previous next


FI´MBRIAE (θύσανοι: in grammarians also κροσσοί), thrums; tassels; a fringe.

When the weaver had finished any garment on the loom [TELA], the thrums, i. e. the extremities of the threads of the warp, hung in a row at the bottom. In this state they were frequently left, being considered ornamental. Often also, to prevent them from ravelling, and to give a still more artificial and ornamental appearance, they were separated into bundles, each of which was twisted (στρεπτοῖς θυσάνοις, Brunck, Anal. 1.416 = Anth. Pal. 6.225), and tied in one or more knots. The thrums were thus, by a very simple process, transformed into a row of tassels. The linen shirts, found in Egyptian tombs, sometimes show this ornament among their lower edge, and illustrate, in a very interesting manner, the description of these garments by Herodotus (2.81). Among the Greeks and Romans fringes were seldom worn except by females (κροσσωτὸν χιτῶνα, Phalaec. ap. Ath. 10.440 d = Brunck, Anal. 2.525: cf. Schweighäuser on Ath. vol. x. p. 428; Jacobs on Anth. Pal. i. pt. 2, p. 251; Pollux, 7.64). We find, however, a κροσσωτὴν ἐφεστρίδα worn by Lucullus (Plut. Luc. 28); a long-sleeved tunic with fimbriae at the wrists, worn by Julius Caesar (Suet. Jul. 45; cf, CLAVUS LATUS p. 454 b. The text of Suetonius may, we think, be defended against Marquardt, Privatl. 528 n.). Of their manner of displaying them the best idea may be formed by the inspection of the annexed woodcut, taken from a small bronze, representing a Roman lady

Fimbriae. (From an ancient bronze.)

who wears an inner and an outer tunic, the latter being fringed, and over these a large shawl or pallium.

Among barbarous nations the upper garment was often worn by men with a fringe, as is seen very conspicuously in the group of Sarmatians at p. 315 a. By crossing the bundles of thrums, and tying them at the points of intersection, a kind of network was produced; the θυσανὸς δικτυωτός, hung with bells, which adorned the bier of Alexander the Great, must have been of this description (Diod. 18.26). The ancients also manufactured fringes separately, and sewed them to the borders of their garments. They were likewise made of gold thread and other costly materials. Of this kind was the ornament, consisting of a hundred golden tassels, which surrounded the mythical shield of Jupiter, the αἰγὶς θυσανόεσσα, and which depended from the girdle of Juno (Hom. Il. 2.448; 5.738, xiv.. 181, 15.229, 17.593, 18.204, 21.400). In consequence of the tendency of wool to form itself into separate bundles like tassels (θυσανηδόν, Aelian, Ael. NA 16.11), the poets speak of the golden fleece as consisting of them (Pind. P. 4.411 ; Apollon. 4.1146); and Cicero, declaiming against the effeminacy of Gabinius, applies the same expression to his curled locks of hair (in Pis. 11.25).

[J.Y] [W.W]

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: