tract is interspersed with patches of land covered with saline efflorescence called reh. The principal rivers are the Gogra, which is navigable by boats of large tonnage throughout the year, and the Chauka. The climate is considered healthy, and the cantonments of Sitapur are famous for the low mortality of the British troops stationed there. The annual rainfall averages about 38 in.

In 1901 the population was 1,175,473, showing an increase of 9 % in the decade. The principal crops are wheat, rice, pulses, millets, barley, sugar-cane and poppy. The district is traversed by the Lucknow-Bareilly section of the Rohilkhand and Kumaon railway. The history of Sitapur is closely associated with that of the rest of Oudh. The district figured prominently in the Mutiny of 1857, when the native troops quartered in the canton- ments fired on their officers, many of whom were killed, as were also several military and civil officers, with their families, in attempting to escape.

See Sitapur District Gazetteer (Allahabad, 1905).


SITKA (formerly New Archangel), a city and historically the most notable settlement of Alaska, on the W. coast of Baranof Island, in Sitka Sound, in lat. 57° 03' N. and long. 135 19' W. (from Greenwich), and about 100 m. S.S.W. of Juneau. Pop. (1890) 1193 (300 white and 893 natives); (1910) 1039. It is served by steamer from Seattle, Washington; there is cable connexion with the United States, and a six-day mail service from Pacific ports, via Juneau. The city is prettily situated on an island-studded and mountain-locked harbour, with a background of forest and snow-capped mountain cones; an extinct volcano, Mt Edgecumbe (3467 ft.), on Kruzof Island, is a conspicuous landmark in the bay. Sitka's mean annual temperature is 2 higher than that of Ottawa, and its climate is more equable. The mean annual temperature is about 43° F.; the

  1. Virgil, Aen. viii. 696; Lucan x. 63; Ovid, Am. ii. 13. 11; Mart xiv. 54-