Main-sail is the rendering in the Auth. Version of the nautical term ἀρτέμων (from caprew, to suspend or "hoist"), which occurs only in this sense in Ac 27:40. It is explained by some critics, the largest sail of the poop, answering to our "mizzen-sail," and even yet called by the Venetians artinmone. Some regard it as the "top-sail," Lat. supparum. Others understand by it a small sail or "jib" near the prow, called by the Romans the dolon. The term may thus be understood to signify properly the fore- sail, which, in the opinion of those qualified to judge, would be most useful in bringing a ship to head to the wind under the circumstances narrated by Luke (see Hackett's Comment. ad loc.). The vessels of that time had one, two, or three masts; the largest was in the stern (Smith's Dict. of Ant. s.v. Malus). Hence, if Paul's ship had but one, the sail in question would have been that now called thejib, being fastened to a "boom" or spar projecting from the bowsprit; but if, as is more probable from its size, it had at least two masts, this sail would be the one attached to the front mast, that is, the "fore-sail." "A sailor will at once see that the fore-sail was the best possible sail that could be set under the circumstances" (Smith, Shipwreck of St. Paul, 3d edit. p. 139, note). SEE SHIP.

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