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Tunica

p1173 The Roman section only (pp1173‑1174)
of an article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp1171‑1174 of

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

TUNICA (χιτῶν, dim. χιτωνίσκος, χιτώνιον), the under-garment of the Greeks and Romans.

[. . .]

2. Roman. The Tunica of the Romans, like the Greek Chiton, was a woollen under garment, over which the Toga was worn. It was the Indumentum or Indutus, as opposed to the Amictus, the general term for the toga, pallium, or any other outer garment. [Amictus.] The Romans are said to have had no other clothing originally but the toga; and when the Tunic was first introduced, it was merely a short garment without sleeves, and was called Colobium (Gell. VI.12;º Serv. ad Virg. Aen. IX.616). It was considered a mark of effeminacy for men to wear Tunics with long sleeves (manicatae) and reaching to the feet (talares) (Cic. Cat. II.10). Julius Caesar was accustomed to wear one which had sleeves, with fringes at the wrist (ad manus fimbriata, Suet. Caes. 45), and in the later times of the empire, tunics with sleeves, and reaching to the feet, became common.

The Tunic was girded (cincta) with a belt or girdle around the waist, but was usually worn loose, without being girded, when a person was at home, or wished to be at his ease (Hor. Sat. II.1.73; Ovid, Am. I.9.41). Hence we find the terms cinctus, praecinctus, and succinctus, applied, like the Greek εὔζωνος, to an active and diligent person, and discinctus to one who was idle or dissolute (Hor. Sat. I.5.6, II.6.107, Epod. I.34).

The form of the Tunic, as worn by men, is represented in many woodcuts in this work. In works of art it usually terminates a little above the knee; it has short sleeves, covering only the upper part of the arm, and is girded at the waist (see cuts, pp90, 808): the sleeves sometimes, though less frequently, extend to the hands (cut, p141).

Both sexes usually wore two tunics, an outer and an under, the latter of which was worn next to the skin, and corresponds to our shirt and chemise. Varro (ap. Non. XIV.36) says, that when the Romans began to wear two tunics, they called them Subucula and Indusium, the former of which Böttiger (Sabina, vol. II p113) supposes to be the name of the under tunic of the men, and the latter of that of the women. But it would appear from another passage of Varro (L. L. V.131, ed. Müller) referred to by Becker (Gallus, vol. II p89), as if Varro had meant to give the name of Subucula to the under tunic, and that of Indusium or Intusium to the outer, though the passage is not without difficulties. It appears, however, that Subucula was chiefly used to designate the under tunic of men (Suet. Aug. 82; Hor. Epist. I.1.95). The word interula was of later origin, and seems to have applied equally to the under tunic of both sexes p1174(Apul. Florid. II. p32; Metam. VIII. p533, ed. Oud.; Vopisc. Prob. 4). The Sapparus or Supparum is said by Festus (s.v.) to have been a linen vest, and to have been the same as the Subucula; but Varro (V.131), on the contrary, speaks of it as a kind of outer garment, and contrasts it with Subucula, which he derives from subtus, while supparus he derives from supra. The passage of Lucan (II.364) in which it is mentioned does not enable us to decide whether it was an outer or under garment, but would rather lead us to suppose that it was the former. Persons sometimes wore several tunics, as a protection against cold: Augustus wore four in the winter, besides a Subucula (Suet. Aug. 82).


[image ALT: An engraving of a Roman woman wearing a tunic.]

As the dress of a man usually consisted of an under tunic, an outer tunic, and the toga, so that of a woman, in like manner, consisted of an under tunic (Tunica intima, Gell. X.15), an outer tunic, and the palla. The outer tunic of the Roman matron was properly called Stola [Stola], and is represented in the woodcut on p1073; but the annexed woodcut, which represents a Roman empress in the character of Concordia, or Abundantia, gives a better idea of its form (Visconti, Monumenti Gabini, n34; Böttiger, Sabina, tav. X). Over the Tunic or Stola the Palla is thrown in many folds, but the shape of the former is still distinctly shown.

The tunics of women were larger and longer than those of men, and always had sleeves; but in ancient paintings and statues we seldom find the sleeves covering more than the upper part of the arm. An example of the contrary is seen in the Museo Borbonico, vol. VII tav. 3. Sometimes the tunics were adorned with golden ornaments called Leria (Festus, s.v.; Gr. ληροί, Hesych. Suid s.v.).

Poor people, who could not afford to purchase a toga, wore the tunic alone, whence we find the common people called Tunicati (Cic. in Rull. II.34; Hor. Epist. I.7.65). Persons at work laid aside the toga; thus, in the woodcut on p808, a man is represented plowing in his tunic only. A person who wore only his tunic was frequently called Nudus.

Respecting the Clavus Latus and the Clavus Angustus, worn on the tunics of the Senators and Equites respectively, see Clavus.

When a triumph was celebrated, the conqueror wore, together with an embroidered toga (Toga picta), a flowered tunic (Tunica palmata), also called Tunica Jovis, because it was taken from the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus (Liv. X.7; Mart. VII.1; Juv. X.38). [Triumphus, p1166A.] Tunics of this kind were sent as presents to foreign kings by the senate (Liv. XXX.15, XXXI.11).


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