What Is Perizoma in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, the perizoma was a garment that held significant cultural and historical value. This article aims to explore the origins, purpose, and significance of the perizoma in Ancient Greek society.

The Origins of Perizoma

The term “perizoma” is derived from the Greek word “peri” meaning around or about, and “zoma” meaning belt or girdle. As the name suggests, the perizoma was a belt-like garment that was commonly worn by both men and women in Ancient Greece.

Purpose of Perizoma

The primary purpose of wearing a perizoma was to provide support and protection for the lower body. It served as an undergarment that extended from the waist to just below the hips. The perizoma was typically made of soft fabric such as linen or silk and was designed to fit snugly against the body.

Additionally, the perizoma also had functional benefits for athletes and warriors. Its form-fitting nature allowed for ease of movement during physical activities such as sports competitions or battles.

Symbolism and Significance

Beyond its practical purposes, the perizoma held symbolic significance in Ancient Greek society. It often represented modesty and virtue, as it covered essential parts of the body while leaving other areas exposed.

The perizoma also became associated with beauty standards in Ancient Greece. The garment accentuated the natural curves of both men and women, emphasizing physical attractiveness.

Ritualistic Uses

In certain religious ceremonies, priests would wear a ceremonial version of perizoma known as a sacred girdle. This sacred girdle symbolized their status as intermediaries between mortals and gods.

Evolution and Influence

Over time, the perizoma evolved in design and purpose. In later periods, it became more ornate and decorative, with intricate patterns and embellishments.

The influence of the perizoma extended beyond Ancient Greece. It was adopted by the Romans, who referred to it as a “subligaculum.” The Romans further developed this garment into various forms, including the loincloth worn by gladiators.


Despite its ancient origins, elements of the perizoma can still be seen in modern fashion. The concept of form-fitting undergarments continues to be popular, showcasing the lasting impact of Ancient Greek culture on contemporary clothing trends.


The perizoma played a significant role in Ancient Greek society as a functional garment that provided support and protection. It also held symbolic importance, representing modesty, beauty standards, and religious devotion. With its evolution and influence over time, the perizoma has left a lasting legacy in both ancient history and modern fashion.