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CAL´CEUS (ὑπόδημα), a boot, shoe, or other covering for the feet.

1. Greek.

The Greeks generally wore some sort of covering for the feet, though it was not quite unusual for even distinguished people to go barefooted. Thus it was a rare occurrence when Socrates wore boots (Plat. Symp. 174 A), and we hear also how men of means who lived a simple life, like the orator Lycurgus (Vit. X. Or. p. 842) and Phocion (Plut. Phoc. 4), went bare-footed, as did also those who affected the austerity of certain philosophic schools (Aristoph. Cl. 103; Theocr. 14.6; Lucian, Icarom. 31). The lower orders, too, in a great measure wore no boots (cf. Lucian. Catapl. 20). It was part of the training of the Spartan youth to be always barefooted (Xen. Rep. Lac. 2, 3), and Agesilaus did not relinquish the practice even when old (Ael. VH 7.13). Still, as a general rule, the Greeks wore shoes, and very particular they were about the fit. It was a mark of boorishness and so of ridicule to have too large boots (Theophr. Char. iv.; cf. ἔνεον ἐν ταῖς ἐμβάσιν, Aristoph. Kn. 321). Men's boots, especially those of rustics, had nails in them (Theophr. l.c.). The usual colour of Greek boots was either the natural colour of the leather or black, though sometimes we find red and white boots (see below). The black was produced by a substance called μελαντηρία (Lucian. Cutapl. 15), which was the same as the atramentum sutorium (Cic. Fam. 9.2. 1, 3) of the Romans. They rubbed on this blacking (περικωνεῖν) with a sponge, not as we do with a brush (Aristoph. Wasps 600). There is an interesting passage in the Cyropaedia (8.2, 5) which shows the division of labour in the making of shoes. One man makes them for men, another for women; and in making a single pair one cuts the layers for the soles, another fastens these together, another cuts out the uppers, and a fourth puts the pieces together.

As to the names of boots and shoes they are most numerous (Poll. 7.84 sqq.); but except in a few cases we cannot fix with anything like definiteness what were the shapes corresponding to the names. That there were three main kinds of coverings for the feet--viz. what we call sandals (πέδιλα, ὑποδήματα in the special sense), shoes which partially covered the feet, and boots which wholly covered them--is quite certain. (The last two kinds were called ὑποδήματα κοῖλα.) All we can do here is to give illustrations of the kinds of boots found represented on Greek vases and statues; and state, as far as our authorities will allow us, the peculiarities of the different kinds of shoes not already treated of in the special articles BAUCIDES, CARBATINA, COTHURNUS, CREPIDA, EMBAS, ENDROMIS, SANDALIUM.

The illustrations are taken from Guhl and Koner (Das Leben der Griechen und Römern, fig. 223). Nos. 1 (statue of Elpis in Vatican), 2, and 3 (foot of Belvedere Apollo) show the different sorts of sandals and methods of fastening them from the simplest to the most complex kind Nos. 4, 5, and 7 (statue of Demosthenes) exhibit various kinds of shoes partially covering

Greek Shoes and Boots. (From Guhl and Koner.)

the foot, while No. 6 is a completely closed boot, and No. 8 is a specimen of the ENDROMIS or top-boot for hunters.

Other names of coverings for the feet not treated of in separate articles are the following:--

Besides these, there is a multitude of other names of shoes which Pollux has collected (7.84-94); but as they are seldom more than mere names, they need not be touched on here. For Greek shoes generally see Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterthümer, pp. 180-183, 195-196; Guhl and Koner, Das Leben der Griechen und Römern, § 46, ed. 4; Becker-Göll, Charikles, 3.267-286; Baumeister, Denkmäler, art. Fussbekleidung, pp. 574-5.

2. Roman.

Calceus (καλίκιος, Polyb.; κάλτιος, Ed. Diocl.), connected etymologically with λάξ, calx (Curt., Gr. Et., No. 534), is distinguished as a regular closed boot with a sole and upper from SOLEA, a mere sandal (Gel. 13.22, 5), and from CALIGA which appears to be a boot of which the upper consisted of a series of thongs letting the foot appear; and, as being made of tanned hide (aluta), it differed from PERO which was of untanned hide (Verg. A. 7.690). In strictness, it is the special Roman city boot. It and the toga formed the two peculiarly national features of Roman costume (Plb. 30.19, 2, Hultsch; Cic. Phil. 2.30, 76; Tert. de Pallio, 5). But in a more extended sense its cognates calceatus, calceamentum, calceamen, are applied to all boots (i.e. consisting of a sole and upper), even to foreign ones: thus calceare is used of the cothurnus (Suet. Aug. 78) and the soccus (Plin. H. N., 36.41): but these terms are not applied to open shoes consisting of a single sole, like the soleae and crepidae (Gell. l.c.; Isid. Orig. 19.34, 11). It is in the strict sense of the word that calceus is treated of here.

Etiquette prescribed that when a Roman went out in the city he should wear the toga and the calcei; but they were uncomfortable ( “calcei. . . proprium togae tormentum . . . Quem enim non expediat in algore et ardore rigere nudipedem quam in calceo vincipedem,” says Tertullian l.c.), and gladly dispensed with when the Roman was rusticating (Mart. 1.49, 31). They were not worn in the house, and that Augustus did so is noticed as a peculiarity (Suet. Aug. 73, 78). Ladies, too, wore them (Varr. L. L. 9.40; Ael. Var. Hist. 7.11), but not slaves, who had, at least in the country, wooden shoes (sculponeae, Cato, Cat. Agr. 59). Women's calcei were naturally thinner than men's, and of very various colours (hederacei, cerei, Vopisc. Aurelian, 49), but generally white (Ov. A. A. 3.271; Apul. Met. 7.8 init.; Clem. Alex. Paedag. 2.11, p. 240, ed. Potter). Clement advises women, when walking on the roads, to use rustic thick-soled boots (καττύματα) with nails. (For such boots, see Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. p. 182, n. 7.) High soles were sometimes worn, to give the wearer an appearance of being taller than he really was (Suet. Aug. 73).

Certain differences of rank were marked by different kinds of boots; indeed Zonaras (7.9) says that the plebeians during the Republic in no wise differed from the patricians (εὐπατρίδαι) except in their boots. And in the Edict of Diocletian we find the maximum prices of three different kinds of calcei fixed: viz. calcei [p. 1.334]patricii at 150 denarii, about three shillings and nine pence (this value depends on the very difficult question of the value of the Diocletian denarius. The view adopted is that of Hultsch, Metrologie, p. 333, note 3, who fixes it at 2 1/2 Pfennige; but Waddington, Édit, p. 2, fixes it at 6 1/3 centimes ); calcei senatorum at 100 denarii (=2s. 6d.); calcei equestres at 70 denarii (=1s. 9d.). Besides these, there were probably the calcei of the ordinary Roman citizen. We must now consider each of these classes separately.

The calceus patricius was a red-coloured boot; hence also called mulleus, from the colour of the fish (mullus, Isid. Orig. 19.34, 10). True, Festus (pp. 142-3, Müller) says it is derived from mullare (=to stitch); but, as Heuzey remarks (in Saglio's Dict. p. 818), the derivation from mullus suits better the adjectival ending in -eus and also the Roman practice of denominating differences in colour from common objects (cf. cereus, hederaceus). In this same passage Festus tells us that in ancient times this kind of boot was worn by the kings of Alba, and afterwards by the patricians ; and he quotes Cato, Orig. vii.: “Qui magistratum curulem cepisset calceos mulleos †alutaciniatos [aluta laciniatos (Müller), vinctos (Mommsen), cinctos or consutos (Heuzey)], ceteri perones.” But Festus is not quite accurate. Though called calcei patricii, they were not worn by all patricians nor by all patrician senators. It is only late writers, such as Zonaras (l.c.), Isidore (l.c.), and Scholiast on Juv. 7.192, who say so; but this view has the support of Mommsen (Staatsr. i.2 408). Nor were they worn by patricians only. Their use was really confined to curule magistrates, and that too only on great public occasions, in this respect like our orders, such as the Garter. They were part of the triumphal apparel; and so, on the occasion of the dedication by Marius of the temple erected to Honor and Virtus out of the Cimbrian spoils, he wore the triumphal robe and the patricii calcei (C. I. L. i. p. 291, and Mommsen ad loc.). Yet Marius was no patrician. It was made a reproach to Caesar, that after his triumph he entered the senate with such boots on (D. C. 43.43). In the 2nd century A.D. the lucky Quintilian. who was neither curule magistrate nor patrician, got the right of wearing them (Juv. 7.192); and also Vettius Crispinus, a mere child (Stat. Silv. 5.2, 28), and the son of Herodes Atticus (C. I. G. 6280 B, 23 sqq.), obtained the same privilege. They did so in virtue of the grant of ornamenta of one of the curule magistracies, which was a function of the senate, rather than in virtue of the adlectio, which was a privilege of the emperor (Willems, Le Sénat, &100.1.126, note 3). For the grant of the ornamenta generally, see Mommsen, Staatsr. 1.450 sqq. The fact is, the calcei patricii were formerly the insignia of the kings of Alba, of the Roman kings, and later of the patrician (i. e. curule) magistracies; but when the curule magistracies were opened to the plebeians, the latter got the right of wearing the patrician insignia of these magistracies. (See Willems, l.c. 1.128 sqq.) This is why they are called patricii, not that any particular modification of this kind of boot was, after very early times, confined to the patricians, as is the view of Mommsen in more than one passage (Staatsr. 1.408, note 1; Röm. Forsch. 1.255, note 7; C. I. L. i. p. 291).

In the Flavian era and subsequently, there is no doubt that they are generally mentioned with a certain irony, as a sign of ostentation in upstarts; but that does not prove, as Heuzey thinks, that it was not expected of curule magistrates (and those who had the ornamenta of them) that they should wear this kind of boot on state and official occasions. Aurelian (Vopisc. Aur. 49) is said to have put a stop to their use; but they reappear in the Edict of Diocletian. It may be remarked that in old classical French, and in the provinces still, mules (from mulleus) is used for slippers or goloshes. In modern classical French it and its cognates in Italian and Spanish are used for the Pope's shoe on which there is a cross. See Littré s. v.

The boot was of tanned leather (aluta, Mart. 2.29, 7; Lyd. de Mag. 32), with hooks (malleoli, Isid. Orig. 19.34, 10) on the upper (superiors parte). These hooks Heuzey, and apparently Mommsen (R. F. 1.255, note 6), suppose to be the lunula; if so, they must have been on the ankle. But more probably they were on the instep, and the lunula was a mere ornament. To these hooks were fastened four (Isid. Orig. 19.34, 4) black leather (Juv. 7.192) straps (corrigiae, Cic. de Div. 2.4. 0, § 84; lora patricia, Senec. Tranquill. Animae, 11, 9), which were wrapped crosswise (Zon. 7.9) round the calf of the leg, half-way up to the knee. But we do not find these hooks on any certain Roman calceus, though the arrangement of bands in the accompanying figure of a patrician

Calceus of a Patrician Youth. (From a statue in the Louvre.)

youth from a statue in the Louvre seems to represent a hook (ap. D. and S. p. 817). More generally, two of the corrigiae were inserted at the juncture of the sole and the upper, very broad at the base, but getting narrower, and fastened on or a little above the instep, after being wrapped once round the leg. The other band was higher and wrapped several times round the leg. The knots in which these bands were fastened were in front; and the extremities of the bands hung down sometimes to near the ground. The boots resembled the cothurni, in having a high sole (Isid. l.c.; Acron on Hor. Sat. 1.6, 86), but we cannot suppose that the sole was as high as in the latter. On the outside of the ankle to one of the black bands was affixed an ivory ornament in the shape of a crescent (ἐπισφύριον ἐλεφάντινον μηνοειδές, Philostr. Soph. 2.1, 18), called lunula or luna (Isid. and Juv. ll. cc.), and by Suidas (s. v. χλαμύς) the Roman kappa. [p. 1.335]The popular explanation was that the original wearers were the hundred (C) senators chosen by Romulus; but it was probably of the nature of an amulet, like the bulla of children; for the Romans were superstitious with regard to their shoes (Cic. de Div. 2.4. 0, 84; Suet. Aug. 92. See Heuzey, p. 818; Marquardt, Privatl. 574). There is no certain representation of the calceus patricius containing the lunula; for the example given by Balduinus and reproduced by Rich (s. v. Luna), Heuzey says, is very late, and we do not know whence it is derived. Moreover it has the lunula on the instep and not on the ankle. But there are many which reproduce in essentials the shape and arrangement of the boot and the bands; and two specimens of these are given, which are taken from Baumeister's Denkmäler, p. 575.

Patrician Calcei. (From Baumeister.)

That the calceus senatorius, or boot of the ordinary senators, differed from that of the curule magistrates, may be considered certain, from Apuleius, Flor. 1.8. It seems, however, to have resembled the calceus patricius in every respect, except that it had not the lunula ( “hac lunula nam adsuta calceis discernuntur patricii a noviciis,” Schol. on Juv. 7.192: cf. Marquardt, Privatl. 593 ; Mommsen, Staatsr. 1.408, note 1). It had certainly black bands (Hor. Sat. 1.6, 86); but it does not seem quite clear of what colour the boot itself was. Willems (Le Sénat, 1.124, note 2) and Göll (Gallus, 3.234) think the shoe was black, on the not very strong support of Lyd. de Mag. 1.17 (who is talking of the CAMPAGUS), the Schol. on Juv. 1.111 (though necdum is probably relative to the time of the Scholiast himself), and the à priori argument that if the colour were not black, Horace (l.c.) would have mentioned it. Mommsen (l.c.) says that to assume that the shoe was black rests on a confusion of the shoe and the bands. The distinct statements of Cato and Martial (2.29, 7), he says, make for the colour being red. But in these two passages it is the calceus patricius which is spoken of. On the basis of the Schol. to Juv. 7.192, quoted above, it may appear best to suppose that the calceus senatorius differed from the calceus patricius only in having the luna, and so was red in colour; but really no decisive answer can be given. This boot was worn when the senator appeared in public, especially at sittings of the senate; Milo, for example (Cic. Mil. 10, § 28), on returning from the senate, changes his boots. Lange (Röm. Alt. ii.2 373) thinks this special senatorial boot dates from the 7th century A.J.C. Cato, as we saw above, says that in his time the senators wore perones.

The calceus senatorius was unquestionably different from that of other ranks. Cicero (Cic. Phil. 13.13, 28) speaks of a certain Asinius who “saw the senate-house open after the death of Caesar, got new boots (mutavit calceos), and forthwith became a senator.” And the strict division which subsisted, both under the Republic and Empire, between the senatorial and equestrian rank and career, gives us reason to suppose that the calceus equester was a distinct kind of boot, especially as we find it mentioned in Diocletian's Edict. We have, however, in the Louvre the statue of a certain Canius, who was, it appears, the procurator quattuor publicorum Africae, which was an equestrian office (ap. D. and S., p. 816).

Calceus of a Procurator of Africa. (From a statue in the Louvre.)

If we can regard his boot as the calceus equester, it. will be seen that it was a genuine boot, with no bands, and that it was composed of two pieces. We can say nothing about the colour.

Somewhat different were the boots of the ordinary citizens, which do not seem to have gone so high up over the ankles, and which had a piece of leather extending from the side of the boot by which it was fastened over the instep. This piece of leather was called lingula or ligula (Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.230), and is shown in the first illustration (see p. 332, No. 5). It was called lingula from its likeness to a projecting tongue (Fest. p. 116, Müll.; cf. Pollux, 2.109), not from ligare, “to bind” (Charis. p. 104, Keil). To leave these untied was a mark of haste (ligulas demittere, Juv. 5.20). They were also used as handles (Schol. on Juv. l.c.). As we are specially told by Scribonius Largus (Comp. Med. 208) that these lingulae were blackened, we may perhaps conclude that the rest of the boot was of the colour of ordinary leather. For the atramentum sutorium, see Plin. Nat. 34.32.

An explanation may now be offered of the difficult lines of Martial, 2.29, 7: “Non hesterna sedet lunata lingula planta,
Coccina non laesum pingit aluta pedem.”

(The upstart who was yesterday a simple citizen, wearing the ordinary uncomfortable common kind of boots with a lingula, to-day has got the ornamenta of a curule magistracy, and wears the red calcei patricii, which are adorned with a lunula and which do not pinch his feet.) [p. 1.336]

In later times we read of great extravagance and vulgar ostentation in the matter of boots, silk-work being embroidered on them, and, after the manner of the Easterns, gold (Cassiod. Var. 6.1) and jewels (Plin. Nat. 9.114) being let into them (Lampr. Heliog. 23; Maquardt, Privatl. 575).

For general information on the subject of calceus, see especially Heuzey in Daremberg and Saglio, s.v. Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.230 sqq.; Willems, Le Sénat de la République Romaine, 1.123-132, 653-4; Marquardt, Das Privatleben der Römer, 570 ff.; Blümner in Baumeister's Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums, art. Fussbekleidung; Guhl and Koner, Das Leben der Griechen u. Römer, 649, ed. 5.


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  • Cross-references from this page (44):
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    • Martial, Epigrammata, 2.29
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    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 7.13
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