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Crepida

Crepida

Acrepida was a form of footwear that was a cross between a solea, or sandal, and a calceus, or covered shoe. Crepidae, the plural form of crepida, had durable soles and were usually covered on the heel and around the sides, but the tops were open and held together with thongs, leather strips that acted like laces. Romans seem to have borrowed the shoe from their Etruscan neighbors on the Italian peninsula, and it was in wide usage from about 400 b.c.e. to 400 c.e.

At their simplest crepidae were a kind of slipper. Made of a single piece of soft leather that was cut two inches larger than the foot size, it was wrapped up the side of the foot and held in place with a leather thong. This form of the crepida was the common footwear of actors in Roman comedies, chosen because of its simplicity and its usage by common people.

Another form of crepida was worn by citizens of Rome who wanted protection for the soles of their feet. These wooden soled crepidae might have brass or iron tacks nailed into the sole to improve wear. One example of these shoes was actually hinged at the balls of the feet, with the two wooden halves of the shoe fastened with a leather hinge. This hinged shoe made walking easier. Another similar form of crepida was created especially for criminals. This crepida had a thick and heavy wooden sole that was attached to the feet with crude thongs. The heavy shoes were meant to keep a prisoner from escaping.

Though crepidae were generally thought of as common, everyday shoes and were worn by common people, they also could be more highly decorated. One of the interesting things about crepidae is that they were made to fit either foot, instead of specifically fitting a right or a left foot.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Yates, James. "Crepida." Smith's Dictionary: Articles on Clothing and Adornment. http://www.ukans.edu/history/index/europe/ancient_rome/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Crepida.html (accessed on July 24, 2003).

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