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Beard in Roman world

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


A qualified hairdresser (tonsor) in Rome could make a career and earn good money. It should be noted, however, that shaving was not very pleasant and easy at the time. The Romans used much worse steel than we do today, and it has often happened that the razor (novacula) quickly blunted. In addition to shaving, cutting and waxing, hairdressers also offered the removal of individual facial hair with tweezers (volsella).

In an ancient hair salon, scissors-like tools (forfex), comb (pector), mirrors made of polished bronze, iron curls (calamister were used), ointments, perfumes.

Rome, however, was susceptible to all fashion in other lands. In the late republic, a small and well-groomed beard (barbula) was popular with young men. A shaved face was still preferred. This custom persisted until the emperor Hadrian, who again adopted the idea of ​​wearing a beard. There are two approaches to the reason for this change. Either the emperor was again under Greek influence, or he had a mutilated face – he tried to hide his scars at all costs. For whatever reason, Hadrian set a new fashion for men who preferred facial hair from that moment.

He went down in history, among others court barber Nero – Thalamus or Pantagathus.


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