In ancient Rome, an angusticlavia, angusticlavus, or angustus clavus was a narrow-strip tunica, or tunic, with two narrow and vertical red-purple stripes (clavi). The stripes were worn underneath the toga, but one was made visible over the right shoulder.
Usage and significance
The angusticlavia was the tunic associated with the rank and office of the eques, or equestrians, one of the two Roman aristocratic classes. These were military men, often patricians (patrici), who supplied most of the cavalry in times of war, and in times of peace they were businessmen, often carrying senators' personal businesses. Equestrians wore the angusticlavia under the trabea, a short toga of distinctive form and color. They also wore equestrian shoes (calcei), and a gold ring (anulus aureus). The tunic's stripes were about an inch wide, which contrasted with the senator's laticlavus marked by the three-inch-wide stripes.
Its two purply slender cloth-bands distinguished members of the equestrian order from other Roman officers, like the senators who wore the laticlavus, and also from the rest of the citizens who used simpler togas. The color purple became increasingly linked to high class, and then to the emperor and the empire's magistrates. Thus, the angusticlavia was a clear indication of social status, but one that was recognizable below the senators'.
However, on rare occasions, in times of political or social upheaval, senators in Rome chose to wear the equestrian tunic to make public displays of distress. This practice was part of the semi-egalitarian legacy of the Republic, which at times sprung up to voice the senators', and by association, the people's, alarm. In 53 BCE, for example, in the midst of unrestrained civic violence, the consuls put aside their senatorial dress (the laticlavus) and summoned the senate in equestrian attire (the angusticlavia). And earlier in 58 BCE, when the tribune of the plebs Clodius was pushing Cicero into exile, the senators took on the angusticlavia in public protest. Additionally, of a history that spanned several centuries and involved many regions and people, these dress distinctions were not always evident in Roman societies. Wall paintings and other representations of the Roman past "show all types of men and boys wearing stripes of similar width-- but there were later attempts to enforce or reintroduce the senatorial and equestrian classes."
The Latin word angusticlavia is compounded of angustus ("narrow; small") and clavus ("nail; stud"). The word clavus, or "nail", refers to the stripes, for being long as nails. The term angustus, or "narrow", refers to these stripes or ornaments as being slimmer than in the senatorial laticlavus.
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