Male sculpture

This marble figure is of a male standing in slight contrapposto with his weight placed over the left leg and with the right held slightly in front. The person is wearing a chitoniskos, a garment which falls to above the knee and has short sleeves to allow the easy movement of the limbs. It is associated with occupations such as that of soldiers, artisans and slaves. On top of this, the person is wearing a large himation or cloak held on the left shoulder. It covers the back, leaves the right arm free, crosses around and over the chest, rising to the left shoulder. From here it falls in a zigzag of pleating.

Identifying the piece is a complex matter, as the figure is without head or arms, elements which might have exhibited some specific attribute. It is, therefore, of some importance, to examine the garments with attention. The chitoniskos (small chiton) or short tunic, would seem to have been an evolution from a military garment used in the middle of the 4th century BC. It would have been worn under the cuirass, allowing the soldier greater freedom of movement. In this manner, it should be noted that Artemis, the Amazons and dancers are represented wearing this item of clothing as it personifies the inversion of roles in ancient society, extoling the freedom and strength of their bodies, values no normally associated with the female in antiquity. Although some authors affirm that the garment was worn as a simple undergarment below the himation, there are no representations in existence which allows this theory to be confirmed. In Rome the image of a child wearing a chitoniskos became popular, and this was especially visible in funerary sculpture.

However, it is the himation which in this case adds a certain solemnity to the figure: this great cloak was not only a usual attribute of the most powerful gods (Zeus, Poseidon, Hades), but was also a garment of philosophers, ancient wise men, and full citizens. In Rome this garment was modified in favour of the heavy toga, and was then called a pallium. Sources narrate the complications entailed in trying to put this correctly in place. To do so the help of slaves was needed and skills that implied belonging to the highest social classes. So it was a garment belonging to an elite: its large dimensions and free-flowing nature implied that those who wore it did not have to carry out physical work.

This sculpture presents us with a dichotomy: we have the usual short tunic of the lower classes and soldiers, along with the himation, a piece of clothing of status that identified those in the highest ranks of society. While it is true that funerary reliefs related to the military world show similar iconography (Berlin, Antikensammlung SK 887 and in Rome, the Roma Museo delle Terme ES003), it is in the representation of the “camillus” where we can see best both garments worn together. A camillus was a young man from one of the families of great importance in early Imperial Rome, who held the position to assist priests and magistrates during state religious ceremonies. As these were youths who had not yet reached puberty and who still lived with their families, they were represented with a short tunic and a great cloak, similar to the himation or pallium, as this was a symbol of their privileged ancestry (Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Cordoba CE12763 and reliefs from Ara Pacis). This marble piece in question could, therefore, represent a young camillus. Given its considerable size, it could possibly have been part of a funerary monument or of a sculptural grouping with a religious theme.


- BAENA ALCÁNTARA, M. «La escultura romana en el Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba». Actas de la III reunión sobre escultura romana en Hispania. 2000. p. 229.
- DAREMBERG MM. CH. y SAGLIO, EDM. Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines. Hachette. 1919.
- HARLOW, M. y NOSCH, M.L. Green and Roman Textiles and Dress: An interdisciplinary Anthology, Oxbow Books. 2014.
- KOCH, G. y WIGHT, K. Roman Funerary Sculpture: Catalogue of Collections, Getty Publications. 1988. p. 125.
- LEE, M.M. Body, Dress and Identity in Ancient Greece. Cambridge University Press. 2015. - SPEIDEL, M.P. (1994) «Die Denkmäler der Kaiserreiter», 118 f. Nr. 90.
- STERN, G. Women, Children and Senators on the Ara Pacis Augustae: A study of Augustus. Vision of a New World Order in 13 BC. University of California. 2006.

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