The Pileus hat article on Wikipedia says that in Ancient Rome, when a slave was freed, there was a ceremony in which his head was shaved and a pileus "was placed upon it".

In the SE question: How did people distinguish slaves from free people in Ancient Rome?, user Tyler Durden addresses this.

My question is: for how long did they have to wear the hat? Until the hair had grown again? Please, tell me it was not for life.



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    I asked this question to British TV historian and classicist Mary Beard on Twitter, who said that to the best of her knowledge that the hat was purely ceremonial, but admitted that she was just guessing at that. – maguirenumber6 Dec 24 '16 at 9:25
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    Who knows, this may be the origin for a new BBC historical documentary on Roman hats. – Brasidas Dec 24 '16 at 11:43
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    I know I'd watch it. – maguirenumber6 Dec 24 '16 at 14:01
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    @maguirenumber6 Mary Beard is on Twitter?! That may be one reason for me to finally join. Love her documentaries, but am now also following her blog and working my way through her books (SPQR is superb, IMO) – Marakai Dec 26 '16 at 6:20
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    Beard also mentions in Laughter in Ancient Rome that the Pileus was worn by all during the Saturnalia. – Marakai Dec 26 '16 at 6:28

To the best of my knowledge, they wore the pileus with the toga for life, to indicate they were freed not freeborn. Whether they shaved their hair for life, I have no clue, I'm afraid.

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    A source for your knowledge would be helpful. Not the least as none less than Mary Beard seems to contradict you. :) (yes, I know, argument by authority and all that) – Marakai Dec 26 '16 at 6:21
  • @Marakai sorry, I can't give a reference, it's just what I have understood from many years of reading, and I could well be wrong. – TheHonRose Dec 27 '16 at 16:35
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    "At the Saturnalia, everyone,... wore a pilleus. On the other days a cap was the sign of a freedman." Rome: Its people, life and customs. Ugo Enrico Paoli 1940 trans 1963 – TheHonRose Dec 27 '16 at 16:48
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    So now we need a historian death match to see who is right. :D – Marakai Dec 27 '16 at 22:07
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    Too late - Paoli is already dead! ;) And Beard did admit she was guessing! – TheHonRose Dec 27 '16 at 23:56

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