corresponding to the Greek chiton, was of woolen
material, usually natural-colored or white; it consisted of
two pieces seamed together at the sides and sewed also at the
top, leaving a space for the head at the top and spaces for
the arms at the sides.
This sleeveless tunica was the
usual one for manual laborers, and was frequently worn slipped
off the right shoulder, in the Greek manner. Sleeves to
mid-arm were also common. The tunica was worn girded, except for
informal privacy. Its usual length, when girded, was to the
knee in front and possibly three inches shorter in back.
In the course of time the tunica sleeves
became more definitely shaped and, gradually, somewhat
longer; in the later Republican period these variations
already existed. A tunica with sleeves to the
wrist was called the manicata, that which
had skirts to the ankle as well as long sleeves, the
Julius Caesar is said to have worn a long-sleeved
tunica and he was considered eccentric in his dress, but by
Nero's time long sleeves were common. The tunica
with shaped, wide sleeves developed wider and somewhat longer
sleeves and in the second and third centuries AD became known
as the dalmatica.
Till the end of the third century the decorations of the tunica
were a matter of class distinction, and were generally no more
than the clavi.
The augustus clavus was a stripe about one and a
half inches wide, of purple like the praetexta band;
it extended down each side of the tunica, front and back.
This was the mark of the upper classes, strictly speaking only
those of the rank of knight or above, though members of other
selected groups, such as the Camilli (youths in the temple
service), wore it also.
After about 300 AD it lost its class significance and became
purely decorative, appearing on feminine as well as masculine dress.
The latus clavus, about which much controversy has raged,
is concluded by the most careful investigators to have been only a
wide version of the augustus clavus -- probably measuring
three inches or more -- applied in the same way. In its original
significance it was the mark of a senator, who, by the way, wore
his tunica somewhat longer than the ordinary, and ungirded.
The tunica palmata was, originally, reserved for use
with the toga picta. It was purple embroidered
with gold, at first in a palm design; by Imperial times,
however, no restriction was placed on the decorative motifs
chosen. This tunica, originally worn only in a triumph,
became the usual dress of the emperors from Nero onward, and was
after a while adopted by others of the court. As a sleeved garment,
with increasingly elaborate embroidery, it developed into the
magnificent dress of the Byzantine court.