or plural VITTAE, a ribbon or fillet, is to be
considered (1) as an ordinary portion of female dress; (2) as a decoration
of sacred persons and sacred things.
1. When considered as an ordinary portion of female dress, it was simply a
band encircling the head. and serving to confine the tresses (crinales vittae
); the ends, when long (longae taenia vittae
), hanging down behind (Verg. A. 7.351
; Ovid, Ov. Met. 2.413
; Isidor. 19.31.6). It was worn (1) by
maidens (Verg. A. 2.168
; Prop. 4.11
; V. Fl. 8.6
; Serv. ad
Verg. A. 2.133
); (2) by married women also,
the vitta assumed on the nuptial day being of a different form from that
used by virgins (Ovid, Ov. Tr. 2.252
; Prop. 5.3
, and 11,
34; Plaut. Mil. Gl.
3.1, 194; V. Max.
). From the word altera
Marquardt is probably right in deducing that the vitta of married women was
a double band,
whereas the fillet of maidens was
single (Marquardt, Privatleben,
46; cf. Becker-Göll,
2.31: for the wearing of ταίνιαι
by Greek brides, see
1872, p. 192; 1874, p. 140).
The vitta was not
worn by libertinae even of fair
character (Tib. 1.6
), much less by meretrices; hence it was looked upon as an
and, together with the
served to point out at first sight the freeborn matron
(Ovid, A. A.
1.31; R. A.
2.247; Ep. ex Pont.
The colour was probably a matter of choice: white and purple are both
mentioned (Ovid, Ov. Met. 2.413
One of those represented in the cuts below is ornamented with embroidery,
and they were in some cases set with pearls (vittae
The following woodcuts represent back and front views of the heads of statues
from Herculaneum, on which we perceive the vitta (Bronzi
vol. ii. tav. 72, 75).
A full discussion of the dressing of the Lair and further illustration will
be found under COMA
and vittae in Greek and Roman
funerals as used for the decoration of the dead body and of the bier, see
Vol. 1. pp. 886, 890
(woodcut), and compare Becker-Göll, Charikles,
2. When employed for sacred purposes, it was usually twisted round the infula
], holding together
the loose flocks of wool, and depending in streamers (Verg. G. 3.487
Isidor. 19.30.4; Serv. ad
Verg. A. 10.538
). Under this form it was employed as an ornament for (1)
priests, and those who offered sacrifice (Verg. A.
; Tac. Ann. 1.57
); (2) priestesses, especially
those of Vesta, and hence vittata sacerdos
a Vestal, κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν
(Verg. A. 7.418
; Ovid, Ov. Fast. 3.30
, 6.457; Juv. 4.9
); (3) prophets and poets, who may be regarded as
priests, and in this' case the vittae were frequently intertwined with
chaplets of olive or laurel (Verg. A. 3.81
3.466); (4) statues of
deities (Verg. A. 2.168
; compare Stat.
); (5) victims
decked for sacrifice (Verg. G. 3.487
2.133, 156, 5.366; Ovid, Ep. ex Pont.
3.2, 74; Stat. Achill.
2.301); (6) altars (Verg. Ecl. 8.64
Vol. I. p. 158 a); (7)
temples (Prop. 5.9
; compare Tac. Hist. 4.53
of suppliants (Verg. A. 7.237
). Here the vittae seem to have served to bind the festoons of
wool upon the branches which were borne in the hand (Verg. A. 7.237
; Hom. Il. 1.14
; Plut. Thes. 18
O. T. 3
The sacred vittae, as well as the infulae, were made of wool, and hence the
(Ovid, Ov. Fast. 3.30
) and mollis
viii. [p. 2.976]
64). They were white
Verg. G. 3.487
; Ovid, Ov. Met. 13.643
; Stat. Theb. 3.466
), or purple (puniceae,
) when wreathed round an altar
to the manes (Verg. A. 3.64