previous next


MONI´LE (ὅρμος), a necklace. In Homer the words ὅρμος and ἴσθμιον are both employed for ornaments worn round the neck. It seems probable that the meanings of the two words are to be distinguished in the following manner:--The ἴσθμιον was an ornament fitting close round the neck in the manner of a tore, and without any pendants: the ὅρμος, on the other hand, was sometimes of great length (ἐννεάπηχυς, Hymn. in Apoll. 105), and hung loosely down, so as to be seen on the breast (Hymn. in Venerem, 90). This distinction is stated by the Scholiast on Hom. Od. 18.300, ἴσθμιον οὖν περιτραχήλιον κόσμον περιπεπλεγμένον, οὐ μέντοι κοσμήματά τινα, καὶ ἄλλως . . . . διαφέρείτοῦ ὅρμου. τὸ μὲν γὰρ προσέχεται τῷ τραχήλῳ, δὲ ὅρμος κεχάλασται.

The Homeric ὅρμος is described as made of gold and amber (Od. 15.460; 18.295); of golden threads (Hymn. in Apoll. 104), and (apparently) of gold inlaid work (καλοὶ χρύσειοι παμπθίκιλοι, Hymn. in Ven. 88). Specimens of work in gold and amber are quoted by Helbig (Das homerische Epos aus den Denkmälern erläutert, p. 183), who should be consulted on the [p. 2.179]whole question of the Homeric ornament. The British Museum possesses necklaces from Praeneste of gold and amber, or silver and amber.

The necklace was worn by both sexes, among the most polished of those nations which the Greeks called barbarous, especially the Indians, the Egyptians, the Persians, and the Etruscans. [ARMILLA] Among the Greeks and Romans, it was worn by women, boys, and effeminate persons (Anacreon, apud Athen. 12.534; Quint. Inst. 2.1; Ovid. Met. 5.52; Heroid. 9, 57). It is particularly mentioned among the bridal ornaments of Roman females (Lucan 2.361; Claud. de VI. Cons. Honor. 527).

The simplest kind of necklace was the monile baccatum, or bead necklace (Verg. A. 1.654; Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 41), which consisted of berries, small spheres of glass, gold, amber, crystal, &c., strung together. This is very commonly shown in ancient frescoes and vase-paintings. (See cut under ARMILLA) The head of Athene under GALEA exhibits a frequent modification of the bead necklace, a row of drops hanging below the beads. These drops, when worn, arrange themselves upon the neck like rays proceeding from a centre (monilia radiata).

The first figure in the cut on the next column exhibits the central portion of an exquisitely wrought necklace which was found at S. Agata dei Goti (Saticola) near Naples, in the sepulchre of a Greek lady. The necklace has seventy-one pendants. Above them is a band consisting of several rows of the close chain-work which we now call Venetian. [CATENA] The clasps, on each of which is a frog in relief, were set with rubies (see Mus. Borbonico, ii. pl. xiv.; Overbeck, Pompej, p. 623).

We also give here the central portions, exhibiting the patterns, of three gold necklaces purchased from the Prince of Canino for the

Ancient Necklaces.

British Museum. These were found in Etruscan tombs. The ornaments consist of disks, lozenges, rosettes, ivy-leaves, lotus buds, and hippocampi.

Among the most masterly productions of the, Greek goldsmith, are certain necklaces from the. Castellani Collection, now in the British Museum. (Consult also Compte-rendu de la Comm. Arch. Imp. 1865, pl. ii., 1869, pl. i.; Antiquités du Bosphore Cimmérien, pl. ix.-xii.; Fontenay, Les Bijoux anciens et modernes, p. 129.)

The necklace appears sometimes to have been.

Necklace from Melos. (British Museum.)

made in the form of a serpent coiled round the neck of the wearer, a form not uncommon bracelets. This at least was the case with the necklace which was given by Venus or by Cadmus to Harmonia as a nuptial present, and which is described by Nonnus (Dionysiaca, 5.135-189) at a length of fifty lines. The same necklace afterwards appears as the bribe with which Polyneices induced Eriphyle to betray for her husband. (Apollod. 3.4, 2; 6, 2-6;--Diod. Diod. 4.65; 5.49;--Serv. in Aen. 6.445.)

The beauty and splendour as well as the value, of necklaces were enhanced by the addition of pearls and precious stones. These were either set in the gold necklace ( “monilia, in quibus [p. 2.180]gemmae et margaritae insunt,” Dig. 34, 2, 32.7; cf. ibidem, § 1) or suspended freely from it (cf. Pollux, 5.98). For this purpose emeralds ( “smaragdi,” C. I. L. 2.3386) or other stones of a greenish hue ( “virides gemmae,” Juv. 6.363) were often employed. The necklace of Harmonia, quoted above, was elaborately set with precious stones. As stated above, the necklace from Saticola was set with rubies. The hooks or clasps for fastening the necklace behind the neck (clusurae) were also various, and sometimes neatly and ingeniously contrived. Some account of the different kinds of links employed is given in the article CATENA

Besides a band encircling the neck, there was sometimes a second or even a third row of ornaments, which hung lower down, passing over the breast. Such objects on the vase-paintings are usually worn by hetaerae. (Hom. Hymn. in Ven. ii.; “longa monilia,” Ovid. Met. 10.264; Böttiger, Sabina, ii. p. 129.)

Valuable necklaces were sometimes placed as dedicated offerings upon the statues of Minerva, Venus, and other goddesses. (Sueton. Galba, 18.) Necklaces and other ornaments were also occasionally placed on the statues of deceased women. For inventories of such dedications, see C. I. L. 2.2060, 3386, and Henzen, 6141, discussed by Hübner, in Hermes, i. (1866), p. 345.

Horses and other favourite animals, such as deer, were also adorned with splendid necklaces ( “aurea pectoribus demissa monilia,” Verg. A. 7.278; “gemmata monilia,” Ovid. Met, 10.113; Claudian. Epig. 36.9; A. Gel. 5.5). [TORQUES]

[J.Y] [A.H.S]

hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.6
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.2
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.4
    • Homer, Odyssey, 15.460
    • Homer, Odyssey, 18.295
    • Homer, Odyssey, 18.300
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 1.654
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 7.278
    • Lucan, Civil War, 2.361
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 2, 1
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 5.5
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 4.65
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.49
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: