This chapter considers the reconstruction and functions of religious dress from Classical Greece to Christian late Antiquity. While not exhaustive, this survey begins with an examination of ritual dress in Greek, Roman, and “foreign” cults and mysteries over these centuries, concluding with fashion shifts corresponding to institutional developments within Christianity. “Belief” serves imperfectly to describe religious attitudes related to dressing the body for much of our survey of the ancient Mediterranean world. “Religious” refers here to ancient conceptions of divine beings, the rituals in which ancient people engaged to maintain relationships with those beings, and the institutions they established to support them. Ancient religions, particularly the cults of Greece and Rome, emphasized ritual performances, were devoid of dogma, and were notable for their diversity and local variety. Dress, we will discover, played various, and often integral, roles in those performances.
The latter part of the chapter turns to early Christian materials where the category of belief becomes more salient. Christians freighted dress with moral and theological significance. In late Antiquity, dress became a primary marker of identity for all believers, and essential to the establishment and authorization of emerging social roles (monk, nun, priest) and institutions (monastery and church).
A first-century BC inscription of a sacred law for the mysteries of Demeter and Kore at Andania in the Peloponnese offers our richest and most detailed source on ritual dress in ancient cultic life. It will orient the discussion that follows. Nearly sixteen lines of the sacred decree concern the dress of initiates and cultic officials. At the Andanian mysteries all initiates are told to wear white, linen tunics and mantles, as opposed to those made of wool or transparent materials, and to go barefoot within the sacred precinct. In religious rites uniform dress—commonly white, or undyed, linen robes—signified that cult participants were bound to one another by a common ritual experience. At the same time, the more elaborate garb reserved for cult officials accentuated the “symbolic capital” of those who presided over the festivities. The Andanian law suggests that dress should differentiate among women according to ritual and economic status. The expense of women’s garments and their decoration could vary among classes of women: free women, girls, slaves, and “sacred women” those who presided over the rites. The free adult women, however, could have larger stripes and borders on their mantles, and more expensive mantles than that of girls or slaves. Sacred women were distinguished by wearing an undecorated kalasiris (a tunic-like garment) with fringe—a garment inspired by Egyptian styles.
Linen, being made from plant and not animal, was often considered ritually pure, and its simplicity and availability also made it appealing to variety of communities. Its association with Egypt meant that linen figured in the dress of initiates in the Isis cult. Commenting on the linen garments and shaved heads of Isiac priests, Plutarch (early second century AD) explains that they avoid hair (in the form of a woolen garment or on their own bodies). As something the body expels (like excrement), hair was seen as ritually contaminating. The fabric of choice for Pythagoreans, a philosophical sect widely known for its veganism and ascetic austerity, linen clothing was also worn in service in the Jerusalem Temple and later by Christians.
Concerns with ritual purity may likewise explain the Andanian prohibition on shoes during the procession, and a restriction in the law forbidding shoes, except those made of felt or sacrificial leather, during the rites. It may have been common to go barefoot in sacred precincts in order not to carry “unholy ground between the sacred and secular boundaries.”
In Antiquity “white” was often specified for religious contexts. Terms, such as the Greek leukos or Latin candidus, albus could indicate undyed, higher quality wool, clothing that had been bleached in the sun, or clothing to which pigment had been added to obtain a whiter look. “White” might indicate a range of hues, not simply pure white, and signified luminosity and brightness—qualities associated with the gods. Cultic officials regularly wore it, as did devotees. A sacred law from Cos indicates that the priests of Herakles Kallinikos donned white. Laws from Pergamon and Priene, like that at Andania, required white dress for those who entered the sacred compound. In the sanctuaries of the healing god, Asclepius, devotees donned white robes. The association of white with purity made it a choice hue for the cults of young women and matrons as well. Pausanias reports that the aged priestess of Sosipolis at Olympia (a women’s cult) wrapped her head in a white linen veil. Tertullian of Carthage indicates that white was the preferred color of the initiates of Ceres, a goddess associated with fertility. Ovid reports that the color was suitable to her April games, the Ludi Cereales.
White clothing was especially associated with mystery cults, explaining its presence at Andania. Similarly, Apuleius’ novel, the Metamorphoses, records a sacred procession of the goddess, Isis, in which her initiates all don “‘shining robes.” Mystery cults emphasized ritual initiation in which the devotee gained a new ritual status, and in some cases a better fate in the afterlife. White could signal this shift. In late Antiquity, this symbolism was retained in Christian baptismal rituals, where the newly baptized were given white robes to indicate membership in the Christian community, and their improved spiritual status.
Where white was suited to initiations and cult festivities, dark or gray tones were reserved for mourning and funerary contexts. A third-century BC inscription from Asia Minor insists that female mourners wear gray. In Roman contexts, citizen men would be expected to don the toga pulla (a dark toga), during periods of mourning. Mourning protocol for Roman women (which lasted for a longer period) dictated dark or black mantles and tunics along with the removal of insignia (such as jewelry). Wearing black clothing in periods of mourning is also attested among Jewish communities.
For initiates into mystery cults, the wreath was also a crucial part of their costume, and was generally used on ritual and festive occasions. Wreaths of various kinds could adorn doorposts during festivals, were worn by brides, by soldiers in military triumphs, and by cultic officials and celebrants. Greek priestesses wore crowns in imitation of the goddesses they served. Roman women also regularly wore crowns, wreaths, and infula (below) to signal their role as priestesses of cults, such as Ceres and Fortuna. Male officials regularly donned wreaths as part of their sacred duties. On the sacrificial procession that appears on the great altar of Augustus, the Ara Pacis, various members of the priestly colleges and the imperial family appear wearing their laurel crowns (Figures 4.1 and 4.2).
In mystery cults, gaining the crown was the central point of the initiation ritual. At Andania, all first-time initiates exchanged their tiaras for wreaths. In the Great Mysteries of Demeter and Kore, held annually just outside Athens at Eleusis, first-time initiates (neophtyes) were wreathed with myrtle crowns. In the cult of Dionysius, gold crowns, called lamellae, would be given upon initiation. Often inscribed with messages, and arranged in a leaf-pattern, these crowns have been found in tombs. Engraved with instructions, they were thought to help an initiate navigate the afterlife.
To facilitate the transformative effect of particular cultic rites, an initiate might manipulate or change their clothing. A cloth veil could shield the initiate’s eyes during important moments indicating his or her access to sacred mysteries. Prenuptial rites of passage attest to more dramatic costume changes. At the Arkteia in the Artemis sanctuary at Brauron, for instance, Athenian girls donned a special garment, the saffron krokotos, which they then shed as a symbol of the transition from childhood to maidenhood. Similarly at the Heraia at Olympia, girls donned a short chitōn with breast bared, a garment normally worn by male soldiers. At the Cretan Ekdusia, it was young men who wore feminine clothing as part of their transition into adulthood. This temporary ritual “cross-dressing” signaled the leaving behind of sexual ambiguity, and the assumption of the accepted roles—for girls, of wives and mothers; for boys, soldiers and citizens. In the Roman context, dress likewise facilitated boys’ transition into manhood. In a formal ceremony, young citizen boys would abandon their bordered toga and protective amulet, the bulla, for the white robe of the male citizen, the toga virilis.
Figure 4.1. Procession of the imperial court and family on North Side of the Ara Pacis. Photo: DEA/G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini/Getty Images.
Devotees regularly made gifts of clothing to deities—a practice that is attested particularly among female devotees to Athena and Artemis. The most prominent example occurred at the Panathenaia festival during which the goddess Athena Polias was given a sacred peplos for her protection of the city and its agricultural seasons. The peplos was a traditional archaic garment, one associated with femininity, chastity, and domestic labor—as such, fitting for Athena, the patroness of weavers. Woven by a special class of Athenian girls (ergasitinai), this garment was decorated with mythical scenes, and was saffron yellow (krokos) in color. This hue symbolized femininity and was used regularly in ritual contexts (such as the Brauron, see above). On the eastern and central frieze of the Parthenon, we see a scene showing the dedication of the peplos to Athena. It features a procession perhaps lead by the ergasitinai and the priestess of Athena Polias. At the priestess’ back stands the archon basileus and a young child, possibly a girl in the goddess service, one of the arrephoroi. The pair accept the garment on behalf of the goddess whose statue will be adorned with it (Figure 4.2).
Individuals gave clothing to temple treasuries, motivated by individual piety, or in commemoration of a ritual event. Following initiation in the Eleusinian mysteries, for instance, an initiate could dedicate his or her clothing to Demeter in remembrance of a new ritual status. At Artemis’ Temple in Brauron women gifted a variety of dress items—mirrors, tunics, belts, and himations. These may have been made for the goddess, or chosen as favorites of the women who owned them. As personal items, clothes were a fitting expression of gratitude for this goddess who oversaw childbirth and the onset of menarche. This form of piety was likely limited to the elite, given the expense of clothing in Antiquity. Clothing dedications were not always intentional, however; a devotee might be forced to donate clothing to a deity if she violated a sumptuary law. A sixth-century BC bronze tablet inscription from a sanctuary of Demeter in Arcadia reports that women who appear for the festivities in “brightly-colored” robes must dedicate their garments to the goddess. Similarly, at Andania, women’s clothing that did not meet the sartorial requirements outlined there could be destroyed, or given to the gods.
Prescriptions regarding ritual dress were often more restrictive for women than for men. At the Andanian mysteries, for example, female devotees were prohibited transparent clothing, gold, rouge, and white make-up and shoes (unless made of felt or sacrificial leather). Hair could not be braided or worn with ribbons. Bound and plaited hair was forbidden, along with strapped leather shoes because binding and knotting were linked with magical spells. Women’s loose hair also differentiated festive from hair styles in mundane times. Prohibitions against women’s luxurious garb likewise curbed ostentatious display that might be read as seductive.
Restrictions on women’s dress routinely targeted sacred processions. Women’s participation in these public spectacles offered them a unique opportunity to be on display. For this reason, we find similar restrictions on women’s adornment at funerals, which also included processions to the graveside. These restrictions reflect ancient male perceptions of women as irrational and potentially disruptive, particularly in public gatherings. The containment of women’s dress operated on the notion that it would constrain their behavior as well. So critical was this concern that in Greek cities the office of the gynaiokonomos (the controller of women) was established to ensure that women were arranged in an orderly manner and observed sartorial requirements. While sacred laws limited ostentatious display, literary and artistic accounts suggested that women should appear alluring during sacred processions to showcase their marriageability. Greek literary accounts of the kanephorus—the young girl who carried the basket of sacred paraphernalia, often at the head of a procession—commonly stress the girl’s beauty and white make-up, the very look discouraged in the Andanian law.
For much of the Greek and Roman world, cult officials did not sport a regular priestly costume that differed markedly from the clothing of devotees. Rather, as with the classes of women at the Andanian mysteries, subtle sartorial differences distinguished cultic officials. Some exceptions can be made for major Roman priesthoods, as well as priesthoods of foreign cults, as we will see. In iconography, priests of Greek cults might be identified by their long chitōns—as in the image of archon basileus on the Parthenon frieze—but are usually identified by the implements they carry, such as a sacrificial knife, or in the case of priestesses, a temple key. Purple cloaks, gold jewelry and crowns, wreaths, and headbands were regular features of priestly dress. In Roman contexts, priestesses might wear woolen bands, infulae (below). Crowns, gold jewelry, and purple belonged both to royalty and divinity throughout the Mediterranean world, and thus, indicated the prestige of cult officials, and their affiliation with the sacred in caring for the gods or overseeing initiation rites.
Cultic officials regularly wore purple (commonly paired with white). Purple took on another valence in the Roman context, indicating civic rank and office, of which civic priesthoods were a part. The color figured into a nuanced vestimentary code that distinguished citizens from non-citizens, and identified ranks among citizen elites in Rome and its territories. Priests (flamines) of major Roman cults wore the toga praetexta with a purple stripe at its edge, a garment they shared with magistrates. During sacrifice, the presiding priest would draw his long toga over his head (capite velato) as Marcus Agrippa does on the Ara Pacis (see Figure 4.1). This posture became a favorite in imperial portraiture, as a way for emperors to showcase their priestly office and their piety. The most ancient Roman priesthoods had other sartorial requirements. Augurs—whose job it was to interpret the will of the gods through various means of divination—carried a curved stick, the lituus, and donned a trabea, a short-rounded mantle. The flamen Dialis, the priest of Jupiter, donned a thick-wool cloak, the laena (reportedly woven by his wife, the flaminica), over a bordered toga. On his head he wore an albogalerus, a white conical cap made from the skins of sacrificial animals and topped with a spike of olive wood, the apex. Members of the highest-ranking flamines also wore a galerus with apex, as is shown on the Ara Pacis south frieze (see Figure 4.3).
The flamen Dialis had additional restrictions: he could have no knot or ties in his dress, and he could not appear in public without his galerus and tunic. These prohibitions coincided with others that preserved his connection to Rome and his ritual purity: his bedposts were daubed in mud so that he would never loose contact with Roman soil; he could never oversee an army, or enter a graveyard; and if divorced, he must resign.
Figure 4.3. Ara Pacis relief of Augustus in procession with priests (flamines) in their special headgear and laena (mantle). Photo: DEA/G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini/Getty Images.
The flaminica Dialis, too, was reportedly identifiable by her dress. Her hair, made up in a titulus, a towering bun, was bound with woolen purple fillets, vittae, overlaid by a wreath and saffron veil. She wore a stola, signifying her matronal status. The dress of the Vestal Virgins was inspired by her archaic costume. Their signature hairstyle, the seni crines (or sex crines), included six braids that wrapped the head, was adorned with infula. Elaine Fantham has argued that these woolen hanks of red and white wrapped the head, and woolen ribbons, called vittae, were attached to them. Like wreaths, woolen fillets were used commonly in Roman ritual contexts, adorning altars, sacrificial victims, and were worn by priests and priestesses—demarcating the ritually exclusive and pure. At sacrifice, Vestals added a siffibulum, a short white veil. In a second-century portrait bust, a Vestal wears the siffibulum on the top of the infula, which wrap her brow and fall in loops on either side of her head (Figure 4.4).
The garb of flaminicia and the Vestal Virgins signified purity, and their hairstyles, sexual chastity, revealing a logic in which the cultic agent represented the divinity he or she served. Just as the flamen Dialis was believed to be the living image of Jupiter, Ovid reports that the Vestals were pure and chaste because the goddess they served is “virgin who neither gives nor takes seeds” (virgo est, quae semina nulla remittit nec capit). This logic could apply to appearance as well. Cult officials and devotees might model their garb on that of the divine beings they attended, perhaps especially in processions. A Greek novel, An Ephesian Tale (second century AD), reports how one maiden, the fourteen-year-old Anthia, lead a procession for Artemis, adorned in imitation of the goddess, equipped with a purple tunic, fawnskin, quiver and bow, appearing to her on-lookers as an epiphany of the goddess. Imitative dress could also add dramatic realism in cultic contexts that included sacred dramas, such as at the Eleusinian mysteries or Themosphoria where initiates re-enacted Demeter’s long search for her daughter Persephone.
Figure 4.4. Roman statue of the High Priestess of Vesta. National Museum, Rome. Photo by CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images.
Priests and devotees of foreign cults, such as that of the Great Mother from Anatolia, Isis from Egypt, or the priests of the Jerusalem Temple, wore distinctive, even exotic dress. The eunuch priests of the Great Mother, the galli, were known (and derided) for their shrill singing and music as well as their flamboyant garb. These bands of long-haired galli were painted with make-up, wore saffron or multi-colored robes, upon which they attached small reliefs. Their elaborate costumes could include rings and other jewelry, turbans (mitra), and fanciful crowns. This distinctive dress is apparent in this second-century funerary portrait from outside Rome of a priest of Cybele (Figure 4.5).
Participants in the Isis cult adopted a particular style of dress that symbolized their ritual purity, and the Egyptian heritage of their cult. Where male priests wore linen tunics and had shaved heads, female initiates and priestesses of the cult donned a linen mantle with a knotted fringe. Worn cross-wrapped over a tunic, both ends of were tied in a slipknot at the chest. A second-century AD Attic funerary stele commemorates a female initiate of the Isiac mysteries. This woman, Sosibia, wears the Egyptian tunic with slipknot and holds a rattle (sistrum) and a small vase (situla), ritual implements associated the cult (Figure 4.6).
While ancient Jews had some unique clothing habits, related to biblical injunctions, they were not necessarily visually distinctive from other groups in the Roman world. However, distinctive dress could also be found on priests of the Jerusalem Temple. These men reportedly dressed in linen tunics over pants, a headdress, and sash. The high priest wore these items with the addition of a crown, ephod, and breastplate—these were richly ornamented garments of gold, blue, and purple, encrusted with stones—and an outer robe, lined with bells and cloth pomegranates. On the Day of Atonement, he abandoned this elaborate clothing in exchange for simple linen tunic, undergarments, and turban. Whether items of Jerusalem Temple priestly dress retained the same look and were worn in the same way from the biblical into the Roman period seems unlikely.
Reconstructing priestly clothing from the Greek and Roman periods is complex because we do not have visual representations of it that date to the period of the Temple. In the third-century AD frescoes of the Dura Europos synagogue in Syria, we find an image of Aaron in his ornate high priestly clothing (Figure 4.7).
Whether this image bears true resemblance to Jewish priestly costume, or is an imaginative representation of biblical passages, is not clear. This image recalls other treatments of priestly dress after the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 when some Jews continued to develop a rich semiotics of this garb. Reflecting on biblical passages and the (defunct) sacrificial system outlined in them, some asserted that the garments of the high priest mirrored the cosmos and had divine origins.
Figure 4.6. Second-century funeral portrait of Isiac initiate. Roman, from Attica, AD 160–170. The Greek inscription reads “Sosibia [daughter of] Euboios of Kephissia.” Photograph © 2016 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Figure 4.7. Consecration of the tabernacle and its priests (WB2 Plate LX), Dura Europas. Yale University Art Gallery.
Like others in the Roman Empire, Christians wore tunics and mantles of differing types, and as fashions changed into late Antiquity, hooded cloaks and various kinds of trousers. Clerical vestments developed from these mundane items of dress (below). Our earliest written accounts of Christian clothing, the gospels, stress the ordinary simplicity of Jesus’ and his disciples’ dress. They preferred unstained, linen garb, which was treated as an indication of their humble faith and contrasted with the opulent garb of the high priests, the Jewish Pharisees, and royalty. Over the centuries, however, clerical vestments moved from simplicity towards elaborateness. Christians did not develop totally unique clothing, but endowed dress with symbolism more intensely than the other communities we have considered. Christians relied on notions about the body drawn not from ancient cultic religion, but from moral philosophy—namely, that outer appearance revealed inner disposition, even divine truths. Extending this view to their entire community, they made clothing a critical marker of Christian identity.
Early Christians used biblical metaphors for dress, notably the apostle Paul’s image of baptism as “putting on Christ,” as a way to speak about the transformative effects of baptismal ritual (which included vesting and divesting), or as a metaphor for Christian living. They often attached this language to their views on Christ’s incarnation to lend theological significance to the clothed bodies of Christians.
Some Christians held a deep affinity for the philosophical mode of life and claimed its iconic garb—the Greek himation/Latin pallium—as their own. Ancient philosophers regularly critiqued luxurious dress, promoting instead a look that indicated the virtues of modesty and self-control: a worn-out pallium together with unkempt hair and beard.
Early Christian men who wore the pallium, like Justin Martyr (AD 100–165), did so to assert their intellectual credentials and the credibility of their movement as a philosophy. But Tertullian of Carthage (AD 160–220), who wrote the first early Christian treatise about men’s dress, On the Pallium, alternatively emphasized self-discipline and a rejection of civic politics. Tertullian stresses the simplicity of the garment in comparison with the long and fussy folds of the toga, the signature garment of the Roman statesman. The pallium represents a mode of life based on solitude and contemplation. Ultimately, the pallium’s association with pagan philosophy made it less appealing as everyday garb once the Empire became Christianized. Yet it remained popular in visual representations of biblical figures, the prophets and apostles, and especially of Christ himself. A garment that suggests learned wisdom was the ideal costume for these holy figures that guide believers in the life of faith.
In the fourth and fifth centuries, ascetic writers developed a rich symbolism of the uniform of male monastics following the logic that it both reflects a man’s moral virtue and conditions him towards this goal. A standard uniform was developed for men in these communities, which included a hood, tunic (colobia), shoulder straps (scapular), cape, sheepskin mantle (melote), and staff. Produced in the monastic house, this costume was worn by all brethren. Desert monastics donned a similar outfit, though perhaps made of haircloth. In exchanging his regular clothing for it, a monk signaled his renunciation of the secular world and unity with others in his house in the pursuit of Christ-like discipline. Evagrius of Pontus (AD 345–399) writes that the monastic uniform reveals the virtues of Christ—humility, charity, purity, and even, his saving death—in wearing it, the monk conforms himself to them.
John Cassian (AD 360–435) explains that the cowl calls the monk to childhood innocence and simplicity, and the linen tunic is like a mourning shroud, indicating that he “has died to a worldly way of life.” He insists that every item of the monastic uniform is biblically based, in an effort to place this emerging social identity, monk, in a venerable lineage. The prophets Elijah and his predecessor Elisha, he notes, wore the sheepskin mantle. Elijah likewise carried a staff, a representation of the cross. It has protective power: a monk must call on it to beat back the evil spirits who aim to thwart his spiritual progress. The notion that dress could have magical and protective power, however, is attested outside monastic and even Christian circles. Henry Maguire has demonstrated that Byzantine tunics with embroidered clavi and roundels were worn to attract prosperity as well as fend off malevolent spirits. Similarly as pilgrims, ancient Christians commonly wore amulets, phylacteries with written charms, and relics in order to obtain divine protection; some Christians were also buried with these items.
For many early Christian writers it was women’s, and not men’s, dress that captivated their attention. Promoting the modest look, Christian men picked up a discourse borrowed from Roman moral philosophy that dress indicated not only women’s virtue, but also that of their household and community. Beginning with the apostle Paul, they held up the idea that women in their communities should cultivate and display modesty in their dress.
They warned against make-up, jewelry, wigs, braids, embroidered and dyed fabrics, ribbons, and perfumes, employing shaming tactics to cajole Christian women to compliance. John Chrysostom (AD 347–407) complained that women who adorned themselves used wealth improperly—and their opulent look revealed that men were failing to manage their households in a virtuous and edifying manner. The second-century teacher, Clement of Alexandria, linked women’s adornment with idolatry and fornication. Tertullian and Cyprian of Carthage (AD 200–258) raged that adorned women advertised their sexual desirability. Calling women the “Devil’s Gateway,” Tertullian extended this rhetoric to its limit, arguing that women’s elaborate dress was the occasion for human sin.
In part, these writers feared that in wearing fine dress, women showcased their independent wealth, a threat to male-led households and churches. Yet Christian women of means did not routinely abandon luxurious garb upon entering these communities. Jewelry and ornate dress were valuable ways for Roman women to indicate their social and marital status, and it served them as status markers in Christian contexts. Yet women who pursued an ascetic vocation did indicate their new spiritual vocation through a change of clothing. Casting off ornate garb, they donned dark, unadorned woolen clothing, and in some cases shaved their hair as a sign of their renunciation. Some women opted for the monastic garb of Christian brethren, including a coarse tunic, belt, and haircloth cowl.
The austerity of ascetic women’s dress was a complication for some early Christians, however. In foregoing fine garb, these women erased social distinctions and potentially the gendered distinctions upon which church offices were being founded. The Council of Gangra (AD 325–381) rejected what it deemed theatrical transvestism as a form of false asceticism. Subsequent imperial edicts barred women who had cut their hair from even entering the churches. This particular legislation coincided with the promotion of the veil for consecrated virgins. Following Paul, male Christian writers routinely advocated veiling for women in their communities—a practice initially associated with Roman matrons. In the fourth century, it became the marker of Christian virgins. In a public ceremony (the velatio), a bishop would bestow a veil upon a virgin, indicating her vow of lifelong celibacy and submission to episcopal authority.
Where ascetic dress was austere and downplayed distinctions, episcopal dress increasingly emphasized the dignity of male office holders over the laity, and distinguished between bishops, priests, deacons and the other orders. Resplendent dress was increasingly seen as the appropriate clothing for representatives of the heavenly realm—just as gold and fine textiles regularly figured in the iconography of the saints. In the third century, Pope Sylvester maintained that deacons should wear the dalmatic in the churches, a short tunic worn unbelted, with long, wide sleeves, which could be decorated with the broad stripes (angusti clavi) (Figure 4.8). The fourth-century Council of Laodicea forbade sub-deacons, readers, and chanters to wear the orarium. A predecessor of the stole, this garment was worn around the neck.
Though it is only in the thirteenth century that we can speak of standardized clerical vestments in the Latin Church, already by the fifth century, particular items had become routine in episcopal costume: the orarium and dalmatic (above) and the paenula and pallium. Borrowed from the mundane dress of the late antique Roman world, these garments evolved and were refined over the centuries, imbued with theological symbolism and retained into the Medieval period. Our earliest visual representation of a Christian bishop, a mosaic of Ambrose of Milan (AD 340–397), shows him wearing a white tunic (tunica alba) under a dalmatic with clavi and a brown paenula (Figure 4.9).
The paenula (or casula) was originally a semi-circular cloak with hood, a practical garment designed for harsh weather. Predecessor of the medieval chasuble, clerics wore the paenula without a hood, made of wool or silk, and dyed in a variety of colors suited to liturgical occasions. The origin of the bishop’s pallium is more complex. A circular scarf of white, the garment was draped around the neck forming a “Y,” embroidered with crosses, and could be embellished with fringes, shown on the Bishop Maximianus in the San Vitale mosaics (Figure 4.10).
This garment seems to have evolved from the himation/pallium of the same name, and decreased in size over the centuries. By the early Medieval period, it was the signature garment of metropolitan bishops in the Latin Church. In giving the garment, the Pope transferred ecclesiastical power and communion in the apostolic lineage of St. Peter.
Figure 4.8. Orans figure from the Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, showing praying woman in dalmatic with head covered. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, NY.
Figure 4.10. Mosaic of Justinian and his entourage, including Bishop Maximianus, from San Vitale, Ravenna.
Christians rendered clerical vestments meaningful by linking them with the dress of biblical prophets as well as that of the Israelite priesthood. Jerome (AD 347–420) commented on biblical prescriptions for the dress of Levitical priests in the Holy of Holies, suggesting that Christian priests should wear special clothing when serving at the altar. Gregory the Great (AD 540–604) compared the luminous pallium with the Jewish high priest’s ephod. In this context, episcopal clothing obtained authority by relying on a notion that dress communicated moral character and theological truths, and it was used to highlight priests’ status as mediators of the divine in presiding over the sacraments (notably the Eucharist) of the Church.
Dress was a dynamic part of the religious lives of ancient Mediterranean people. It demarcated sacred space and festive time; it facilitated ritual experience and played a pivotal role in rites of passage and initiation. It fostered identity; it distinguished between communities and within them; it asserted and maintained group bonds and boundaries; it displayed deeply held values of community members; it solidified institutional structures.
Yet in Greek and Roman cultic contexts, dress was relative rather than absolute; ritual clothing was temporary, worn in particular contexts and on particular occasions; its significance was drawn from these things, and its suitability was based on codes of ritual purity, rather than morality. For early Christians, however, dress began to take on moral and theological character. Belief, they held, should be manifest on the bodies of the faithful. Yet Christians did not always agree on the dress best suited to their communities. And they used dress in a variety of ways: to articulate their identity within the Roman Empire, to shore up gender roles and differences, and increasingly, to legitimate the status of ascetics and clerics, and to confirm the growing institutional power of the Church over all aspects of Christian life.
 Gils Bartholeyns, “Le moment chrétien. Fondation antique de la culture vestimentaire médiévale,” in Vêtements Antiques. S’habiller, se déshabiller dans les mondes anciens, ed. F. Gherchanoc and V. Huet (Arles: éd. Errance, 2012), 113–34.
 Sokolowski LSCG 65. For a critical text and commentary of this inscription, see Laura Gawlinski, The Sacred Law of Andania: A New Text and Commentary (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012); ibid, “‘Fashioning’ Initiates: Dress at the Mysteries,” in Reading a Dynamic Canvas: Adornment in the Ancient Mediterranean World, eds C.S. Colburn and M.K. Heyn (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2008), 146–69.
 On differentiation in terms of color, see Christopher Jones, “Processional Colors,” in The Art of Ancient Spectacle, eds B.A. Bergman and C. Kondoleon (Washington: National Gallery of Art/New Haven, CT and London, UK: Yale University Press, 1999), 251.
 The law specifies that daughters of female initiates and slaves can wear the kalasiris and sindonitan, the latter was made of fine linen (muslin), or even cotton, see Gawlinski, The Sacred Law of Andania, 123–4.
 Ibid, 123. On the fringed mantle, see Elizabeth Walters, Attic Grave Reliefs that Represent Women in the Dress of Isis (Princeton, NJ: American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1988), 8–11.
 See Apul. Met. 11.7–11.
 Plutarch De Is. et Os. 4=Mor. 352b–c.
 Eibert Tigchelaar, “The White Dress of the Essenes and the Pythagoreans,” in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome: Studies in Ancient Cultural Interaction in Honour of A. Hilhorst, eds F. García Martínez and G.P. Luttikhuizen (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 303 and 306.
 See Ex. 28: 40–3 and Ezek. 44: 17. Lynda Coon, Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 1997), 56.
 Christopher Rowe, “Concepts of Colour and Colour Symbolism in the Ancient World,” Eranos Jahrbuch 41 (1972): 44; Judith L. Sebesta, “Symbolism in the Costume of the Roman Woman,” in The World of Roman Costume, eds J.L. Sebesta and L. Bonfante (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), 48; Tigchelaar, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome, 306.
 Joan B. Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 90–1. Cf. Valerius Flaccus on the priest at Delphi in a “white robe shining from afar” (Argon. 3.430–3).
 The Greek term used in the following examples is leukos. ICos ED 180 and ICos ED 215; Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess, 91. At Andania, some officials wore a felt, white cap, see Gawlinski, The Sacred Law of Andania, 111.
 Sokolowski LSAM 11 and 35.
 Alexia Petalis-Diomidis, Truly Beyond Wonders: Aelius Aristides and the Cult of Asclepius (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010), 236–7. E.g. a third-century inscription for an Asclepeion in Pergamon, see Sokolowski LSAM 14.
 Ovid Fast. 4.619–20.
 Apul. Met. 11.7–11.
 For a detailed consideration of Roman women’s mourning clothing, see Olson, “Insignia Lugentium: Female Mourning Garments in Roman Antiquity,” American Journal of Ancient History 3–4 (2004–2005): 89–103.
 Dafna Schlezinger-Katsman, “Clothing” in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life in Roman Palestine, ed. Catherine Hezser (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 377.
 Festus Gloss. Lat. 56L; Kelly Olson, Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society (London and New York: Routledge, 2008), 24; Cynthia Thompson, “Hairstyles, Head-Coverings, and St. Paul: Portraits from Roman Corinth,” Biblical Archaeologist 51.2 (1988): 100; Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price, Religions of Rome, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 59.
 Ibid, 155; Douglas Cairns, “Vêtu d’impudeur et enveloppé de chagrin. Le rôle des métaphores de ‘l’habillement’ dans les concepts d’émotion en Grèce ancienne,” in Vêtements Antiques. S’habiller, se déshabiller dans les mondes anciens, 179.
 Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess, 32–3. Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood, Studies in Girl’s Transitions: Aspects of the Arkteia and Age Representation in Attic Iconography (Athens: Kardamitsa, 1988), 119–24.
 Pironti, “Autour du corps viril en Crète ancienne: l’ombre et le peplos,” in Vêtements Antiques. S’habiller, se déshabiller dans les mondes anciens, 93–104.
 Stat. Silv. 116–20; Sen. Ep. 4.2; Fanny Lyn Dolansky, “Coming of Age in Rome: the History and Social Significance of assuming the Toga Virilis,” Ph.D. thesis, University of Victoria, BC, 1999.
 Elizabeth J.W. Barber, “The Peplos of Athena,” in Goddess and Polis. The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens, ed. J. Neils (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 112–17.
 Arrephoroi were young Athenian girls in Athena’s service, who at the festival of the Chalkeia set up the loom for the weaving of the peplos. For a discussion of the frieze, see Håland, “The Ritual Year of Athena,” 267–8. The identification of the figures in the Parthenon frieze is debated, see Olga Palagia, “The Parthenon Frieze: Boy or Girl?” Antike Kunst 51 (2008): 3–7.
 Liza Cleland, The Brauron Clothing Catalogues: Text, Analysis, Glossary and Translation (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges, Ltd., 2005).
 Sokolwski LSS 32; Mills, “Greek Clothing Regulations,” 258.
 Daniel Ogden, “Controlling Women’s Dress: Gynaikonomoi,” in Women’s Dress in the Ancient Greek World, ed. L. Llewellyn-Jones (Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2003), 206; Gawlinski, The Sacred Law of Andania, 122–3.
 Ibid, 128. Elizabeth Bartman, “Hair and the Artifice of Roman Female Adornment,” American Journal of Archaeology 105 (2001): 1–25. Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. 14, 267, points out that women’s hair in mourning is the opposite of their expected routine.
 Olson, Dress and the Roman Woman, 80–95. On Christian anti-adornment rhetoric see Alicia Batten, “Neither Gold nor Braided Hair (1 Timothy 2.9; 1 Peter 3.5): Adornment, Gender, and Honour in Antiquity,” New Testament Studies 55 (2009): 484–501. On the Jewish position see Naftali Cohn, “What to Wear: Women’s Adornment and Judean Identity in the Third Century Mishnah,” in Dressing Judeans and Christians in Antiquity, eds K. Upson-Saia, C. Daniel-Hughes, and A. Batten (Farnham, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014), 21–36.
 Margaret Miller, “The Ependytes in Classical Athens,” Hesperia 58.3 (1989): 319–23. For a discussion of the various ranks of officials, including slaves and freedman, see Marietta Horster, “Living on Religion: Professionals and Personnel,” in A Companion to Roman Religion, ed. J. Rüpke (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2011), 331–42.
 Jenifer Neils, The Parthenon Frieze, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 168–9; Ralf van den Hoff, “Images of Cult Personnel in Athens between the Sixth and First Centuries BC,” in Practitioners of the Divine Greek Priests and Religious Officials from Homer to Heliodorus, eds B. Dignas and K. Trampedach (Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008): 113.
 At Andania, the leaders, called the Ten, wore a purple headband that may have imitated the iconic clothing of the Eleusinian mysteries, see Gawlinski, Reading a Dynamic Canvas, 164 and Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess, 92.
 Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess, 92; Gawlinski, The Sacred Law of Andania, 131. At Eleusis, for example, the main priests were known for their purple cloaks, the phoinikides, see Kevin Clinton, The Sacred Officials of the Eleusinian Mysteries. (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974), 46–7, 48 and 68.
 Rowe, “Concepts of Colour and Colour Symbolism,” 46–7; Jonathan Edmondson, “Public Dress and Social Control in Late Republican and Early Imperial Rome,” in Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture, eds J. Edmondson and A. Keith (Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press, 2008), 28.
 Stone, The World of Roman Costume, 13–15. Bonfante-Warren on the antecedents of the notes that the dark-colored, boarded toga: “Roman Costumes: A Glossary and Some Etruscan Derivations,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt I.4 (1973): 591 n23.
 Valerie Huet, “Le voile du sacrifiant à Rome sur les reliefs romains: une norme?” in Vêtements Antiques. S’habiller, se déshabiller dans les mondes anciens, 47–62.
 On the lituus, see Livy 1.18.7–10. On the trabea, Serv. Ad Aen. 7.612; John Scheid, An Introduction to Roman Religion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 132. This garment was also worn by the sodales salii, see Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 70.1–2.
 Serv. Ad Aen. 4.262.
 Festus Gloss. Lat. 100 L and 474 L; Robin Lorsch Wildfang Rome’s Vestal Virgins: A Study of Rome’s Vestal Priestesses in the late Republic and Early Empire (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 13.
 Craig Williams, Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 177–8.
 Apul. Met. 8.24–30.
 Elizabeth Walters challenges earlier interpretations that suggest funerary reliefs of women adorned as Isis are her priestesses; she suggests instead that they are initiates commemorated in this look in order to highlight their privileged relationship the goddess and her exclusive cult, see Attic Grave Reliefs, 52–7.
 Lucille Roussin, “Costume in Roman Palestine: Archaeological Remains and the Evidence from the Mishnah,” in The World of Roman Costume, 188; Jodi Magness, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2002), 196–7; Shlezinger-Katsman, Oxford Handbook of Jewish Daily Life, 378.
 Ex. 28:1–29:46.
 Lev. 16:4.
 Taylor suggests that images of male figures with breeches on the Roman Judea Capta (Type 2) coins are Roman representations of Jewish priests, see Ibid, 207–11. For how the role of breeches in the construction of male status among the ancient Israelites, see Deborah Rooke, “Breeches of the Covenant: Gender, Garments, and the Priesthood,” in Embroidered Garments: Priests and Gender in Ancient Israel, ed. D. Rooke (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009), 9–37.
 Douglas Edwards, “The Social, Religious, and Political Aspects of Costume in Josephus,” in The World of Roman Costume, 156–7; Swartz, “The Semiotics of Priestly Vestments in Ancient Judaism,” in Sacrifice in Religious Experience, ed. A.I. Baumgarten (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 57–80.
 Mary Harlow, “Clothes Maketh the Man: Power Dressing and Elite Masculinity in the Later Roman Empire,” in Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300–900, eds L. Brubaker and J.M.H. Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 44–69.
 Dyan Elliott, “Dressing and Undressing the Clergy: Rites of Ordination and Degradation,” in E. Jane Burns (ed.), Medieval Fabrications: Dress, Textiles, Clothwork, and Other Cultural Imaginings, ed. E.J. Burns (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) 57–8.
 Gal. 3:27; Rom. 13:14; Maier, “Kleidung II (Bedeutung),” Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 21 (2004): 41 and 45; Robin Darling Young, “The Influence of Evagrius of Pontus,” in To Train His Soul in Books: Syriac Asceticism in Early Christianity, eds R.D. Young and M. Blanchard (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2011), 157–75. For biblical clothing metaphors in the Syriac tradition, see “Metaphors as a Means of Theological Expression in Syriac Tradition,” in Typus, Symbol, Allegorie bei den östlichen Vätern und ihren Parallelen im Mittelalter, ed. M.Schmidt (Regensburg: F. Pustet, 1982), 11–38. For clothing imagery and baptismal ritual, see Carly Daniel Hughes, “Putting on the Perfect Man: Clothing and Soteriology in the Gospel of Philip,” in Dressing Judeans and Christians, 215–31.
 For further discussion see Daniel-Hughes, The Salvation of the Flesh in Tertullian of Carthage: Dressing for the Resurrection (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and Stephen Davis, “Fashioning a Divine Body: Coptic Christology and Ritualized Dress,” Harvard Theological Review 98 (2005): 335–62.
 Pach. Praec. 81; Andrew Crislip, From Monastery to Hospital: Christian Monasticism and the Transformation of Health Care in Late Antiquity (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005), 61.
 For references to hair-shirts in ascetic literature, see Rebecca Kraweic, “‘Garments of Salvation’: Representations of Monastic Clothing in Late Antiquity,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 17 (2009): 125–50.
 For a comparison of Evagrius and Cassian on monastic clothing, see William Harmless, Desert Christians: Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), Table 12.3.
 Hagiographies likewise suggest that monastic and clerical clothing could have divine properties; see an example from the Life of Shenoute in Kraweic, “‘Garments of Salvation,’” 136. For clerical clothing in hagiographies, see Coon, Sacred Fictions, 69.
 Kristi Upson-Saia, Early Christian Dress: Gender, Virtue, and Authority (New York: Routledge, 2011), 33–58.
 Hartney, Women’s Dress in the Ancient World, 248–9. For a discussion of Roman anti-adornment rhetoric, see Maria Wyke, “Woman in the Mirror: The Rhetoric of Adornment in the Roman World,” in Women in Ancient Societies: an Illusion of Night, eds L. Archer, S. Fischler, and M. Wyke (New York: Routledge, 1994), 134–51; Batten, “‘Neither Gold nor Braided Hair’”; Daniel-Hughes, The Salvation of the Flesh, 83–91.
 David Hunter, “Clerical Celibacy and the Veiling of Virgins,” in The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays on Late Antique Thought and Culture in Honor of R.A. Markus, eds W.E. Klingshirn and M. Vessey (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999), 139–52; Upson-Saia, Early Christian Dress, 53.
 Canons 22 and 23.
 The prophet Elijah’s gift of his cloak to Elisha also figured into the symbolism (2 Kg 2:13–18), see Serfass, Dressing Judeans and Christians, 80, and had already informed monastic stories of succession, see Kraweic, “Garments of Salvation,” 136.