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Are you having a toga party?  We certainly hope that you send us an invitation.

The toga was the distinctive garb of Ancient Rome. It consisted of a long sash of cloth, folded in a particular way, that was worn over a tunic. The sash went over the left shoulder and under the right arm.

The toga was the characteristic garment of male Roman citizens. Non-citizens were not allowed to wear one. The corresponding formal garment for women was the stola.

In the earliest days of the Roman Kingdom and Roman republic, the toga was worn even in wartime. However, the garment was not practical for battle and difficult to wear with armour, so the toga was abandoned as a wartime garment. This caused the toga to be associated with peace; it was the essential garb for Romans who were acting in public, civic, legal, and other official functions. It continued to be so even late in the Roman empire, when the toga had been largely abandoned as ordinary clothing.

There were certain kinds of toga that were associated with various ranks and official functions. These included:

  • Toga virilis: a plain white toga worn by most Roman men of legal age;
  • Toga pulla: a dark toga worn by Romans of the lower classes, and by people in mourning;
  • Toga Pretexta: a toga with a purple stripe, worn by curule magistrates, censors, priests, and the Emperors; it was also worn by boys before they reached legal age, and by actors in tragedies;
  • Toga trabea: a toga with scarlet and purple stripes, worn by augurs.
  • Toga picta: purple, and adorned with golden stars, worn by generals in their triumphs, by magistrates giving public gladiatorial games, by the consuls, and by the Emperor on festive occasions;
  • Toga candida: a toga bleached to a dazzling white, worn by candidates for public office when they presented themselves in the Forum.

The type of toga worn reflected a citizen's rank in the civil hierarchy. Various laws and customs restricted its use to citizens, who were required to wear it for public festivals and civic duties.  The toga was an approximately semi-circular woolen cloth, usually white, worn draped over the left shoulder and around the body: the word "toga" probably derives from tegere, to cover. It was considered formal wear and was generally reserved for citizens. The Romans considered it unique to themselves; thus their poetic description by Virgil and Martial as the gens togata ('toga-wearing race').  There were many kinds of togas, each reserved by custom to particular usage or social class.

The English word "candidate" is derived from the toga candida.

The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (  12/24/04
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