In Antiquity, the Phrygian cap had two connotations: for the Greeks as showing a distinctive Eastern influence of non-Greek "barbarism"
(in the classical sense) and among the Romans as a badge of liberty.
The Phrygian cap identifies Trojans
such as Paris in vase-paintings and sculpture, and it is worn by the syncretic Persian saviour god
Mithras and by the Anatolian god
Attis who were later adopted by Romans and Hellenic cultures. The twins Castor and Pollux wear a superficially similar round cap called the pileus.
The Phrygian cap that was also worn by King Midas
to hide the donkey ears given to him as a curse by Apollo, was first referred to in Aristophanes' Ploutos (388BC) but illustrated in vase-paintings a generation earlier. Greeks were already picturing the people of Midas wearing the tall peaked caps before the earliest surviving literary sources: a mid-sixth century Laconian cup depicts the capture of Silenus at a fountain house, by armed men in Eastern costume and pointed caps.
In vase-paintings and other Greek art, the Phrygian cap serves to identify the Trojan hero Paris
as non-Greek; Roman poets habitually use the epithet "Phrygian" to mean Trojan. The Phrygian cap can also be seen on the Trajan's Column carvings, worn by the Dacians
, and on the Arch of Septimius Severus worn by the Parthians