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T. IV, Vol. 2
Rica, Ricinium

Article by E. Pottier in

Daremberg & Saglio,
Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines,
Librairie Hachette et Cie., Paris, 1877‑1919.

translation and © William P. Thayer

Rica, Ricinium. — A garment. The precise meaning of the word is uncertain. Some take it to be a coat, others a veil or even a mere handkerchief put on the head.​1 The differing definitions in the authors likely correspond to the successive stages which in the course of time gradually reduced the rica or ricinium, a coat, to a mere veil covering the upper shoulders or the head. A very clear description is given by Festus: a square article of clothing, fringed, purple in color; this is the item worn by the flaminica, the wife of the flamen [flamen, p1170].​2 Others say it was of wool, white or dyed a bluish color.​3 It was thus a very old item of dress, a true palla, which preceded the round toga [pallium, p292] and might even be worn by men; mimes in the theater still wore it and were riciniati4 [mimus, p1906, fig. 5036]. It is also assimilated to the toga praetexta [toga] with the purple clavus.​5 A very ancient statue of Jupiter depicts him as riciniatus.​6 The four young patrimi boys [patrimi], who assisted the Arval brethren in their ceremonies, were riciniati.​7 Roman women wore this garment at funerals or at times of public mourning to express their somber and painful feelings.​8 It is therefore impossible to doubt that we have here a coat of very ancient origin, a pallium worn as a shawl, analogous, as we have already noted, to the mafors or mavortium [mafors, p1494].​9 Other texts, referring to the ricinium as worn folded over and thrown back, confirms the fact.10

But everyone knows that in ancient times, in Rome as in Greece, women, to shelter themselves from sun or inclement weather, used to bring their coat up as a veil over their head (figs. 2822, 3684, 4862, etc.).​11 Once then the palla and the stola were adopted as feminine dress, the rica or ricinium may therefore have gradually taken on the aspect of a veil, of a sort of mantilla, like the κρήδεμνον and the καλύπτρα of the Greeks [velum], or even a headscarf: whence those texts that depict ricae, riculae and ricinia as palliolae, covering just the head,​12 or as a mere sudarium.​13 It is a transformation and a reduction of the ancient garment.

The Author's Notes:

1 See Godefroy's commentary in Commentarii in Paul. Diac. excerpt. ed. Lindemann, pp657‑658; Becker-Göll, Gallus, II, p29; III, p264; Marquardt, Vie privée des Romains, trans. by Henry, II, pp218‑219; Wilpert, in Arte, II, 1899, pp6‑8; Wuescher-Becchi, in Bullettino comm. arch. di Roma, XXIX, 1901, p108.

2 Festus ap. Paul Deacon ed. Lindemann, p139, De significatione verborum XVII, s.v. rica; cf. Festus, Fragments, ibid., p229 and 237.

3 Festus ap. Paul Deacon loc. cit.

4 Festus, Fragments, ibid. p229, reciniati mimi planipedes.

5 Ibid. See below, note 7.

6 Arnobius, Adv. gent. VI.25 (p1213 of the Patrologia).

7 Marini, Fratr. Arval. p279; Henzen, Acta fratr. Arv. pp36, 38, 42. The latter remarks (p38), as does Mommsen, that there must have been little difference between the praetexta and the rica, since in the Acta the young boys serving as assistants are referred to sometimes as praetextati, sometimes as riciniati.

8 Non. Marcell. XIV.33 (p542 M); cf. Cic. De legib. II.23.

9 Non. Marcell. loc. cit.

10 Varro, Ling. lat. V.32; Isidore, Orig. XIX.25; Serv. ad Verg. Aen. I.286.

11 Varro, op. cit. V.130, indicates the gesture, when he depicts women veiling themselves with the rica at the moment of the sacrifice.

12 Festus, ed. Lindemann, pp136, 229, 643; Gellius X.15. See the commentary and the texts cited by Godefroy, op. cit., p657.

13 Non. Marcell. XIV.15, 16 (p539 M).

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