from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A bareback rider in the Roman circus who rode two or more horses at once, leaping from one to another.
A man in a ring was a desultor, riding two or three horses at once, leaping from one to the other, being never on the back of any one of them for long. And a desultory man is never on any one subject for long.
The Romans loved the races in the hippodrome. They were thrilled by the 'desultor' who stood erect on the back of a horse and drove other horses madly before him. At times he jumped from the back one to another. One desultor sometimes handled eight horses.
Then you suddenly become the front-page name of the hour; the name that bounces like a Roman desultor on the tongues of jibbering house-wife gossips, bustling men of industry, and even of the soft-spoken patient lads who work silently in the laboratories experimenting on life.
‘Desultor’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to leap down,’ and gives us ‘desultory,’ haphazard or random, or moving or jumping from one thing to another.