300, ancient armor, Ciarán Hinds, costume history, Greek armor, HBO's Rome, Julius Caesar, Roman costume, Roman generals, Roman triumph
For those of you who enjoyed What the Well-Dressed Roman General Is Wearing, here’s an update. They have auctioned off Caesar’s triumphator costume from the HBO series Rome! I can only hope that the auction winner was a museum of television history or fashion that will make the costume available for study. But it was probably some bloke with a few extra K lying around who fancies getting dressed up like Caesar. Actually, that is not such a bad idea, when I consider how sexy this costume is.
In case you’re wondering, the item sold for $4345 after 23 bids. Fortunately for us impecunious Rome fans, there is a visual record of the costume to examine in loving detail.
The company that sold the costume ironically declared it “Fit For A King.” I’m not sure whether they intended it as a joke on the reason for Caesar’s assassination. Probably not… In any case, the ensemble included a royal red cloak with a fastener, and a matching neck cloth.
This is much better view of the body armor than one gets in the relatively brief triumph scene. It has the customary musculature and pteruges attached to shoulders and hips. According to the listing, the cuirass is made of “metal and leather.” It’s fun to compare Roman armor (mostly known from statues) with the real-life Classical Greek armor recovered from excavations. Early Greek armor tends to have stylized musculature and is not particularly pumped up.
Later, as Greek sculptors got more interested in the body, armor began to take on a gorgeous, naturalistic look, so that every Greek warrior could have a chest like Zeus, the King of the Gods!
The Romans took it even further, with big, heavy, Herculean torsos.
Back view of the costume without the red cloak. The whole set was custom-made to fit Ciarán Hinds, who played Caesar.
Underneath was this rather fetching leather skirt with a modern-style belt to secure it. It’s a bit flirty, a bit Jean-Paul Gaultier. In the unlikely event that I ever become Queen of the World, my first order of business will be to decree this the new garb for all Beautiful Men. And after that, I’ll attend to world peace…
The wrist cuff and greaves have repoussé motifs. The material is an unidentified metal. I was disappointed in the dull look of these pieces because onscreen, they look more like real gold with brilliant silver repoussage.
Now let’s talk about what was left out of the auction. In the triumph scene, Hinds wore a number of additional items. First of all, beneath the other elements was a long-sleeved red tunic.
Caesar must have done the same; it is unlikely that he would have worn his cuirass next to his skin. The tunic was probably at least thigh-length, providing coverage beneath the skirt of leather strips. (Otherwise the assembled crowds would have been treated to repeated glimpses of the Julian fascinum.)
I’m not sure why warriors wore these slit skirts, since they could not have provided much in the way of protection for the groin area. They were sometimes made of fabric, so perhaps the point was to have a garment that allowed maximum body movement. And yet, the Greek versions of this armor typically show the pteruges arranged around the upper hips, not the thighs. They ended just above the genitals, which were left quite vulnerable.
As seen in this Athenian vase painting, the Greeks wore a mini-tunic that reached to upper or mid-thigh. Greaves were optional; this warrior sports a charming pair. On the subject of greaves, I feel compelled to show this image from the movie 300, in which the Spartans are depicted wearing leather Speedo bikinis and no armor… except for those sexy, all-important greaves!
But I digress. In the triumph scene, Hinds also wore a sword in a red scabbard, a gold wreath, and TWO wrist cuffs, not one. On his feet were leather sandals. Whatever happened to these other items, they didn’t make it into the auction. I wonder if one or more of them was given to Mr. H. as a souvenir.
Expat Eye said:
Maybe your husband bought it at the auction and you’re in for a big surprise tonight 😉
“Oh honey, keep your armour on next time we….” (famous last words of someone, for sure!)
What a way to go. I was hoping the Long-Suffering Husband would surprise me last night, but he came to bed in the same old costume from Batman: The Dark Knight.
The cuff and greaves look like they might be brass and possibly repoussé with pewter or a mix of metals, silver plate and pewter? #JulianFascinum ~ Oo er Missus ~ Steady On! Now the last paragraph~ I can picture Mr H ~ just in those few items~ perhaps his party #piece if you’ll forgive the analogy! Leather speedos? …erm NO!
Just the sword and sandals, with a nice golden wreath to top things off? Dorothy you naughty, naughty girl!
…And there’s me thinking you were the #NaughtyOne!
Reblogged this on Ancient Armitage and commented:
Linnet and Obscura crossover 🙂
I love the scene right before the triumph when Caesar is dressing and kvetching about his cloak to Posca…”I want to imply purple without actually wearing purple.” (and he ends up wearing the red cloak pictured) It’s those details that I just love about the ROME series…a subtle introduction of the connotations of purple to the Romans.
Yes, I love his interactions with Posca. Great stuff! Many thanks for the reblog.
I’ve heard about the auction some time ago and dreamt for a moment to bid for Mark Anthony’s complete uniform (big sigh!). I have visited the set at Cinecittà Studios… it was an incredible experience. I was so thrilled when I saw Atia’s blue crystal service or the busts that decorated Octavian’s domus. And to walk those streets…
You are fortunate! I heard that there was a fire at the studio and that some parts of the set were burned. One of my all-time favorite shows…
Yes, the arson destroyed 4 thousand of 30 thousand square meters. In the exhibition before visiting the sets there are many other memorabilia, including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton costumes for “Cleopatra” (I was about to kneel in front of them). This year, finally, they are organizing visits with local Roman historical groups that represent scenes of Roman life. I highly recommend to foreigners coming to Rome to visit the set, most of all given the delicate situation of Cinecittà Studios. When Mussolini built them they were located in the outskirts of the city, now the area is subject to a heavy real estate speculation.
The series was simply awesome; such a pity they had to finish it in a hurry for financial problems. They told us during the tour, anyway, that the set is still an HBO property and whoever use it (a Spanish series called “Imperium” was also shot there – and was also abruptly cancelled) must pay them a rent.
In summer there are also night-tours, I will have to experience it, chances are that I hide in the “fullonica” and I never get out. 😉
Oooh, I would love to see the Taylor and Burton memorabilia. Hope they never shut down Cinecittà–it is a national treasure!