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 p665  Laena

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp665‑666 of

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

LAENA, the same word with the Greek χλαῖνα, and radically connected with λάχνη, lana, &c.

1. It signifies, properly, a woollen cloak, the cloth of which was twice the ordinary thickness (duarum togarum instar, Varro, de Ling. Lat. V.133, ed. Müller), and therefore termed duplex (Festus, s.v. Laena; Serv. ad Virg. Aen. IV.262), shaggy upon both sides (Schol. ad Juv. III.283), worn over the pallium or toga for the sake of warmth (Mart. XIV.136). Hence persons carried a laena with them when they went out to supper (Mart. VIII.59); and the rich man in Juvenal, who walks home at night escorted by a train of slaves and lighted on his way by flambeaux, is wrapped in a scarlet laena (Juv. III.283).

2. A robe of state, forming, it is said, in ancient times, part of the kingly dress (Plut. Num. 7).

3. The flamines offered sacrifice in a laena which was fastened round the throat by a clasp, and in the case of the dialis was woven by the hands of the flaminica (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. IV.262; Cic. Brut. 57).

4. In later times the laena seems, to a certain extent, to have been worn as a substitute for the toga. Thus the courtly bard in Persius (I.32) is introduced reciting his fashionable lays with a violet-coloured laena over his shoulders; and we gather from Juvenal (Juv. V.130, VII.73) that it was  p666 an ordinary article of dress among the poorer classes (Becker, Gallus, vol. II p99).

5. Nonius defines it to be "vestimentum militare quod supra omnia vestimenta sumitur," but quotes no authority except Virg. Aen. IV.262.

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Page updated: 26 Jan 20