Both clothing and gifts in the ancient world have separately been the subject of much scholarly discussion because they were an integral part of Greek and Roman society and identity, creating and reinforcing the relationships which kept a community together, as well as delineating status and even symbolising society as a whole. They have, however, rarely been studied together despite the prevalence of clothing gifts in many ancient texts. This book addresses a gap in scholarship by focusing on gifts of elite male clothing in late antique literature in order to show that, when they appeared in texts, these items were not only functioning in an historical or 'real-life' sphere but also as a literary space within which authors could discuss ideas of social relationships and authority. This book suggests that authors used items which usually formed part of the costume of authority of the period - the trabea of the consul, the chlamys of the imperial court and the emperor, and the pallium of the Christian bishops - to 'over-write' wearers and donors as confident figures of 'official' authority when this may have been open to doubt.
"Rollason has produced a highly informative and readable book on the reality and literary representation of gifts of elite male clothing during the period from the fourth into the sixth century AD. It is a welcome addition to the bibliography on gift-giving and the symbolic use of clothing during this period, and will serve as an excellent starting point for any further studies of specific examples of such."
- David Woods, University College Cork, Ireland, in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"Rollason’s work is an important contribution to the maturing discipline of setting ancient dress-studies within a wider methodological interface."
- Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Cardiff University, UK
"It holds much that is of interest to students of late antique literature and society as well as those interested in the history of clothing more in general."
- Maurits Sterk de Leeuw, Tübingen
Introduction / Threads of history: clothing gifts in Greek and Roman society before Late Antiquity / Weaving a tranquil work of peace? Clothing gifts in Late Antique diplomacy / Portable portraits: consular Trabeae and figural decorations in Late Antiquity / Holy habits: clothing gifts in Late Antique Christian contexts / Drawing the threads together / Conclusions / Bibliography / Index.