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Fucus

φῦκος). A general term to signify the cosmetic which the Greek and Roman ladies employed in painting their cheeks, eyebrows, and other parts of their faces. The practice of painting the face was very general among the Greek ladies, and probably came into fashion in consequence of their sedentary mode of life, which robbed their complexions of their natural freshness, and induced them to have recourse to artificial means for restoring the red and white of nature ( Xen. Oecon. 10.10). The practice was of great antiquity, and was probably first introduced among the Asiatic Ionians from the East, where the custom has prevailed from the earliest times. The resemblance between the Hebrew pūch, “paint,” and φῦκος, is probably not accidental; the connection is accepted by Muss-Arnolt, the original meaning of both words being sea-weed, from which an alkaline dye was prepared.

The ladies at Athens did not always paint their faces when at home, but only when they went abroad, or wished to appear beautiful or captivating. Of this we have an example in the speech of Lysias on the murder of Eratosthenes, in which

Woman Painting her Face (Tischbein).

it is related ( 17) that the wife, on leaving her husband to visit her paramour, painted herself (cf. Aristoph. Lys. 149, Aristoph. Eccl. 878, Plut. 1064; Plut. Alcib. 39). In order to produce a fair complexion, white lead (ψιμύθιον, cerussa) was employed (Alexis, fr. 96, 17 M). In order to give a blooming tinge to the cheeks, “rouge” was prepared from vegetable reds (Aristoph. Lys. 48). Ancient cosmetics were not always free from noxious drugs; and besides ψιμύθιον, already mentioned, red lead (μιλτός, minium) and mineral alkali (νίτρον, Att. λίτρον) were employed. The usual word for applying paint is ἐντρίβεσθαι, “to rub in,” whence the dyes themselves are called ἐντρίμματα (Plut. Crass. 24). The eye-brows and eyelids were stained black with στίμμα or στίμμις, stibium, a sulphuret of antimony, which is still employed by the Turkish ladies for the same purpose. The eye-brows were likewise stained with ἄσβολος, a preparation of soot (cf. Juv.ii. 93 foll.). Ladies who used paint were occasionally betrayed by perspiration, tears, etc., of which a humorous picture is given by Xenophon ( Oecon. 10.8; cf. Plaut. Most. i. 3, 119).

Among the Romans the art of painting the complexion was carried to a still greater extent than among the Greeks; and even Ovid did not disdain to write a poem on the subject (A .A. iii. 206), though the genuineness of the fragment of the Medicamina Faciei, ascribed to this poet, is doubtful. The Roman ladies even went so far as to paint with blue the veins on the temple, as has been inferred from Propertius (iii. 11, 9, L. Müller). The favourite rouge was from a kind of moss; another was purpurissum, a mixed composition (Plaut. Most. i. 3, 104). The ridiculous use of patches (splenia), which was common among the English ladies in the reign of Queen Anne and the early Georges, was not unknown to the Roman ladies (Mart. ii. 29, 9; viii. 33, 22; x. 22). The more effeminate of the male sex at Rome also employed paint. Cicero speaks (In Pison. 11.25) of the cerussatae buccae of his enemy, the consul Piso.

On a Greek vase (Tischbein, Engravings, ii. 58) we see the figure of a woman engaged in putting the paint upon her face with a small brush (cf. Böttiger, Sabina, i. 24 foll., 51 foll.; BeckerGöll, Charikles, i. 261 foll.; Gallus, iii. 164 foll.).

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