art of making felt by beating hair or flocks of wool into a compact mass
seems to be at least as old as the art of weaving. It was practised in
antiquity by the peoples of Greece and Italy, and in fact seems to have been
known over the greater part of both Europe and Asia. No details of the
processes of manufacture itself have come down to us, though the products
are frequently mentioned by Greek and Roman writers from the earliest time.
The art (ἡπιλητική,
p. 280 C; ars
3, 3) was a recognised
industry for a “maker of woollen felt” (lanarius coactilarius,
Orelli, 4206 [I. R. N.
Gruter, 648, 3) and is
mentioned in Roman inscriptions.
Felt was put to a large number of different uses, such as to provide not only
a covering for the sheds of military engines (Aen. Tact. 33), but also
garments (cf. Plato, Polit.
l.c.; Pliny, Plin. Nat. 8.191
), as Caesar's soldiers did
when they were in need of arrow-proof jerkins (B.C.
Boots or socks [UDONES] were also made from felt.
By far the most important use of it, however, was to provide a covering for
the head in the shape of hats and caps. Among the Greeks and Romans of the
classical period it was most unfashionable to wear anything, except perhaps
a helmet, when out-of-doors, at any rate in a town. Doubtless this was
partly due to the prevailing custom of taking a siesta or remaining in the
shade during the hottest time of the day, but the reason Lucian puts in the
mouth of Solon seems still more plausible. Anacharsis had complained that,
wishing not to appear a stranger at Athens, he had left his hat at home and
was feeling the heat (de Gymn.
γὰρ πῖλόν μοι ἀφελεῖν ἔδοξεν, ὡς μὴ μόνος ἐν ὑμῖν
ξενίζοιμι τῷ σχήματι
), and Solon explains that it was
their gymnastic training which enabled the Greeks to do without any
The practice, however, of going bare-headed was, as we shall see, far from
universal, and apparently characteristic of the well-to-do and leisured
rather than of the labouring classes, who for the most part wore caps. Even
the upper classes, when hunting or travelling, or otherwise exposed to rough
weather, resorted to them, as did sickly or delicate folk. The general name
for all such hats was τῖλος
both words being applied not only to caps
of felt and skin respectively, but even to
helmets of metal.
In Homer πῖλος
is used of the felt which
lined the helmet (κυνέη
) of hide which
Odysseus wore. Elsewhere the κυνέη
bronze, or, if nothing else, strengthened and protected with it (cf. Liddell
and Scott, s. v.); but in the Odyssey we find Laertes wearing a κυνέη
of goatskin while working on the farm
). This was probably not far
different from the τῖλος ἀσκητὸς
Hesiod recommends for rainy weather (Op.
546), and indeed
peasants of every period wore caps of this kind often of skin, but also of
felt. (Cf. Athen. 6.274
Romans wore προβατέων δερμάτων πίλους
They were like a fez, of a conical or sugarloaf shape, with a crown like the
end of an egg, and were loose enough to be dragged over one's ears to keep
off the cold or rain (Hesiod, l.c.
). A sower in the
painting of a cylix of Nicosthenes in the Berlin Museum (Catalogue, No.
1806; cf. Gerhard, Trinkschalen u. Gefäse,
Blümner, Leben u. Sitten,
iii. fig. 48) is
represented in a hat of this description. The celebrated cylix by Sosias in
the same collection (Catalogue, No. 2278; Mon. d. I.
25; Blümner, ib. iii. fig. 22) shows the wounded Patroclus, who has
taken off his helmet, wearing a skull-cap of felt, which unmistakably acts
as a lining, reminding one irresistibly of the πῖλος
in the κυνέη
This sugar-loaf or fez-like shape of felt cap seems to have been known as the
), though modern archaeologists are in the habit of
giving it the name πῖλος,
which, when we
consider the very general way in which this word is used, can scarcely be
said to have classical warrant.
The cap itself was worn universally by artisans and sailors, along with the
and accordingly appears with
it in art as their characteristic costume; and, in the case of
Odysseus offering wine to the Cyclops.
mythological persons, is worn by Hephaestus and Daedalus as
craftsmen and by Charon and Odysseus as seafarers (cf. preceding cut from a
statuette in Winckelmann's Mon. Ined.
2.154). In the case of
Odysseus, we are told by Pliny that Nicomachus was the first to give him the
“Ulixi primus addidit pilleum” ); but Schöne
6.125) that this was to
represent him feigning to be mad, and not necessarily as a sailor. However
this may be, it is difficult, with the evidence of vase-paintings of the
perfect Attic style before us, to believe that there can have been any
novelty in giving him a cap at such a late date.
Sailors with πιλίδιον. (From a
or fez-shaped πῖλος
was frequently worn with a band, which
made it fit tighter on the head. Below the band there is naturally a piece
of the edge left free, and by a perfectly natural process this becomes a
brim. As a result we see on the monuments hats with brims of every
conceivable width, from those that are little more than a fez, with a band
tied round, to the broadest of wide-awakes.
Those with the incipient brim are frequently seen on the monuments as worn by
warriors, but it is in most cases difficult to say if it was really of felt
and not of bronze. Both were worn, for we hear of πῖλοι Λακωνικοὶ ἢ Ἀρκαδικοί,
which were doubtless of
felt, as were the πῖλοι,
the Spartans at Pylos so badly from the Athenian arrows (Thuc. 4.34
: cf. Iwan
iv. p. 254); while,. on the other
hand, a πῖλος χαλκοῦς
is mentioned in
Aristophanes (Aristoph. Lys. 562
good instance of a πῖλος
worn by a warrior
which might possibly be felt is the relief from a tomb in Bullet. de
pt. 7 (cf. Blümner, ib. i. fig. 6), while
are worn by the
soldiers on the frieze from Xanthus in the British Museum (Nos. 32 and 37).
The wide-awake was known by the distinctive name of πέτασος,
and the fashion of wearing it came from Thessaly
along with the χλαμύς,
which it accompanies
almost as invariably as the ἐξωμὶς
the two forming the
characteristic costume of the Athenian youth when serving in the cavalry.
Many of the ἔφηβοι
in the Panathenaic
procession on the Parthenon frieze wear this dress, which is also one of the
commonest in Greek vase-paintings of the perfect style, a figure from one of
which is given in the accompanying cut.
From the earliest time the πέτασος
constant attribute of Hermes in art, though frequently its brim is so narrow
that it scarcely deserves its name. In Greek art of the later part of the
fifth century Hermes' hat is occasionally winged, in later times more
frequently and in Roman art invariably so. In early art it is only the
worn by Perseus that is
winged. From a passage in the Oedipus Coloneus
where Ismene wears a θετταλὶς κυνῆ,
can only mean a πέτασος,
it would seem as
if women occasionally wore it when travelling.
as worn by travellers and
hunters, had not only a band which fastened it tightly round the head, but a
strap which passed under the chin, and enabled the wearer, who, not being
accustomed to it, naturally felt its weight, to let it hang down his back.
This is very frequent in works of art, often doubtless because it enables
the artist to show the outline of the head more sharply. The Hermes on the
celebrated drum of a column from the temple of Artemis at Ephesus is a
familiar instance of the fashion.
The brim of the πέτασος
was usually not even
all round, but cut into various convenient or fantastical shapes, of which
examples from ancient vase-paintings are here given, after Blümner,
the most common being one of quatrefoil
which the two side leaves, if one may use the term, could be used as lappets
tied over the ears by a chin strap. The brim could also be turned up behind,
at one or both sides, giving it quite as many picturesque forms as a sombrero
or other modern felt hat.
In Hellenistic times a Macedonian variety of the πέτασος,
worn, but chiefly as an emblem of power [CAUSIA
which was practically identical
with the conical πῖλος,
was worn by the
Etruscans, and frequently appears both on men and women on their monuments.
(Cf. for this and other detailed information, Helbig in
Sitzungsberichte der phil. Classe der Münchener
1880, pp. 487-554.)
It must have been used in very early times at Rome, for it was the
characteristic headgear of the Pontifices, Flamines, and Salii on solemn
occasions. It is, however, even better known as the symbol of Liberty,
occurring as such on many coins, but especially on the denarius of Brutus
and L. Plaetorius Cestianus, where it is
represented on the reverse standing between two daggers, s with
the inscription EID. MAR. below (cf. D. C. 47.25
). This use must not be con founded
with the pair of pilei
surmounted by twin stars
which also appear on coins, but as the attributes of Castor and Pollux
). The symbol is
doubtless derived from the fact that it was the garb of slaves who had been
freed, on leaving the temple (cf. Serv. ad
: “(Feronia) etiam libertorum dea est in cuius
templo capite raso pilleum accipiunt” ). Hence pilleum capere
462) means to
gain freedom. Saturninus raised a pilleum in modum
(V. Max. 8.6
) as a signal for the slaves to take up arms,
and vocare ad pilleum
; Sen. Ep. 47; Suet. Tib. 4
) was a recognised expression for
raising a revolt. Gladiators on being discharged were given the pilleus,
two years after they had received the
(Ulpian, Coil. leg.
tit. 11, leg. 7). It was in fact so well understood to be a
symbol of recovered liberty that foreign kings like Prusias (Liv. 45.44
), who wished to display themselves as
of the Roman people, appeared in
public with shaven head wearing the pilleus
(cf. Plut. de Alex. fort.
2, 3). So too, after the death of
Nero, the whole plebs wore it (Suet. Nero
), just as they were accustomed to, during the Saturnalia (Mart. 11.6
). Among other
customs connected with the pilleus
curious one of selling slaves whom the master did not wish to warrant with
it on (Gel. 7.4
The meaning of pilleus
was a very general one,
not confined to felt caps
alone. Thus, Suetonius (op. Serv. ad Aen.
) says that the apex tutulus
worn by the [p. 2.429]
priests were all pillei.
however, like πιλίδιον,
was the specific name for ordinary caps. [APEX
] As to caps of skin, apart
from the galerus,
Vegetius tells us that
soldiers, when not using their helmets, wore pillei
of skin (Milit.
1.20), and Polybius (v. supra loc. cit.
) mentions the same. Caps of cloth
made from old cloaks (Statius, Stat. Silv.
, “usque adeone
defuerunt caesis pillea suta de lacernis” ) seem to have been the
pillei worn at the Saturnalia; and Martial sends a friend one as a present,
with the jocular regret that he cannot afford to give away the whole cloak
The Romans, like the Greeks, seldom wore any covering on the head, though
this is truer of the upper than the lower classes. Horace, for instance,
speaks of a tribesman carrying his slippers along with his cap on the way to
a feast ( “ut cum pilleolo soleas conviva tribulis,”
1.13, 15); and Nero used to wear one as a disguise at
night (Suet. Nero 26
). In Imperial times the
custom of using hats became much more common; and Augustus in his later life
never went out of doors without a petasus
(Suet. Aug. 82
), and Caligula allowed
them to be worn in the theatre as a protection against the sun (D. C. 59.7
). Even in Cicero's time messengers wore
the Greek petasus
15.17, 1), which, as well as the causia,
mentioned in Plautus, so that the Greek forms must have been well known,
even if not worn, at Rome.
There does not seem to be anything to show that the pilleus
differed in shape from the πιλίδιον,
except the fact that those shown on Etruscan
monuments are longer and more peaked than the Greek forms. The varieties
seen on coins with the virga
are the ceremonial caps of priests, rather than those worn in every-day
3.262, and Gallus,
iii. p. 224; Hermann-Blümner,
p. 180; Marquardt,
p. 554; Iwan Müller,
iv. pp. 405, 805, 879, and 929; Daremberg and
Saglio, arts. Causia
Helbig in Sitzungsberichte d. Bayr. Akad. d.
Wissensch., Hist. phil. Klasse,
1880, iv. p. 487;
i. p. 211 f.; Yates, Textrinum Antiquorum,
pp. 388-411; Blümner
in Baunmeister, Benkmäler,