). The term includes all the products
of the perfumer, whether used for health or luxury; oils, ointments,
pomatums, essences, salves. The first and simplest of unguents, oil, is
mentioned repeatedly in Homer, usually in connexion with the bath (λοῦσαν καὶ χρῖσαν ἐλαίῳ, ἤλειψεν λίπ᾽
are quite stock phrases); and to the latest times it
remained associated with bathing and athletic contests [ATHLETAE; BALNEAE]. The more elaborate arts of perfumery had early
attained an extraordinary development in the East; the Greeks, [p. 2.977]
for whose practice the comic writers are our
fulllest witnesses, rapidly acquired the same tastes; the Romans did not
wait till they had direct intercourse with the East, but learnt these arts
at an early period from the luxurious cities of Magna Graecia. ii.
Among the various and costly oils which were used partly for the skin and
partly for the hair, the following are enumerated by Pliny (Plin. Nat. 13
. § § 4--18):
Delium, Mendesium, irinum, rhodinum or rosaceum, crocinum (cf. Propert.
3.10, 22=4.9, 22 Müller), oenanthinum, amaracinum (cf. Lucret.
2.847, 4.1179, 6.973), melinum, cyprinum, metopium, Panathenaicum,
pardalium, narcissinum, sampsuchinum, susinum, sesaminum, telinum, megalium
or megalesium, balaninum, nardinum, spicatum. Other favourites, likewise
mentioned by Pliny, are myrrh (Propert. 1.2, 3), malobathrum (Hor. Carm. 2.7.8
), costum (Id. ib. 3.1, 44,
with Orelli's excursus), amomum (Verg. Ecl.
), cardamomum, cinnamomum,
&c., besides mineral products. A regale unguentum made for the
Parthian kings was compounded of 25 precious substances (Plin. l.c.
§ 18). Soap, a Gallic or perhaps
rather a German invention (Beckmann, Hist. of Inv.
2.92), was used as a pomatum rather than a detergent, and imparted to the
hair the red or yellow tinge so much in fashion among the Romans: the
“sap, Gallorum hoc inventum rutilandis capillis” of Pliny
(Plin. Nat. 28.191
, where the word
occurs for the first time) is
doubtless identical with the spuma Batava, caustica
and Mattiacae pilae
and 27; cf. Diet,
). This fancy for
light hair was as old as Cato: “flavo cinere unctitabant, ut rutilae
essent” (ap. Serv. ad Aen.
; cf. V. Max. 2.1.5
“hair-restorers” also came from Germany: “femina
canitiem Germanis excitat herbis” (Ov.
A. Am. 3.163
). The effects of these herbae
sometimes disappointing (Id. Amor.
), when recourse was had to the-same country for the false
hair which then became necessary (cf. GAUSAPE
In addition to these oils the ancients also used various kinds of scented
powders, called by the general name of διαπάσματα
Dioscor. 1.6; [Lucian] Amor.
39). To what an excess the habit
of using fragrant oils and the like was carried, appears from Seneca
86.12), who says that people anointed themselves
twice or even three times a day. At Rome, however, these luxuries did not
pass unrebuked in the time of Scipio (Gell. vi. [vii.] 12.5); and still
later, in B.C. 89, the censors positively forbade the sale of exotic
unguents (Plin. Nat. 13.24
). The wealthy
Greeks and Romans carried their oils and essences with them, especially when
they bathed, in small boxes of costly materials and beautiful workmanship,
which were called narthecia
(Cic. de Fin.
; cf. Böttiger, Sabina,
1.52). Another very common kind of scent bottle was the ALABASTRUM
It was, however,
thought undignified to carry one's own oil flask to the public baths,
instead of having it borne by a slave: such persons were called αὐτολήκυθοι
(L. and S., ed. 7, s.v. Sandys,
Excurs. on Dem.
2.227 ff.). The traffic which was carried
on in these ointments and perfumes in several towns of Greece and Southern
Italy was very considerable. The persons engaged in manufacturing them were
called by the Greeks μυρεψοὶ
(see L. and S. s.
), by the Romans unguentarii
(Cic. de Off. 1.4. 2
§ 150; Hor. Sat.
3, 228), or, as they
frequently were women, unguentariae
(Plin. Nat. 8.14
), and the art of compounding
In the wealthy and effeminate
city of Capua there was a street or square called the Seplasia, which
consisted entirely of shops in which unguents were sold (Cic. in Pison.
11.24; Asconius ad loc.; de Lege
2.34.94; pro Sest.
oils and unguents, see especially Becker-Göll, Gallus,
3.157-167. For the cosmetics employed in painting the
face, see FUCUS; for the detergents used instead
of soap for washing, see FULLO; on the antiquities
of the toilet generally, the work of Böttiger, Sabina oder
Morgenscenen im Putzzimmer einer reichen Römerin,
vols. Leipzig, 1806, is not yet superseded.