The toga, a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome, was a sash of perhaps twenty feet (6 meters) in length which was wrapped around the body and was generally worn over a tunic. The toga was invariably made of wool, [cite encyclopedia | editor = William Smith, LLD; William Wayte; G. E. Marindin | encyclopedia = A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities | title = Toga | url = | accessdate = | year = 1890 | publisher = John Murray | location = London] and the tunic under it was often made of linen. For most of Rome's history, the toga was a garment worn exclusively by men, while women wore the stola. Non-citizens were forbidden to wear the toga.


The toga was based on a formal dress robe used by the Etruscans, even though it is usually linked with the Romans. The toga was the dress clothing of the Romans; a thick woollen cloak worn over a loincloth or apron. It is believed to have been established around the time of Numa Pompillius, the second King of Rome. It was taken off indoors, or when hard at work in the fields, but it was considered the only decent attire out-of-doors. This is evident from the story of Cincinnatus: he was ploughing in his field when the messengers of the Senate came to tell him that he had been made dictator, and on seeing them he sent his wife to fetch his toga from the house so that they could be received appropriately. [Livius, Titus (ca. 1st century BCE)jhjhjh Decemvirate", chapter [ 26] , "Ab Urbe Condita".] While the truth of the story may be doubtful, but it nevertheless expresses the Roman sentiment on the subject.

As time went on, dress styles changed. Romans adopted the shirt ("tunica", or in Greek chiton) which the Greeks and Etruscans wore, made the toga more bulky, and wore it in a looser manner. The result was that it became useless for active pursuits, such as those of war. Thus, its place was taken by the handier "sagum" (woolen cloak) on all military occasions. In times of peace, too, the toga was eventually superseded by the "laena", "lacerna", "paenula", and other forms of buttoned or closed cloaks. However, the toga did remain the court dress of the Empire. [Spart. "Sever." 1, 7. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".]


The same process that removed the toga from every-day life gave it an increased importance as a ceremonial garment, as is often the case with clothing. As early as the fifth century B.C., and probably even before, the toga (along with the "calceus") was looked upon as the characteristic badge of Roman citizenship. It was denied to foreigners [Suetonius Tranquillus, Gaius (121 CE). [*.html#15.2 15.2] , "The Life of Claudius". "In a case involving citizenship a fruitless dispute arose among the advocates as to whether the defendant ought to make his appearance in the toga or in a Greek mantle..."] , and even to banished Romans, [Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Gaius (ca. 105 CE). Line 3, epistle 11, [ book 4] , "Epistulae". "Idem cum Graeco pallio amictus intrasset—carent enim togae iure, quibus aqua et igni interdictum est"..." ("Likewise he would have gone clothed with the Greek garb—for those who have been barred from fire and water are without the right of a toga...")] and it was worn by magistrates on all occasions as a badge of office. In fact, for a magistrate to appear in a Greek cloak ("pallium") and sandals was considered by all, except unconventional folk, as highly improper, if not criminal. [Tullius Cicero, Marcus (63 BC). [ "Pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo" ("For Rabirius on a Charge of Treason")] . "Rabirius... was now accused of... wearing the dress of an Egyptian."] Augustus, for instance, was so much incensed at seeing a meeting of citizens without the toga, that, quoting Virgil's proud lines, "Romanos, rerum dominos, gentemque togatam" ("Romans, lords of the world, the toga-wearing race"), he gave orders to the aediles that in the future no one was to appear in the Forum or Circus without it.

Because the toga was not worn by soldiers, it was regarded as a sign of peace. A civilian was sometimes called "togatus", "toga-wearer", in contrast to "sagum"-wearing soldiers. Cicero's "De Officiis" contains the phrase "cedant arma togae": literally, "let arms yield to the toga", meaning "may peace replace war", or "may military power yield to civilian power."


There were many kinds of togae, each used differently.
*"Toga virilis" ("toga alba" or "toga pura"): A plain white toga worn on formal occasions by most Roman men of legal age, generally about 14 to 18 years, but it could be any stage in their teens. [cf. Mart. viii. 28, 11. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".]

*"Toga candida": "Bright toga"; a toga bleached by chalk to a dazzling white (Isidorus "Orig." xix. 24, 6), worn by candidates for public office. [cf. Polybius, x. 4, 8. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] Thus Persius speaks of a "cretata ambitio", "chalked ambition". Oddly, this custom appears to have been banned by plebiscite in 432 BC, but the restriction was never enforced. [Liv. iv. 25, 13. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] The term is the etymologic source of the word "candidate".

*"Toga praetexta": An ordinary white toga with a broad purple stripe on its border. It was worn by:
**Freeborn boys who had not yet come of age. [Liv. xxiv. 7, 2. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".]
**All curule magistrates. [cf. Cic. "post red. in Sen." 5, 12. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] [Zonar. vii. 19. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".]
**Ex-curule magistrates and dictators, upon burial [Liv. xxxiv. 7, 2. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] and apparently at festivals and other celebrations as well. [cf. Cic. "Phil." ii. 4. 3, 110. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".]
**Some priests (e.g., the Flamen Dialis, Pontifices, Tresviri Epulones, the augurs, and the Arval brothers). [Liv. xxvii. 8, 8; xxxiii. 42. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".]
**During the Empire, the right to wear it was sometimes bestowed as an honor independent of formal rank.
**According to tradition, the Kings of Rome.:Those with the right to wear a "toga praetexta" were sometimes termed "laticlavius", "having a broad crimson stripe". It also gave its name to a literary form known as praetexta.
*"Toga pulla": Literally just "dark toga". It was worn mainly by mourners, but could also be worn in times of private danger or public anxiety. It was sometimes used as a protest of sorts—when Cicero was exiled, the Senate resolved to wear "togae pullae" as a demonstration against the decision. ["post red. in Sen." 5, 12. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] Magistrates with the right to wear a "toga praetexta" wore a simple "toga pura" instead of "pulla".

*"Toga picta": This toga, unlike all others, was not just dyed but embroidered and decorated. It was solid purple, embroidered with gold. Under the Republic, it was worn by generals in their triumphs, and by the Praetor Urbanus when he rode in the chariot of the gods into the circus at the Ludi Apollinares. [cf. Liv. v. 41, 2. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] During the Empire, the "toga picta" was worn by magistrates giving public gladiatorial games, and by the consuls, as well as by the emperor on special occasions.

*"Toga trabea": According to Servius, there were three different kinds of "trabea": one of purple only, for the gods; another of purple and a little white, for kings; and a third, with scarlet stripes and a purple hem, [cf. Isid. "Orig." xix. 24, 8. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] for augurs and Salii. ["ad Aen." vii. 612; cf. ad vii. 188. As cited by "The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities".] Dionysius of Halicarnassus says that those of equestrian class wore it as well, but this is not borne out by other evidence.

Modern usage

In several countries, the tradition of the toga party has become popular in recent decades, generally at colleges and universities, perhaps best illustrated in (if not inspired by) the film "Animal House".

This practice trades on the exaggerated legend of Roman debauchery, and participants dress in togas, which are usually makeshift garments fashioned from bed linen. As such, these "togas" bear little resemblance to the Ancient Roman garment, being both flimsier and scantier.


External links

* [ How to make a toga - a step by step guide]
* [ How to make a toga]
* [ Make a Toga out of a Bedsheet]
* [ Clothing for Men in Ancient Rome]
* [ William Smith's "A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities" on the toga]
* [ How to make a toga by Ron Turner]

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  • togă — TÓGĂ, togi, s.f. Mantie largă şi lungă, fără mâneci, pe care o purtau romanii peste tunică, înfăşurată pe corp, pornind de la umărul stâng şi lăsând descoperit braţul şi umărul drept. – Din lat. toga. Trimis de RACAI, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98 … …   Dicționar Român

  • Toga — To ga, n.; pl. E. {Togas}, L. {Tog[ae]}. [L., akin to tegere to cover. See {Thatch}.] (Rom. Antiq.) The loose outer garment worn by the ancient Romans, consisting of a single broad piece of woolen cloth of a shape approaching a semicircle. It was …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • toga — (n.) c.1600, from L. toga cloak or mantle, related to tegere to cover (see STEGOSAURUS (Cf. stegosaurus)). The outer garment of a Roman citizen in time of peace; toga prætexta had a broad purple border and was worn by children, magistrates,… …   Etymology dictionary

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  • toga — |ó| s. f. 1.  [Antigo] Espécie de capa usada na antiguidade romana, que deixava geralmente coberto o braço esquerdo. 2. Traje preto e comprido, usado por advogados e solicitadores em tribunal e por professores catedráticos e doutorados em… …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

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  • toga — togà, tògos sf. (2) NdŽ, TrpŽ, LTEXI335; LL255 1. romėnų ilgas vilnonis viršutinis drabužis, dėvėtas ant kairiojo peties. 2. iškilmingas apdaras – laisvas klostytas apsiaustas: Tu užsivilk, teisėjau, savo juodą togą ir atsiskleisk įstatymus bei …   Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language

  • toga — (Del lat. toga). 1. f. Traje principal exterior y de ceremonia, que usan los magistrados, letrados, catedráticos, etc., encima del ordinario. 2. Prenda principal exterior del traje nacional romano, que se ponía sobre la túnica. toga palmada. f.… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Toga — Toga, das weiße und ursprünglich wollene Obergewand der röm. Bürger im Frieden, wonach sie togāti oder gens togata hießen; sie wurde in künstlichen Falten von vorn über die linke Schulter geworfen, reichte rückwärts beinahe bis zum Boden. Bei den …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • toga — / tɔga/ s.f. [dal lat. toga, affine a tegĕre coprire ]. 1. (abbigl.) [abito maschile degli antichi Romani, di lana o di lino, che si indossava sopra la tunica] ▶◀ ‖mantello, sopravveste, tunica. 2. (abbigl.) [mantello nero aperto sul davanti, con …   Enciclopedia Italiana

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