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SAPO Pliny (Plin. Nat. 18.191) mentions this as a Gallic invention; it was not, however, our soap, but a sort of pomade or wash ( “duobus modis spissus ac liquidus” ), made of fat and ashes, and used to give a golden tint to the hair. Pliny adds that it was used in Germany, and even more by men than women of that country (cf. Tac. Hist. 4.61; Juv. 13.161, and Mayor ad loc.). In fact, most other writers seem to connect it rather with the Germans than the Gauls: Martial calls it “spuma Batava” (8.33 = caustica spuma, 14.26) and “Mattiacae pilae,” i. e. balls of this composition from Mattiacum in Germany (14.27). Ovid speaks of “Germanae herbae” for dyeing the hair, where the word herbae may be applied in ignorance of the materials used to make the dye. The flavus cinis, of which Servius (Serv. ad Aen. 4.698) says that Cato makes mention, is probably this sapo. For the equivalents to our soap used by Greeks and Romans, see FULLO Vol. I. p. 161. (Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.161; Marquardt, Privatleben, 787; Blümner, Technologie, 1.161.)


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    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.61
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