Today over there is nothing in contemporary clothing that is similar to the tunic. The tunic to be the least typical denominator for every man in ancient times and could take it on the many varied features, from underwear to a everyday dress or even to be used as a nightgown.The Romans distinguished apparel that could be lugged in contact with the body, in other words those "internal" (indictus), indigenous those that might be displayed like the toga (amictus). The tunic is certainly part of the very first group, back it could be worn in ~ sight.A detail is important: the existence or not of a cingulum (belt), that can be excellent in fabric, for example a hemp rope, one of two people leather together in contemporary belts. The presence of a cingulum make the dignity (pro-cinctus) tunic and also thus portable external the home walls otherwise the scandal might be scattered (dis-cintus).In military terms the balteus presume the same an interpretation as cingulum (term with an ext civil sense). It was, in fact, a slight punishment for a soldier being on security duty without the balteus.The factors why this to be a punishment are only conceivable. Observing the the non-balteus tunic often tends to on slide down listed below the knee, us can quickly argue the reason for the punishment: the long tunic to be intended for women, therefore a tunic there is no balteus gave a feminine and also not virile impression.We also know that by dressing just a straightforward tunic, also if it was lined, was a low course indicator style. The wealthiest classes wore over tunic other clothing such as the toga, including the one in use, because that example, within the senatorial class members.Nowadays, several of these garments in the late empire fashion, though v some historical influence due to Jewish origins, kind the sacred vestments that the Catholic Church, i m sorry is by no chance called also "Roman"-Catholic.

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There space very couple of archaeological evidences due to the nature of the textile material, however there is considerable mosaic and also pictorial documentation and also literary references.Unfortunately, most of lock are about civilian clothing with an extremely rare exceptions.As example, the renowned Palestrina mosaic (Figure 1) i beg your pardon depicts may be soldiers of the Pretoria Guard since of the shape of a scorpion top top the shields wearing a white tunic under the normal armor. This is among the clearest "color" evidences the Roman armed forces clothing.Due to absence of findings, aspects such as the shape and also color the the tunics space still issue of debates amongst scholars.A an excellent contribution in this regard has been carried by Graham Sumner1 who consistently updates his publications by listing all the evidences that were known and also composing a pretty long list. Native a statistic allude of view, the "military" evidence is oriented mainly for red and also white colours, but likewise others room reported such as green and light blue.

1600x1200 | 640x480Fig. 1 - The Nilotic mosaic native Palestrina (Italy)
Fig. 2 - A "T" shame tunic through a cingulum (civilian belt)

It should also be thought about that in ancient times the colour was regularly expensive, so in between soldiers the is conceivable that just a couple of more qualified soldiers can use them, such as officers and members of one-of-a-kind (rich) corps such together Praetorians or metropolitan Cohorts. Even white, simply as color, to be an quite expensive product acquired from sulfur and also urea processing, so it could has to be a privilege of the notables and higher status people. A situation to consider, as example, is that wearing white dresses a reputation index. Soldiers could be permitted to triumph in Rome attract white tunicas in outstanding cases and also in other situations white was the "color" of so-called "candidates" terms that is occasionally used to refer to the Praetorian Guard when acting as Emperor bodyguards.


There are many evidences that the products used. All of the in ~ the time known textile products were used: linen and wool over all, but likewise hemp. Over there is right now no evidence of the usage of high value silk or of the cotton, which, was well known by the Greeks, and presumably since of its an obstacle in spinning, came to be common just in the industrial Age. The latter two materials should it is in avoided in the reconstructions as any kind that acrylic fiber.

The classic or rectangle-shaped shape

The many elementary and probably the many classic form until the late duration was that of a basic rectangle featuring 3 holes: two for the arms and one because that the head, making certain that the variety of the fabric covers a large part the the arm yet not will the forearm, avoiding difficult moving.Such a tunic might be embellished through a detail, the is, the it to be realized in a solitary piece the cloth and not through two various rectangles sewn together possibly even reused2.To obtain the exactly length, once worn, inspect that "without put on the balteus" the tunic gets well listed below (3-5 cm) that the knee. In fact, as soon as the balteus will be enclosed, it will certainly be possible to eliminate some the the fabric from above to let that fall ago to hide the belt.In this way, adjust the tunic so that its size reaches well above the knee.You will then acquire the welcome result that if you have to bend, the tunic will not rise further revealing the intimate parts.In the imperial period the length under the knee determined whether the tunic was a feminine or effeminate garment, or anyway ridiculous3.

Fig. 3 - The classic Tunic wore there is no balteus or cingulum.

Fig. 4 - The classic Tunic v colour purple clavii.

Fig. 5 - The standard Tunic v colour violet clavii.

The main defect in the "T" shape (next paragraph) is the reduction of leg movements freedom. In fact, the tunic is narrow and also it is impossible to enlarge the legs to the maximum extent. This reasons many annoyances during any physical exercise, specifically while fighting. Making use of the classic tunic, the trouble is absent, however it may take place that you uncover a slight bump while working since the arms space surrounded by excess of fabric. To comprise for this inconvenience during manual working, the Romans choose up the fabric over the neck developing a fabric ball that probably stopped with a lace (fig. 6).

Fig. 6 - The fabric ball behind the neck (not a tail) preferred by the artist as on the Trajan Column. A significant detail.
Fig.7 - example of a standard tunic from a III cent. Ad (Prado Museum, Madrid)


Fig.8 - example of a standard tunic wore indigenous a lanista. II-III cent. AD, Galleria Borghese, Rome.

The Clavii

The Romans had a an excellent deal to their layout of dress the was often ostentation of their social or financial status, much much more so than today.One of the ways to highlight its wealth was to use colored clothing because the color was definitely expensive. Also the shade purple was so expensive to achieve in ours times as characteristic that only majesties or a couple of of the greatest institutional offices.

At the end of the Republic, it can be listed that came to be fashion come weave some colored bands in the fabric of the tunic dubbed clavii or laticlavii. Lock are recorded as belonging to the Equites and Senators that the so late Republican and Imperial age. At the finish of the ns century. The is noticeable from the iconography that their use becomes the prerogative of any social standing including also slaves. This was feasible thanks come the discovery of cheaper dyes. In military terms that is claimed that the Praetorians of royal Guard to be the first to dress them from the 1st century BC. Probably to mimic the appearance of a higher class 4.Reasons must certainly be seek in the prestige and also the higher salary that enabled them to uncover the many expensive points of the time. This is an facet that, like others, perhaps much more clamorous, shows just how the soldier"s ambition to be not around military life alone, but he was influenced by the myths of roman civil life. They have explicit proof of their usage in a military context from a fresco by Dura Europos (Syria - IV sec.) and a literary passage 5. Over there is evidence of the usage of clavii varying from a black-blue color, in miscellaneous shades that purple, to the red. Every shades that deserve to be derived from the assorted oxidation that purple.

Fig.12 - "T" shaped tunic through clavii most likely worn through a slave. Ns cent. Ad mosaic indigenous Pompeii.

Fig.13 - Il musicante (prima a sinistra) mostra ns Clavii. Mosaico del III sec. D.C. A Piazza Armerina.

Fig.14 - A servant with Clavii help masters riding steed in a hunt. II cent. Advertisement mosaic native Tunis.

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(1) roman inn Military clothes vol.1 (2002) - Graham Sumner, Osprey roman Militay dress ) - Graham Sumner (2009), history Press(2) Gospel of man (19,23-24)(3) Virgil - Aeneid IX, 615.(4) Talking around the Pretorian Guard need to be suggested that most of the police officers were members of the many influent (rich) families in Rome.(5) SHA, Claudius, XVII, 6.