Barbers and baths

Facets of everyday Roman life, from food to travel to petkeeping. "How did the Romans...?" answered here!

Moderator: Aldus Marius

Barbers and baths

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Sat Feb 01, 2003 8:23 pm

Slavete Romani,

I wrote this small essay a while ago (back in the days of the mailing list). I would like to know if any of you would like to comment, add or corect somethings about it, or maybe have questions. And if any of you think it is good enough to be put onto the site.

Hairstyle in the Roman Empire.

Barbers were second in importance only to baths for a romans personal care. The wealthy were groomed daily by a personal barber, who was an important member of the household staff.
Low-class citizens patronized open-air barber shops in public squares, wich were a favorite place to socialize and exchange news and gossip. Romans of better means went to indoor barbershops (tonstrinae) with mirrord walls and benches for waiting customers. The person being groomed sat on a stool with a cape draped over him to protect his clothes.
Iron scissors were not especially sharp or precise, so haircuts were crude and curls were perennially popular. Romans wore the hairstyle favored by their emperors to show their loyalty to them. The "Augustus haircut" stayed for a very long time but some emperors added some minor adjustements but mostly, it stayed the same for many years.
Romans never shaved until beards were put out of fashion in the first century BC.
Razors were dull and Romans didn't use shavig creams or soaps, so even the poor left the task of shaving to a proffessional barber. Beard were assocated with barbarians: civilized men were clean-shaven.
Shaving was so ingrained in Roman culture that it became part of a man's coming-of-age, and a religious ceremony accompanied a boy's first shave.
By the second century AD, barbers added some cosmetic arts to their basic repertoire of cutting and shaving.. Tonsors treated customers' hair with paint and perfume, hid their skin blemishes under sticking plasters and rubbed their cheeks with various creams and lotions.

Bathhouses in the Roman Empire.

Roman baths, or thermae, were about far more than keeping clean. They were centers of entertainment, healing and socializing, much like today's sports clubs. The largests bathhouses covered 30 acres and could accommodate 1,600 people at a time in great vaulted halls as well as intimatye lounges. Roman baths were lavish afairs with mirrored walls, mosaic floors and marble-linde pools. Slaves moved on their errands through miles of tunnels under the floor, so as not to disturb the bathers, but were always nearby to satisfy any whim. Baths were segregated by gender.
These baths were so important for the Romans, that every fort had their own bath house.
After entering, a citizen paid a small fee in the main hall (this was too prevent slaves or the poor from coming to these bathhouses), then disrobed in the changign room and left his clothes with his slave. He might start by working up a sweat playing at sports in the execise yard. When tired of this he went on to the cold water pool (frigidarium), warm room (tepidarium), hot room (caldarium), and steam room (sudatorium).
After bathing he visited the 'unctuaria' to have his skin scraped and oiled by a slave. Now thoroughly cleansed and relaxed, he could chose further diversion in on-site reading rooms, gaming parlors, food and wine shops, or even theaters, art galleries and museums.

I am now eagerly awaiting your comments and/or questions.

Valete bene,

Tiberius Dionysius Scorpio
User avatar
Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Curator
Curator
 
Posts: 458
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2002 5:18 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sun Feb 02, 2003 4:34 am

Salve Tiberi

For both baths and barber shops you mention mirrored walls. Do you have any information on what kind of mirrors these were? And are there any examples that remain?

Vale
Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Sun Feb 02, 2003 11:36 am

Salve Piscine,

there are some examples left in Pompeiian wall paintings, but no original mirrors have been found so far.

Silver mirrors have come to be preferred [to bronze ones]; they were first made by Pasiteles in the period of Pompey the Great [106-48 B.C.]. But it has recently come to be believed that a more reliable reflection is given by applying a layer of gold to the back of glass.
(Natural History XXXIII.45.)


This is what we know about their evolution (from bronze to gold). But as in most cultures, mirrors were looked upon as evil (remember Narcissus staring at his own reflection and falling in love?).

That is all I can tell about the mirrors in ancient Rome. Maybe someone else knows more about this?

Vale bene,

Tiberius Dionysius Draco
User avatar
Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Curator
Curator
 
Posts: 458
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2002 5:18 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sun Feb 02, 2003 2:05 pm

Salve Tiberi

I have seen examples of the handheld Etruscan bronze mirrors. Glass back-painted with silver or gold I would think to have been relatively small as well. Not whole walls, especially in some barber's shop. And polished stone I do not know if that would produce the desired effect. It is the matter of "mirrored walls" that has me curious.

Evil mirrors, yes I know that one. It is custom in my family to turn them to the wall during the nights of the Manes, lest the spirits of the dead peer through them and seize children. I suppose one would not like to be in a barber shop for Lemuria.

Vale Moravius Piscinus
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Curialis
Curialis
 
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sun Feb 02, 2003 9:02 pm

Salve Tiberi et Piscine
Maybe you guys can put together a essay on this topic and post it on our site so that this collegium has its first essay (if not mistaken).
Also Tiberius, if you want to do a small essay on measering time since you are already on the subject more than others, i don't think anyone would object, but still this is optional.
valete optime in pace deorum
Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Rector ColRel
Rogator
Princeps gentis Aureliae
User avatar
Quintus Aurelius Orcus
Senator
Senator
 
Posts: 937
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2002 5:05 pm
Location: Ghent, Belgica

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Sun Feb 02, 2003 10:05 pm

Salve Sokare,

I was already planning to post my "barbers and baths" essay (although it can always use a little extra information). It would indeed be a good idea to bundle the "measuring time" topic and put it on the site too. But there's more, somewhere in the deepest and dustiest pits of my computer, I recovered another essay (it dates from the time that we still used the mailing list) and I will post it as soon as it is cleaned-up and double-checked for any typo's.

That is all that I have for the time being. If any members would like to give any useful information about "barbers and baths" or "measuring time", don't hesitate and just post it. Extra information is always welcome.

Vale bene,

Tiberius Dionysius Draco
User avatar
Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Curator
Curator
 
Posts: 458
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2002 5:18 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Sat Mar 08, 2003 11:47 pm

Salve Tiberi,

The Roman women did indeed use wigs to create these exotic (sometimes a little too exotict though) with different wigs and they also used hair pins.

I couldn't find much information about the make-up. But I do remember reading about it. The women would use many perfumes an they would use make-up too. They usually bought these from merchants that traveled to the East and because of the dangerous road, the perfumes, lotions and make-up were priceless. So I don't think that the more poorer women could afford to buy any.

I do not know if any beauty shops existed but the bath house had the same function (more or less) so there was no need of any kind of beauty shop.

That is all I could find about that subject. Very little is known about this, so if anyone would read more or know more about it, just post it.

Vale bene,

Tiberius Dionysius Draco
User avatar
Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Curator
Curator
 
Posts: 458
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2002 5:18 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Wed Mar 12, 2003 10:06 pm

Avete,

while I was doing some more research about Roman barbers (to see if I could update my essay) I came across avery interesting fact. It seems that barbers also used to act as a surgeon, pulling teeth, let blood, ...

I also read that that is why the pole outside of a modern day barber has got red-white stripes.

Does anybody know more about this interesting topic?

Valete,

Tiberius Dionysius Draco
User avatar
Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Curator
Curator
 
Posts: 458
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2002 5:18 pm
Location: Belgica


Return to Collegium Vitae Quotidianae

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests