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στέφανος). A crown; that is, a circular ornament of metal, leaves, or flowers, worn by the ancients round the head or neck, and used as a festive as well as funeral decoration, and as a reward of talent, military or naval prowess, and civic worth. It includes the synonyms, for which it is often used absolntely, στεφάνη, στέφος, στεφάνωμα, corolla, sertum, “a garland or wreath.”

The use of crowns on public and private occasions was so general in antiquity that there was a special literature on the subject, of which we have remains in Theophrastus (Hist. Pl. vi. 6), Athenaeus (lib. xv.), Pliny (Pliny H. N. xxi. 1-70Pliny H. N., xxii. 4-13), and Pollux (vi. 106-107). At Rome Claudius Saturninus wrote a book De Coronis (Tertull. De Cor. Mil. 7, 10, 12).

Crowns originally consisted of wool or the foliage of trees, especially myrtle-twigs or ivy, with which flowers of various kinds were subsequently interwoven. The makers and sellers of these garlands or crowns formed a distinct trade, and were called in Greece στεφανηπλόκοι or στεφανοποιοί, and in Rome coronarii (Plin. xxi. 54, 177).

The flowers used in making crowns were called in Greek στεφανώματα, in Latin coronamenta.

The foliage and flowers were sometimes fastened together by the inner bark of the lindentree, such garlands being known as coronae sutiles, also nexae and sertae. At Athens, the flower-market was called αἱ μυρρίναι, because myrtle (μύρτος) was the material most commonly used in making them. Many of the flower-girls were celebrated in antiquity, especially Glycera the mistress of Pausias (Plin. H. N. xxi. 4; xxxv. 125).

At Rome, the temple of the Lares, at the head of the Via Sacra, was most frequented by the venders of garlands. The crowns among the Romans were often made of the leaves of plants, especially ivy, myrtle, and parsley. At Athens, the violet was very popular, but both the Greeks and Romans preferred the rose to any other flower, calling it “the king of flowers” and “the rose of the loves.” (See Achill. Tat. ii. 1; Anacr. 5.) They were especially used for convivial crowns; and garlands of them were in request at Rome even in the winter, so that they were grown under glass (Mart. iv. 22, 5; xiii. 127), and were also imported from Egypt (Mart. vi. 80). As luxury increased, the leaves of the nardus or spikenard were brought from India for crowns (Mart.xiii. 51; Plin. H. N. xxi. 11). Garlands were also made of dried flowers, especially of amaranth, which, when moistened, had the appearance of fresh flowers, so that garlands of it were called coronae hibernae. The same name was given to crowns of artificial flowers (Plin.xxi. 5). Sometimes they were made of a thin layer of metal covered with gold or silver, and called corollae or corollaria inaurata or inargentata.

The corona Etrusca was made of pure gold in the form of leaves, sometimes set with gems, and terminating in ribbons (lemnisci) of the same metal. It was held by a slave over the head of a general when he entered Rome in triumph (Plin.xxxiii. 11).

Crowns adorned with such pendent ribbons were called coronae lemniscatae (Serv. ad Verg. Aen. v. 269Verg. Aen., vi. 772). The lemnisci (λημνίσκοι) were first made of wool, adorned with ribbons (from λῆνος, “wool,” Fest. p. 155, M.), afterwards of linden-bast, and subsequently of gold. Crowns so adorned were the highest rewards of victors, whence Cicero speaks of palma lemniscata, where palma means a victory or the highest reward (Rosc. Am. 35, 100).

Coronae longae resembled what we call festoons, and were employed to decorate the doors of houses, temples, amphitheatres, etc. (Ovid, Fast. iv. 738).

The corona pactilis, probably the same as the corona plectilis of Plautus ( Bacch. i. 1.37), corona torta (Propert. iii. 20, 18), “plexa(Lucret. v. 1399) , and as the στέφανοι πλεκτοί and κυλιστὸς στέφανος of the

Corona Radiata.

Greeks, was made of flowers, shrubs, grass, ivy, wool, or any flexible material twined or twisted together, and therefore opposed to the corona sutilis described above.

Corona radiata was one assigned to the gods or to deified heroes, and hence was assumed by the later emperors in token of their divinity. They may be seen on many of the imperial coins.

Coronae tonsae were made of leaves only, closely

Corona Triumphalis. (Medallion of Ventidius.)

cut, as for instance of the olive (Verg. Aen. v. 556).

Crowns were also among the Romans the highest distinction awarded for service in war. The most coveted were the corona triumphalis or laurel crown of a general in triumph; and the corona obsidionalis, presented to a general by the army which he had saved from a siege, or from a shameful capitulation. This was woven of grass growing on the spot, and called corona graminea. The corona myrtea, or ovalis, was the crown of bay worn by the general who celebrated the lesser triumph (ovatio).

Corona Obsidionalis.

The corona civica was of oak leaves, and was awarded for saving a citizen's life in battle. This secured for its possessor certain privileges, as freedom from taxes for himself, his father, and paternal grandfather. The golden corona muralis,

Corona Civica.

with embattled ornaments, was given for the storming of a wall; the corona castrensis or vallaris, also of gold, and ornamented in imitation of palisades, to the soldier who first climbed the wall of the enemy's camp; the corona navalis, with ornaments representing the beak of a ship, to the man who first boarded a ship. Under the Empire, the garland of bay was reserved exclusively for the emperor, and thus came to be

Corona Castrensis.

regarded as a crown.

The rayed crown, the insigne of the deified emperors, was not worn by the emperors of the first and second century A.D. Golden crowns were originally the free offerings of provincials and allies to victorious generals for the celebration of their triumphs. But from this custom there arose,

Corona Muralis.

even in republican times, the habit of compelling a contribution of money (aurum coronarium) to the governor of the province. During the imperial age this contribution was on exceptional occasions offered as a present to the emperors, but it was often also made compulsory.

Among the Greeks, a crown (στέφανος) was often an emblem of office. At Athens, for instance, a

Corona Navalis.

crown of bay was worn by the archons in office, the senators (βουλευταί), and the orators while speaking. It was also the emblem of victory at the games, and a token of distinction for citizens of merit. (See Theatrum.) Such crowns of honour were made originally of olive branches, but later of gold. The honour of a crown could be conferred by the people or the Senate, or by corporations and foreign States. The latter would often present a crown to the whole commonwealth. If the people or Senate presented the crown, the presentation took place in the great assembly or in the Senate-house, but not in the theatre except by special decree. See Garcke, De Horatii Corollis (Altenburg, 1860); and Daremberg and Saglio, Dictionnaire des Antiquités, s. v. “Corona”; and on funeral crowns the article Funus.

hide References (18 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (18):
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.269
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.556
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.772
    • Plautus, Bacchides, 1.1
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 5.1399
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 21.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 21.11
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 21.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 21.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 22.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.11
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 35.40
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 13.127
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 13.51
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 4.22
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 6.80
    • Ovid, Fasti, 4
    • Achilles Tatius, Leucippe et Clitophon, 2.1
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