Full Version: Crimson paludamentum for the legionary?
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
I know certain ranks such as a legatus would often wear them, but do we have any evidence that a typical legionary could? I see it all over the place in modern artwork/cinema/gaming, and can understand why because it looks impressive - but historically accurate? If so, what period and legion?

I ask because I would love to add one to my set to make it more magnificent!
Your average Legionary would wear a paenular cloak, but I doubt he would wear a palaudamentum.
I could be wrong though (it happened once you know.... ) 8)
The Paenula is more suited to an active life, like a soldier in ranks. The paludamentum might have been worn by a soldier if he were for some reason in "dress uniform" and didn't expect to go to combat...maybe as a special guard or something, or when visiting a dignitary, or -- who knows?

I don't think it was illegal for a soldier to wear a draped cloak. But like you, GJC, I've been wrong before.
...and will be again, odds are.
Cheers for the replies!

I recognise the practicality of the paenula for the legionary on the march, but it looks pretty shabby and fully covers the segmentata, somewhat defeating the purpose of wearing the gear at all. Being that im not marching through Germania facing a snowstorm where I need a full hooded cloak I can safely avoid it.

I have continued to research this while I waited for responses. It seems in any case I would be safe to use a sagum, which fastens at the shoulder and is open at the front. From research it would look similar to the paludamentum only typically darker in colour, cheaper material (wool?) and slightly shorter in length.
One has to remember that certain garments in the ancient world would have had symbolic value and given some indication of rank or status. The paludamentum may very well have conveyed symbolic status - thus usually worn by men of centurion rank or higher. It could be an example of "status usurpation" if an ordinary legionary attempted to wear one.
The paenula most certainly does not defeat the purpose of segmentata. It covers the whole thing for a reason - to keep it dry and keep it from rusting/corroding.
I would say no.

The paludamentum is an officers cloak worn by the ranks of Centurion and above. It is worn in a distinctive way, draped over the left shoulder and around and over the left arm. Crimson or scarlet red would also be unlikely for a legionary cloak colour.

Having said that it depends on how hard and fast the rule is for wearing swords on the right side for Centurions is. That is because some of the portraits from the Fayum in Egypt appear to show Centurions with paludamentum cloaks but wearing swords on their right side. Including one portrait now in the Manchester museum where the man also wears...... a red cloak!

The sagum was the most practical cloak as it also appears to have been worn in battle and by all ranks. Again ordinary soldiers are more commonly seen in yellow brown cloaks and I only know a few examples of what might be ordinary soldiers with red brown cloaks.

Craig, I have already done the research for you and there is much more on clothing colours and cloaks in general in my book 'Roman Military Dress'.

As an additional note

The all red colour scheme, tunic, cloak and crest, is impressive and probably gets blamed on the movies. It can be traced back to the first main epic produced in colour, which was 'Caesar and Cleopatra' made in Britain towards the end of WW2. Production was delayed by flying V1's!!! The legionaries wear all red clothing but the centurions do have blue cloaks, which does have some basis in fact.

It could be seen as a 'British' thing perhaps. After all the empire still existed at that date. British imperialists often thought of themselves as latter day Romans and British stage actors played upper class Romans on screen for many years to come. It would be easy therefore to equate Roman soldiers with British redcoats.

However the use of red clothing can be traced back much earlier beyond the movies. In fact a French publication on historic costume by Racinet (facsimiles are readily available ) shows the classic all red look!

Nevertheless if you study western art, Romans are generally depicted in some form of red clothing back until the paintings of Mantegna. By that date we are very close to the fall of Constantinople and Byzantine art, in particular the icons, show many roman characters such as the 'Centurion' and the soldiers who crucified Christ. The majority of these wear red clothing, although the Centurion character often has a blue cloak!

The Roman images themselves I have listed in my own book but I did put some of these together with a collection of pictures of paintings and scenes from movies for papers at the RAT conference in York and a conference organised by the V&A Museum in London a few years back.