), 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,
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 ἡ παρασκευαστικὴ
The athlete was again anointed after the contests, in
order to restore the tone of the skin and muscles; this treatment was called
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.
The part of the palaestra in which the athletes were anointed was called
(Alexis, fr. 99, Meineke;
Schneider on Vitr. 5.10
The function of the ἀλείπτης
was thus a
subordinate branch, of that of the παιδοτρίβης,
or gymnast; but the latter himself is sometimes
as by Plutarch (Dion.
1: cf. Pind. O.
, 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
17, p. 59 f.) Hence the term ἰατραλείπτης,
or medical trainer, which however does not
occur before Roman times (Cels. 1.1; Plin. Nat.
; 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
p. 81.) These slaves were also called unctores
), and the anointing-room unctorium
(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