Following yesterday’s post, a kind correspondent wrote to tell me of a Greek word in wiktionary that seems relevant, μάγγανο. This noun may be a form of war machine, but also a type of crane, or a windlass. The email continued:
The -um endings in Latin coincide with the Greek ending -on, hence, “magganon”.
It is a byzantine war machine like a catapult, but also a windlass or a winch. I looked into the biographies of Saint George, and one of the tortures he was made to suffer by the relentless persecuter Diocletian was a wheel, to which he was strapped, and as it was turned (by a windlass?) his body was slashed by various sharp objects.
This is an icon of that torture:
Another tidbit, regarding the term “magganon”: a modern, composite Greek word for the instrument used for drawing water out of a well (πηγάδι) = μάγγανο-πήγαδο.
The icon is very helpful. It shows George, tied to the wheel with rope, and the swords positioned underneath to injure him.
Now this does indeed look like the right approach. There are mentions in the Life of daggers, right next to the references to “maggana”. It works!