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p1087 Synthesis

Unsigned article on p1087 of

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

SYNTHESIS, a garment frequently worn at dinner, and sometimes also on other occasions. As it was inconvenient to wear the toga at table on account of its many folds, it was customary to have dresses especially appropriated to this purpose, called vestes coenatoriae, or coenatoria (Mart. X.87.12, XIV.135; Petr. 21), accubitoria (Petr. 30), or Syntheses. The Synthesis is commonly explained to be a loose kind of robe, like the Pallium; but Becker (Gallus, vol. I p37) supposes from a comparison of a passage of Dion Cass. (LXIII.13) with one of Suetonius (Ner. 51) describing the dress of Nero, that it must have been a kind of tunic, an indumentum rather than an amictus [Amictus]. That it was, however, an easy and comfortable kind of dress, as we would say, seems to be evident from its use at table above mentioned, and also from its being worn by all classes at the Saturnalia, a season of universal relaxation and enjoyment (Mart. XIV.1, 141, VI.24). More than this respecting its form we cannot say; it was usually dyed with some colour (Mart. II.46, X.29), and was not white like the toga.

The word Synthesis is also applied to a set of wearing apparel or a complete wardrobe (Dig. 34 tit. 3 s38). This use of the word agrees better with its etymology (σύνθεσις, συντίθημι) than the one mentioned above (Becker, l.c.).

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Page updated: 8 Dec 06