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Евсеенков А.С.

Balteus, or balteum (from Latin "balteus" - belt), is a general term for a belt in antiquity. It should be noted that a specific type of belt, known as the cingulum (a Roman military belt with suspensions), is a particular case of the balteus. In ancient Greece, it was called "zōstēr" (ζωστήρ). There are other meanings of this term:

Balteus among civilians

Among ordinary Roman citizens, both men and women, the balteus was actively used to girdle the tunic, providing convenience in wearing and creating an aesthetically pleasing drape of the fabric in accordance with fashion. Baltei were made from almost anything available, such as woven belts, fabric scraps, or leather strips.

Statue of Melpomene in Baltheus. It is located in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. The original is in the Louvre, France. Mid-1st century BC
Statue of Fortune with balteus. Chiaramonti Musei Vaticani. 1st century BC - 1st century AD

Balteus among gladiators

For gladiators, the balteus was made of leather and was an essential element of their attire. Unlike ordinary roman citizens, gladiators often tied their subligacula instead of tunics with the balteus. This is because not all types of gladiators wore tunics, but almost all of them wore subligacula. The method of fastening the subligaculum with the balteus could vary. There are surviving reliefs and mosaics where the subligaculum protrudes from under the balteus, and others where the balteus fully covers the subligaculum from above. It is also worth noting that gladiatorial baltei could be adorned with classical ornaments.

Figure of the gladiator murmillon made of bone. Found in Lexden, Colchester. British Museum of Roman History. 1st-2nd century AD
Mosaic with Thracian in decorated Balthea. Saint-Rémi Museum, Reims, France. 2-3 century AD
Gladiator in baltea on top of the subligaculum. House of Gladiators. Kourion, Cyprus. 3rd century AD

Related topics

Cingulum, Legionnaire, Gladiator, Toga, Tunic, Subligaculum


A woman and a man with balteys. 4th century AD
Gladiator fight with tunics and balteas. Floor mosaic. Nennig on the Moselle. Germany. Roman villa. Mid-3rd century AD