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ALIPTAE (ἀλεῖπται), among the Greeks, were persons who anointed the bodies of the athletae before and after the exercises of the palaestra. The chief object of the preliminary anointing was to close the pores of the body, in order to prevent excessive perspiration and the weakness consequent thereon. To effect this object, the oil was not simply spread over the surface of the body, but also well rubbed into the skin (Lucian, Anach. 28; Plut. de Tuend. San. 15, p. 130 b). The oil was mixed with fine sand, of which various sorts are enumerated, but the African was the favourite. Several jars of this sand were found in the baths of Titus, and one of these is now in the British Museum. This preparatory anointing was called παρασκευαστικὴ τρῖψις. The athlete was again anointed after the contests, in order to restore the tone of the skin and muscles; this treatment was called ἀποθεραπεία. He then bathed, and had the dust, sweat, and oil scraped off his body by means of an instrument similar to the strigil of the Romans, and called στλεγγὶς, and afterwards ξύστρα. [BALNEAE] The part of the palaestra in which the athletes were anointed was called ἀλειπτήριον (Alexis, fr. 99, Meineke; Schneider on Vitr. 5.10, 5).

The function of the ἀλείπτης was thus a subordinate branch, of that of the παιδοτρίβης, or gymnast; but the latter himself is sometimes called ἀλείπτης, as by Plutarch (Dion. 1: cf. Pind. O. 8.54-71, with Boeckh's note).

The relation of gymnastics to the medical art was early perceived, as by Iccus of Tarentum, and Herodicus, the physician of Selymbria, both in the fifth century B.C. (Plat. Protag. 316 D; Rep. 3.406 A). The aliptae took advantage of the knowledge they necessarily acquired of the state of the muscles of the athletes, and their general strength or weakness of body, to advise them as to their exercises and mode of life. (Arist. Eth. N. 2.6, 7; Plut. de Adul. et Am. 17, p. 59 f.) Hence the term ἰατραλείπτης, or medical trainer, which however does not occur before Roman times (Cels. 1.1; Plin. Nat. 29.4; Plin. Ep. 10.4). The last passage throws some light on their social status; Pliny asks Trajan to grant the citizenship to his iatraliptes, a freedman. The aliptae of Cicero (Cic. Fam. 1.9.35), contrasted with medici, must have been of this class, not, as sometimes supposed, of a lower.

Among the Romans there were also slaves called aliptae who scrubbed and anointed their masters in the baths; these are to be carefully distinguished from the trainers in the gymnasium. (Compare the scene described in the beginning of Seneca's 56th Epistle, where however the word aliptes does not occur; and for the two kinds of aliptae, Juv. Sat. 3.76, with ib. 6.422; also Pignorius, de Serv. p. 81.) These slaves were also called unctores (Martial, 3.32, 6), and the anointing-room unctorium or unctuarium (Plin. Ep. 2.17). They used in their operations a kind of scraper called a strigil, towels (lintea), a cruet of oil [GUTTUS], a bottle [AMPULLA], and a small vessel called lenticula [BALNEAE].

[P.S] [W.W]

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