The Corner

The one and only.

More Re: B16, Fashion Plate?


Below, from a reader. (Ian Fisher of the New York Times, take notes.)

The red shoes go back even further than you indicate. Senators of the Republic were distinguished by the broad purple stripe on their tunics, their iron rings, and the sandals of red leather with the half-moon buckles that they wore. These, in turn, may have derived ultimately by the high-laced red boots worn by the Kings of Alba Longa before the founding of the City. The people of Alba Longa later merged with the Romans. Many of their traditions were continued under the Roman kings and the Republic, and their nobility was absorbed into the Roman patriciate.

One of the resason people suspected that Julius Caesar intended to make himself king of Rome was that he took to wearing the Alban-style boots in his final months. He said he had the right to do so because the Julii claimed descent from the kings of Alba Longa, which in legend was founded by Aneas, who escaped the fall of Troy, and through him from the goddess Venus. But he never said *why* he wore them. It may simply have been a matter of Caesar’s fashion sense, since he was considered somethig of a fop in his youth. Or Colleen McCullough may have got it right in her historical novels about the end of the Republic in which her Caesar finds he has to wear socks and high boots because of painful vericose veins, and chooses the provactive red ones because he is too vain to display either unsightly legs or any hint of weakness to his opponents.


Subscribe to National Review

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today: