). Trousers; pantaloons. These were
common to all the nations that encircled the Greek and Roman population, extending from the
Indian to the Atlantic Ocean. Hence Aristagoras, king of Miletus, in his interview with
Cleomenes, king of Sparta, described the attire of a large portion of them in these terms:
“They carry bows and a short spear, and go to battle in trousers and with hats upon
their heads.” Hence, also, the phrase bracati militis arcus
implying that those who wore trousers were in general armed with the bow. In particular, we
are informed of the use of trousers or pantaloons among the following nations:
The Medes and Persians (περὶ τὰ σκέλεα
The Parthians and Armenians.
The Dacians and Getae.
The Britons (veteres bracae Britonis pauperis
The Gauls (Gallia Bracata
, now Provence; sagatos bracatosque;
χρῶνται ἀναξυρίσι, ἃς ἐκεῖνοι βράκας
The Gallic term “brakes,” which Diodorus Siculus has preserved in the
last-cited passage (lv. 30), also survives in the Scottish “breeks” and
the English “breeches.” Corresponding terms are used in all the Northern
languages. (See Skeat,
s. v. “Breeches.”) The Cossack and Persian
trousers of the present day differ in no material respect from those which were anciently
worn in the same countries.
In conformity with the preceding list of testimonies, the monuments of every kind which
contain representations of the nations included in it, exhibit them in trousers, thus clearly
distinguishing them from Greeks and Romans. An example is seen in the annexed group of
Sarmatians, taken from the Column of Trajan.
Sarmatians wearing Bracae. (Column of Trajan.)
The proper bracae of the Eastern and Northern nations were loose (κεχαλασμέναι
), and they are therefore very aptly,
though ludicrously, described in Euripides as “variegated bags” (τοὺς θυλάκους τοὺς ποικίλους
). To the Greeks they must
Bracae worn by Roman Soldier. (Column of Trajan.)
have appeared highly ridiculous, although Ovid mentions the adoption of them by the
descendants of some of the Greek colonists on the Euxine (Trist.
v. 11, 34).
Trousers were principally woollen; but Agathias states that in Europe they were also made
of linen and of leather; probably the Asiatics made them of cotton and of silk. Sometimes
they were striped (virgatae
), ornamented with a woof of various colours.
Roman soldiers fighting in the North were obliged to wear them, owing to the severity of
the climate; and by the second century they were worn even at Rome. The emperor Alexander
Severus wore white bracae; some of his predecessors, scarlet ones (coccineae
, meaning properly a breeches-maker (Lamprid. Alex.
24), came to be used of a tailor in general.