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GAU´SAPE, GAU´SAPA, or GAU´SAPUM, a kind of thick cloth, baize, or frieze, with the nap much longer on one side than the other. In the time of Lucilius (ap. Priscian. ix. p. 870 P.) and in that of Horace (Sat. 2.8, 11), a purple gausape was used for wiping dinnertables between the courses, while Martial (14.138) speaks of it as a table-cover to protect the costly tables of his time:: hence it has been inferred that the use of table-cloths was unknown at the earlier period, but had come in with the growth of luxury at the latter (Becker Göll, Gallus, 3.388). It was used for beds as a counterpane (Mart. 14.147), and as a mantle or wrapper after taking a bath (Petron. 28), or in general as a protection against rain and cold (Senec. Ep. 53.3; Mart. 6.59). The paenula (q. v.) might be either of fur (Mart. 14.130) or of gausape (ib. 145); the latter, he says, was so bright and comfortable that (like our flannel) it was equally suitable for summer and winter wear. When Pliny tells us (H. N. 8.193) that gausapa only came into use in his father's time, he probably refers to garments made of it; yet Ovid already speaks of it as worn by both sexes, though naturally it was an eccentric material for a well-dressed lady (A. Am. 2.300). We need not suppose that the villosa lintea (gausapa villosa in the lemma) of Martial, 14.138, were of linen; the word linteum can mean any stuff, e. g. cotton cloth (Plin: H. N. 12.39). As Martial (14.152) calls it gausapa quadrata, we have reason to suppose that, like the Scotch plaid, it was always, for whatever purpose it might be used, a square or oblong piece of cloth. (See Böttiger, Sabina, ii. p. 102.)

Persius calls a perfumed beard balanatum gausape (4.37), and red or yellow wigs, such as were made of the hair of Germans and fashionable under the empire, lutea gausapa (6.46); see, however, Conington's note on the latter passage.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 12.39
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.130
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.138
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.147
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.152
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 6.59
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