Page images
PDF
EPUB

the drapery. It was only in later times that the covering, as well of the head as the body, was left to assume a more easy and uncontrolled flow.

At first, as appears both from ancient sculpture and paintings, men and women alike wore their hair descending partly before and partly behind, in a number of long separate locks, either of a flat and zig-zagged, or of a round and corkscrew shape. A little later it grew the fashion to collect the whole of the hair hanging down the back, by means of a riband, into a single broad stream, and only to leave in front one, two, or three long narrow locks hanging down separately; and this is the head-dress which Minerva, a maiden affecting old fashion and formality, never seems to have quitted ; and which Bacchus, though not originally quite so formal, thought proper to re-assume when on his return from amongst the philosophers of India, he chose himself to adopt the beard and mien of a sage. Later still, the queue depending down the back, was taken up, and doubled into a club; and the side locks only continued to reach in front, as low down as the breast. But these also gradually shrunk away into a greater number of small tufts or ringlets hanging down about the ears, and leaving the neck quite unconfined and bare. So neatly was the hair arranged in both sexes round the forehead, and in the males round the chin, as sometimes to resemble the cells of a bee-hive; and at others, waves and meanders executed in wirework.

Greatly diversified were, among the Grecian females, the coverings of both extremities. Ladies reckoned among the ornaments of the head, the mitry or bushel-shaped crown, peculiarly affected by Ceres; the tiara, or crescent-formed diadem, worn by Juno and by Venus; and ribands, rows of beads, wreaths of flowers, nettings, fillets, skewers, and gew-gaws innumerable.

THE ROMAN TOGA.

The most celebrated garment of the Romans, was the toga. It consisted of a semi-circular robe without sleeves; enveloped the whole body; and leaving the right arm at liberty, was drawn over the left shoulder, on which it was gathered into a knot. The toga was formed of woollen cloth, the quality and size of which varied as size and circumstance directed. Horace represents a rich man as seriously admonishing one of more slender revenue, not to attempt to vie with him in the size of his robe; and he exclaims with indignation against an upstart who displayed his wealth in a toga of six ells.

The toga was worn in various folds over the arm and upon the breast, and the arrangement appears to have been an object of no common attention. Indeed, of such importance were these graces considered, that the learned Quintilian explains at considerable length the manner in which a barrister should display his robe, so as to increase the effect of his pleading; and the orator, Hortensius, when consul, made a public and serious complaint to the Judges, of his colleague in office, for having pressed against him in a narrow passage, and deranged the folds of his dress.

The colour of the toga was generally plain white; but in some instances it varied in colour, and ornaments were added according to the rank of the wearer. Thus the toga worn by generals when they entered Rome in triumph, was a tissue of purple and erabossed gold, with an embroidery of palm leaves; and that used by the knights at their general review, in the ides of July, was of purple, striped with scarlet and white, which had formerly been the habit of the ancient kings.

The sacerdotal and magisterial toga was bordered with purple, and was called toga prxtexta; it was also worn by young persons of family, with the addition of a golden ball, the bulla aurea, upon the breast, pendant from a collar. How it came to be bestowed on the young men, is differently related. Some fancy that Tarquinius Priscus, in a triumph for a victory over the Sabines, first honoured his own son with the pratexta and the bulla aurea, as a reward for his valour in killing one of his enemies with his own hands. Others relate that the same Tarquin, among other wise institutions, took particular care in assigning the proper habit to the boys, and accordingly ordained that the sons of noblemen should make use of the pratexta and the bulla aurea, provided their father had borne any cerule office; and that the rest should wear the praXexte only, as low as the sons of those who had served on horseback in the army the full time that the law required. A third party refer the origin of this custom to Romulus himself, as the consequence of a promise made to the Sabine virgins, that he would bestow a very considerable mark of honour on the first child that was born to any of them by a Roman father. Many believe, however, that the reason of giving them the bulla and the pratexta was that the former being shaped like a heart, might, as often as they looked on it, be no inconsiderable incitement to courage; and that the purple of the gown might remind them of the modesty which became them at that age.

But on whatever account this custom took its rise, it was constantly observed by all the sons of the free born. They took it at twelve years of age, and wore it for two years, when it was succeeded by the toga virilU, the investiture of which was a ceremony of great solemnity as well as festivity. The friends and relatives of the youth being assembled on the occasion, he was stripped of the toga protista, and the bulla aurea was consecrated to the Lares. He was then clothed in a toga of pure white, without ornament, and conducted by the whole company, followed by the servants and retainers of his bouse, and near connexions, to the capital, where prayers and sacrifices were offered to the gods. Thence he was taken with the same parade to the Forum, to make his public entry into the world on that spot where probably the most important scenes of his future life were to be acted. The day was concluded with a - feast, to which the dependants of the family were admitted, and presents were distributed among the guests.

During the early period of the republic, young men were not allowed to take the toga virilu until the completion of their seventeenth year; but the indulgence of parents afterwards relaxed this rule, and 'under the emperors it was frequently granted to boys of more tender age.

Every Roman citizen had a right to wear the toga; it was nevertheless considered as a dress of ceremony, and in some measure as a mark of superiority; and the lower classes seldom wore more than the tunic, or under dress. It was also usual to throw it aside in the house, and it was rarely worn in the country ; but in the city, and in all public places, it would have been deemed indecorous in any one above the rank of a plebian, to appear without it; and in foreign countries it was worn as a distinction. Indeed, so much importance did the Romans attach to it, that exiles were deprived of the right to wear it during the term of their banishment. Germanicus having appeared without it in Egypt, was reprimanded by Tiberius for the neglect, as a want of respect to the customs of the country; as Scipio Africanus had been by his fellow citizens, for a similar omission at Syracuse.

Under the Roman emperors, the toga began to fall into disuse, notwithstanding the orders of Augustus and Adrian, that no citizen should be allowed to enter the circus, nor any senator or knight to appeard abroad, without it. Adrian, even set the example himself, by constantly wearing it, even at table, although that was contrary to the established usage. But notwithstanding these efforts in favour of the ancient costume, the caprices of taste and fashion, aided by an extended intercourse with foreign nations, contributed afterwards to the introduction of various changes of dress, which entirely superseded the toga.

« PreviousContinue »