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UMBRA´CULUM, UMBELLA (σκιάδειον, σκιαδίσκη). Umbrellas and fans are shown on both Assyrian and Egyptian monuments before the 7th century B.C., and it may be assumed that they came to Greece with other articles of Oriental luxury about that period. By the 5th century, the use of umbrellas was so established at Athens that they were carried by the daughters of the aliens (μέτοικοι) after the Athenian maidens in the procession at the PANATHENAEA [p. 327 a]. So far, indeed, were they from appearing strange or incongruous that on the Eastern frieze of the Parthenon the god Eros holds the parasol of his mother Aphrodite.

Umbraculum. (From a vase-painting.)

Such umbrellas and parasols appear on vase-paintings, from those of the perfect Attic style down to the latest South Italian wares. The accompanying cut from a vase of the latter class (Millin, Peintures de Vases Antiques, vol. i. pl. 70) shows a lady wearing a χιτών [TUNICA] and small ἱμάτιον [PALLA], and holding a parasol over her bare head. In other paintings ladies sit on chairs shading themselves with a parasol, while in not a few a slave holds it above his mistress's head. All these pictures show forms, like those used nowadays, with a frame-work of ribs (virgae) which could be opened and shut (Aristophanes, Aristoph. Kn. 1347 f., τὰ δ᾽ ἐ̂τ᾽ . . . . ἐξεπετάννυτο, ὥσπερ σκιάδειον καὶ πάλιν ξυνήγετο: cf. Ovid, Art. Am. 2.209,ipse tene distenta umbracula virgis” ).

The use of umbrellas was almost confined to women, for, as has been explained in the article PILLEUS it was considered effeminate for men to wear a protection against the sun except when travelling. Some luxurious fops or upstarts, however, like the περιφόρητος Ἀρτέμων of Anacreon (Athen. 12.534 a), occasionally braved public opinion and used them. In Hellenistic times a large straw hat came into fashion, doubtless as a substitute for the parasol. It is shown on an immense number of terra-cotta figures from Tanagra, Myrina, and all over the Greek world. The θολία which Praxinoa puts on in the famous toilet scene in Theocritus (Theoc. 15.39) seems to have been something of this kind (Schol. in Theocr. l.c.; Pollux, 7.174, 10.127; Jahn, Arch. Beiträge, p. 403).

At Rome the practice of using parasols probably came in with the Greek fashions which prevailed in the last two centuries of the Republic. The Roman lady walked with her parasol carried by an attendant slave (pedisequus or pedisequa; cf. Claud. in Eutrop. 1.464, “[Eunuchi] umbracula gestant virginibus;” Mart. 14.73, 6), whose place might be taken by a diligent wooer if he wished to win her good graces (Ovid, l.c.). Parasols were in great demand at the amphitheatre, for the velum was not always sufficient to keep off the sun, and it seems to have been the fashion to adopt the colour--green, &c.--of one's favourite faction on them (Juv. 9.50; Mart. 14.28). [See Paciandi, de Umbellae gestatione, Rome, 1752; Baumeister, Denkmäler, art. Sonnenschirm; Iwan Müller, Handbuch, pp. 433, 440; Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth., p. 195 f.; Becker-Göll, Charikles, 1.201; Blümner, Leben und Sitten, p. 73; Marquardt, Privatleben, p. 148; Böttiger (ed. Fischer), Sabina, pp. 132, 135, 161.]

[W.S] [W.C.F.A]

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 1347
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.28
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.6
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.73
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