Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 September 2022
Unlike many other monarchical courts in history, the Roman imperial court had no distinctive form of dress for courtiers. But dress, jewellery, and the presentation of the body were still important in the world of the court. The clothed, adorned, and groomed body was a crucial instrument of communication within court society. In the case of the emperor and his family especially, the clothed body and its presentation also communicated with the rest of society; the considerable inscriptional evidence for staff in the imperial household with tasks involving clothing, jewellery, or grooming hints at the message of magnificence often being conveyed. Magnificence was, however, a two-edged sword. The ancient literary sources display clear traces of moralizing discourses that sought to pressure the emperor into what were considered to be appropriate sartorial decisions.
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