This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Romans wore wigs

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Fresco from Villa Arianna (Stabie), showing a Roman woman correcting her hairstyle. Painting dated to the 1st century CE.
Fresco from Villa Arianna (Stabie), showing a Roman woman correcting her hairstyle. Painting dated to the 1st century CE.

Wigs were worn in ancient Rome. Julius Caesar reportedly wore a wig and a laurel wreath to hide his progressive baldness. The Emperor’s wife herself Marcus AureliusFaustina the Elder (c. 100-141 CE) – had an impressive collection of at least 300 wigs.

Emperor Caligula (12-41 CE), in turn, was known to have the capillameus wig. full wig. According to Suetonius, wigs were also worn by Emperor Otho and Domitian.

Sometimes bald Romans, both men and women, had their hair painted on instead of wearing wigs. Men were suggested to wear hippo skin on their heads, which was said to have a positive effect on hair growth.

Some writers, such as Martial or Juvenal, made jokes in their works of women who wore wigs to look younger, and older men who tried to hide their age. Developing Christianity in the Empire was critical of the wearing of wigs, and considered it a sin to wear fake hair.

The wigs were made of real hair. The most expensive and desirable were blonde (dominant in women in Germania) and brown (mainly India). It is also worth adding that reportedly Emperor Lucius Verus (ruled in 161-169 CE) had natural fair hair, but to make it even brighter, gold dust was splashing on it.

The wigs were divided into (1) full – capillamentum, which made up the entire hairstyle (2), and a half – galerus, which complemented the hair on the head. Due to the relatively humid climate in the northern parts of the Empire, some of the wigs have survived to our times.

Sources
  • Michael Grant, The Antonines: The Roman Empire in Transition, London & New York 1994
  • Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

Your financial help is needed, in order to maintain and develop the website. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server. I believe that I can count on a wide support that will allow me to devote myself more to my work and passion, to maximize the improvement of the website and to present history of ancient Romans in an interesting form.

Support IMPERIUM ROMANUM!

News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with news and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: