Classics Halloween Costumes

A Practical Guide

From Peter Hall’s National Theater productions

The scariest day of the year is upcoming, and what could be more festive than dressing up in a costume that evokes not just a person, but an entire society that’s dead? We’ve compiled some helpful costume ideas for our fellow frightening Classicists who are looking for something slightly more original than a bed sheet toga (we, of course, include bed sheet togas, but like, with other accessories too).

Individual costumes

Mutilated herm: Wear a large cardboard box with your head stuck out the top. Add some scribbles around the midpoint.

Catalectic: Hold a fake severed foot and wear a long pair of pants that covers one foot.

Exclusus amator: Lie outside your doorstep. Leave your keys inside.

Supine: Just lie prone on the floor all night.

Green and yellow: Green shirt + yellow bottoms.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Lougheed

Sisyphus: Get a cheap, large beach ball. Cover it in brown paper bags. Wear no clothes and a pained expression on your face.

Tarquinius Priscus: Wear a hat with a bird perched atop it.

Servius Tullius: Set yourself on fire.

Apocolocyntosis: Wear a pumpkin on your head.

Dependent clause: Claws + pick a person to follow around all night.

Independent clause: Claws + ‘Murica

Fear clause: Claws + scary makeup + μή and ne on either side of your shirt.

Group costumes

Sirens: Wear red flashing lights and carry a boombox softly playing “Lovefool” by The Cardigans.

Furies: Rend your clothes and hair. Dance stiffly while flinging blood about the room. Best for a group of women, or a group of women chasing one man.

From the National Theater’s production of “Eumenides,” directed by Sir Peter Hall. These Furies look more like Rose in the water in Titanic. FWIW there was room on the door.

Athenian jury: For groups of 1,001 or more. Must have an odd number.

Naufragium: Fill the entire room with water. Construct two ships. Split the group between the ships, with a few people left to play corpses in the water, and a few people to play the spectators.

Bugonia: One person wears white with black spots (the dead cow), and the rest wear black and yellow (the spontaneously generated bees).

Intervocalic sigma rhotacizing:

Photo credit: Caroline Bishop

Couple costumes

Medusa + Perseus

Photo courtesy of Tom Sawyer

Medusa + Same as above, but with a URL attached

A red and a green Loeb: Works best when one partner is a Latinist and the other a Hellenist

Digamma: Each person tapes a piece of paper to their shirt with an upside-down “L”

Copulative/linking verb: Bathrobes and a pair of handcuffs.

City mouse and country mouse: Two sets of mouse ears, one farmer, one socialite.

Toga-based costumes

Ripped toga + intact toga + needle and thread: Euripides and Eumenides

Toga + sunglasses + cane: Appius Claudius Caecus

Toga + female mask + fake blood: Publius Clodius Pulcher and the Bona Dea Scandal

Toga + bloodless knife + dejected affect: The 24th senator who just missed the Caesar stabbing

Toga + show up two or three hours late to the party: Fabius Maximus Cunctator

Tori Lee has yet to wear a bedsheet toga to a party, but she could be convinced.

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