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Roman Men Wore Hairpieces

Many Roman men wore toupees of human hair to cover their baldness. Unlike a woman’s wig, toupees were made to look natural.

Judah’s half-brother, Eran, in THE DEADLIEST HATE wore a toupee to cover his receding hairline. But more important, its drop curls concealed the port-wine statin on his forehead, which stigmatized him as impure according to Jewish Law.

A toupee could be braided into a man’s existing hair or attached with pins. The larger ones could be sewn onto a piece of leather and shaped to the head. Some of these larger ones were even glued to the scalp. Nevertheless, the hairpiece didn’t always stay put. Miriam tells us what happened when Eran, reeling with indignation at what he saw written on a tablet, wiped the sweat dripping from his brow:

A few strands of the wig got caught on one of his rings. And then, with the sweep of his hand, the hairpiece itself wheeled through the air before landing like a dead pigeon in the pool. He unleashed a chilling wail that rang through the atrium and then a bellow of rage that echoed through the house as if in pursuit of that wail.

The results were disastrous.

In the instant that followed, he hurled the tablet whereupon it ricocheted against one of the ebony doors and smashed an ornamental water jug to smithereens. After the clatter, I heard a hiss, and then a coppery-red Egyptian cobra about three feet long, probably bewildered by the unfamiliar light, undulated laterally through the wreckage.

Don’t leave Miriam with that dreaded cobra on the loose. Catch up with her in Chapter 28 of THE DEADLIEST HATE.

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