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Bill Thayer

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p729 Manica

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p729 of

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

MANICA, a sleeve. Besides the use of sleeves sewed to the tunic, which, when so manufactured, was called chiridota or manicata tunica (Curt. III.7 p12, ed. Zumpt), sleeves were also worn as a separate part of the dress. Palladius (de Re Rust. I.43) mentions the propriety of providing ocreas manicasque de pellibus, i.e. leggins and sleeves made of hides, as useful both to the huntsman and to the agricultural labourer. The Roman gladiators wore, together with greaves, a sleeve of an appropriate kind on the right arm and hand (Juv. VI.255), as is exhibited in the woodcuts at p576.

These parts of dress are mentioned together even as early as the Homeric age (see Od. XXIV.228, 229). In this passage the manicae (χειρίδες) seem to be mittens, worn on the hands to protect them from briars and thorns; and Eustathius, in his commentary on the passage, distinguishes between simple mittens, such as our labourers use in hedging, and gloves, which he calls χειρίδες δακτυλανύταιº (p1960, init.).

Gloves with fingers (digitalia, Varro, de Re Rust. I.55) were worn among the Romans for the performance of certain manual operations.a Pliny the younger refers also to the use of manicae in winter to protect the hands from cold (Epist. III.5). Those used by the Persians were probably made of fur, perhaps resembling muffs: the Persians also wore gloves in winter (δακτυλήθρας, Xen. Cyrop. VIII.3 §17). In an enumeration of the instruments of torture used in the fourth century of the Christian era we observe "the glove" (Synes. Epist. 58); but its construction or material is not described.b

Handcuffs were called manicae (Virg. Georg. IV.438, Aen. II.146; Plaut. Asin. II.2.38, Capt. III.5.1, Most. V.1.17; Non. Marcellus, s.v. Manicae).

Thayer's Notes:

a Probably in fact not gloves at all, but a pronged metal fork; see the article Digitale in Daremberg & Saglio's Dictionnaire.

b In the English translation online, no glove is mentioned, merely "instruments of torture . . . that crush the fingers and feet. . . ." One can imagine a sort of glove that might be tightened with cords or drawstrings.

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Page updated: 24 Oct 07