The pileus (Ancient Greek: πῖλος, pîlos; also pilleus or pilleum in Latin) was a brimless felt cap worn in Ancient Greece, Etruria, Illyria (Pannonia), later also introduced in Ancient Rome. The pileus also appears on Apulian red-figure pottery.
The pilos together with the petasos were the most common types of hats in Archaic and Classical era (8th–4th century BC) Greece. In the 5th century BC, a bronze version began to appear in Ancient Greece and it became a popular infantry helmet. It occasionally had a horsehair crest. The Greek pilos resembled the Roman and Etruscan pileus, which were typically made of felt. The Greek πιλίδιον (pilidion) and Latin pilleolus were smaller versions, similar to a skullcap.
Similar caps were worn in later antiquity and the early medieval ages in various parts of Europe, as seen in Gallic and Frankish dress. The Albanian traditional felt cap, the plis, worn today in Albania, Kosovo and adjacent areas, originated from a similar felt cap worn by the ancient Illyrians.
A pointed version called pileus cornutus served as a distinguishing sign for the Jewish people in the Holy Roman Empire for five centuries (12th–17th centuries).
The word for the cap in antiquity was pil(l)eus or pilos, indicating a kind of felt. Greek πῖλος pilos, Latin pellis, Albanian plis, as well as Old High German filiz and Proto-Slavic *pьlstь are considered to come from a common Proto-Indo-European root meaning "felt".
The pilos (Greek: πῖλος, felt) was a typical conical hat in Ancient Greece among travelers, workmen and sailors, though sometimes a low, broad-rimmed version was also preferred, known as petasos. It could be made of felt or leather. The pilos together with the petasos were the most common types of hats in Archaic and Classical era (8th - 4th century B.C) Greece.
Pilos caps often identify the mythical twins, or Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, as represented in sculptures, bas-reliefs and on ancient ceramics. Their caps were supposedly the remnants of the egg from which they hatched. The pilos appears on votive figurines of boys at the sanctuary of the Cabeiri at Thebes, the Cabeirion.
In warfare, the pilos type helmet was often worn by the peltast light infantry, in conjunction with the exomis, but it was also worn by the heavy infantry.
In various artistic depictions in the middle Byzantine period soldiers are seen wearing pilos caps.
From the 5th century B.C the Greeks developed the pilos helmet which derived from the hat of the same name. This helmet was made of bronze in the same shape as the pilos which was presumably sometimes worn under the helmet for comfort, giving rise to the helmet's conical shape. Some historians theorize that the pilos helmet had widespread adoption in some Greek cities such as Sparta, however, there is no primary historical source or any archeological evidence that would suggest that Sparta or any other Greek state would have used the helmet in a standardized fashion for their armies. What led historians to believe that the helmet was widespread in places such as Sparta was, amongst other reasons, the supposed advancement of battlefield tactics that required that infantry have full vision and mobility. However, many other types of Greek helmet offered similar designs to the pilos when it came to visibility, such as the konos or the chalcidian helmets.
Being of Greek origin the Pilos helmet was worn in the late Etruscan Period by the local armies in the region.
A so-called "Illyrian cap" was also known as "Panonian pileus" in the period of the Tetrarchy. As such during the period of the Emperor-soldiers the influences of the Illyrian provinces of the Roman Empire were evident, such as the wide use of the Pannonian pileus.
The Albanian traditional felt cap (Albanian: plis, cognate of pilos and pileus) originated from a similar felt cap worn by the Illyrians. The 1542 Latin dictionary De re vestiaria libellus, ex Bayfio excerptus equated an Albanian hat with a kyrbasia, and described it as a "tall pileus [hat] in the shape of a cone" (pileus altus in speciem coni eductus).
An Illyrian wearing a pileus has been hesitantly identified on a Roman frieze from Tilurium in Dalmatia; the monument could be part of a trophy base erected by the Romans after the Great Illyrian Revolt (6–9 BCE).
A cylindrical flat-topped felt cap made of fur or leather originated in Pannonia, and came to be known as the Pannonian cap (pileus pannonicus).
The Roman pileus resembled the Greek pilos and was often made of felt. In Ancient Rome, a slave was freed in a ceremony in which a praetor touched the slave with a rod called a vindicta and pronounced him to be free. The slave's head was shaved and a pileus was placed upon it. Both the vindicta and the cap were considered symbols of Libertas, the goddess representing liberty. This was a form of extra-legal manumission (the manumissio minus justa) considered less legally sound than manumission in a court of law.
One 19th-century dictionary of classical antiquity states that, "Among the Romans the cap of felt was the emblem of liberty. When a slave obtained his freedom he had his head shaved, and wore instead of his hair an undyed pileus." Hence the phrase servos ad pileum vocare is a summons to liberty, by which slaves were frequently called upon to take up arms with a promise of liberty (Liv. XXIV.32). The figure of Liberty on some of the coins of Antoninus Pius, struck A.D. 145, holds this cap in the right hand.
In the period of the Tetrarchy, the Pannonian cap (pileus pannonicus) was adopted as the main military cap of the Roman army, until the 6th century AD; it was worn by lightly armed or off-duty soldiers, as well as workmen. It often appears in Roman artwork, in particular mosaics, from the late 3rd century AD. The earliest preserved specimen of the hat was found at the Roman quarry of Mons Claudianus, in the eastern desert of Egypt, and is dated to 100–120 AD; it has a dark-green color, and looks like a low fez or pillbox hat.
Similar caps were worn in later antiquity and the early medieval ages in various parts of Europe, as seen in Gallic and Frankish dress, in particular of the Merovingian and Carolingian era.
Zu erkennen an der „illyrischen Kappe", dem sog. pileus Pannonicus, bekannt u. a. von der bekannten Tetrarchengruppen in Venedig und dem Ambulatio-Mosaik von Piazza Armerina. Auch auf den Sarkophagen tragen die Soldaten, die Petrus Oder Paulus in Haft nehmen, diese Kopfbedeckung (z. B. lunius-Bassus-Sarkophag).
Pannonia and Illyria also appear to have been especially associated with hats. Plautus (...) lampoons an Illyrian hat so big the wearer looks like a mushroom. The pilleus Pannonicus, a pill-box hat adopted from Pannonia by Roman soldiers in the late third century AD, came to be worn almost exclusively by the late imperial military.
Soprattutto durante il periodo degli imperatori-soldati prevalgono nettamente gli influssi delle province illiriche, che si esplicano nell'ampia diffusione del pilleus pannonico, delle ring-buckle belts e della tunica a maniche lunghe chiamata dalmatica.
The pilos... periods.
The Greek pilos... Carolingian dress.
"Travelers, workmen, and sailors might wear a conical cap known as a pilos; travelers, hunters, and other sometimes wore the low, broad-rimmed hit (petasos)
Most of them... πίλος.
the Greeks also developed the Pilos, Boeotian and Thracian helmets, which soon supplanted the former in popularity. The Pilos helmet derived from a felt cap called the Pilos.
It is generally agreed, and rightly so, that the modern Albanian cap originates directly from the similar cap worn by the Illyrians, the forefathers of the Albanians.
Ne kuadrin e veshjeve me përkime ilire, të dokumentuara gjer më tani hyjnë tirqit, plisi, qeleshja e bardhë gjysmësferike, goxhufi-gëzofi etj.
Le dictionnaire latin BAYFIO. «De re vestiaria», publié à Paris en 1542, constitue un témoignage intéressant du fait que les occidentaux consideraient le chapeau albanais comme un chapeau haut. Ce dictionnaire décrit la «cibaria» [kyrbasia] comme un chapeau albanais ou comme un «pileus altus in speciem coni eductus».