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TOGA (in Greek writers, τήβεννα). The earliest costume of the Roman was a thick woollen cloak worn over a loin-cloth or apron [SUBLIGACULUM]. This woollen cloak was called the toga, and was the dress of women as well as men and boys. It was laid aside indoors, or when hard at work in the fields; but, as we learn from the story of Cincinnatus, was the only decent attire out-of-doors. He was ploughing in his field when the messengers of the senate came to tell him that he had been made dictator, and on seeing them promptly sent his wife to fetch his toga from the house, that they might be received with all propriety (Liv. 3.26, 9). The truth of the story may be doubtful, but it well expresses the Roman sentiment on the subject. As time went on, however, and the Romans became more civilised, their garments changed. They adopted the shirt [p. 2.846][TUNICA] which the Greeks and Etruscans wore, made their toga more bulky, and wore it in a looser manner. The result was that it became useless for active pursuits, such as those of war, in which its place was taken by the more handy SAGUM and in those of peace, where it was superseded by the LAENA, LACERNA, PAENULA, and other forms of buttoned or closed cloaks. The same process, as is often the case with clothing, that removed it from every-day life and commonplace uses, gave it an increased importance as a ceremonial garment. As early as the third century B.C., and probably even before, it, along with the CALCEUS was looked upon as the characteristic badge o Roman citizenship. It was denied to foreigners (Suet. Cl. 15), and even to banished Romans (Plin. Ep. 4.11, 3), and was worn by magistrates on all occasions as a badge of office. In fact, for a magistrate to appear in a Greek cloak [PALLIUM] and sandals (see instances given in the article SOLEA) was considered by all, except unconventional folk, as highly improper, if not criminal (cf. Cic. pro Rab. 9, 26). Augustus, for instance, was so much incensed at seeing a meeting of citizens without the toga, that, quoting Virgil's proud lines, “Romanos rerum dominos gentemque togatam,” he gave orders to the aediles that in future no one was to appear in the Forum or Circus without it (Suet. Aug. 40). When such was the feeling of the Emperor, it is little wonder that the toga remained the Court dress of the Empire (Spart. Sever. 1, 7), though in any case the social usage of Rome would have made it so. It was in it that the clients paid their visit to their patron [SALUTATIO], not forgetting to wear boots (calceus) with it (Juv. 1.119; cf. Tertull. de Pallio, “calceos . . . proprium togae tormentum:” and for the calceus, Mart. 1.103, 5, 6; Hor. Sat. 1.3, 31-2). It was also worn by the spectators in the circus at Rome (Suet. Aug. 40; D. C. 72.21), and its irksomeness causes Juvenal to sigh for the freedom of the country, where only the dead man, who was buried in it, is bound to wear it (Sat. 3.172; cf. Mart. 9.58, 8). Martial is equally enthusiastic in his praises of the unconventionality of the provinces (1.49, 31; 4.66, 1-3; 10.47, 5; 12.18, 5, 17); and Pliny the younger makes it one of the attractions of his Tuscan villa that there is no necessity of wearing the toga (Ep. 5.6.45; cf. 7.3.2). In spite, however, of these protests, its use as an official garment lingered on until the time of Theodosian (Cod. Theod. 14.10, 1), when it was supplanted by the PAENULA

The best account of the shape and the manner of wearing the toga is given by Isidore (Orig. 19.24, 3): “Toga dicta quod velamento sui corpus tegat atque operiat. Est autem pallium purum forma rotunda effusiore et quasi inundante sinu et sub dextro veniens supra sinistrum ponitur humerum.” The characteristic feature is the roundness (cf. Quint. Inst. 11.3, 139: “Ipsam togam rotundam esse et apte caesam velim” ), being that which distinguished it from the square Greek cloak or pallium and the old Roman recinium. That it was in no sense circular is shown by the fact that Dionysius of Halicarnassus (3.61) calls it a περιβόλαιον ἡμικύκλιον, and still more by the large series of Roman portrait statues on which it appears. These statues are in fact our main evidence for its shape, and literary mentions can only be used to illustrate their evidence, not to correct it. The older scholars of this century were singularly neglectful of these monuments, though

Fig. 1. The Toga, after Weiss.

most diligent in collecting and comparing all the numerous passages bearing on the use of the toga. It was not indeed until the last thirty or forty years that the subject was studied from the sculptural point of view by Weiss and Von Launitz, and more recently by

Fig. 2. The Toga, after Von Launitz.

A. Müller. Weiss, whom Marquardt follows, regarded the difficulties of the case as solved by a garment of elliptical shape, though with pointed ends, to which a border was sometimes attached (fig. 1). Von Launitz, on the other hand, has shown that though the earlier statues wear a toga of this

Fig. 3. Statue of Didius Julianus. (From the Louvre.)

shape, the more usual and characteristic form shown by later statues cannot be obtained from it. After numerous experiments, which he embodied in a model dress fitting a lay figure and disseminated through German schools, he hit on a complex shape which answers the purpose. It is a crescent, the back of which is an elliptical curve, and has a circular segment of cloth F R A, only about a third of the arc across, sewn on to its concave side (fig. 2). Both shapes were of great size, being at least three times the height of a man's shoulder in length. Taking the Von Launitz model as our guide, the method of wearing it is well seen in the statue of Didius Julianus (fig. 3). About [p. 2.847]a third of the toga (as is seen in fig. 4) is first allowed to hang in front over the left shoulder (in fig. 2, E is the point where it is placed on the shoulder), so that its end lies between the wearer's ankles (a=J in fig. 2). Then the rest

Fig. 4. Fig. 5. Sketches to show how the Toga was put on.

of the garment is taken and, as Isidore (l.c.) tells us, drawn across the back, under the right shoulder, and across the chest in a slanting line, being finally thrown over the left shoulder once more. This done, the weight of the end which is thrown over the left shoulder keeps the whole in its place. Such a description, however, with the exception of the point between the ankles, applies quite as well to a pallium as a toga. In the toga, however, the folds were further complicated first by drawing this part (which hangs down in front from the left shoulder) upwards and allowing it to hang over the fold (b), which. runs slanting from under the right arm to the left shoulder; and secondly by the fact that this slanting fold, instead of being merely the hem of the cloak turned over, forms a sort of apron or sling running from behind the right shoulder to the left. This curious fold covers the greater part of the left thigh completely, and falls down as far as the knee. It is undoubtedly the part known to the ancients as the sinus, and one of the chief merits of Von Launitz's model is the light it throws on a remark of Quintilian's (F R A in fig. 2 is the sinus). This writer, in the locus classicus on the subject (11.137 ff.), says that the ancients had no sinus on their toga, and that even afterwards they were very narrow ( “Nam veteribus nulli sinus; perquam breves post illos fuerunt” ). The small piece added to the concave side of the crescent being the sinus, this well explains the fact that the earlier forms can be reproduced by a cloak without it of Weiss's pattern. Quintilian, in the passage quoted, is giving his orator rules for the nice management of the toga, and his remarks are of great importance, as an account of the manner of wearing it. He recommends the orator to gird his shirt so that in front it may come a little below the knees, but behind may touch his calves. If he has the right of the latus clavus, the shirt may be somewhat lower ( “cui lati clavi jus non erit, ita cingatur ut tunicae prioribus oris infra, genua paullum posterioribus ad medios poplites usque perveniant” ). The toga which goes over this ought to be round and suitably cut, for otherwise it will in many ways be out of proportion. The part of it in front is best when it reaches to the middle of the shins, while the part behind should be higher in the same degree as the girdle is. The sinus looks best when it is a considerable height above the hem of the toga, and ought never to be below it. The part of the toga which is drawn under the right shoulder slanting to the left, like a cross-belt, should neither choke one nor be loose. The part of the toga which is put on after it should be lower, for it sits better thus and is kept in place. ( “Ipsam togam rotundam esse et apte caesam velim. Aliter enim multis modis fiet enormis. Pars eius prior mediis cruribus optime terminatur, posterior eadem portione qua cinctura. Sinus decentissimus, si aliquanto supra imam togam fuerit nunquam certe sit inferior. Ille qui sub humero dextro ad sinistrum oblique ducitur velut balteus nec strangulet, nec fluat. Pars togae quae postea imponitur sit inferior nam ita et sedet melius et continetur.” ) He adds that the shoulder and neck ought not to be covered, for this makes the toga look less flowing and takes from its impressiveness. As to the attitude, the left forearm should be at a right angle, and should be in such a position that the edges on the left fall in equal folds side by side.

Nearly all these peculiarities are borne out by the statues, though of course the sculptor has probably in most cases softened down what was angular in the attitude. It needs no Roman writer to tell that a mantle worn in such a complicated way must have been a serious anxiety to one with fashionable instincts. Tertullian, however, alludes in a most amusing way to the trouble the valet who had to arrange the great man's clothes (vestiplicus, Orelli, 2838) took to shape the folds aright the day before and to fix them in their place by tongs, and to the difficulties of wearing it (de Pallio, 5: “Prius etiam ad simplicem captatelam eius nullo taedio constat: adeo nec artifice opus est qui pridie rugas ab exordio formet et inde deducat in tilias totumque contracti umbonis figmentum custodibus forcipibus assignet, dehinc diluculo tunica prius cingulo correpta--recognito rursus umbone et si quid exorbitavit reformato partem quidem de laevo promittat, ambitum vero eius ex quo sinus nascitur, iam deficientibus tabulis retrahat a scapulis et exclusa dextera in laevam adhuc congerat cum alio pari tabulato in terga devoto atque ita hominem sarcina vestiat” ). The main point in all such arrangements was to make the bandlike fold, which ran across the breast, secure. It is called the umbo in the above passage (cf. Persius, 5.33); but, in the humorous description which Macrobius gives of Hortensius's toilet, is spoken of as the artifex nodus. Hortensius used a mirror and adjusted his toga so that this band held the folds and creases in their place, and so that they covered just the proper amount of his side and thigh. Such an arrangement was at the best not very reliable, and so we are told that Hortensius sent a summons to a friend, who had jostled him in a passage and disarranged his dress. In fact, he thought the shifting of a crease on his shoulder a deadly offence (Sat. 3.13, 4).

Another mark of the Roman dandy was the enormous size of his toga (laxitas), and many [p. 2.848]are the sneers at the people, to use Cicero's phrase, “velis amictos non togis” (in Cat. 2.10, 20). The size was sometimes such that the garment trailed behind like a tragic actor's; at least this is what Valerius Maximus tells us of Tuditanus (7.8, 4; cf. Mart. 7.35), and we also hear of Caligula catching his foot in the end of his toga that was between his legs and getting a fall (Suet. Cal. 35, “ita proripuit se spectaculis ut calcata lacinia togae praeceps per gradus iret” ). Such togae laxae were associated with curled hair, and roundly abused as bad taste (Tib. 1.6, 39: “tum procul absitis quisquis colit arte capillos, et fluit effuso cui toga laxa sinu;” cf. Seneca, Contr. 2, 14), and Ovid advises the lover to avoid them if he is to make a good impression (Rem. Am. 679: “nec compone comas quia sis venturus ad illam, nec toga sit laxo conspicienda sinu” ); though, if we may trust Tibullus, this was a common lover's fashion (2.3, 77: “nunc si clausa mea est si copia rara videndi heu miserum, laxam quid juvat esse togam” ). The locus classicus is Horace, Epod. 4, 7, where he speaks of a freed man who wears a toga some three yards wide and thereby excites universal indignation ( “Videsne sacram metiente te viam cum bis trium ulnarum toga, ut ora vertat huc et huc euntium liberrima indignatio” ). The older commentators, and even Isidorus, inferred that the length, not the breadth of the toga was meant. Such a length, it is needless to say, would be quite too small; and when one reckons in the sinus, which in such cases came down to the skirts of the toga, the dimensions are as possible as a satirist's can be expected to be.

Contrasted with these “sails” of the gilded youth was the modest mantle (toga arta: cf. Hor. Ep. 1.18, 30), which quiet people, like Augustus, wore

Fig. 6. Statue of Etruscan orator. (Florence.)

(Suet. Aug. 73: “togis neque restrictis neque fusis [usus est]”). In some cases, as for instance that of Cato Uticensis (toga exigua, Hor. Ep. 1.19, 13), this was doubtless an attempt to bring back the old shape, which as Quintilian says had no sinus. This is the form which we see on the Etruscan statue called the Arringatore, now at Florence; for the Romans held that they had borrowed the toga from the Etruscan. Another statute in Dresden, though the mantle in which it is clad is scarcely round enough for the toga, is generally quoted in illustration of Quintilian's further remark, that the ancient orators must on account of the shape have held their arm, in the same manner as the Greeks, wrapped in the toga. Somewhat the same attitude, a compulsory one during the pupil's tirocinium (Cic. pro Cael. 5, 11) and which was the rule in Greece [PALLIUM], is shown by another Dresden statue, where the hand seems to have been freed in the course of the speech.

Fig. 7. Statue at Dresden. (Becker.)

Fig. 8. Statue at Dresden.

Another mode of wearing the toga was the well-known cinctus Gabinus. The name is derived, according to Mommsen, from the long wars of the Romans against Gabii, and was at first purely military, for in the oldest times the toga was worn in war as well as in peace. Its peculiarity was that a fold of the toga was drawn round the body in such a way that it acted as a girdle. (Serv. ad Aen. 7.612: “Gabinus cinctus est toga sic in tergum reiecta ut una (ima?) eius lacinia a tergo revocata hominem cingat:” cf. Isid. Or. 19.24, 7, “Cinctus Gabinus est cum ita imponitur toga ut togae lacinia quae postsecus reicitur attrahatur ad pectus.” ) At the same time part of the toga was drawn up over the head (cf. Serv. ad Aen. 5.755), though this of course cannot have been done in war. The cinctus Gabinus was retained long after it had passed out of ordinary use in the ritual of certain warlike sacrifices (cf. Liv. 5.46, 2), as when the Temple of Janus was opened (Verg. A. 7.611). It was also used at the AMBARVALIA and the founding of a city (cf. Verg. A. 5.755, and Serv. ad loc.); and it was with their heads thus covered that the Decii devoted themselves as victims for their country (Liv. 8.9, 9, and 7, 3).

Festus tells us that the cinctus Gabinus is referred to in the phrase classis procincta (Epit. p. 225; cf. p. 56, 12), with which in procinctu, the garb in which the testamentum was sworn, is connected. However, for ordinary purposes the toga was scarcely used by soldiers, since even where distributions of them to the soldiers are mentioned the number is a very limited one (cf. Liv. 29.36, 2, where 1200 togae go to 12,000 tunicae; and Id. 44.16,4, where 6,000 go to 30,000). So much so was this the case [p. 2.849]that the toga became the typical garb of peace as in Cicero's time (in Pis. 30, 73: “Cedant arma togae concedat laurea laudi” ). Among other survivals of the old uses of the toga was the custom of wearing it without a tunica beneath (Gel. 7.12, 3, “viri autem Romani primo quidem sine tunicis toga sola amicti fuerunt” ), which was observed by candidates for election until almost the end of the Republic (Plut. Quaest. Rom. 49, p. 276 C, διὰ τί τοὺς παραγγέλλοντας ἄρχειν ἔθος ἦν ἐν ἱματίῳ τοῦτο ποιεῖν ἀχίτωνας: cf. Id. Coriol. 14). Cato Uticensis, like the famous family of Cathegi (cinctuti, Hor. A. P. 50: cf. Lucan 2.543, 6.794; Sil. Ital. 8.587), adopted this as one of his habits, though the ordinary Roman, as we have mentioned above, considered it as scarcely decent.

Yet another custom was the survival of the toga as a woman's garment (cf. Serv. ad Aen. 1.282), in the case of the meretrices and unchaste women who were condemned to wear it (Juv. 2.68; Mart. 2.39, 10.52; Cic. Phil. 2.1. 8, 44; Hor. Sat. 1.2, 63). The toga of the Roman citizen was white in colour (cf. Mart. 8.28, 11); but if he were candidate for an office, he sent it to the fuller and then appeared in the toga candida (cf. Polybius, 10.4, 8, th/benna lampra/). The dazzling brilliancy of the toga candida was given by some special preparation of chalk, according to Isidorus (Orig. 19.24, 6), and this is why Persius speaks of a cretata ambitio. This custom was forbidden by a plebiscitum in 432 B.C. (Liv. 4.25, 13), but this never seems to have been enforced. The citizen's toga, or toga pura, being the mark of his franchise, was assumed by the young Roman when he was declared to be legally of age. It was on this account known as the toga virilis, as opposed to the toga praetexta of boys. The assumption of the toga virilis took place on the feast of the Liberalia (March 17: cf. Ovid, Fasti, 3.771; Cic. Att. 6.1, 12), when the boy was between 14 and 16 years of age, though instances occur in which boys a couple of years older or younger assumed it (cf. Marquardt, Privatleben, p. 126 foll.).

The praetexta worn by free-born boys (Liv. 24.7, 2: “Liberi nostri praetextis purpura togis utuntur” ) was an ordinary toga with a purple hem added. Its use was not confined to boys; for it was worn by all the curule magistrates (aediles, cf. Cic. post red. in Sen. 5, 12; and censors, cf. Zonar. 7.19). It was denied to the quaestors, plebeians, aediles, and tribunes of the Plebs (Plut. Quaest. Rom. 81, p. 283 B), though it was one of the privileges of magistrates in the Municipia and Coloniae. To wear it was a distinction; and ex-curule magistrates, as well as dictators, were buried in it (Liv. 34.7, 2). They seem to have been also allowed to wear it during their lifetime, but only at public ceremonies or festivals (cf. Cic. Phil. 2.43, 110, “cur non sumus praetextati” ). Priests possessed the right of the praetexta, though not in all colleges. The Flamen Dialis (Liv. 27.8, 8), the Pontifices, and Tresviri Epulones (Id. 33.42), the Augurs (Cic. pro Sest. 69, 144), and the Arval brothers, are among those mentioned as wearing it. Under the Empire it was common to bestow a praetexta as a badge of rank (ornamentum). Thus Sejanus was given it by the senate as part of the insignia of praetor (D. C. 58.11: cf. for the whole subject Mommsen, Staatsrecht, i.2 392; 2.522). Another kind of toga was the toga pulla, a mantle of dark colour which was assumed by those in mourning (sordidati), who were said mutare vestem. It was of dark colour, whence its name; and was put on not only in cases of bereavement, but in cases of private danger, as for instance when one was impeached (cf. Liv. 6.20, 1, of M. Manlius), and of public anxiety. In fact, it was one of the ways of making a popular demonstration, and Cicero was prouder of nothing more than of the fact that the senate resolved on a vestis mutatio when he went into exile (post red. in Sen. 5, 12). In the case of magistrates who had the right to wear the praetexta, a common toga pura, not a toga pulla, was worn.

Under the Republic the most magnificent garment was the toga picta of Jupiter Capitolinus (cf. Tertull. de Corona, 13), which the triumphant general wore over the tunica palmata (Liv. 5.41, 2: “quae augustissima vestis est tensas ducentibus triumphantibusque” ). The Praetor Urbanus, however, was also allowed to appear in it, when he rode in the chariot of the Gods into the circus at the Ludi Apollinares (cf. Liv. l.c.). The toga picta was a toga purpurea, or mantle of purple, covered with gold embroidery, and was very possibly originally the king's attire, though tradition ran that the king only wore the praetexta. Under the Empire, the republican customs were much altered, and all magistrates who gave games wore the toga purpurea; though indeed from a decree of Augustus, that no one except magistrates and senators should wear it, one may infer that its use was by no means so restricted as might otherwise be supposed (D. C. 49.16). Even under the Republic the Praetor Urbanus Asellio offered a sacrifice in the triumphal costume, and one of the honours conferred on Julius Caesar was the right of always wearing it at sacrifice (Appian, App. BC 1.54, 2.106). Afterwards the further right of wearing it always and wherever he wished was given him (D. C. 44.4, 6;--Cic. de Divin. 1.52, 119; 2.16, 27); and this privilege was retained by Augustus and his successors, though as a rule they only used it on special occasions.

In the second century A.D. the toga picta with the tunica palmata had already become the official dress of the consuls, and the best representations of it are to be found in their portraits on the diptycha of ivory which they presented to their friends on election. In these, however, the toga has taken quite a new and almost irrecognisable form (cf. Baumeister, Denkm. p. 1833, fig. 1923; and Marquardt, Privatleben, ed. 2, p. 563, note 1).

Among the varieties of the toga the trabea must be mentioned. It probably gets its name from having stripes (trabes) of bright scarlet with a purple hem (cf. Isid. Orig. 19.24, 8: “Trabea erat togae species ex purpura et cocco” ). It was a very ancient form of the toga, and was worn by the Salii (Dionys. A. R. 2.70) and augurs. According to Servius, there were three different kinds of trabea: one of purple only, for the gods; another of purple and a little white, for kings; and a third, that described above for augurs (ad Aen. 7.612; cf. ad 7.188). It does not seem to have been worn by any Romans except the Salii and augurs, [p. 2.850]though Dionysius says that the knights did so, and cannot be identified on any of the monuments.

(See especially an excellent article by A. Müller in Baumeister, Denkm. s. v. Toga; Marquardt, Privatleben, Index toga and trabea; Weiss, Kostümkunde, p. 435 ff.; Von Heyden, Die Tracht, &c. p. 27 ff.; Iwan Müller, Handbuch, pp. 804, 876, 928; Mayor ad Juv. 1.119, 3.172, 10.8 and 39, 11.204; Friedländer, Sittengeschichte Roms, i.5 p. 151, &c.; Becker-Göll, Gallus, iii. p. 198 ff.)


hide References (55 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (55):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 6.1
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.6.54
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 2.16.106
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.4
    • Polybius, Histories, 10.8
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.18
    • Cicero, For Rabirius Postumus, 9
    • Cicero, In the Senate after his Return, 5
    • Cicero, For Marcus Caelius, 5
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.110
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.43
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.44
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.755
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 7.611
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 15
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 40
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 73
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 35
    • Lucan, Civil War, 2.543
    • Lucan, Civil War, 6.794
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 4.11
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 4.3
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 41
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 8, 9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 46
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 20
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 36
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 26
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 25
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 11, 3
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 7.12
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 7.3
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 10.52
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 1.103
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 1.5
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 1.6
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 2.39
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 7.35
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 8.11
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 8.28
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 9.58
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 9.8
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.13
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.18
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.19
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