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χλαμύς). A short mantle forming a part of the outer raiment of the Greeks, and of the Romans in imperial times. Its material was usually woollen; and it differed from the ἱμάτιον, the usual amictus of the male sex, in these respects: that it was much smaller; also finer, thinner, more variegated in colour, and more susceptible of ornament. It moreover differed in being oblong instead of square, its length being generally about twice its breadth (Plut. Alex. 26).

The chlamys came originally from Macedonia and Thessaly, and was the dress of hunters, of travellers, especially on horseback, and of soldiers. It seems to have been part of the usual dress of a Spartan (Aristoph. Lys. 988) and was worn at Athens by the ephebi from about seventeen to twenty years of age (Philemon, p. 367, ed. Meineke).

The chlamys as worn by youths, by soldiers, and by hunters differed in colour and fineness, according to its purpose, and the age and rank of the wearer. The hunter commonly went out in a mantle of a dull, inconspicuous colour, as best adapted to escape the notice of wild animals (Poll.v. 18). The more ornamental mantles, being designed for women, were tastefully decorated with a border (limbus, Verg. Aen. iv. 137); and those worn by Phœnicians, Trojans, Phrygians, and other Asiatics were also embroidered, or interwoven with gold (Verg. Aen. iii. 483-484Verg. Aen., xi. 775; Ovid, Met. v. 51). Actors had their chlamys ornamented with gold (Poll.iv. 116).

The usual mode of wearing the mantle was to pass one of its shorter sides round the neck, and to fasten it by means of a brooch (πόρπη, fibula), either over the breast, in which case it hung down the back, reaching to the calves of the legs; or over the right shoulder, so as to cover the left arm, as in the well-known example of the Belvedere Apollo. In other instances, it was made to depend gracefully from the left shoulder, of which the bronze Apollo in the British Museum (see righthand figure) presents an example; or it was thrown lightly behind the back, and passed over either one arm or shoulder, or over both (as in left-hand figure); or, lastly, it was laid upon the throat, carried behind the neck, and crossed so as to hang

Chlamys. (The figure on the left from a painting on a vase; that on the right from the British Museum.)

down the back, and sometimes its extremities were again brought forward over the arms or shoulders. In short, the remains of ancient art of every description show in how high a degree the mantle contributed, by its endless diversity of arrangement, to the display of the human form in its greatest beauty. The aptitude of the mantle to be turned in every possible form around the body made it useful even for defence. The hunter used to wrap his chlamys about his left arm when pursuing wild animals, and preparing to fight with them (Poll.v. 18; Cyneg. vi. 17). Alcibiades died fighting with his mantle rolled round his left hand instead of a shield. The annexed illustration exhibits a figure of Poseidon armed with the trident in his right hand, and having a chlamys to protect the left. It is taken from a medal which was struck in commemoration of a naval victory obtained by Demetrius Poliorcetes, and was evidently designed to express his sense of Poseidon's succour in the conflict. When Artemis goes to the chase, as she does not require her mantle for purposes

Chlamys. (Poseidon from a medal, and Artemis from a statue in the Vatican.)

of defence, she draws it from behind over her shoulders, and twists it round her waist, so that the belt of her quiver passes across it, as shown in the statues of this goddess in the Vatican.

It appears from the bas-reliefs on marble vases that dancers took hold of one another by the chlamys, as the modern Greeks still do by their scarfs or handkerchiefs, instead of taking one another's hands.

Among the Romans the chlamys came more into use under the emperors. Caligula wore one enriched with gold (Calig. 19); and Alexander Severus, when in the country, one dyed with scarlet (Lamprid. Al. Sev. 40).

hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 988
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 26
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 5.51
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 11.775
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 3.483
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 4.137
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