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p521 Fascia

Articles on p521 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

FASCIA (ταινία), dim. FASCIOLA, a band or fillet of cloth, worn,

  1. round the head as an ensign of royalty (Sueton. Jul. 79) [Diadema; woodcut to Falx]

  2. by women over the breast (Ovid, De Art. Amat. III.622; Propert. IV.10.49; Fascia Pectoralis, Mart. XIV.134) [Strophium]

  3. round the legs and feet, especially by women (see the woodcut under the article Libra).a

Cicero reproached Clodius for wearing fasciae upon his feet, and the Calantica, a female ornament, upon his head (ap. Non. Marc. XIV.2). Afterwards, when the toga had fallen into disuse, and the shorter pallium was worn in its stead, so that the legs were naked and exposed, fasciae crurales became common even with the male sex (Hor. Sat. II.3.255; Val. Max. VI.2 §7; Grat. Cyneg. 338). The emperor Alexander Severus (Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 40) always used them, even although, when in town, he wore the toga. Quintilian, nevertheless, asserts that the adoption of them could only be excused on the plea of infirm health (Inst. Or. XI.3).b White fasciae, worn by men (Val. Max. l.c.; Phaed. V.7.37) were a sign of extraordinary refinement in dress: the mode of cleaning them was by rubbing them with a white tenacious earth, resembling our pipe-clay (fasciae cretatae, Cic. ad Att. II.3). The finer fasciae, worn by ladies, were purple (Cic. de Harusp. Resp. 21). The bandages wound above the legs, as shown in the illuminations of ancient MSS. prove that the Roman usage was generally adopted in Europe during the middle ages.c

On the use of fasciae in the nursing of children (Plaut. Truc. V.13) see Incunabula.d

James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.

FASCIA (ταινία), in architecture, signifies (by an obvious analogy with the ordinary meaning of the word) any long flat surface of wood, stone, or marble, such as the band which divides the architrave from the frieze in the Doric order, and the surfaces into which the architrave itself is divided in the Ionic and Corinthian orders. (See Epistylium, and the cuts under Columna).

Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London


Thayer's Notes:

a A curious, because one would think very unlikely, instance of head-fascia and leg-fascia (malevolently) confused is recorded in Ammian, XVII.11.4.

b Augustus, 100 years before Quintilian and 200 years before Alexander Severus, wore them as well (Suet. Aug. 82); his poor health is implied. Another fifty years earlier, Pompey wore one for a long time because of an ulcer (Ammian, XVII.11.4); but that was more properly a bandage: see my note below.

The Latin text of Quintilian linked to is that followed by the Loeb edition, and reads not fascias but focalia.

c the Roman usage was generally adopted in Europe during the middle ages: Along with the word; see for example Chapter 23 of Einhard's Life of Charlemagne (9c): (Latin) (English)

d the nursing of children: The use of fasciae to mean "swaddling-clothes" is an extension of a use of the word not mentioned above, to mean "bandages". Galen, for example, wrote a treatise on medical bandages, Περὶ τῶν ἐπιδέσμων, often referred to by a Latin translation of its title, De Fasciis; the 1c A.D. medical author Celsus has also left us a brief description of fasciae and their use (V.26.24).


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