Ludwig Alfred Moritz and Antony Spawforth

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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Diadem (διάδημα), royal headband, with sceptre and purple an attribute of Hellenistic kingship; a flat strip of white cloth, knotted behind, with the ends left free-hanging. It originated with *Alexander (3) the Great, who probably assumed it to mark his conquest of Asia. Late sources (Diod. Sic. 17. 77. 6; Q. *Curtius Rufus 6. 6. 4) saw it as part of his adoption of Persian royal dress: a claim as yet unconfirmed by archaeology. A less likely source is the range of headbands already known to the Greeks. The ancient tale of its discovery by the god *Dionysus (Diod. Sic. 4. 4. 4), who wore it to mark his eastern conquests, may reflect some of the symbolism attached to it by *Alexander (3) the Great and his successors. A silver-gilt headband found in Tomb II at Vergina (see Aegae) may have served as a Macedonian royal diadem. Refused by *Caesar in 44 bce and avoided by earlier Roman emperors, under *Constantine I it became (as a purple band fitted with jewels and pearls) a regular part of the insignia of the reigning Augustus and Augusta (see Augustus, Augusta as titles).

Article.  223 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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