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κουρεύς). A barber. The Greek and Roman barbers cut and dressed the hair and trimmed the beards of their customers, and also pared the nails and pulled out hairs with tweezers

Ancient Barber at Work. (Baumeister,

(volsellae). Persons of means were shaved and otherwise attended by valets of their own from among their slaves, but the common people frequented the barber-shop (κουρεῖον, tonstrina), which was with them a favourite lounging-place and famous for the gossip retailed there; for the ancient barbers were as fond of talk as those of modern times (Plaut. Epid. ii. 2, 16; Asin. ii. 2, 76; Polyb. iii. 20, 5; Hor. Sat. i. 7, 2). Female barbers (κουρεύτριαι, tonstrices) seem not to have been rare (Mart.ii. 17).

The person who was to be operated on by the barber had a rough cloth (ὠμόλινον, involucre) laid on his shoulders, as now, to keep the hairs off his dress, etc. The second part of the business was shaving (radere, rasitare, ξυρεῖν). This was done with a ξυρόν, or novacula, a razor, which was kept in a razor-case (θήκη, ξυροθήκη, ξυροδόκης). Some, who would not submit to the operation of the razor, used instead some powerful depilatory ointments or plasters, as psilothron, acida Creta, Venetum lutum, dropax, etc. Stray hairs which escaped the razor were pulled out with small pincers or tweezers (volsellae, τριχολάβιον). The third part of the barber's work was, as stated above, to pare the nails of the hands, an operation which the Greeks expressed by the words ὀνυχίζειν and ἀπονυχίζειν. The instruments used for this purpose were called ὀνυχιστήρια, sc. μαχαίρια. See Barba; Coma.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Horace, Satires, 1.7
    • Plautus, Epidicus, 2.2
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 2.17
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