Lunula (amulet)

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Detail from the Ara Pacis Augustae showing a Roman girl wearing a lunula.
Necklace with gold "Lunula" and chain links of agate, decorated with filigree. Roman Imperial (1st century AD)

A lunula (plural: lunulae) was a crescent moon shaped pendant worn by girls in ancient Rome. Girls ideally wore them as an apotropaic amulet, the equivalent of the boy's bulla. In the popular belief the Romans wore amulets usually as a talisman, to protect themselves against evil forces, demons and sorcery, but especially against the evil eye.

In Plautus' play, Epidicus asks the young girl Telestis: "Don't you remember my bringing you a gold lunula on your birthday, and a little gold ring for your finger?" An explicit definition is provided by Isidore of Seville: "Lunulae are female ornaments in the likeness of the moon, little hanging gold bullae." But in Plautus' play Rudens, Palaestra says her father gave her a golden bulla on the day of her birth. There is also some indication that babies of both sexes wore phallic amulets.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ cf. Pliny HN 28.39
  • J. C. Edmondson, Alison Keith, eds. (2008). Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture. University of Toronto Press. pp. 42n20, 143–5, 148–9, 152nn45–6, 155n62. ISBN 978-0-8020-9319-6.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  • Kelly Olson (2008). Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society. Routledge. pp. 16, 18. ISBN 978-0-415-41476-0.

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of lunula at Wiktionary