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FUCUS (φῦκος) was the general term to signify the paint 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. This at the least is the reason given by some of the ancient writers themselves. (Xen. Oecon. 10.10; Phintys, ap. Stob. Flor. 74.61.) The practice, however, was of great antiquity among the Greeks, 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 Heb. pūch, “paint,” and (φῦκος, is probably not accidental; the connexion is accepted by Gesenius, s.v. the original meaning of both words being sea-weed, from which an alkaline dye was prepared. Compare Keren-hap-puch = Cornu stibii,, Job 42.14; and Dict. of Bible, art. “Paint.”

In the Homeric poems both sexes use oil freely after washing [UNGUENTA], but there is no mention of paint or other cosmetics; the phrase ἐπιχρίσασα παρειάς (Od. 18.172) is explained by ἐπιχρίεσθαι ἀλοιφῇ in v. 179. The ladies at Athens, as might have been expected, did not always paint their faces when at home, but only had recourse to this adornment when they went abroad, or wished to appear beautiful or captivating. Of this we have a striking example in the speech of Lysias on the murder of Eratosthenes, in which it is related ( § 17) that the wife, on leaving her husband to visit her paramour, painted herself, which the husband observed on the following morning, remarking, ἔδοξε δέ μοι γυνὴ ἐψιμυθιῶσθαι. (Comp. Aristoph. Lysistr. 149, Eccl. 878, Plut. 1064; Plut. Alc. 39.) In order to produce a fair complexion, white lead (ψιμύθιον, cerussa) was employed (Alexis, fr. 96, 17 M.; Xen. Oecon. 10.2; Aristoph. Eccl. 878, 929 ; Nicostr. ap. Stob. Flor. 74.62). In order to give a blooming tinge to the cheeks, “rouge” was prepared from vegetable reds: a plant named ἄγχουσα, pure Att. ἔγχουσα (Aristoph. Lys. 48; Xen. l.c.), now variously called anchusa, alkanet, oxtongue or bugloss, the root of which yielded the dye; παιδέρως, a flower (apparently not identified) resembling the rosy hue on the cheeks of young children (Alexis, fr. 96, 18 M.; Alciphr. Ep. 1.33, 3.11); the crushed fruit of the mulberry (συκάμινον, Eubul. fr. 97 M.; Philippid. fr. 19 M.; Phot. Lex. p. 547, 7); and φῦκος, used for paint in general, but properly a seaweed, moss or lichen (Aristoph. fr. 309 Dind.=316 M.; and possibly Theocr. 15.16, but cf. FULLO). Modern cosmetics are not always free from noxious drugs; and besides ψιμύθιον already mentioned, red lead (μιλτός, minium, Xen. l.c. § 5) and mineral alkali (νίτρον, Att. λίτρον, Aristoph., Theocr. ll. cc.) 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 , στίμμι or στίμμις, stibium, a sulphuret of antimony, which is still employed by the Turkish ladies for the same purpose. (Pollux, 5.101.) The eye-brows were likewise stained with ἄσβολος, a preparation of soot. Thus Alexis says (l.c. 16), τὰς ὄφρυς πυῤῥᾶς ἔχει τις᾿ ζωγραφοῦσιν ἀσβόλῳ.

(Comp. Juv. 2.93 ff.) Ladies who used paint, were occasionally betrayed by perspiration, tears, &c., of which a humorous picture is given by the comic poet Eubulus (l.c.), and by Xenophon (l.c. § 8; cf. Plaut. Most. 1.3, 119). It would appear from Xenophon (l.c. § 5) that even in his time men sometimes used paint, and in later times it may have been still more common: Demetrius Phalereus is expressly said to have done so. (Duris, ap. Athen. 12.542 d.)

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, which he calls (A. Am. 3.206) “parvus sed cura grande libellus opus;” 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 (2.18, 31=3.9, 31=3.11, 9, L. Müller), “si caeruleo quaedam sua tempora fuco tinxerit ;” though this is susceptible of another explanation. The favourite rouge was from a kind of moss (lichen rocella, Linn.); another was purpurissum, a mixed composition (Plaut. Most. 1.3, 104; True. 2.3, 35; Plin. Nat. 35.49). For the more repulsive substances used as cosmetics, see Orellius on Hor. Epod. 12, 11; Clem. Al. Paed. iii. p. 255 P., κροκοδείλων ἀποπάτοις χρώμεναι καὶ σηπεδόνων ἀφροῖς ἐγχριόμεναι. The ridiculous use of patches (splenia), which were common among the English ladies in the reign of Queen Anne and the first Georges, was not unknown to the Roman ladies. (Mart. 2.29, 9; 8.33, 22; 10.22 ;--Plin. Ep. 6.2.) [p. 1.881]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; where, however, as buccae are more likely to be rouged than whitened, purpurissatae is a not improbable conjecture (Marquardt).

On a Greek vase (Tischbein, Engravings, 2.58) we see the figure of a female engaged in putting the paint upon her face with a small brush.

Female painting the face. (From a vase.)

(Comp. Böttiger, Sabina, 1.24 ff.; 51 ff.; Becker-Göll, Charikles, 1.261 ff.; Gallus, 3.164 ff. ; Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. p. 200 ff.; Marquardt, Privatl. 765.)

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