Who wore the Roman toga?

February 10, 2015

 

 

 

Before the Second-Century BCE, all free Roman citizens, whether male or female, wore the toga, a semi-circular blanket of naturally-colored wool about 20 feet long. The only feature to distinguish the wearer’s economic status was the quality of the wool, the finest being from Attica, Laconica, Miletus, Laodicea, or Baetica. The lower classes wore togas made of coarse wool or thin felt.

By the First-Century CE, the time of the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series, the wearing of the toga was restricted to male Roman citizens at the law courts, theater, circus, or imperial court. The garment was draped first over the left side of the body, usually on top of a linen tunic, then over the left shoulder, under the right arm, and back over the left arm and shoulder and held in place by both the weight of the fabric and the wearer’s left arm pressing against his body. 

The wearing of the toga symbolized respectability for men. In fact, prominent Romans had slaves specially trained to drape their master’s toga. But the wearing of the toga was a badge of disgrace for the women compelled to wear them, the lowest class of prostitutes, the streetwalkers, and women convicted of adultery.

 

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