had hoods, the cucullus, attached to them, but not all.
Leather was the most commonly used material for making
weather proof outer clothes. Roman Cloaks were made from a
variety of styles, colors and materials according to the
wealth and the status of the wearer.
There were many different
styles of Roman Cloaks
which depended on the cost of manufacture and the status of
the Roman wearing the cloak. The style of cloaks ranged from
short shoulder length styles to hip-length garments to knee
length down to ankle length. There were different names
given to specific types of Roman cloaks:
The paenula was a simple form of cloak, worn by both sexes
The sagum was the name given to the dull red
cloak worn by Roman Soldiers and the bright scarlet cloak worn by
The lacerna was the purple cloak that visually
distinguished a general from all other officers, it was fastened by
a large brooch on one shoulder).
The paludamentum was an
expensive ankle length cloak which was worn at state occasions worn
by the Emperors of Rome fastened with a gold or jewelled clasp or
The laena was thick, round
woollen cloak which was folded double at the shoulders with a
fringed edge, and was worn over the toga of a flamen (priest) with a
clasp holding it around his throat.
The pallium was a colourful
decorated cloak worn by the wealthy
The abolla was the name of
a cloak worn by wealthy and aristocratic Patricians and were made of
different types of rich, costly materials
Roman Cloaks - the Sagum
The sagum was the name of
the cloak worn on top of the armor by members of the Roman
military during the periods of the Roman Republic and the
early Roman Empire. The sagum consisted of a simple
rectangular segment of heavy material, knee length, open in
the front and fastened by a metal or leather clasp or
safety-pin-like “fibula”. The sagum symbolised a garment of
war as opposed to the toga which symbolised a garment of
peace. The sagum cloaks also doubled as bedrolls for the
soldiers. A shorter version of the Sagum was called the
Sagutum. The color of the sagum worn by common soldiers was
usually a dull red, whereas the cloaks of higher ranking
officers were dyed in a more expensive bright scarlet.
Cloaks of brown-yellow and blue-gray were also worn.
Roman Cloaks - the Paenula
The paenula was a very
simple type of Roman cloak consisting of a piece of material
with a central hole allowing the wearer to slip the cloak
over the head. It was worn by both men and women, generally
used as protection against bad weather. The paenula was made
of either leather (paenula scortae), or very heavy felt (paenula
gausapina). Only the cheapest
materials were used for slaves and laborers which were made in the plainest
Felt was one of the cheapest materials to produce by
matting, condensing and pressing fibers, predating weaving
and knitting. How felt is produced is conveyed by the old
legend about Saint Christopher who, when fleeing from
persecution, packed his sandals with wool to prevent
blisters. The friction and movement combined with sweat
turned the wool into felt socks.
Roman Cloaks - the
The paludamentum was an
expensive ankle length cloak, like a semi-circular cape,
fastened on the right shoulder with a gold or jewelled clasp
or brooch, which was worn on state occasions.
The paludamentum was a bright red cloak first worn during
the period of the Roman Republic by generals over their
armor or consuls and dictators.
The paludamentum was presented as part of the ceremony of
inauguration on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. During the
period of the Roman Empire the paludamentum was worn at
state occasions as a symbol of imperial power by the Roman Emperors.
The paludamentum worn by the Roman Emperors was usually colored purple but
they also wore other expensive
colors such as red, violet or dark blue. The shape of the
material used to make the paludamentum was at first rectangular but as time passed the
top corners of the material were cut to fit the shoulders in
a more snug fashion.