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The many guises of the emperor Augustus
The many guises of the emperor Augustus

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3.4 Capite velato

It wasn’t just the form of the toga that was important, but also its drapery, as the previous section showed. Another important toga draping style throughout Roman history was so-called ‘capite velato’ or ‘covering the head’, in which the back part of the balteus – or in the case of the Augustan toga the sinus (see image H in Figure 13 in the previous section) – was pulled up over the back of the head. This was a sign of respect for the gods and was used during religious ceremonies such as sacrifices. When men chose to have themselves portrayed in the toga capite velato, it showed they wanted to be seen as pious, modest and respectful of the gods. Figure 14 is an illustration of how it looked.

This image shows a bronze statuette of a man standing with his arms stretched out somewhat from his sides. He is holding something in his left hand. He wears a loose, short-sleeved tunic and an imperial toga. In this image, the top diagonal of the toga has been pulled up over the back of the man’s head. He has short, curly hair.
Figure 14 Bronze figurine of a man from Puente Púñide, La Coruña, Spain, first century CE, Museo Arqueológico Nacional de España.