previous next

LACERNA

LACERNA (answering in most respects to the Greek χλαμύς) was a woollen cloak worn by the Romans over the toga (Mart. 8.28), which explains Juvenal's expression “munimentum togae” (Juv. 9.28). It had a hood (cuoullus), and sometimes the plural lacernae is used to express both together (e. g. Mart. 14.132, “totae lacernae” ); but in Horace, Sat. 2.7, 55, lacerna includes the hood. It was worn open and loose, fastened to the shoulder by a fibula, so that in Mart. 2.29 the white toga is seen below the purple lacerna; and thus it differed from the paenula, which fitted close and was fastened all the way up, and from the birrus, because that form of wrap was stiff (rigens opposed to the fluens lacerna, Sulp. Sever. 1.21, 4), whereas the lacerna was light and of fashionable make. The Schol. on Pers. 1.51, however, uses them as convertible terms. It seems to have been introduced at Rome by men of fashion as a protection against rain--Pliny (Plin. Nat. 18.225) says that the price of lacernae goes up in threatening weather--and to wear in theatres, &c. (Mart. 2.29): thus we are told that the equites used to stand up at the entrance of Claudius and lay aside their lacernae, as a mark of respect (Suet. Cl. 6). Its colour depended on taste and circumstances, sometimes “fusci coloris” (Mart. 1.97, 9), and made of the dark wool of the Baetic sheep (Mart. 14.133), sometimes of bright colours (Juv. 1.27; Mart. 1.97) and very expensive (Mart. 8.10). By an order of Domitian, about 88 A.D., white lacernae only were allowed in the theatre (Mart. 5.8; 14.137). It would appear from Mart. 2.29 that there was no such rule before. The material as well as the colour varied, and for the poorer wearers it was unfashionably coarse (Juv. 9.27). Cicero (Cic. Phil. 2.30, 76) speaks of it as an unusual form of dress, but as a military cloak it may have been worn earlier. Cassius wears it at Philippi (Vell. 2.70, 2; cf. Prop. 4.12, 7; Ov. Fast. 2.746), and to some extent it displaced the sagum. Under the Empire it became common at Rome, as we learn from Suetonius, who says (Aug. 40) that Augustus seeing one day a great number of citizens before the tribunal dressed in the lacerna repeated indignantly the line of Virgil, “Romanos rerum dominos gentemque togatam,” and gave orders that the aediles should allow no one to wear that dress in the forum, being anxious “pristinum vestitum reducere.” (See also Marquardt, Privatleben, 569; Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.220.)

[W.S] [G.E.M]

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: