previous next


In more recent1 times linens alone have been employed for the purpose of affording shade in our theatres; Q. Catulus having been the first who applied them to this use, on the occasion of the dedication by him of the Capitol. At a later period, Lentulus Spinther, it is said, was the first to spread awnings of fine linen2 over the theatre, at the celebration of the Games in honour of Apollo. After this, Cæsar, when Dictator, covered with a linen awning the whole of the Roman Forum, as well as the Sacred Way, from his own house as far as the ascent to the Capitol, a sight, it is said, more wonderful even than the show of gladiators which he then exhibited. At a still later period, and upon the occasion of no public games, Marcellus, the son of Octavia, sister of Augustus, during his ædileship, and in the eleventh consulship of his uncle, on the * * * day before the calends of August, covered in the Forum with awnings, his object being to consult the health of those assembled there for the purposes of litigation —a vast change, indeed, from the manners prevalent in the days of Cato the Censor, who expressed a wish that the Forum was paved with nothing else but sharp pointed stones.

Awnings have been lately extended, too, by the aid of ropes, over the amphitheatres of the Emperor Nero, dyed azure, like the heavens, and bespangled all over with stars. Those which are employed by us to cover the inner court3 of our houses are generally red: one reason for employing them is to protect the moss that grows there from the rays4 of the sun. In other respects, white fabrics of linen have always held the ascendancy in public estimation. Linen, too, was highly valued as early as the Trojan war; for why else should it not have figured as much in battles as it; did in shipwrecks? Thus Homer,5 we find, bears witness that there were but few among the warriors of those days who fought with cuirasses6 on made of linen; while, as for the rigging of the ships, of which that writer speaks, it is generally supposed by the more learned among the commentators, that it was made of this material; for the word "sparta,"7 which he employs, means nothing more than the produce of a seed.

1 "Postea." Sillig would reject this word, as being a corruption, and not consistent with fact, Catulus having lived before the time of Cleopatra. He suggests that the reading should be "Populo Romano ea in the- atris spectanti umbram fecere." "Linen, too, has provided a shade for the Roman people, when viewing the spectacles of the theatre." Lucretius, B. iv l. 73, et seq., speaks of these awnings as being red, yellow, and iron grey.

2 "Carbasina." Cambric.

3 The cavaædium is generally supposed to have been the same as the "atrium," the large inner apartment, roofed over, with the exception of an opening in the middle, which was called the "compluvium," or "impluvium," over which the awning here mentioned was stretched. Here the master of the house received his visitors and clients.

4 White would be much preferable to red for this purpose.

5 Il. ii. ll. 529 and 830.

6 Il. viii. l. 63.

7 Il. ii. l. 135. See B. xxiv. c. 40.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: