Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Herodotus on Persian Attire

Persian Attire
Herodotus Histories (7.61.1) selection:
Translation by George Rawlinson: "...The Persians wore on their heads the soft hat called the tiara, and about their bodies, tunics with sleeves of divers colours.... Their legs were protected by trousers...."
Translation by A. D. Godley: "...the Persians ...wore on their heads loose caps called tiaras, and on their bodies embroidered sleeved tunics ...and trousers on their legs."

c. 565 CE mosaic in Byzantine style depicting the Magi named as Balthassar, Melchor & Caspar in Persian attire with so-called Phrygian caps (also seen on Mithraic images; are these Herodotus' loose caps called tiaras?), belted tunics and leggings, at the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy. Image credit: Wikipedia.

Greek: οἱ δὲ στρατευόμενοι οἵδε ἦσαν, Πέρσαι μὲν ὧδε ἐσκευασμένοι: περὶ μὲν τῇσι κεφαλῇσι εἶχον τιάρας καλεομένους πίλους ἀπαγέας, περὶ δὲ τὸ σῶμα κιθῶνας χειριδωτοὺς ποικίλους, ... λεπίδος σιδηρέης ὄψιν ἰχθυοειδέος, περὶ δὲ τὰ σκέλεα ἀναξυρίδας, ἀντὶ δὲ ἀσπίδων γέρρα: ὑπὸ δὲ φαρετρεῶνες ἐκρέμαντο: αἰχμὰς δὲ βραχέας εἶχον, τόξα δὲ μεγάλα, ὀιστοὺς δὲ καλαμίνους, πρὸς δὲ ἐγχειρίδια παρὰ τὸν δεξιὸν μηρὸν παραιωρεύμενα ἐκ τῆς ζώνης.

Transcription: oi dé stratev̱ómenoi oíde í̱san, Pérsai mén ó̱de eskev̱asménoi:̱ perí mén tí̱si kefalí̱si eíchon tiáras kaleoménous pílous apagéas, perí dé tó só̱ma kithó̱nas cheirido̱toús poikílous, ... lepídos sidi̱réi̱s ópsin ichthyoeidéos, perí dé tá skélea anaxyrídas, antí dé aspído̱n gérra:̱ ypó dé faretreó̱nes ekrémanto:̱ aichmás dé vrachéas eíchon, tóxa dé megála, oistoús dé kalamínous, prós dé encheirídia pará tón dexión mi̱rón paraio̱rév̱mena ek tí̱s zó̱ni̱s.

Notes (Reginald Walter Macan) at Perseus:
Πέρσαι μέν (Pérsai mén), answered by Μῆδοι δέ (Mí̱doi dé, Mede not) in c. 62.
ὧδε ἐσκευασμένοι (ó̱de eskev̱asménoi): there follows a description of the Persian, or rather Median, dress and equipments, which had once been such a fearsome sight for Greek eyes (6.112), more fully and systematically (head, body, legs) described here than in 5.49: a difference which is at least consistent with the earlier composition of this passage.

Tiara/Farshiang/Phrygian cap
Man holding a barsom from the Oxus treasures.
Note the limp felt-like head-covering, tunic and
τιάρας καλεομένους πἰλους ἀπαγέας (tiáras kleoménous pírous apagéas). The first two words look rather like a gloss: κυρβασίας (kyrvasías) is the word in 5.49, but τὸν τιάραν (tón tiáran) occurs 1.132, πίλους τιάρας (pílous tiáras) 3.12, and τιήρῃ χρυσοπάστῳ (tií̱ri̱ chrysopásto̱) 8.120 infra. τιάρα, τιάρας (τιήρης) [tiára, tiáras (tií̱ri̱s)], apparently a Persian (Median?) word for a Persian (Median) thing, but can hardly have been a ‘turban’ [L. & S. sub v. πῖλος (pílos)] as we understand the word. πῖλος (pílos) is ‘felt’ in name and nature. ἀπαγής (πήγνυμι) [apagí̱s (pí̱gnymi)] ‘not fixed, not stiffened,’ i.e. ‘soft,’ or perhaps ‘hanging,’ in contrast to κυρβασίαι ἐς ὀξὺ ἀπηγμέναι ὀρθαὶ πεπηγυῖαι (kyrvasíai es oxý api̱gménai orthaí pepi̱gyíai) c.64 infra, the king alone wearing the point of his Fez upright, Xen. Anab. 2.5.23; Arrian, Anab. 3.25.3 (ἤγγελλον) Βῆσσον τήν τε τιάραν ὀρθὴν ἔχειν καὶ τὴν Περσικὴν στολὴν φοροῦντα Ἀρταξέρξην τε καλεῖσθαι ἀντὶ Βήσσου καὶ βασιλέα φάσκειν εἶναι τῆς Ἀσίας [(í̱ngellon) Ví̱sson tí̱n te tiáran orthí̱n échein kaí tí̱n Persikí̱n stolí̱n foroúnta Artaxérxi̱n te kaleísthai antí Ví̱ssou kaí vasiléa fáskein eínai tí̱s Asías]. cf. the mosaic in Naples Museum of the so-called ‘Battle of Issus’ (Baumeister, Denkmaeler, ii. 873, Tafel xxi.).

Our Notes:
Xenophon in his Cyropaedia at 8.3.13 (translation by Walter Miller); "Next after these Cyrus himself upon a chariot appeared in the gates wearing his tiara upright, a purple tunic shot with white (no one but the king may wear such a one), trousers of scarlet dye about his legs, and a mantle all of purple. He had also a fillet [ribbon worn around the head - across the forehead] about his tiara, and his kinsmen also had the same mark of distinction, and they retain it even now."

Coin with Mithradates I (Parthian dynasty)
 c. 171-138 BCE
First(?) century CE Roman historian Quintus Curtius author of Historiae Alexandri Magni (Histories of Alexander the Great) noted at 3.3.19 that "The Persians call the king's head-dress 'cidaris'. This was bound by a blue fillet variegated with white." (Translation by J. C. Rolfe). At 6.6.4, the description reads “purple variegated with white”

Arrian in his Annabasis at 4.7.4 calls the head-dress κίταριν/κίθαρις (kitarin/kitaris - should this be kyrbasía? See below). Also see 6.29.3 and Ammianus at 18.5.6 & 18.8.5.

The coins of Tissaphernes (q.v. Achithrafarnah 3) and Pharnabazus [q.v. W. Hinz, Darius und die Perser Vol. 2 (Baden-Baden, 1979) figs. 31, 12], a figurine from Persepolis [q.v. Hinz, ibid. Vol. 1 (1976) fig. 34 at p. 141] depict Persian officials with their diadems knotted in front of the tiara. Shapur Shahbazi in 'Clothing ii. In the Median and Achaemenid Periods' at Iranica states, "In any event, the tiara had a top like a hood, often lined inside with luxurious animal fur. Ordinarily it was worn flat, either pressed down in front to form three knobs or falling in folds on either side. Only the great king had the right to wear his tiara (kyrbasía) “upright,” that is, with the top erect, presumably held by inner retainers (Xenophon, Anabasis 2.5.23; Arrian, Anabasis 3.25.3; Plutarch, Artaxerxes 26, 28; idem, Themistocles 29)."

Phrygian Cap = Persian Cap
Tiara. Source: William Smith in
A School Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
(New York, 1873) p.323 as shown at
The Phrygian cap should be called the Persian cap as the two are similar if not the same.

According to William Smith at A School Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (New York, 1873) p. 323, "Tiara or Tiaras, a hat with a large high crown. This was the head-dress which characterized the north-western Asiatics, and more especially the Armenians, Parthians, and Persians, as distinguished from the Greeks and Romans, whose hats fitted the head, or had only a low crown. The king of Persia wore an erect tiara, whilst those of his subjects were soft and flexible, falling on one side. The Persian name for this regal head-dress was cidaris."

A tiara is a head band. This is likely the Persian farshiang - a mark of royalty - usually made from cloth and knotted with a tassel at the back. If a hat/cap and tiara are being described together, then the tiara could have been worn either under (more likely) or over the cap. The tiara/farshiang's presence would be evidenced by its tassels.

Notes (Reginald Walter Macan) contd.:
κιθῶνας χειριδωτοὺς ποικίλους, ‘embroidered tunics with sleeves’ just such as represented on the frieze from Susa, now in the Louvre.

Some words must have fallen out from the description which follows: cp. App. Crit. In 9. 22 infra Masistios wears ἐντὸς θώρηκα χρύσεον λεπιδωτόν and over that κιθῶνα φοινίκεον. (In 2. 68 the crocodile is λεπιδωτός.)

ἀναξυρίδας. The Median ‘trews’ (cp. 5. 49), Baehr states (note to 1. 70), were wider, ampler, those worn by Skyths and other nomads of tighter make, and the Persians (he adds) preferred the latter. They were wide enough above to have pockets apparently; cp. 3. 87 τὴν χεῖρα κρύψας ἐν τῆ̣σι ἀναξυρίσι.

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