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Barba, I. Greek

πώγων, γένειον, ὑπήνη).—Of these, γένειον, properly “chin,” is the earliest word. Μύσταξ is the moustache; πάππος the hair on the nether lip; χνόος or ἴουλος the first down. Ὑπήνη is sometimes restricted to the hair about the upper and lower lips—that is, to the

Pericles, showing Greek Beard.

μύσταξ and the πάππος combined; γένειον to the beard proper, the hair on the chin. There is no special word for the whiskers.

The Greeks regarded the beard as a badge of virility which it was a disgrace to be without; and in the Homeric time it had even a sanctity as among the Jews, so that a common form of entreaty was to touch the beard of the person addressed. It was only shaven as a sign of mourning, though in this case it was instead often left untrimmed. A smooth face was regarded as a sign of effeminacy (Athen. xiii. 565 a). The Spartans punished cowards by shaving off a portion of their beards. From the earliest times, however, the shaving of the upper lip was not uncommon.

In the time of Alexander the Great the custom of smooth shaving was introduced (Chrysippus ap. Athen. xiii. 565 a), and spread from the Macedonians, whose kings are represented on coins, etc.,

Coin of Alexander the Great.

with smooth faces, throughout the whole Greek world. Laws were passed against it, without effect, at Rhodes and Byzantium; and even Aristotle, we are told, conformed to the new custom (Diog. Laert. v. 1), unlike the other philosophers, who retained the beard as a badge of their profession. A “man with a beard” (πωγωνοτρόφος) after the Macedonian period implies a philosopher (cf. Pers. iv. 1, magister barbatus of Socrates), and we have many allusions to this custom of the later philosophers in such proverbs as “the beard does not make the sage” (πωγωνοτροφία φιλόσοφον οὐ ποιεῖ, De Is. et Osir. 3).

II. Roman.—The Romans in early times wore the beard uncut, as we learn from the insult offered by the Gaul to M. Papirius (Liv.v. 41), and from Cicero (Pro Cael. 14); and, according to Varro and Pliny , the Roman beards were not shaven till B.C. 300, when P. Ticinius Menas brought over a barber from Sicily; and Pliny adds that the first Roman who was shaved (rasus) every day was Scipio Africanus. (Cf. Gell. iii. 4.) His custom, however, was soon followed, and shaving became a regular thing. The lower orders, then as now, were not always able to do the same, and hence the jeers of Martial (vii. 95; xii. 59). In the later times of the Republic there were many iuvenes who shaved the beard only partially, and trimmed it, so as to give it an ornamental form; to them the terms bene barbati and barbatuli are applied. We hear of young men oiling their chins to force a premature growth of beard (Petron.75, 10).

In a general way, in Rome at this time, a long beard (barba promissa) was considered a mark of slovenliness and squalor. The censors L. Veturius and P. Licinius compelled M. Livius, who had been banished, on his restoration to the city to be shaved, and to lay aside his dirty appearance, and then, but not till then, to come into the Senate (Liv.xxvii. 34). The first time of shaving was regarded as the beginning of manhood, and the day on which this took place was celebrated as a festival (Juv.iii. 186). There was no particular time fixed for this to be done. Usually, however, it was when the young Roman assumed the toga virilis. Augustus did it in his twenty

Aureus of Augustus Caesar.

fourth year, Caligula in his twentieth. The hair cut off on such occasions was consecrated to some god. Thus Nero put his into a golden box set with pearls, and dedicated it to Iupiter Capitolinus (Suet. Ner. 12).

With the emperor Hadrian the beard began to revive. Plutarch says that this emperor wore it to hide some scars on his face. The practice afterwards became common, and till the time of Constantine the Great the emperors appear in busts and coins with beards; but Constantine and his


successors to the end of the sixth century, with the exception of Julian , are represented as beardless. The contrast between the custom of the early emperors and those of Hadrian and his successors as to the beard is seen in the accompanying heads. The Romans, unlike the Greeks, let their beards grow in time of mourning; so did Augustus for the death of Iulius Caesar, and the time when he had it shaved off he made a season of festivity (Dio Cass. xlviii. 34). Other occasions of mourning on which the beard was allowed to grow were, appearance as a reus, condemnation, or some public calamity. For an account of barbers, see Tonsor.

hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 5.1
    • Suetonius, Nero, 12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 41
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 34
    • Petronius, Satyricon, 75
    • Persius, Saturae, 4
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