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Hair Removal In Ancient Rome

In Ancient Rome, shaving was not only a passion, but it had a cultural significance. A young Roman’s first shave was a “coming into adulthood party”. And the tonstrina, a Roman barbershop, was a meeting place. Men not only got a nice shave there but could hear the news and gossip. Cutting hair and shaving would have been the barber’s main job, but paint and perfume could also be applied to the hair, and creams and cosmetic sticking plasters could be applied to the skin. So, shaving became an integral part of a Roman man’s social life.

Of course, if you were an elite member of society, you would have a personal barber visit your household. Body hair (and the removal of it) became a status symbol. Thus, in Roman times, the richer you were, the less body hair you had.

So now you can understand , Phoebe’s comment to Miriam in “The Fire” about the owner of a trendy shop:

“Him? That guy with the pointy face? The one who owns that trendy shop?”

I nodded.

“What a phony! Full of himself and pulsing with social ambition.” Phoebe sank back against the cushions, took a deep breath, and let out an extravagant sigh. “I’ll bet he scents even the soles of his feet with that labdanum oil. And he must spend a fortune on his tonsor to wax, tweeze, and shave his face and body. I’m not even going to mention the face-whitening makeup he wears.”

Miriam suspects this uppity shop owner of murder, but is she being fair? “The Fire” is one of the stories in The Deadliest Deceptions due for release this fall. For the exact date, keep your eye right here.


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