Tag Archives: Classic culture

5 Ancient Beauty Tips…You Don’t Want to Try!

Posted on 23. Jul, 2014 by in Roman culture

SALVTE OMNES!

So today we will be talking about beauty tips or abduction habits. Do you personally have a beauty regiment? Do your friends or partner think are strange, because you will only buy a certain type of shampoo? Conditioner? Cologne? Hair Gel? Do you have a strict way of applying eyeliner or eye shadow? While none of these items (that I have mentioned) are extreme- in today’s era, there are some extreme methods of achieving  “beauty.”  Modern society promotes these ways for the sake of beauty; I am referring to the “starvation, nip and tuck, injections, and so on.” However, I should put the question to you- which do you think is worse? Modern day or Ancient Times?

 

Well, prepare to be amazed at what the people of antiquity use to use in their own beauty regiments!

 

COMPLEXIONS- “SKIN WHITE AS SNOW & CHEEKS ROSY AS BLOOD”

 

Mosaic showing Roman women in various recreational activities. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Disdero.

Mosaic showing Roman women in various recreational activities. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Disdero.

WHY: Romans enjoyed the look of fairer skin due to its association to the “non-working” high class. Furthermore, rosy cheeks were a sign of healthiness and vitality.

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED: (SKIN) chalk powder, white marl and white lead( which was poisonous).

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED: (CHEEKS) poppy and rose petals, red chalk, crocodile dung, mulberry juice, wine dregs, cinnabar and red lead (these two were poisonous!).

SKINCARE METHODS-:Ancient Romans had a vast number of creams and lotion to help fight and hide wrinkles, pimples, sun spots, freckles and flaking. These include: masks of lentels, barley, lupine, honey, sulphur, vinegar, goose grease, basil juice, placenta and even excrements of  the kingfisher or calves! Pimples were cured with a mixture of barley flour and butter; while, sun spots were treated with the ashes of snails (Slimy goodness?). Historically speaking, a famous method used was the process of bathing in asses’ milk which worked like a chemical peel and was used by such as historic figures as Cleopatra VII and Poppaea Sabina.

 

EYES: “BIGGER IS BETTER”

Portrait of the baker Terentius Neo with his wife found on the wall of a Pompeii house (LOOK TO THE WIFE'S EYES) Courtesy of Wikicommons & Anonimiski

Portrait of the baker Terentius Neo with his wife found on the wall of a Pompeii house (LOOK TO THE WIFE’S EYES) Courtesy of Wikicommons & Anonimiski

WHY: Romans liked large eyes with long eyelashes and eyebrows that almost met (unibrows).

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED: (EYEBROWS) They would darken eyebrows with antimony or soot.

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED: (EYES) On the eyes, they would apply kohl.  The kohl was applied with a glass, ivory, wood or bone sticks that had to be dipped into either water or oil before putting them on the eyes ( I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to put glass or bone near my eyes for any reason!).

LIPS, NAILS, TEETH- ” NOTHING TOO BIG, WEIRDLY SHAPED, or DISCOLORED!”

Fingernails before and after application of red nail polish. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Deerstop & Zitona

Fingernails before and after application of red nail polish. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Deerstop & Zitona

 

WHY: Romans enjoyed having their partners looking natural, but the best they could. No one would want someone with hideous long creepy curly nails, nor someone with scared lips, and lastly not someone with black pointy teeth. It is not an unreasonable societal ideal, because it still exists today.

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED (LIPS): Unfortunately there no such evidence has materialized to indicate that the Romans ever colored their lips, but it is not a far off speculation that if cheeks were given a rosy color that lips weren’t. Then again, I imagine most of what they were applying to their cheeks would have not tasted good on their lips.

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED (NAILS): The mixture in which is thought to have been applied to nails is red dye (imported from an Indian insect). Also, a mixture made with sheep fat and blood was used.

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED (TEETH): White teeth were prized by the Romans, and so false teeth, made from bone, ivory and paste, were popular items. One way to whiten teeth was to use powder like hartshorn, which had ammonia bleaching properties. Also, they used human urine as a mouthwash and teeth whitening substance, which also had ammonia and was used in laundering. Human urine became so valuable that the emperor Nero ( and later emperors) even placed a taxes on it.

 

PERFUME- “WHAT’S THAT SMELL?”

Perfume Bottles & Glass Bottles. Courtesy of the Getty Villa Museum, Brittany Garcia & the glass blowers who made them thousands of years ago.

Perfume Bottles & Glass Bottles. Courtesy of the Getty Villa Museum, Brittany Garcia & the glass blowers who made them thousands of years ago.

WHY: Who wants to be around someone who is smelly? The Ancient Romans were no fools; they considered that if an individual smelled good that they were in good health, socially savvy, and a pleasure to be around.

HOW WAS IT ACHIEVED (PERFUME): Perfumes were made from flowers, some food (lemon, olives, grapes), leaves, roots and kept either liquid, sticky or solid form. These mixtures were incorporated into types of deodorants made with rose petals or irises. In regard to breath fresheners, baking soda was used perhaps to masks the smell of urine.

 

HAIR-” COLORFULLY OUTRAGEOUS & ONLY ON YOUR HEAD”

Exaggerated hairstyle of the Flavian period (80s–90s CE). Courtesy of Wikicommons & Tetrakyts.

Exaggerated hairstyle of the Flavian period (80s–90s CE). Courtesy of Wikicommons & Tetrakyts.

WHY: The expectation for beauty is sometimes beyond understanding; however, beauty is often that which is considered rare and hard to attain. Thus the colored hair/wigs would be highly rare and therefore- desirable. In concerns to body hair, most men/society do not approve of their women feeling hairy like men. However, there are bound to be a few women who could care less!

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED (COLORFUL HAIR): Roman women wore wings to hide white hair or hair that was damaged by hair dyes. In addition, the Romans used dyes to accentuate hair colors. Blonde hair was created with beeches ash and goat’s fat. Red hair was done by pulverizing the leaves of the Lawsonia Inermis ( similar to henna plant). Black hair instead was obtained by black antimony with animal fat. (SO, Lots of animal fat).

HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED (BODY HAIR): Women would remove them by plucking or shaving. In alternative, they also used a resin paste to strip them or a pumice stone to scrape them (OUCH!)

 

Well I hope this was an interesting read and that you learned something that you did not know about those Latin speakers of old.

 

 

5 Things You May Have Not Known About Julius Caesar

Posted on 09. Jul, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Salvete Omnes!

I do hope everyone’s Fourth of July was safe and nice. Well moving right along- let’s talk about July and the famous man it was named after!

MONTH OF JULY

July panel from a Roman mosaic of the months (from El Djem, Tunisia, first half of 3rd century AD). Courtesy of WikiCommons & Ad Meskens

July panel from a Roman mosaic of the months (from El Djem, Tunisia, first half of 3rd century AD).
Courtesy of WikiCommons & Ad Meskens

The month of July, formerly known as Quintilis, was the fifth month or quintus mensis  of the Roman calendar.* Quintilis was renamed July after Julius Caesar in 43 BCE; this was done after Julius Caesar’s death as an honorary gesture by his adopted son and nephew Octavian or Augustus Caesar. The reason that Quintilis was picked for Julius Caesar is due to the fact that this was the month in which Julius Caesar had been born.

*For more information on the names of days and months of the Roman calendar, see our earlier post here.

CAESAR COMES FROM….

Courtesy of Wikicommons, Alexander R, and CNG Coins.

Courtesy of Wikicommons, Alexander R, and CNG Coins.

Many people know of Julius Caesar, but not many know how or where he obtained the cognomen “Caesar.” One historian postulated that it was due to the fact that one of his ancestors was born via caesarean section. The term caesarean probably derives from the Latin verb caedere “to cut” or its perfect (past) stem caes-. The famous Historia Augusta suggests three interesting proposals:

  1. Julius Caesar had bright grey eyes (Latin= oculis caesiis)
  2. Julius Caesar had thick hair (Latin= caesaries)
  3. Or, Julius had killed an elephant at some point in battle (Moorish or Punic= elephant=  caesai)

The latter point is considered to be one that Julius Caesar agreed or favored since there have been many discoveries of coin depicting Caesar’s name and elephants.

CAESAR THE PRIEST?

Flamines, distinguished by their pointed headdress, as part of a procession on the Augustan Altar of Peace. Courtesy of Wikicommons and WolfgangRieger.

Flamines, (Flamen being one priest and the highest one; flamines meaning many and usually comprising of those of less authority) distinguished by their pointed headdress, as part of a procession on the Augustan Altar of Peace. Courtesy of Wikicommons and WolfgangRieger.

According to Paterculus’ Roman History, Julius Caesar was intended for a very different life. After the death of his father (85BCE), he was nominated by his uncle, Gaius Marius, and his political ally, Cinna, to be the new high priest of Jupiter or Flamen Dialis.** However, he was striped of this title and other honors following Sulla’s victory, because Sulla was Marius rival during a civil war. Could you imagine if he had been a priest?

** The extreme honors and restrictions of this position can be found here, and they are discussed at length.

IT’S THE PIRATES LIFE FOR ME!

The traditional "Jolly Roger" of piracy. Courtesy of WikiCommons, Edward England, Manuel Strehl, and WarX.

The traditional “Jolly Roger” of piracy.
Courtesy of WikiCommons, Edward England, Manuel Strehl, and WarX.

Around the late 80′s and early 70′s BCE, Caesar was kidnapped by Cilician pirates and held prisoner. It is reported by Plutarch that Caesar maintained a haughty sense of superiority throughout his captivity.  For example, when the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents (measurement explained here) of silver, he insisted they ask for fifty. After that ransom was paid, Caesar was bent on revenge. He raised a fleet, pursued and seized the pirates, and imprisoned them. However, his revenged was not done there; he had them crucified ( as he had promised while in captivity…a promise the pirates had taken as a joke).  This chapter of Caesar of life has actually been taken as a topic for a Hollywood film! (More details on the film and its collaborators here).

THE MOVIES GOT IT ALL WRONG

The following clip is from HBO’s Rome series and it depicts the death of Caesar. WARNING: It may be a bit graphic from some.

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On the Ides of March (15 March) in 44 BCE, Caesar was due to appear at a session of the Senate. However, the Senate was currently meeting in the Theatre of Pompey, because the old Senate House or curia was being reconstructed (Most films and TV series do not depict this difference). Furthermore, Caesar’s famous last words “Et tu, Brute?!” are actually a Shakespearean invention.  Ancient Historian have never attributed him to saying anything when he dies. Suetonius reports that OTHERS said that Caesar said “καὶ σύ, τέκνον” ( Ancient Greek for “And you, child?”), but Suetonius does not actually agree or state that Caesar uttered a last phrase. Plutarch simply dictates that Caesar said nothing and was seen to try to hide himself (or shame) by covering his face with his toga.

 

 

Well, thank you for reading and have a wonderful rest of the week!

 

How Ancient Rome Shaped America

Posted on 02. Jul, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

 

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Fourth of July Cake. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Victorgrigas.

Fourth of July Cake. Courtesy of WikiCommons & Victorgrigas.

In honor of this patriotic holiday, let us discuss the impact that both Ancient Rome and Latin made on America as a new country.

Ancient Rome & America

The following video discusses at length the impact and fascination that Ancient Rome has held over America since its inception to modern day. The parallel between America and Ancient Rome has been drawn many times by countless people including authors, politicians, activists , citizens, and even philosophers. However, this particular blog post would like to examine the similarities between Ancient Rome and Early America.

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Founding Fathers & Ancient Rome

Declaration of Independence, a painting by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting their draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Congress on June 28, 1776. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Harpsichord246.

Declaration of Independence, a painting by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting their draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Congress on June 28, 1776. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Harpsichord246.

The Founding Fathers (Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, etc.) were well educated men who received an education in the Classics (here).  This education aided in their ability to understanding history and choosing from it a new political system.  The resemblance between the Ancient Roman Republic and America’s political system is uncanny. America’s advent of the executive (President & Vice President similar to the two consuls), judicial (Supreme Court), and legislature (Senate) branches were directly derived from the Ancient Roman model. You can read more in depth here.

ARCHITECTURE

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The structure of America’s political system is not the only area in which the Founding Father’s sought to derive inspiration. The architecture of many of the political structures in America resemble Roman ones. While the video shows a generic comparison between Roman and American architecture, I provide the following detailed examples of this Neoclassical movement:

The present U.S. Supreme Court building. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Pine.

The present U.S. Supreme Court building. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Pine.

 

Jefferson Memorial Building. Courtesy of WikiCommons & EditorASC

Jefferson Memorial Building. Courtesy of WikiCommons & EditorASC

These two buildings (US Supreme Court and the Jefferson Memorial) are extremely reminiscent of the classical architecture seen in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. In my opinion, they highly resemble the Roman Pantheon.

Pantheon in Rome. Courtesy of Jean-Pol GRANDMONT & WikiCommons.

Pantheon in Rome. Courtesy of Jean-Pol GRANDMONT & WikiCommons.

Lastly, I would love to show the similarities between the Washington Square Arch and  the countless Roman arches. These arches have been dedicated to thevictories, lives, and triumphs of emperors such as Trajan, Constantine, Titus, Septimius Severus, and others.

Washington Square Arch. Courtesy of WikiCommons & MBisanz.

Washington Square Arch. Courtesy of WikiCommons & MBisanz.

 

Arch of Constantine. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Arpingstone.

Arch of Constantine. Courtesy of Wikicommons & Arpingstone.

 

LATIN

The whole purpose of this blog is to show how the language that is considered “dead” by most (check out my post that argues against this-here) is actually alive, thriving, and in fact-well. Latin was a language that many people knew intimately well into the late 1800s.  I have a favorite clip from the film Tombstone that shows this familiarity and yet underlines the fact that Latin was an educated man’s language (the post is here). Here are some Latin phrases that either shaped America or are prevalent today:

Seal of Washington D.C. Displaying the Latin Motto "....." meaning "Justice for All." Courtesy of WikiCommons & Illegitimate Barrister.

Seal of Washington D.C. Displaying the Latin Motto “Justitia Omnibus” meaning “Justice for All.” Courtesy of WikiCommons & Illegitimate Barrister.

 

Each State has a Latin Motto- What’s yours? Check it here!

ANTE BELLUM- BEFORE THE WAR-As in status quo ante bellum, “as it was before the war”. Commonly used in the Southern United States as antebellum to refer to the period preceding the American Civil War.

DEO VINDICE-Motto of the Confederate States of America.

E PLURIBUS UNUM-out of many, one-Literally, out of more (than one), one. .It is used on many U.S. coins and inscribed on the Capitol.

SIC SEMPER TYRANNISis a Latin phrase meaning “thus always to tyrants.” The full quotation is Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis (literally: “Thus always I eradicate tyrants’ lives”), “death to tyrants” or “down with the tyrant. John Wilkes Booth supposedly quoted it at the assassination of Lincoln.

 

Reception

Some of the Founding Fathers were even portrayed like the Romans. This is Ceracchi's bust of John Jay ( a Founding Father). Courtesy of WikiCommons and Daderot.

Some of the Founding Fathers were even portrayed like the Romans. This is Ceracchi’s (more here) bust of John Jay (a Founding Father/more here) in a toga. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Daderot.

America has seemed fascinated by this aspect that they are similar to the Ancient Romans; however, this comparison is not without some hesitancy. For we all recall that the Romans and their Empire eventually fell. This comparison has brought countless of book titles such as “Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America,”  “Why America Is Not a New Rome, ” and so on. In fact two years ago, a museum exhibit was designed to compare the Ancient Romans and Americans. An overview (here) and a review (here), I have provided to those who were unable to attended during its run. It seemed to have been an interesting exhibit that compared Roman gladiator helms to those of the NFL, and even showed some of the Founding Fathers’ busts with them in togas!