Thursday, 21 April 2005

Dangerous Barbers!

A Roman's relationship with his barber was crucial; the trimming of the beard was almost of religious significance and the utensils the barber used could be deadly with one accidental slip of the hand! Indeed, many were those who had their face sliced off due to the carelessness of their barbers! There was no use of softening lotion or soap; only water was used to soften the bristles. As a result the experience would often be painful. The poorer folk were known to spit on their shaving blade in order to "lubricate" it.

As soon as a young man had grown enough beard to have it shaven off he would be sent to the barber for an almost ritualistic acting out of this deed. The Emperor Augustus had his taken off whe he was 23 whereas both Caligula and Nero did it when they took the Toga Virillis. Nero had his shaved-off bits sealed in a gold box even! Of course all young men in Rome would then follow the same example (much the same as young people of today who immitate habits of celebrities...).

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