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Евсеенков А.С.

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Toga — status outerwear in ancient Rome, a wide and long piece of fabric that was worn over a tunic.

The toga was one of the attributes of Roman citizenship. Virgil called the Romans " lords of the world, a people dressed in togas." Persons deprived of their citizenship and sent into exile lost the right to wear a toga, and foreigners were also not allowed to wear it. The toga was the official dress worn primarily by the wealthy citizens of Rome. Over time, the fashion changed, and the toga was worn less and less often. For example, Juvenal mentioned that the toga was mostly worn only on the dead on their deathbed. Martial wrote that in small towns in Italy, the toga was worn once or twice a month, when the family celebrated various festivals, mainly in honor of Lares. In Rome itself, the tradition of wearing the toga was somewhat more stable than on the periphery of the state, but despite this, even in the late Republic, citizens increasingly preferred to use ordinary cloaks instead of togas- penulas and sagums. Under Augustus, the aediles were supposed to ensure that Roman traditions were maintained: that every Roman citizen in the forum and in the circus wore a toga. However, even these measures did not succeed, and soon it was worn only where it was necessary: at public games, in court, at sacrifices, and when customers greeted their patron. Thus, over time, the toga turned into an official dress, and in everyday life it was practically not used.

It should be noted that in Roman fashion, the toga probably came from the Greeks, who used a similar piece of clothing, the himatium.

Statue of Octavian Augustus wearing a toga. 1st century AD
Statue of Emperor Tiberius wearing a toga. 1st century AD
Etruscan-Roman bronze statue of an orator wearing a toga. 2-1 century BC

Several varieties of toga were known:


The toga was shaped like a rounded trapeze and was truly huge in size, it was put on with the help of slaves. The width of the canvas reached up to 2 meters in the widest part, the length from 3 to 10 meters, depending on the type of toga. The classic toga was white or cream in color. To create a red or purple edging, a braid was often not sewn: threads of a different color were woven directly during the weaving process.

Toga pattern
Toga pattern

Since the toga was worn by Roman citizens, it is best suited for reconstructing the images of a senator and a priest. For togas, it is recommended to find the thinnest wool of plain weave, along the edges you should sew the fabric for a more neat look.

Pontiff in a toga, reconstruction
Senator in a toga, reconstruction

Related topics

Tunic, Augur, The Pontiff, Equites-Riders, Penula, Sagum


Giro P. Private and public life of the Romans

Sergeenko M. Zhizn Drevnego Rima Life of Ancient Rome