1. The Family
  2. Roman Names
  3. Marriage and Women
  4. Children and Education
  5. Slaves and Dependents
  6. The House and Furniture
  7. Dress and Ornaments
  8. Food and Meals
  9. Amusements
  10. Travel and Correspondence
  11. Sources of Income
  12. Farming and Country Life
  13. Town Life
  14. Funeral Customs
  15. The Roman Religion
  16. The Water Supply of Rome

The Private Life of the Romans
by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston
Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932)


Table of contents



REFERENCES: Marquardt, 475-606; Blümner, 205-277; Becker Göll, III, 189-310; Smith, Harper’s, Daremberg-Saglio, Walters under toga, tunica, stola, palla or pallium, and other Latin words in the text of this book; Baumeister, 574-576, 1822-1846; Pauly-Wissowa, under calceus, clāvus, lacerna, Schuh; Sandys, Companion, 190-200; Cagnat-Chapot, II, 364-408; Friedländer, II, 173-185; McDaniel, 81-100; Showerman, 56-64; Wilson.

Introduction (§234)

The Subligāculum (§235)

The Tunic (§236-239)

The Toga (§240)

Form and Arrangement (§241-245)

Kinds of Togas (§246)

The Lacerna (§247)

The Paenula (§248)

Other Wraps (§249)

Footwear: the Soleae (§250)

The Calceī (§251)

Coverings for the Head (§252)

The Hair and Beard (§253-254)

Jewelry (§255-256)

Dress of Women (§257)

The Tunica Interior (§258)

The Stola (§259-260)

The Palla (§261)

Shoes and Slippers (§262)

Dressing of the Hair (§263-265)

Accessories (§266)

Jewelry (§267)

Dress of Children and Slaves (§268)

Materials (§269)

Colors (§270)

Manufacture (§271)

   234. From the earliest to the latest times the clothing of the Romans was very simple, consisting ordinarily of two or three articles only, besides the covering of the feet. These articles varied in material, style, and name from age to age, it is true, but their forms were practically unchanged during the Republic and the early Empire. The mild climate of Italy (§ 218) and the hardening effect of physical exercise on the young (§ 107) made unnecessary the closely fitting garments to which we are accustomed, while contact with the Greeks on the south and perhaps the Etruscans on the north gave the Romans a taste for the beautiful that found expression in the graceful arrangement of their loosely flowing robes. The clothing of men and women differed much less than in modern times, but it will be convenient to describe their garments separately. Each article was assigned by Latin writers to one of two classes and called, from the way it was worn, indūtus (“put on”) or amictus (“wrapped around”). To the first class we may give the name of undergarments, to the second outer garments, though these terms very inadequately represent the Latin words.

   235. The Subligāculum. Next the person was worn the subligāculum, the loin cloth familiar to us in pictures of ancient athletes and gladiators (Figs. 64 and 196), or perhaps the short drawers (trunks) worn nowadays by bathers or athletes. We are told that in the earliest times this was the only undergarment worn by the Romans, and that the family of the Cethegi adhered to this ancient practice throughout the Republic, wearing the toga immediately over it. This was done, too, by individuals who wished to pose as the champions of old-fashioned simplicity, as, for example, the Younger Cato, and by candidates for public office. In the best times, however, the subligāculum was worn under the tunic or was replaced by it.

   236. The Tunic. The tunic was also adopted in very early times and came to be the chief article of the kind covered by the word indūtus. It was a plain woolen shirt, made of two pieces, back and front, which were sewed together at the sides. It usually had very short sleeves, covering hardly half of the upper arm, as shown in Figure 128. It was long enough to reach from the neck to the calf, but if the wearer desired greater freedom for his limbs he could shorten it by merely pulling it through a girdle or belt worn around the waist. Tunics with sleeves reaching to the wrists (tunicae manicātae), and tunics falling to the ankles (tunicae tālarēs) were not unknown in the late Republic, but were considered unmanly and effeminate.

   237. The tunic was worn in the house without any outer garment and probably without a girdle; in fact it came to be the distinctive house-dress as opposed to the toga, the dress for formal occasions only. The tunic was also worn with nothing over it by the citizen while at work (§§ 240, 268), but no citizen of any pretension to social or political importance ever appeared at social functions or in public places at Rome without the toga over it; and even then, though it was hidden by the toga, good form required the wearing of the girdle with it. Two tunics were often worn (tunica interior, or subūcula, and tunica exterior), and persons who suffered from the cold, as did Augustus for example, might wear an even larger number when the cold was very severe. The tunics intended for use in the winter were probably thicker and warmer than those worn in the summer, though both kinds were of wool.

   238. The tunic of the ordinary citizen was the natural color of the white wool of which it was made, without trimmings or ornaments of any kind. Knights and senators, on the other hand, had stripes of crimson (§ 270), narrow and wide, respectively, running from the shoulders to the bottom of the tunic both behind and in front. These stripes were either woven in the garment or sewed upon it. From them the tunic of the knight was called tunica angustī clāvī (or angusticlāvia) , and that of the senator lātī clāvī (or lāticlāvia). Some authorities think that the badge of the senatorial tunic was a single broad stripe running down the middle of the garment in front and behind, but unfortunately no picture has come down to us that absolutely decides the question. It seems probable that the knight’s tunic had two stripes, one running from each shoulder. Under this official tunic the knight or senator wore usually a plain tunica interior. When in the house he left the outer tunic unbelted in order to display the stripes as conspicuously as possible.

   239. Besides the subligāculum and the tunica the Romans had no regular underwear. Those who were feeble through age or ill health sometimes wound strips of woolen cloth (fasciae), like the modern spiral puttees, around the legs for the sake of additional warmth. These were called feminālia or tībiālia according as they covered the upper or lower part of the leg. Feeble persons might also use similar wrappings for the body (ventrālia) and even for the throat (fōcālia), but all these were looked upon as badges of senility or decrepitude and formed no part of the regular costume of sound men. It must be especially noticed that the Romans had nothing corresponding to our trousers or even long drawers. Brācae, “trousers,” were a Gallic article that was not used at Rome until the time of the latest emperors.1 Nātiōnēs brācātae in classical times was a contemptuous expression for Gauls in particular and for barbarians in general.

   240. The Toga. Of the outer garments or wraps the most ancient and the most important was the toga (cf. tegere). It goes back to the very earliest time of which tradition tells, and was the characteristic garment of the Romans for more than a thousand years. It was a heavy, white, woolen robe, enveloping the whole figure, falling to the feet, cumbrous but graceful and dignified in appearance. All its associations suggested formality. When the Roman of old tilled his fields, he was clad only in the subligāculum; in the privacy of his home or at his work the Roman of every age wore the comfortable, blouse-like tunica; but in the Forum, in the comitia, in the courts, at the public games, and wherever social forms were observed, he appeared and had to appear in the toga. In the toga he assumed the responsibilities of citizenship (§ 127); in the toga he took his wife from her father’s house to his own (§ 78); in the toga he received his clients, also toga-clad (§ 182); in the toga he discharged his duties as a magistrate, governed his province, celebrated his triumph; and in the toga he was wrapped when he lay for the last time in his ātrium (§ 198). FIG. 129: THE EARLY TOGA. A bronze statue of an orator in the Museo Archeologico, Florence No foreign nation had a robe of the same material, color, and arrangement; no foreigner was allowed to wear it, though he lived in Italy or even in Rome itself; even the banished citizen left the toga, with his civil rights behind him. Vergil merely gave expression to the national feeling when he wrote the proud verse (Aeneid I, 282):

Rōmānōs, rērum dominōs, gentemque togātam.2

   241. Form and Arrangement. The general appearance of the toga is well known; of few ancient garments are pictures so common and in general so good. They are derived from numerous statues of men clad in it, which have come down to us from ancient times, and we have, besides, full and careful descriptions of its shape and of the manner of wearing it, left to us by writers who had worn it themselves. The cut and draping of the toga varied from generation to generation. In its earlier form it was simpler, less cumbrous, and more closely fitted to the figure than in later times. Even as early as the classical period its arrangement was so complicated that the man of fashion could not array himself in it without assistance. A few forms of the toga will be discussed here, but it is best studied in Miss Wilson’s treatise.

   242. FIG. 130: AN EARLY SHAPE OF THE TOGAIn its original form the toga was probably a rectangular blanket much like that of our own Indians, or the plaid of the Highlanders, except for the lack of color, as that of the private citizen seems to have been always of undyed wool. Its development into its characteristically Roman form began when one edge of the garment came to be curved instead of straight. The statue in Florence known as the “Arringatore” (Fig. 129), supposed to date from the third century B.C., FIG. 131: BACK OF A TOGAshows a toga of this sort, so cut or woven that the two lower corners are rounded off. Such a toga for a man who was five feet six inches in height would be about four yards long, and one yard and three-quarters in width.3 The toga was thrown over the left shoulder from the front (Fig. 129), so that the curved edge fell over the left arm, and the end hung in front so as to fall about halfway between the knee and the ankle. On the left shoulder a few inches of the straight or upper edge were gathered into folds. The long portion remaining was now drawn across the back, the folds were passed under the right arm, and again thrown over the left shoulder, the end falling down the back to a point a trifle higher than the corresponding end in front. The right shoulder and arm were free, the left covered by the folds.

   243. Statues of the third and second centuries B.C. show a larger and longer toga, more loosely draped, drawn around over the right arm and shoulder instead of under the arm as before (Fig. 133). By the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire the toga was of the same size as that just described, but with some difference in shape and draping. For a man who was five feet six inches in height it would have been about four yards and a half in length and two and two-thirds yards across at the widest part. The lower corners were rounded much as before (Fig. 132). From each of the upper corners a triangular section was cut. This toga was then folded lengthwise so that the lower section was deeper than the other. The end A hung in front, between the feet, not quite to the ground. The section AFEB was folded over. The folded edge lay on the left shoulder against the neck. The rest of the folded length was then brought around under the right arm and over the left shoulder again, as in the case of the earlier toga. The upper section fell in a curve over the right hip, and then crossed the breast diagonally, forming the sinus or bosom. This was deep enough to serve as a pocket for the reception of small articles. The part running from the left shoulder to the ground in front was pulled up over the sinus to fall in a loop a trifle to the front, as in Figure 134. This seems to have been the toga as worn by Caesar and Cicero. This might also be drawn over the right shoulder, as was the earlier form of the large toga, and as is shown in Figures 133 and 157. The early toga may well have been woven in one piece, but the larger forms must have been woven or cut in two sections, which were then sewed together.

FIG. 133
Note three styles of wearing the toga.
A fragment from the Ara Pacis relief, now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

It will be clearly found in practice that much of the grace of the toga must have been due to the trained vestiplicus, who kept it properly creased when it was not in use and carefully arranged each fold after his master had put it on. We are not told of any pins or tapes to hold the toga in place,4 but are told that the part falling from the left shoulder toward the ground behind kept all in position by its own weight, and that this weight was sometimes increased by lead sewed in the hem of this part.

   244. It is evident that in this fashionable toga the limbs were completely fettered, and that all rapid, not to say violent, motion was absolutely impossible. In other words the toga of the ultrafashionable in the time of Cicero was fit only for the formal, stately, ceremonial life of the city. It is easy to see, therefore, how it had come to be the emblem of peace, being too cumbrous for use in war, and how Cicero could sneer at the young dandies of his time for wearing “sails, not togas.” We can understand also the eagerness with which the Roman welcomed a respite from civic and social duties. FIG. 134: AUGUSTUS WITH HIS TOGA DRAWN OVER HIS HEADJuvenal sighed for the freedom of the country, where only the dead had to wear the toga. For the same reason Martial praised the unconventionality of the provinces. Pliny the Younger counted it one of the attractions of his villa that no guest need wear the toga there. Its cost, too, made it all the more burdensome for the poor, and the working classes could scarcely have afforded to wear it at all.

   245. For certain ceremonial observances the toga, or rather the sinus, was drawn over the head from the rear, as shown in Figure 134. The cīnctus Gabīnus was another manner of arranging the toga for certain sacrifices and official rites; it is supposed to be shown in Figure 135. For this the sinus was drawn over the head and then the long end which usually hung down the back from the left shoulder was drawn under the left arm and around the waist behind to the front and tucked in there.5

   246. Kinds of Togas. The toga of the ordinary citizen was, like the tunic (§ 238), of the natural color of the white wool of which it was made, and varied in texture, of course, with the quality of the wool. It was called toga pūra (or virīlis, lībera: § 127). A dazzling brilliancy could be given to the toga by a preparation of fuller’s chalk, and one so treated was called toga splendēns or candida. In such a toga all persons running for office arrayed themselves, and from it they were called candidātī. The curule magistrates, censors, and dictators wore the toga praetexta, differing from the ordinary toga only in having a “purple” (garnet: §270) border. It was worn also by boys (§ 127) and by the chief officers of the free towns and colonies. FIG. 135: CINCTUS GABINUSIn the early toga (§ 242) this border seems to have been woven or sewed on the curved edge. It was probably on the edge of the sinus in the later forms. The toga picta was wholly of crimson covered with embroidery of gold, and was worn by the victorious general in his triumphal procession, and later by the emperors. The toga pulla was simply a dingy toga worn by persons in mourning or threatened with some calamity, usually a reverse of political fortune. Persons assuming it were called sordidātī and were said mūtāre vestem. This vestis mūtātiō was a common form of public demonstration of sympathy with a fallen leader. In this case curule magistrates contented themselves with merely laying aside the toga praetexta for the toga pūra; only the lower orders wore the toga pulla.

   247. The Lacerna. In Cicero’s time there was just coming into fashionable use a mantle called a lacerna, which seems to have been used first by soldiers and the lower classes and then adopted by their betters on account of its convenience. The better citizens wore it at first over the toga as a protection against dust and sudden showers. It was a woolen mantle, short, light, open at the side, without sleeves, but fastened with a brooch or buckle on the right shoulder. It was so easy and comfortable that it began to be worn not over the toga but instead of it, and so generally that Augustus issued an edict forbidding it to be used in public assemblages of citizens. Under the later emperors, however, it came into fashion again, and was the common outer garment at the theaters. It was made of various colors, dark, naturally, for the lower classes, white for formal occasions, but also of brighter hues. It was sometimes supplied with a hood (cucullus), which the wearer could pull over his head as a protection or a disguise. FIG. 136: HOODED CLOAK, PERHAPS THE PAENULANo representation in art of the lacerna that can be positively identified has come down to us. The military cloak, called at first trabea, then palūdāmentum and sagum, was much like the lacerna, but made of heavier material.

   248. The Paenula. Older than the lacerna and used by all sorts and conditions of men was the paenula (Fig. 136), a heavy coarse wrap of wool, leather, or fur, used merely for protection against rain or cold, and therefore never a substitute for the toga or made of fine materials or bright colors. FIG. 137: A SOLDIER WEARING THE ABOLLAIt seems to have varied in length and fullness, but to have been a sleeveless wrap, made chiefly of one piece with a hole in the middle, through which the wearer thrust his head. It was, therefore, classed with the vestīmenta clausa, or closed garments, and must have been much like the modern poncho. It was drawn on over the head, like a tunic or sweater, and covered the arms, leaving them much less freedom than the lacerna did. In the paenula of some length there was a slit in front running from the waist down, and this enabled the wearer to hitch the cloak up over one shoulder, leaving one arm comparatively free, but at the same time exposing it to the weather. The paenula was worn over either tunic or toga according to circumstances, and was the ordinary traveling habit of citizens of the better class. It was also commonly worn by slaves, and seems to have been furnished regularly to soldiers stationed in places where the climate was severe. Like the lacerna it was sometimes supplied with a hood.

   249. Other Wraps. Of other articles included under the term amictus (§ 234) we know little more than the names. The synthesis was a dinner dress worn at table over the tunic by the ultrafashionable, and sometimes dignified by the special name of vestis cēnātōria, or cēnātōrium alone. FIG. 138: THE LION HUNT. These Romans are dressed in tunics and cloaks. A relief from the Arch of Constantine, Rome.It was not worn out of the house except during the Saturnalia, and was usually of some bright color. Its shape is unknown. The laena and abolla were very heavy woolen cloaks; the latter (Fig. 137) was a favorite with poor people who had to make one garment do duty for two or three. It was used especially by professional philosophers, who were proverbially careless about their dress. Cloaks of several shapes are shown in the hunting group in Figure 138. The endromis was something like the modern bath robe, usedby the men after violent gymnastic exercise to keep from taking cold, and hardly belongs under the head of dress.

   250. Footwear: the Soleae. It may be set down as a rule that freemen did not appear in public at Rome with bare feet, except under the compulsion of the direst poverty. Two styles of footwear were in use, slippers or sandals (soleae) and shoes (calceī). The slipper consisted essentially of a sole of leather or matting attached to the foot in various ways (note the style in Fig. 139). Custom limited its use to the house, and it went characteristically with the tunic (§ 237), when that was not covered by an outer garment. Oddly enough, it seems to us, the slippers were not worn at meals. FIG. 139: IVORY FOOT IN A SANDAL. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkHost and guests wore them into the dining-room, but, as soon as they had taken their places on the couches (§ 224), slaves removed the slippers from their feet and cared for them until the meal was over (§ 152). Hence the phrase soleās poscere came to mean “to prepare to take leave.” When a guest went out to dinner in a lectīca (§ 151), he wore the soleae, but if he walked, he wore the regular outdoor shoes (calceī) and had his slippers carried by a slave.

   251. The Calceī. Out of doors, when a man walked, the calceus was always worn, although it was much heavier and less comfortable than the solea. Good form forbade the toga to be worn without the calceī. The calceī were worn also with all the other garments included under the word amictus (§ 234). The calceus was essentially our shoe, of leather, made on a last, covering the upper part of the foot as well as protecting the sale, and fastened with laces or straps. The higher classes had shoes peculiar to their rank. The shoe for senators (calceus senātōrius) is best known to us; but we know only its shape, not its color. It had a thick sole, was open on the inside at the ankle, and was fastened by wide straps which ran from the juncture of the sole and the upper, were wrapped around the leg and tied above the instep. The mulleus, or calceus patricius, was worn originally by patricians only, but later by all curule magistrates. It was shaped like the senator’s shoe, was red in color like the fish from which it was named, and had an ivory or silver ornament of crescent shape (lūnula) fastened on the outside of the ankle. We know nothing of the shoe worn by the knights. Ordinary citizens wore shoes that opened in front and were fastened by a strap of leather running from one side of the shoe near the top. They did not come up so high on the leg as those of the senators and were probably of uncolored leather. FIG. 140: THE PETASUSThe poorer classes naturally wore shoes (pērōnēs) of coarser material, often of untanned leather, and laborers and soldiers had half-boots (caligae) of the stoutest possible make, or wore wooden shoes. No stockings were worn by the Romans, but persons with tender feet might wrap them with fasciae (§ 239) to keep the shoes and boots from chafing them. A well-fitting shoe was of great importance for appearance as well as for comfort, and the satirists speak of the embarrassment of the poor client who had to appear in patched or broken shoes. Vanity seems to have led to the wearing of tight shoes.

   252. Coverings for the Head. Men of the upper classes in Rome had ordinarily no covering for the head. When they went out in bad weather, they protected themselves, of course, with the lacerna or the paenula; these, as we have seen (§§ 247, 248), were sometimes provided with hoods (cucullī). If the men were caught without wraps in a sudden shower, they made shift as best they could by pulling the toga up over the head. FIG. 141: THE CAUSIAPersons of lower standing, especially workmen who were out of doors all day, wore a conical felt cap which was called the pilleus (see Fig. 72). It is probable that the pilleus was a survival of what had been in prehistoric times an essential part of the Roman dress, for it was preserved among the insignia of the oldest priesthoods, the Pontifices, Flamines, and Salii, and figured in the ceremony of manumission. Out of the city, that is, while he was traveling or was in the country, a man of the upper classes, too, protected his head, especially against the sun, with a broad-brimmed felt hat of foreign origin, the causia or petasus. FIG. 142: M. VIPSANIUS AGRIPPA. A bust in the Uffizi Gallery, FlorenceSuch hats are shown in Figures 140 and 141. They were worn in the city also by the old and feeble, and in later times by all classes in the theaters. In the house, of course, the head was left uncovered.

   253. The Hair and Beard. The Romans in early times wore long hair and full beards, as did uncivilized peoples. Varro tells us that professional barbers first came to Rome in the year 300 B.C., but we know that the razor and shears were used by the Romans long before history begins. Pliny the Elder says that the Younger Scipio (died 129 B.C.) was the first Roman to shave every day, and the story may be true. People of wealth and position had the hair and beard kept in order by their own slaves (§ 150); these slaves, if they were skillful barbers, brought high prices in the market. FIG. 143: ANTONINUS PIUS, EMPEROR FROM 136-161 A.D. A bust in the Vatican Museum, RomePeople of the middle class went to public barber shops, and gradually made them places of general resort for the idle and the gossiping. But in all periods the hair and beard were allowed was a sign of sorrow, and were the regular accompaniments of the mourning garb already mentioned (§ 246). The very poor went usually unshaven and unshorn; this was the cheap and easy fashion.

   254. Styles of wearing hair and beard varied with the years of the persons concerned and with the period. The hair of children, boys and girls alike, was allowed to grow long and hang around the neck and shoulders. FIG. 144: THE EMPEROR HADRIAN. Hadrian was the first Roman emperor to wear a full beard. A bust in the Capitoline Museum, RomeWhen the boy assumed the toga of manhood, the long locks were cut off, sometimes with a good deal of formality, and under the Empire they were often made an offering to some deity. In the classical period young men seem to have worn close-clipped beards; at least Cicero jeers at those who followed Catiline for wearing full beards, and on the other hand declares that their companions who could show no signs of beard on their faces were worse than effeminate. Mature men wore the hair cut short and the face shaved clean. Most of the portraits that have come down to us show beardless men until well into the second century of our era, but after the time of Hadrian the full beard became fashionable.

   255. Jewelry. The ring was the only article of jewelry worn by a Roman citizen after he reached the age of manhood (§§ 125-127), and good taste limited him to a single ring. It was originally of iron, and, though it was often set with a precious stone and made still more valuable by the artistic cutting of the stone, it was always worn more for use than for ornament. FIG. 145: SEAL RINGSThe ring was in fact in almost all cases a seal ring, having some device upon it (Fig. 145) which the wearer imprinted in melted wax when he wished to acknowledge some document as his own, or to secure cabinets and coffers against prying curiosity. The iron ring was worn generally until late in the Empire, even after the gold ring had ceased to be the special privilege of the knights and had become merely the badge of freedom. Even the engagement ring (§ 71) was usually of iron; the jewel gave it its material value, although, we are told, this particular ring was often the first article of gold that a young girl possessed.

   256. Of course there were not wanting men as ready to violate the canons of taste in the matter of rings as in the choice of their garments or the style of wearing the hair and beard. We need not be surprised, then, to read of one having sixteen rings, or of another having six for each finger. One of Martial’s acquaintances had a ring so large that the poet advised him to wear it on his leg. It is a more surprising fact that the ring was often worn on the joint of the finger, perhaps for convenience in using the seal.

   257. Dress of Women. FIG. 146: MAMILLAREIt has been remarked already (§ 234) that the dress of men and women differed less in ancient than in modern times, and we shall find that in the classical period at least the principal articles worn were practically the same, however much they differed in name and, probably, in the fineness of their materials. At this period the dress of the matron consisted in general of three articles: the tunica interior, the tunica exterior or stola, and the palla. Beneath the tunica interior there was nothing like the modern brassiere or corset, intended to modify the figure, but a band of soft leather (mamillāre) was sometimes passed around the body under the breasts for a support (Fig. 146), and the subligāculum (§ 235) was also worn by women.

   258. The Tunica Interior. FIG. 147: THE STROPHIUMThe tunica interior did not differ much in material or shape from the tunic for men already described (§ 236). It fitted the figure more closely perhaps than the man’s, was sometimes supplied with sleeves, and as it reached only to the knee did not require a belt to keep it from interfering with the free use of the limbs. A soft sash-like band of leather (strophium), however, was sometimes worn over it, close under the breasts, but merely to support them; in this case, we may suppose, the mamillāre was discarded. For this sash (Fig. 147), the more general terms zōna and cingulum are sometimes used. This tunic was not usually worn alone, even in the house, except by young girls.

   259. The Stola. Over the tunica interior was worn the tunica exterior, or stola, the distinctive dress of the Roman matron (§ 91). It differed in several respects from the tunic worn as a house-dress by men. It was open at both sides above the waist and fastened on the shoulders by brooches It was much longer, reaching to the feet when ungirded and having in addition a wide border (īnstita) on its lower edge. There was also a border around the neck, which seems to have been of some color, perhaps often crimson. The stola was sleeveless if the tunica interior had sleeves, but, if the tunic itself was sleeveless, the stola had sleeves, so that the arm was always protected. These sleeves, however, whether in tunic or in stola, were open on the front of the upper arm and were only loosely clasped with brooches or buttons, often of great beauty and value.

FIG. 149
The women wear the palla and stola; a young girl and two small boys wear the toga; one man wears a cloak and tunic, the other the toga.
A relief from the Ara Pacis, now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

   260. Owing to its great length the stola was always worn with a girdle (zōna) above the hips; through this girdle the stola itself was pulled until the lower edge of the īnstita barely cleared the floor. This gave the fullness about the waist seen in Figures 24, 116, and 148, in which the cut of the sleeves can also be seen. The zōna was usually entirely hidden by the overhanging folds. The stola was the distinctive dress of the matron, as has been said, and it is probable that the īnstita was its special feature.

   261. The Palla. The palla was a shawl-like wrap for use out of doors. It was a rectangular piece of woolen goods, as simple as possible in in its form, but worn in the most diverse fashions in different times. In the classical period it seems to have been wrapped around the figure, much as the toga was. One-third was thrown over the left shoulder from behind and allowed to fall to the feet. The rest was carried around the back and brought forward either over or under the right arm at the pleasure of the wearer. The end was then thrown back over the left shoulder after the style of the toga, as is shown in the relief from the Ara Pacis in Figure 149, or was allowed to hang loosely over the left arm, as in Figure 7. It was possible also to pull the palla up over the head (Figs. 7, 149).

   262. Shoes and Slippers. What has been said of the footgear of men (§§ 250-251) applies also to that of women. Slippers (soleae) were worn in the house, differing from those of men only in being embellished as much as possible, sometimes even with pearls. An idea of their appearance may be had from the statues in Figures 24, 116, and 148. Shoes (calceī) were insisted upon for outdoor use, and differed from those of men, as they differ from them now, chiefly in being made of finer and softer leather. They were often white, or gilded, or of bright colors; those intended for winter wear sometimes had cork soles.

   263. Dressing of the Hair. The Roman woman regularly wore no hat, but covered her head when necessary with the palla or with a veil. Much attention was given to the arrangement of the hair, the fashions being as numerous and as inconstant as they are today. For young girls the favorite arrangement, perhaps, was to comb the hair back and gather it into a knot (nōdus) on the back of the neck. For matrons it will be sufficient to call attention to the Figures (e.g., Figs. 1, 13, 14, 23, 30, 32) already given, and to show from busts five styles (Fig. 151) worn at different times under the Empire, all by ladies of the court.

   264. For keeping the hair in place pins were used, of ivory, silver, and gold, often mounted with jewels (Fig. 152). Nets (rēticulae) and ribbons (vittae, taeniae, fasciolae) were also worn, but combs were not made a part of the headdress. The Roman woman of fashion did not scruple, if she chose, to color her hair (the golden-red color of the Greek hair was especially admired) or to use false hair, which had become an article of commercial importance early in the Empire. Mention should also be made of the garlands (corōnae) of flowers, or of flowers and foliage, and of the coronets of pearls and other precious stones that were used to supplement the natural or artificial beauty of the hair.

   265. The woman’s hairdresser was a female slave (§ 150). This ōrnātrīx was an adept in all the tricks of the toilet already mentioned, and, besides, used all sorts of unguents, oils, and tonics to make the hair soft and lustrous and to cause it to grow abundantly. In Figure 150 are shown a number of common toilet articles: hairpins, hand mirrors made of highly polished metal, combs, and boxes for unguent or powder.

   266. Accessories. The parasol (umbrāculum, umbella) was commonly used by women at Rome at least as early as the close of the Republic, and was all the more necessary because they wore no hats or bonnets. FIG. 153: THE PARASOL. Drawing from a vaseThe parasols were usually carried for them by attendants (§ 151). From vase paintings we learn that they were much like our own in shape (Fig. 153), and could be closed when not in use. The use of umbrellas by men was considered effeminate. The fan (flābellum) was used from the earliest times and was made in various ways (Fig. 154), sometimes of wings of birds, sometimes of thin sheets of wood attached to a handle, sometimes of peacock’s feathers artistically arranged, and sometimes of linen stretched over a frame. FIG. 154: FANSThese fans were not used by the woman herself; they were always handled by an attendant, who was charged with the task of keeping her cool and untroubled by flies. Handkerchiefs (sūdāria), the finest made of linen, were used by both sexes, but only for wiping the perspiration from the face or hands. For keeping the palms cool and dry, ladies seem also to have used glass balls or balls of amber, the latter, perhaps, for the fragrance also.

   267. Jewelry. The Roman woman was passionately fond of jewelry, and incalculable sums were spent upon it for the adornment of her person. Rings, brooches, pins, jeweled buttons, and coronets have been mentioned; and, besides these, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings or pendants were worn from the earliest times by all who could afford them. Not only were they made of costly materials, their value was also enhanced by the artistic workmanship that was lavished upon them. Almost all the precious stones that are known to us were familiar to the Romans and were to be found in the jewel-casket (§ 229) of the wealthy lady. The pearl, however, seems to have been in all times the favorite. No adequate description of these articles can be given here; no illustrations can do them justice. It will have to suffice that Suetonius says that Caesar paid six million sesterces (nearly $300,000) for a single pearl, which he gave to Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus, and that Lollia Paulina, the wife of the Emperor Caligula, possessed a single set of pearls and emeralds which is said by Pliny the Elder to have been valued at forty million sesterces (nearly $2,000,000).

   268. Dress of Children and Slaves. Boys wore the subligāculum, and, as is shown in Figures 7, 52, and 157, the tunica; it is very probable that no other articles of clothing were worn by either boys or girls of the poorer classes. Besides these garments, children of well-to-do parents wore the toga praetexta (§ 246, and Figs. 39, 55, 149), which the girl laid aside on the eve of her marriage (§ 76) and the boy when he reached the age of manhood (§ 127). Slaves were supplied with a tunic, wooden shoes, and in stormy weather a cloak, probably the paenula (§ 248). This must have been the ordinary garb of the poorer citizens of the working classes, for they would have had little use for the toga, at least in later times, and could hardly have afforded so expensive a garment.

   269. Materials. Fabrics of wool, linen, cotton, and silk were used by the Romans. For clothes woolen goods were the first to be used, and naturally so, since the early inhabitants of Latium were shepherds, and woolen garments best suited the climate. Under the Republic, wool was almost exclusively used for the garments of both men and women, as we have seen, though the subligāculum was frequently, and the woman’s tunic sometimes, made of linen. The best native wools came from Calabria and Apulia; wool from the neighborhood of Tarentum was the finest. Native wools did not suffice, however, to meet the great demand, and large quantities were imported. Linen goods were early manufactured in Italy, but were used chiefly for other purposes than clothing until the days of the Empire; only in the third century of our era did men begin to make general use of them. The finest linen came from Egypt, and was as soft and transparent as silk. Little is positively known about the use of cotton, because the word carbasus, the genuine Indian name for it, was used by the Romans for linen goods also; hence when we meet the word we cannot always be sure of the material meant. Silk, imported from China directly or indirectly, was first used for garments under Tiberius, and then only in a mixture of linen and silk (vestēs sēricae). These were forbidden for the use of men in his reign, but the law was powerless against the love of luxury. Garments of pure silk were first used in the third century.

   270. Colors. White was the prevailing color of all articles of dress throughout the Republic, in most cases the natural color of the wool, as we have seen (§ 246). The lower classes, however, selected for their garments shades that required cleansing less frequently, and found them, too, in the undyed wool. From Canusium came a brown wool with a tinge of red, from Baetica in Spain a light yellow, from Mutina a gray or a gray mixed with white, from Pollentia in Liguria the dark gray (pulla), used, as has been said (§ 246), in public mourning. Other shades from red to deep black were furnished by foreign wools. Almost the only artificial color used for garments under the Republic was purpura, which seems to have varied from what we call garnet, made from the native trumpet shell (būcinum or mūrex), to the true Tyrian purple. The former was brilliant and cheap, but likely to fade. Mixed with the dark purpura in different proportions, it furnished a variety of permanent tints. One of the most popular of these tints, violet, made the wool cost twenty dollars a pound, while the genuine Tyrian cost at least ten times as much. Probably the stripes worn by the knights and senators on the tunics and togas were much nearer our crimson than purple. Under the Empire the garments worn by women were dyed in various colors, and so, too, perhaps, the fancier articles worn by men, such as the lacerna (§ 247) and the synthesis (§ 249). The trabea of the augur seems to have been striped with scarlet and “purple,” the palūdāmentum of the general to have been at different times white, scarlet, and “purple,” and the robe of the triumphātor “purple.”

   271. Manufacture. In the old days the wool was spun at home by the women slaves, working under the eye of the mistress (§ 199), and woven into cloth on the family loom. This custom was kept up throughout the Republic by some of the proudest families. Augustus wore such homemade garments. By the end of the Republic, however, this was no longer general, and, though much of the native wool was worked up on the farms by the slaves, directed by the vīlica (§ 148), cloth of any desired quality could be bought in the open market. It was formerly supposed that the garments came from the loom ready to wear, but this view is now known to be incorrect. We have seen that the tunic was made of two separate pieces sewed together (§ 236), and that the toga had to be measured, cut, and sewed to fit the wearer (§ 243), and that even the coarse paenula (§ 248) could not have been woven in one piece. But ready-made garments, though perhaps of the cheaper qualities only, were on sale in the towns as early as the time of Cato; under the Empire the trade reached large proportions. It is remarkable that, though there were many slaves in the familia urbāna (§§ 149-155), it never became usual to have soiled garments cleansed at home. All garments showing traces of use were sent by the well-to-do to the fullers (fullōnēs) to be washed (Fig. 158), whitened (or redyed), and pressed. The fact that almost all were of woolen materials made skill and care the more necessary.

1 The Roman armies sometimes adopted the brācae when they were campaigning in the northern provinces. Tacitus tells a story of the offense given by Caecina on his return from his campaign in Gaul because he continued to wear the brācae while be was addressing the toga-clad citizens of the Italian towns through which he passed. (Hist. 2.20)

2 “The Romans, lords of the world, the race that wears the toga.”

3 Wilson, 120-121.

4 See, however, Wilson, 48-49.

5 Wilson, 86-88.


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