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PALUDAMENTUM The root of this word and its cognate adjective is undoubtedly that contained in pallium and palla, though it is not possible to trace any real connexion. Varro tells us that Ennius speaks of Minerva as “virago paluda,” but does not explain its special meaning (L. L. 7.37). He also remarks that paludamentum was used originally of any kind of military decoration, and this statement is borne out by a passage of Veranius given by Festus (s. v.). In the extant literature it is only employed to denote the SAGUM or military cloak, and in writers of the best age is applied only to the sagum purpureum worn by the Imperator, as distinguished from the sagum gregale of the common soldier. The cases in which it is used in the former and more general sense are rare. Lucilius, for instance, if we may trust Nonius, spoke of it as the garb of the rorarii, and Sabidius (in the scholium in the Veronese MS. on Verg. A. 10.241) gives it to the pedites no less than the equites. Livy is the author who uses it most frequently in this way, doubtless from his love of archaeological detail. Thus we find that as the survivor of the Horatii [p. 2.323]returns from the triple duel his sister recognises the paludamentum she had wrought for his slain foe (1.26, 2); so, too, when Gracchus prepares to die, it is “paludamento circum laevum bracchium intorto.” Two other passages in which Livy speaks of a consul being accompanied by “paludatis lictoribus” (41.10, 7; 45.39, 11) gave the commentators much trouble, but are easily explained by comparing Cic. in Pis. 23, 55, with Sil. Ital. 9.420, the former telling us that the lictors wore the sagum, the latter giving it the epithet rubens. [LICTOR]

With such rare exceptions the paludamentum is the cloak which was put on by the Roman general when leaving the city invested with the imperium, and was doffed when he re-entered and became once more an ordinary citizen. (Varro, loc. cit; Caes. B.C. 1.6; Liv. 41.10;--Cic. in Pis. 13; ad Att. 4.13; ad Fam. 15.17.) Hence we find that the insignia of a consul which the senate sent as a present to Masinissa included “sagula purpurea duo” (Liv. 30.17, 13), and that paludatus is regularly used to denote a general in command of an army on active service (Cic. Ver. 2.7, 13; Juv. 6.399). Such phrases as “togam paludamento mutare,” meaning to get peace for war (Sallust), are not uncommon (cf. Pliny, Paneg. 56, 4).

Figures wearing Paludamentum. (Trajan's Column.)

Purple, though the favourite (Hirt. de B. Afr. 57; Plin. Nat. 22. § § 2, 3, and more especially the customs dues, C. I. L. 8.408) colour, was not the only one, as is shown by the story told by Valerius Maximus (1.6, 11), of how Crassus on the fatal morn of Charrae went out in a dark-coloured and not in a purple or white paludamentum. It was worn regularly by the emperors (Suet. Cl. 31), and was, by some who were careful to observe old constitutional forms, laid aside on entering the city (Tac. Hist. 2.89; Suet. Vitell. 11). Pliny (Plin. Nat. 33.63) says that at the great sea-fight exhibited by Claudius, Agrippina wore a paludamentum of cloth of gold ( “indutam paludamento aureo textili sine alia materia” ), and Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 12.56) describes the same garment as “chlamys aurata;” while Dio Cassius has the expression χλαμύδι διαχρύσῳ ἐκοσμεῖτο (60.33). It is not impossible that Pliny may have made a slip in giving Agrippina's cloak the specific name, but there certainly were paludamenta embroidered or woven with gold thread in the later days of the Empire (Aurel. Vict., Epit. 3). It was probably this form which was adopted as a vestment at Milan, where the Bishop wore a paludamentum baptismale (Muratori, Antiq. It. med. aev. 4.897). The monuments which represent it are generally portraits of the emperors; and these show that, while there was no distinction in shape, the paludamentum was larger and of thicker and better material than the ordinary sagum. It is frequently fringed, and is worn as a rule with the clasp at the right shoulder, though cases occur where it is at the left. In the famous statue of Augustus in the Vatican, it is unclasped, thrown round the loins, and hangs over

Roman Emperor in Paludamentum. (Maffei.)

the left arm. This is of course owing to the difficulty of treating such a one-sided garment in the round,--a difficulty which the Hellenistic sculptors got over in the case of the chlamys by letting it hang from the left shoulder. In the case of busts a compromise is made by hitching the paludamentum over the left shoulder and leaving both arms free.

The origin of this cloak has been the subject of some guesswork, many following Florus (1.5, 6), and deriving it, like the other insignia of authority, from Etruria; while others prefer to connect it with the chlamys, which is worn in the same way. There is, however, surely no need to suppose that the Romans required to be taught the use of a garment which is so obvious, and so universally found all over the world; neither is it very unscientific to assume that, however alike in shape, there must always be a distinction between the dress of the general and those under him. (Marquardt, Privatleben, p. 567.)

[W.R] [W.C.F.A]

hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • M. Tullius Cicero, Against Piso, Pis..13
    • Cicero, Against Piso, 23
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 10.241
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 31
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.56
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.89
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 22
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.63
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 30, 17
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 41, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 30, 13
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