the covering thrown over a coffin, is the Latin pallium, a square piece of cloth used by the Romans to throw over their
shoulders, or to cover them in bed; hence a coverlet.
the long sweeping robe, is the Roman palla, worn only by
princes and women of honest fame. This differed greatly from the pallium, which was worn by freemen and slaves, soldiers, and
Sometimes let gorgeous Tragedy
In sceptred pall come sweeping by.
Milton: Il Peuseroso
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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