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 p793  Nebris

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp793‑794 of

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

[image ALT: An engraving of a woman in a blouse and long pleated skirt, holding the skin of a fawn. It is an illustration of the ancient Graeco-Roman 'nebris'.]

NEBRIS, a fawn's skin (from νεβρός, a fawn; see Aegis), worn originally by hunters and others as an appropriate part of their dress, and afterwards attributed to Dionysus (Eurip. Bacch. 99, 125, 157, 790, ed. Matt.; Aristoph. Ranae, 1209; Dionys. Perieg. 702, 946; Rufus Festus Avien. 1129), and consequently assumed by his votaries in the processions and ceremonies which they observed in honour of him [Dionysia.] The annexed woodcut, taken from Sir Wm. Hamilton's Vases (I.37), shows a priestess of Bacchus in the attitude of offering a nebris to him or to one of his ministers. The works of ancient art often show it as worn not only by male and female bacchanals, but also by Pans and Satyrs. It was  p794 commonly put on in the same manner as the aegis, or goat-skin, by tying the two fore-legs over the right shoulder so as to allow the body of the skin to cover the left side of the wearer (Ovid. Met. VI.593).

[image ALT: A photograph of a fragment of a stone frieze depicting on the left a woman in wildly flowing robes playing the cymbals, and on the right a naked man, holding a staff topped with a finial and some ribbons: he has the skin of an animal hanging over his back.]

Fragment of a frieze with a Bacchic scene.

The maenad to the left is playing the cymbals; the male figure holds a thyrsus and "wears" a nebris.

(Foligno, Museo di Palazzo Trinci. 413 × 363 mm:
the blue pen is exactly 14 cm long.)

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Page updated: 29 Dec 06