STANDARD

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STANDARD, or FLAG ; originally, a signal, erected on a pole, spear or lance. Such signals were used for different purposes, and were known among the Hebrews as early as the time of Moses, and adorned with emblems. Ephraim carried a steer; Ben jamin a wolf, &c. We find something similar among the Greeks: the Athenians had an owl, the Thebans a sphinx, on their standards, by the raising or lowering of which they gave the signal for attack or retreat. The standard of Romulus was a bundle of hay tied on a pole. In place of this, a hand, and, finally, an eagle, were substituted. The real standards came first into use under the Roman em perors, who retained the eagle: they were also ornamented with dragons and silver balls. The standard of the cavalry consisted of a square piece of purple, cloth, decorated with gold, on which the figure of a dragon was afterwards represented. The Germans fastened a streamer to a lance, which the duke carried in front of the army. From band, the name which this bore, comes our English word banner (bandum, banderium, bandiera). Afterwards, a large cloth was used, ornamented with emblems and inscriptions. The imperial French armies, in imitation of the Romans, had an eagle for an ensign, but of a different shape from the Roman eagle. (See Eagle,)