Anaxyrides

Anaxyrides (ἀναξυρίδες, θύλακοι). Trousers; pantaloons. These were common to all the nations that encircled the Greek and Roman population, extending from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean. Hence Aristagoras, king of Miletus, in his interview with Cleomenes, king of Sparta, described the attire of a large portion of them in these terms: “They carry bows and a short spear, and go to battle in trousers and with hats upon their heads.” Hence, also, the phrase bracati militis arcus, implying that those who wore trousers were in general armed with the bow. In particular, we are informed of the use of trousers or pantaloons among the following nations:

(1) The Medes and Persians (περὶ τὰ σκέλεα ἀναξυρίδας).

(2) The Parthians and Armenians.

(3) The Phrygians.

(4) The Sacae.

(5) The Sarmatae.

(6) The Dacians and Getae.

(7) The Teutones.

(8) The Franks.

(9) The Belgae.

(10) The Britons (veteres bracae Britonis pauperis).

(11) The Gauls (Gallia Bracata, now Provence; sagatos bracatosque; χρῶνται ἀναξυρίσι, ἃς ἐκεῖνοι βράκας προσαγορεύουσι).

The Gallic term “brakes,” which Diodorus Siculus has preserved in the last-cited passage (lv. 30), also survives in the Scottish “breeks” and the English “breeches.” Corresponding terms are used in all the Northern languages. The Cossack and Persian trousers of the present day differ in no material respect from those which were anciently worn in the same countries.

In conformity with the preceding list of testimonies, the monuments of every kind which contain representations of the nations included in it, exhibit them in trousers, thus clearly distinguishing them from Greeks and Romans.

The proper bracae of the Eastern and Northern nations were loose (κεχαλασμέναι, laxae), and they are therefore very aptly, though ludicrously, described in Euripides as “variegated bags” (τοὺς θυλάκους τοὺς ποικίλους). To the Greeks they must have appeared highly ridiculous, although Ovid mentions the adoption of them by the descendants of some of the Greek colonists on the Euxine (Trist. v. 11, 34).

Trousers were principally woollen; but Agathias states that in Europe they were also made of linen and of leather; probably the Asiatics made them of cotton and of silk. Sometimes they were striped (virgatae), ornamented with a woof of various colours.

Roman soldiers fighting in the North were obliged to wear them, owing to the severity of the climate; and by the second century they were worn even at Rome. The emperor Alexander Severus wore white bracae; some of his predecessors, scarlet ones (coccineae).

Bracarius, meaning properly a breeches-maker (Lamprid. Alex. Sever. 24), came to be used of a tailor in general.

Images

Sarmatians wearing Bracae. (Column of Trajan.)

Bracae worn by Roman Soldier. (Column of Trajan.)

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