Sunday, October 17, 2004



The few times I saw the TV show Hercules, I was amused by the garb of actor Kevin Sorbo, who played the Greek hero. He was wearing pants, a thing no self-respecting Greek, much less a hero, would have done. We take trousers for granted as normal male attire and snigger at alternatives like kilts, but throughout much of ancient Greek and Roman history pants were seen as clothing typical of barbarians. In the late fourth century A.D. they were even banned by imperial order within the city limits of Rome.

The Greeks didn't have a native word for trousers, so they borrowed anaxurides from Persian. The Latin word bracae (sometimes spelled braccae), whence English breeches, may also be a loan word from Gaul.

Here are some passages from ancient sources on trousers.

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