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 p665  Laciniae

Article by William Ramsay, M.A., Professor of Humanity in the University of Glasgow
on p665 of

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

LACI′NIAE, the angular extremities of the toga, one of which was brought round over the left shoulder. It was generally tucked into the girdle, but sometimes was allowed to hang down loose. Plautus (Mercat. I.2.16) indicates that it occasionally served for a pocket-handkerchief (At tu edepol sume lacinium atque absterge sudorem tibi): Velleius Paterculus (II.3) represents Scipio Nasica as wrapping the lacinia of his toga round his left arm for a shield (compare Val. Max. III.2 § 17) before he rushed upon Tib. Gracchus; while, according to Servius (ad Virg. Aen. VII.612), the Cinctus Gabinus was formed by girdling the toga tight round the body by one of its laciniae or loose ends. These expressions are quite irreconcilable with the opinion of Ferrarius and others, that the lacinia was the lower border or skirt of the toga, while all the passages adduced by them admit of easy explanation according to the above view. The lacinia was undoubtedly permitted by some to sweep the ground, especially by such as wore their garments loosely. Thus Macrobius (Sat. II.3) remarks upon one of Cicero's witticisms, "Jocatus in Caesarem quia ita praecingebatur, ut trahendo laciniam velut mollis incederet," which corresponds with the well-known caution of Sulla addressed to Pompey, "Cave tibi illum puerum male praecinctum;" and Suetonius tells how the emperor Caius, being filled with jealousy on account of the plaudits lavished on a gladiator, hurried out of the theatre in such haste "ut calcata lacinia togae praeceps per gradus iret." Moreover, the secondary and figurative meanings of the word, namely, a rag (Plin. H. N. XIX.7), a narrow neck of land (Id. V.32), the point of a leaf (Id. XV.30), the excrescences which hang down from the neck of a she-goat (Id. VIII.50), &c., accord perfectly with the idea of the angular extremity of a piece of cloth, but can scarcely be connected naturally with the notion of a border or skirt.

The corresponding Greek term was κράσπεδον, and perhaps πτερύγιον (Pollux considers these synonymous); and accordingly Plutarch (Gracch. 19) and Appian (B. C. I.16) employ the former in narrating the story of Scipio alluded to above, with this difference, however, that they describe him as throwing τὸ κράσπεδον τοῦ ἱματίου over his head instead of twisting it round his arm.

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Page updated: 30 Jun 13