Nocturnal undergarments in ancient Rome – a follow up.

Extending and complimenting recent investigations into nocturnal Roman underwear comes another research article which touches, albeit briefly, on the same subject. In 2003, professor Kelly Olson at the Department of Classical Studies, University of Western Ontario, published ‘Roman Underwear Revisited’ (Classical World 96.2) And, according to professor Olson, another reading of the very same body of Latin text which was examined in ‘Did the Romans keep their underwear on in bed?’ (see previous post) suggests that: “… the nightwear the terrified priest failed to assume was probably a camisia, nightwear similar in form to the undertunic.“
So has the subject finally been wrapped up? Perhaps not quite, for the nocturnal underwear investigations to date are centred almost entirely around male accoutrements – what did the Roman ladies wear?
As the professor points out, the now famous ‘Bikini girls‘ mosaic at the Piazza Armerina in Sicily does show at least two underwear-like items that were occasionally worn by ladies during the daytime – namely the subligar and strophium. But for now, written or pictorial archaeological evidence regarding female Roman night-time undergarments remains as scanty as ever.

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