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CALAMISTRUM

CALAMISTRUM (pl. calamistri : calamistra, Varro ap. Charis. p. 61), a curling-iron, so called from its resemblance to a reed. Its use among the Greeks may be inferred from the representations of elaborately dressed hair in works of art. Among the Romans, it was in vogue as early as the days of Plautus (Asin. 3.3, 37; Curc. 4.4, 21), and became as common among them as it has been in modern times (Serv. on Aen. 12.100). It was much employed by ladies and boys, and sometimes even by men, although for them the practice was considered effeminate (Cic. pro Sest. 8, 18; post red. in sen. 5, 12; in Pis. 11, 25). Hence the figurative use of the word to express an excess of literary ornament (Cic. Or. 23, 78; Brut. 75.262; Tac. Dial. 26). The calamistrum appears to resemble the modern curling-irons, and to have belonged therefore to the department of the ornatrix. Muratori (991, 2)

Calamistrum, instrument for dressing hair, on a small relief from Amyclae, with other articles of toilet. (British Museum.)

gives the epitaph of a liberta a calamistro, while ciniflo (Hor. Sat. 1.2, 98; Tert. ad Uxor. 2.8) or cinerarius (Varr. L. L. 5.129 ; Cat. 61, 138; Sen. Dial. 2.14, 1; Acron ad Hor. l.c.; Tert. l.c.) was the title of the slave who heated the irons.

[J.Y] [J.H.F]

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    • Tacitus, Dialogus, 26
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