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PSILO´THRUM (ψίλωθρον), in Latin authors sometimes spelt psilotrum, an application for, removing superfluous hair, a depilatory. The favourite kind was made of heated arsenic and unslaked lime (Theophr. H. P. 9.20.3); the arsenic is mentioned by Pliny (Plin. Nat. 34.178). The roots and juices of various pungent plants were also used; the root of the wild vine, Theophr. l.c.: on the other hand, lacrima vitium, Plin. Nat. 23.3; lacrima hederae, id. 24.79; other vegetable substances, 20.90, 21.118, 22.134, 24.58, 27.72; animal matters, 28. § § 46, 250, 255, 30.132, 32.76. Several receipts are given (H. N. 32. § § 135-6), with the remark appended that the hairs must first be pulled out [VOLSELLAE], when psilothrum will prevent their growing again. Pitch-plaster (δρῶπαξ) was used for the same purpose (Mart. 3.74, 10.65; Phrynich. p. 405 Lobeck=488 Rutherford).

The practice of getting rid of hairs from the body (παρατίλλεσθαι, λεαίνεσθαι) was at first peculiar to women (Aristoph. Frogs 516, Lysistr. 82, 151; a Roman lady's toilet in Mart. 6.93), but in later times extended to men of effeminate habits. (See quotations from Theopompus ap. Ath. 6.260 e, 12.518 a; Clearchus, ib. 12.522 d; Antigonus of Carystus, ib. 13.565 f; and cf. Plin. Nat. 26.164.) The foppish and obscene excesses of the later Romans are well known (Suet. Jul. 45; Mart. 3.74, 8.47, 10.65; Pers. 4.35-41; Juv. 2.12; Clem. Alex. Paedag. iii. p. 261 P.). Cf. ALIPILUS; VOLSELLAE. (Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. p. 209 n.; Marquardt, Privatl. p. 581; Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.241.)


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