Ancient Athenian citizen with his wife

Ancient Athenian citizen with his wife

The Athenian democracy was built on the community of citizens with full rights.

History

Keywords

Athenian citizen, Athens, antiquity, Greece, dwelling, clothing, peplos, fibula, chiton, sandal, Ancient Greek, linen, woolen robe, history of lifestyles, city, citizen, man, woman

Related items

Questions

  • What shape was the garment worn draped around the body?
  • Which of these is NOT an attribute of the clothes worn in ancient Greece?
  • Is it true that the garments worn in ancient Greece were rarely tailored and sewn?
  • Which material was NOT used for clothing in ancient Greece?
  • Is it true that blended fabrics were already used in ancient Greece?
  • What was the telltale sign of the garment that revealed the social status of its wearer?
  • Is it true that women and men in ancient Greece wore the same style of clothes?
  • Why didn’t men in ancient Greece wear trousers?
  • Is it true that men in ancient Greece usually wore no underwear under their cloaks?
  • Which of these was NOT used by the ancient Greeks to adorn their garments with?
  • Who wore long, ankle-length khitons?
  • Which type of clothing was virtually never worn by men in ancient Greece?
  • What hairstyle did men in classical Greece wear?
  • Is it true that shaving facial hair became fashionable in ancient Greece after Alexander the Great?
  • Is it true that the ancient Greeks used to walk barefoot at home?
  • What was the most common piece of clothing in ancient Greece?
  • What hairstyle did women in classical Greece wear?
  • When was the golden age of Athens?
  • What was the Greek name of the Hellenic polis?
  • Which building was situated in ancient Athens?
  • Which Greek tribe settled in the Attica peninsula?
  • Who was the patron deity of Athens?
  • Who was the city of Athens named after?
  • Which polis was the main adversary of Athens?
  • What does the term ˝polis˝ mean?
  • What does the term ˝democracy˝ mean?
  • Which office/function did NOT exist in ancient Athens?
  • Which was the most numerous group in the golden age of ancient Athens?
  • Which of these did not constitute a social group/order in ancient Greece?

Scenes

Athenian citizen with his wife

Men and women in ancient Greece wore the same type of clothing, i.e. a rectangular piece of wool, called either peplos, if worn by women, or chlaina if worn by men. They also wore a cloak wrapped around their shoulder, fastened in front or on the right shoulder with a pin or a buckle (fibula).

The exomis was a short garment, draped over one shoulder, leaving the opposite arm unhampered.

The main clothing was a kind of shirt called the chiton. This was a rectangular cloth folded in half (or stitched till the waist), fastened at the shoulders. This type of garment was for everyday use, but there also existed a longer version worn on ceremonial occasions only. Men wore chitons that reached above the knee, kept in place by a belt. The ankle-length chiton, fastened at the breast was only worn by older nobles and members of the clergy on festive occasions.

The Greek cloak, called the himation, was a folded rectangular piece of fabric which left the right arm free and was designed with artistic plaits. Sometimes this was their only garment, since men wore neither pants nor underwear.

They decorated their garments and especially the edges of their clothes with colours, which were an indicator of their social class.

Indoors, both men and women went barefoot, while outdoors they wore sandals with ties and, rarely, closed shoes or boots. The Greeks, except for longer trips, never took a hat with them. Apart from the generals and philosophers, men used to shave their faces, so they had no facial hair. Short, curly hair was the most common hairstyle in the Classical period.

Athenian citizen

Physical health, harmonious movement and a balanced approach to life did not only impact the everyday life of the ancient Greeks, but also their clothing. The ancient Greeks’ clothing consisted of loose, airy cloth, beautifully draped around their body. Its main parts and decorative forms remained unchanged through time.

The garments worn by the Greeks were characterised by elegant simplicity and were very rarely tailored or sewn. The main elements used in adorning the rectangle shaped fabric ingeniously draped around the body were the unique pleating and the waistband layout as well as belts, ribbons and buckles.

Wool and linen were the most popular raw materials in making clothes. Silk and cotton were also used, but less frequently. Furthermore, blended fabrics appeared, which were made of the four materials mentioned before.


Contrary to popular belief, the ancient Greeks loved bright colours (purple, red, violet, yellow, olive green etc). The shape, especially the length, as well as the colour of the garment revealed the social status, the financial situation and the occupation of the garment wearer. Beginning with the classical period, from the 5th century BC onwards, clothes were coloured more simply and were restricted in general to tucks and ornaments.

Athenian citizen’s wife

Women also wore chitons, sleeveless garments made of linen often sewn at the sides, characterised by rich pleating. The tighter chiton was sleeveless, while the looser chiton had pseudo sleeves. The diploidon was a shorter version of the chiton and reached to the waist.

The peplos, a rectangular woolen shawl draped around the body below the arms and then over the shoulders, was pinned with needles, fibulas, knots or buttons. The top edge was often folded back till the waist. This distinctive women’s clothing could be worn with or without a belt.

In bad weather, women wore a himation on top of the peplos, an outer larger cloak made of wool. The shawl did not only serve as clothing, but could also be used to cover the head. Unlike men, women never wore the himation alone. Women’s clothing was usually more colourful than that of men. Various natural colours (from plants, animals or minerals) were used to dye some kinds of textiles entirely. Beginning with the classical period, the Greeks used to colour only one band or pattern on clothes.

Ancient Greek women wore a headdress more often than men; it consisted of a wide-brimmed, pointed hat, that protected their wearers against the sun and rain. Hats were usually made of felt.

Women in ancient Greece usually wore their curly hair in buns. They used hair ties, straps and bands to decorate their hair and keep it in place.

Narration

Related items

Ancient Greek house

The average house in Ancient Greece had a rectangular, geometrical floor plan and two storeys.

Acropolis (Athens, 5th century BC)

The world's most famous citadel, the Acropolis of Athens was built in the 5th century BC, during the Age of Pericles.

Ancient Roman senator with his wife

Senators, being members of the highest social class of ancient Rome, wore togas with purple edges.

Ancient Greek merchant ship

Ancient Greeks became the ‘carters of the sea’ thanks to their advanced sailing ships.

Clothing in ancient Egypt

Inhabitants of ancient Egypt wore characteristic clothes and jewellery.

Treasury of Atreus (Mycenae, 14th century BC)

A beehive tomb on the site of the ancient city of Mycenae, attributed to the legendary king.

Ancient Greek pottery

The masterpieces of ancient Greek potters are important archaeological artefacts.

Clothing of Barbarians (5th century)

Clothing reflects the lifestyle and culture of the given era and region.

Mycenae (2nd millenium BC)

The city with advanced culture was the first settlement in history to have a citadel.

Olympia (5th century BC)

The Olympic Games, held in the town every 4th year after 776 BC made it one of the centres of ancient Greece.

Types of ancient Greek columns

The Doric, Ionic and Corinthian order of columns are different in size and ornamentation as well.

Greek gods

The Olympian gods in ancient Greek mythology were as diverse as humans.

Added to your cart.