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Bill Thayer

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For Smith's general article on Roman shoes, see CALCEUS.

 p233  Caliga

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp233‑234 of

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

CA′LIGA, a strong and heavy shoe worn by the Roman soldiers.​a Although the use of this species of calceamentum extended to the centurions,  p234 it was not worn by the superior officers. Hence the common soldiers, including centurions, were distinguished by the name of caligati (Suet. Aug. 25, Vitell. 7); when Cicero therefore says of Pompey "mihi caligae ejus non placebant" (Ad Att. II.3), he merely uses the words to indicate his military power. Service in the ranks was also designated after this article of attire. Thus Marius was said to have risen to the consul­ship a caliga, i.e. from the ranks (Sen. De Benef. V.16), and Ventidius juventam inopem in caliga militari tolerasse (Plin. H. N. VII.41). The Emperor Caligula received that cognomen when a boy, in consequence of wearing the caliga, which his father Germanicus put on his son in order to please the soldiers (Tacit. Ann. I.41; Suet. Calig. 9). The triumphal monuments of Rome show most distinctly the difference between the caliga of the common soldier [ Arma] and the calceus worn by men of higher rank. [Abolla; Ara.] The sole of the caliga was thickly studded with hobnails (clavi caligarii, Plin. H. N. XXXIV.41, IX.18; Juv. Sat. III.322,º XVI.25).

The caliga speculatoria (Suet. Calig. 52), made for the use of spies (speculatores), was probably much lighter than the ordinary shoe worn by the soldiers.

Thayer's Note:

a For a picture of a caliga on the tomb of a Roman shoemaker, see Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome, p275. For photos of real or recreated caligae see the offsite pages in the footer bar below.

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Page updated: 4 Dec 17