(in Greek writers, τήβεννα
The earliest costume of the Roman was a thick woollen cloak worn over a
loin-cloth or apron [SUBLIGACULUM
]. This woollen cloak was called the toga,
and was the dress of women as well as men and
boys. It was laid aside indoors, or when hard at work in the fields; but, as
we learn from the story of Cincinnatus, was the only decent attire
out-of-doors. He was ploughing in his field when the messengers of the
senate came to tell him that he had been made dictator, and on seeing them
promptly sent his wife to fetch his toga from the house, that they might be
received with all propriety (Liv. 3.26
). The truth of the story may be doubtful, but it
well expresses the Roman sentiment on the subject. As time went on, however,
and the Romans became more civilised, their garments changed. They adopted
the shirt [p. 2.846]
] which the Greeks and Etruscans wore, made their toga more
bulky, and wore it in a looser manner. The result was that it became useless
for active pursuits, such as those of war, in which its place was taken by
the more handy SAGUM
and in those
of peace, where it was superseded by the LAENA,
LACERNA, PAENULA, and other forms of buttoned or closed cloaks. The
same process, as is often the case with clothing, that removed it from
every-day life and commonplace uses, gave it an increased importance as a
ceremonial garment. As early as the third century B.C., and probably even before, it, along with the CALCEUS
was looked upon as the
characteristic badge o Roman citizenship. It was denied to foreigners (Suet. Cl. 15
), and even to banished Romans
(Plin. Ep. 4.11
), and was worn by magistrates on all occasions as a badge of
office. In fact, for a magistrate to appear in a Greek cloak [PALLIUM
] and sandals (see
instances given in the article SOLEA
) was considered by all, except unconventional folk, as highly
improper, if not criminal (cf. Cic. pro
, 26). Augustus, for instance, was so much
incensed at seeing a meeting of citizens without the toga, that, quoting
Virgil's proud lines, “Romanos rerum dominos gentemque
togatam,” he gave orders to the aediles that in future no one was to
appear in the Forum or Circus without it (Suet. Aug.
). When such was the feeling of the Emperor, it is little
wonder that the toga remained the Court dress of the Empire (Spart.
1, 7), though in any case the social usage of Rome
would have made it so. It was in it that the clients paid their visit to
their patron [SALUTATIO
forgetting to wear boots (calceus
) with it
; cf. Tertull. de Pallio,
“calceos . . . proprium togae tormentum:” and for the calceus,
; Hor. Sat.
1.3, 31-2). It was also worn by the spectators in the circus at Rome (Suet. Aug. 40
; D. C.
), and its irksomeness causes Juvenal to sigh for the
freedom of the country, where only the dead man, who was buried in it, is
bound to wear it (Sat.
3.172; cf. Mart. 9.58
is equally enthusiastic in his praises of the unconventionality of the
provinces (1.49, 31; 4.66, 1-3; 10.47, 5; 12.18, 5, 17); and Pliny the
younger makes it one of the attractions of his Tuscan villa that there is no
necessity of wearing the toga (Ep.
5.6.45; cf. 7.3.2). In
spite, however, of these protests, its use as an official garment lingered
on until the time of Theodosian (Cod. Theod. 14.10, 1), when it was
supplanted by the PAENULA
The best account of the shape and the manner of wearing the toga is given by
19.24, 3): “Toga dicta quod velamento
sui corpus tegat atque operiat. Est autem pallium purum forma rotunda
effusiore et quasi inundante sinu et sub dextro veniens supra sinistrum
ponitur humerum.” The characteristic feature is the roundness
(cf. Quint. Inst. 11.3
: “Ipsam togam rotundam esse et
apte caesam velim” ), being that which distinguished it from the
square Greek cloak or pallium
and the old Roman
That it was in no sense circular is
shown by the fact that Dionysius of Halicarnassus (3.61) calls it a περιβόλαιον ἡμικύκλιον,
and still more by the
large series of Roman portrait statues on which it appears. These statues
are in fact our main evidence for its shape, and literary mentions can only
be used to illustrate their evidence, not to correct it. The older scholars
of this century were singularly neglectful of these monuments, though
Fig. 1. The Toga, after Weiss.
most diligent in collecting and comparing all the numerous
passages bearing on the use of the toga. It was not indeed until the last
thirty or forty years that the subject was studied from the sculptural point
of view by Weiss and Von Launitz, and more recently by
Fig. 2. The Toga, after Von Launitz.
A. Müller. Weiss, whom Marquardt follows, regarded the difficulties
of the case as solved by a garment of elliptical shape, though with pointed
ends, to which a border was sometimes attached (fig. 1). Von Launitz, on the
other hand, has shown that though the earlier statues wear a toga of this
Fig. 3. Statue of Didius Julianus. (From the Louvre.)
shape, the more usual and characteristic form shown by later
statues cannot be obtained from it. After numerous experiments, which he
embodied in a model dress fitting a lay figure and disseminated through
German schools, he hit on a complex shape which answers the purpose. It is a
crescent, the back of which is an elliptical curve, and has a circular
segment of cloth F R A,
only about a third of the arc across,
sewn on to its concave side (fig. 2). Both shapes were of great size, being
at least three times the height of a man's shoulder in length. Taking the
Von Launitz model as our guide, the method of wearing it is well seen in the
statue of Didius Julianus (fig. 3). About [p. 2.847]
of the toga (as is seen in fig. 4) is first allowed to hang in front over
the left shoulder (in fig. 2, E
is the point
where it is placed on the shoulder), so that its end lies between the
wearer's ankles (a=J
in fig. 2). Then the rest
Fig. 4. Fig. 5. Sketches to show how the Toga was put on.
of the garment is taken and, as Isidore (l.c.
) tells us, drawn across the back, under the right shoulder, and
across the chest in a slanting line, being finally thrown over the left
shoulder once more. This done, the weight of the end which is thrown over
the left shoulder keeps the whole in its place. Such a description, however,
with the exception of the point between the ankles, applies quite as well to
a pallium as a toga. In the toga, however, the folds were further
complicated first by drawing this part (which hangs down in front from the
left shoulder) upwards and allowing it to hang over the fold (b
), which. runs slanting from under the right arm to
the left shoulder; and secondly by the fact that this slanting fold, instead
of being merely the hem of the cloak turned over, forms a sort of apron or
sling running from behind the right shoulder to the left. This curious fold
covers the greater part of the left thigh completely, and falls down as far
as the knee. It is undoubtedly the part known to the ancients as the
and one of the chief merits of Von
Launitz's model is the light it throws on a remark of Quintilian's (F
in fig. 2 is the sinus
writer, in the locus classicus
on the subject
(11.137 ff.), says that the ancients had no sinus
on their toga, and that even afterwards they were very
narrow ( “Nam veteribus nulli sinus; perquam breves post illos
fuerunt” ). The small piece added to the concave side of the crescent
being the sinus,
this well explains the fact
that the earlier forms can be reproduced by a cloak without it of Weiss's
pattern. Quintilian, in the passage quoted, is giving his orator rules for
the nice management of the toga, and his remarks are of great importance, as
an account of the manner of wearing it. He recommends the orator to gird his
shirt so that in front it may come a little below the knees, but behind may
touch his calves. If he has the right of the latus
the shirt may be somewhat lower ( “cui lati
clavi jus non erit, ita cingatur ut tunicae prioribus oris infra, genua
paullum posterioribus ad medios poplites usque perveniant” ). The
toga which goes over this ought to be round and suitably cut, for otherwise
it will in many ways be out of proportion. The part of it in front is best
when it reaches to the middle of the shins, while the part behind should be
higher in the same degree as the girdle is. The sinus
looks best when it is a considerable height above the hem
of the toga, and ought never to be below it. The part of the toga which is
drawn under the right shoulder slanting to the left, like a cross-belt,
should neither choke one nor be loose. The part of the toga which is put on
after it should be lower, for it sits better thus and is kept in place. (
“Ipsam togam rotundam esse et apte caesam velim. Aliter enim
multis modis fiet enormis. Pars eius prior mediis cruribus optime
terminatur, posterior eadem portione qua cinctura. Sinus decentissimus,
si aliquanto supra imam togam fuerit nunquam certe sit inferior. Ille
qui sub humero dextro ad sinistrum oblique ducitur velut balteus nec
strangulet, nec fluat. Pars togae quae postea imponitur sit inferior nam
ita et sedet melius et continetur.” ) He adds that the shoulder
and neck ought not to be covered, for this makes the toga look less flowing
and takes from its impressiveness. As to the attitude, the left forearm
should be at a right angle, and should be in such a position that the edges
on the left fall in equal folds side by side.
Nearly all these peculiarities are borne out by the statues, though of course
the sculptor has probably in most cases softened down what was angular in
the attitude. It needs no Roman writer to tell that a mantle worn in such a
complicated way must have been a serious anxiety to one with fashionable
instincts. Tertullian, however, alludes in a most amusing way to the trouble
the valet who had to arrange the great man's clothes (vestiplicus,
Orelli, 2838) took to shape the folds aright the
day before and to fix them in their place by tongs, and to the difficulties
of wearing it (de Pallio,
5: “Prius etiam
ad simplicem captatelam eius nullo taedio constat: adeo nec artifice
opus est qui pridie rugas ab exordio formet et inde deducat in tilias
totumque contracti umbonis figmentum custodibus forcipibus assignet,
dehinc diluculo tunica prius cingulo correpta--recognito rursus umbone
et si quid exorbitavit reformato partem quidem de laevo promittat,
ambitum vero eius ex quo sinus nascitur, iam deficientibus tabulis
retrahat a scapulis et exclusa dextera in laevam adhuc congerat cum alio
pari tabulato in terga devoto atque ita hominem sarcina vestiat”
). The main point in all such arrangements was to make the bandlike fold,
which ran across the breast, secure. It is called the umbo
in the above passage (cf. Persius, 5.33); but, in the
humorous description which Macrobius gives of Hortensius's toilet, is spoken
of as the artifex nodus.
Hortensius used a
mirror and adjusted his toga so that this band held the folds and creases in
their place, and so that they covered just the proper amount of his side and
thigh. Such an arrangement was at the best not very reliable, and so we are
told that Hortensius sent a summons to a friend, who had jostled him in a
passage and disarranged his dress. In fact, he thought the shifting of a
crease on his shoulder a deadly offence (Sat.
Another mark of the Roman dandy was the enormous size of his toga (laxitas
), and many [p. 2.848]
sneers at the people, to use Cicero's phrase, “velis amictos non
togis” (in Cat.
2.10, 20). The size was sometimes such
that the garment trailed behind like a tragic actor's; at least this is what
Valerius Maximus tells us of Tuditanus (7.8, 4; cf. Mart. 7.35
), and we also hear of Caligula catching his foot in
the end of his toga that was between his legs and getting a fall (Suet. Cal. 35
, “ita proripuit se
spectaculis ut calcata lacinia togae praeceps per gradus iret” ).
Such togae laxae
were associated with curled
hair, and roundly abused as bad taste (Tib. 1.6, 39: “tum procul
absitis quisquis colit arte capillos, et fluit effuso cui toga laxa
sinu;” cf. Seneca, Contr.
2, 14), and Ovid advises
the lover to avoid them if he is to make a good impression (Rem.
679: “nec compone comas quia sis venturus ad illam, nec
toga sit laxo conspicienda sinu” ); though, if we may trust
Tibullus, this was a common lover's fashion (2.3, 77: “nunc si clausa
mea est si copia rara videndi heu miserum, laxam quid juvat esse
togam” ). The locus classicus
4, 7, where he speaks of a freed man who wears a
toga some three yards wide and thereby excites universal indignation (
“Videsne sacram metiente te viam cum bis trium ulnarum toga, ut
ora vertat huc et huc euntium liberrima indignatio” ). The older
commentators, and even Isidorus, inferred that the length, not the breadth
of the toga was meant. Such a length, it is needless to say, would be quite
too small; and when one reckons in the sinus,
which in such cases came down to the skirts of the toga, the dimensions are
as possible as a satirist's can be expected to be.
Contrasted with these “sails” of the gilded youth was the modest
mantle (toga arta:
cf. Hor. Ep. 1.18
), which quiet
people, like Augustus, wore
Fig. 6. Statue of Etruscan orator. (Florence.)
(Suet. Aug. 73
: “togis neque restrictis neque fusis [usus est]
”). In some cases,
as for instance that of Cato Uticensis (toga exigua,
Hor. Ep. 1.19
), this was doubtless an attempt to bring back the old shape,
which as Quintilian says had no sinus.
the form which we see on the Etruscan statue called the
now at Florence; for the Romans held that they
had borrowed the toga from the Etruscan. Another statute in Dresden, though
the mantle in which it is clad is scarcely round enough for the toga, is
generally quoted in illustration of Quintilian's further remark, that the
ancient orators must on account of the shape have held their arm, in the
same manner as the Greeks, wrapped in the toga. Somewhat the same attitude,
a compulsory one during the pupil's tirocinium
(Cic. pro Cael. 5
, 11) and
which was the rule in Greece [PALLIUM
], is shown by another Dresden statue, where the hand seems to
have been freed in the course of the speech.
Fig. 7. Statue at Dresden. (Becker.)
Fig. 8. Statue at Dresden.
Another mode of wearing the toga was the well-known cinctus Gabinus.
The name is derived, according to Mommsen,
from the long wars of the Romans against Gabii, and was at first purely
military, for in the oldest times the toga was worn in war as well as in
peace. Its peculiarity was that a fold of the toga was drawn round the body
in such a way that it acted as a girdle. (Serv. ad Aen. 7.612
: “Gabinus cinctus est toga sic in
tergum reiecta ut una (ima?) eius lacinia a tergo revocata hominem
cingat:” cf. Isid. Or.
19.24, 7, “Cinctus
Gabinus est cum ita imponitur toga ut togae lacinia quae postsecus
reicitur attrahatur ad pectus.” ) At the same time part of the
toga was drawn up over the head (cf. Serv. ad
), though this of course cannot have been done in war.
The cinctus Gabinus
was retained long after it
had passed out of ordinary use in the ritual of certain warlike sacrifices
(cf. Liv. 5.46
when the Temple of Janus was opened (Verg. A.
). It was also used at the AMBARVALIA
and the founding of a city (cf. Verg. A. 5.755
, and Serv. ad loc.
); and it was with their heads thus covered that the Decii
devoted themselves as victims for their country (Liv.
, and 7, 3).
Festus tells us that the cinctus Gabinus
referred to in the phrase classis procincta
p. 225; cf. p. 56, 12), with which in procinctu,
the garb in which the testamentum
was sworn, is connected. However, for
ordinary purposes the toga was scarcely used by soldiers, since even where
distributions of them to the soldiers are mentioned the number is a very
limited one (cf. Liv. 29.36
, where 1200 togae go to 12,000 tunicae; and Id. 44.16,4, where
6,000 go to 30,000). So much so was this the case [p. 2.849]
that the toga became the typical garb of peace as in Cicero's time
30, 73: “Cedant arma togae concedat laurea
laudi” ). Among other survivals of the old uses of the toga was
the custom of wearing it without a tunica beneath (Gel.
, “viri autem Romani primo
quidem sine tunicis toga sola amicti fuerunt” ), which was
observed by candidates for election until almost the end of the Republic
(Plut. Quaest. Rom.
49, p. 276 C,
διὰ τί τοὺς παραγγέλλοντας ἄρχειν ἔθος ἦν
ἐν ἱματίῳ τοῦτο ποιεῖν ἀχίτωνας
: cf. Id.
14). Cato Uticensis, like the famous family of
Hor. A. P.
; Sil. Ital. 8.587
this as one of his habits, though the ordinary Roman, as we have mentioned
above, considered it as scarcely decent.
Yet another custom was the survival of the toga as a woman's garment (cf.
Serv. ad Aen. 1.282
), in the case
of the meretrices
and unchaste women who were
condemned to wear it (Juv. 2.68
; Mart. 2.39
Cic. Phil. 2.1. 8
; Hor. Sat.
1.2, 63). The toga of the Roman citizen was white in colour (cf. Mart. 8.28
if he were candidate for an office, he sent it to the fuller and then
appeared in the toga candida
, th/benna lampra/
). The dazzling brilliancy of the
was given by some special
preparation of chalk, according to Isidorus (Orig.
and this is why Persius speaks of a cretata
This custom was forbidden by a plebiscitum
in 432 B.C. (Liv. 4.25
), but this never seems to have been
enforced. The citizen's toga, or toga pura,
being the mark of his franchise, was assumed by the young Roman when he was
declared to be legally of age. It was on this account known as the toga virilis,
as opposed to the toga praetexta
of boys. The assumption of the toga virilis
took place on the feast of the
Liberalia (March 17: cf. Ovid, Fasti,
Cic. Att. 6.1
), when the boy was between 14 and 16 years of age, though
instances occur in which boys a couple of years older or younger assumed it
(cf. Marquardt, Privatleben,
p. 126 foll.).
worn by free-born boys (Liv. 24.7
“Liberi nostri praetextis purpura togis utuntur” ) was an
ordinary toga with a purple hem added. Its use was not confined to boys; for
it was worn by all the curule magistrates (aediles, cf. Cic. post red. in Sen. 5
and censors, cf. Zonar. 7.19
). It was denied to
the quaestors, plebeians, aediles, and tribunes of the Plebs (Plut. Quaest. Rom.
81, p. 283 B), though it was one of the
privileges of magistrates in the Municipia
To wear it was a distinction; and
ex-curule magistrates, as well as dictators, were buried in it (Liv. 34.7
). They seem
to have been also allowed to wear it during their lifetime, but only at
public ceremonies or festivals (cf. Cic. Phil.
, “cur non sumus
praetextati” ). Priests possessed the right of the praetexta,
though not in all colleges. The Flamen
Dialis (Liv. 27.8
the Pontifices, and Tresviri Epulones (Id. 33.42), the Augurs (Cic. pro Sest.
69, 144), and the Arval brothers, are
among those mentioned as wearing it. Under the Empire it was common to
bestow a praetexta
as a badge of rank (ornamentum
). Thus Sejanus was given it by the senate
as part of the insignia of praetor (D. C.
: cf. for the whole subject Mommsen, Staatsrecht,
i.2 392; 2.522). Another kind of toga was the
a mantle of dark colour which
was assumed by those in mourning (sordidati
who were said mutare vestem.
It was of dark
colour, whence its name; and was put on not only in cases of bereavement,
but in cases of private danger, as for instance when one was impeached (cf.
, of M.
Manlius), and of public anxiety. In fact, it was one of the ways of making a
popular demonstration, and Cicero was prouder of nothing more than of the
fact that the senate resolved on a vestis
when he went into exile (post red. in Sen.
5, 12). In the case of magistrates who had the right to wear the praetexta,
a common toga
not a toga pulla,
Under the Republic the most magnificent garment was the toga picta
of Jupiter Capitolinus (cf. Tertull. de Corona,
13), which the triumphant general wore
over the tunica palmata
: “quae augustissima
vestis est tensas ducentibus triumphantibusque” ). The Praetor
Urbanus, however, was also allowed to appear in it, when he rode in the
chariot of the Gods into the circus at the Ludi Apollinares (cf. Liv. l.c.
). The toga picta
was a toga purpurea, or mantle of purple, covered with gold embroidery, and
was very possibly originally the king's attire, though tradition ran that
the king only wore the praetexta. Under the Empire, the republican customs
were much altered, and all magistrates who gave games wore the toga
purpurea; though indeed from a decree of Augustus, that no one except
magistrates and senators should wear it, one may infer that its use was by
no means so restricted as might otherwise be supposed (D. C. 49.16
). Even under the Republic the Praetor Urbanus
Asellio offered a sacrifice in the triumphal costume, and one of the honours
conferred on Julius Caesar was the right of always wearing it at sacrifice
(Appian, App. BC 1.54
). Afterwards the further right of
wearing it always and wherever he wished was given him (D. C. 44.4
;--Cic. de Divin.
1.52, 119; 2.16, 27); and this privilege
was retained by Augustus and his successors, though as a rule they only used
it on special occasions.
In the second century A.D. the toga picta
the tunica palmata
had already become the
official dress of the consuls, and the best representations of it are to be
found in their portraits on the diptycha of ivory which they presented to
their friends on election. In these, however, the toga has taken quite a new
and almost irrecognisable form (cf. Baumeister, Denkm.
1833, fig. 1923; and Marquardt, Privatleben,
ed. 2, p. 563,
Among the varieties of the toga the trabea
be mentioned. It probably gets its name from having stripes (trabes
) of bright scarlet with a purple hem (cf.
19.24, 8: “Trabea erat togae species ex
purpura et cocco” ). It was a very ancient form of the toga, and
was worn by the Salii (Dionys. A. R.
) and augurs. According to Servius, there were three different
kinds of trabea:
one of purple only, for the
gods; another of purple and a little white, for kings; and a third, that
described above for augurs (ad Aen.
7.188). It does not seem to have been
worn by any Romans except the Salii and augurs, [p. 2.850]
though Dionysius says that the knights did so, and cannot be identified on
any of the monuments.
(See especially an excellent article by A. Müller in Baumeister,
Denkm. s. v. Toga;
p. 435 ff.;
Von Heyden, Die Tracht,
&c. p. 27 ff.; Iwan
pp. 804, 876, 928; Mayor ad
and 39, 11.204; Friedländer,
i.5 p. 151,
&c.; Becker-Göll, Gallus,
p. 198 ff.)