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Phoebe's Cosmetic Box

Phoebe, like other wealthy women 2000 years ago, prized her make up collection and kept it in a cosmetic box. Accordingly, Miriam and Phoebe go to Phoebe’s dressing room to disguise themselves in “The Mistress”, a story in The Deadliest Deceptions. There they try on armfuls of tunics, select from a variety of wigs arranged by color on mannequin heads, and experiment with the make up in Phoebe’s cosmetic box.

Listen to Phoebe as she claims her self-appointed role as arbiter of Miriam’s manners and dress, especially when Miriam breaches Roman fashion trends:

“No, Miriam,” Phoebe said with all the condescension of an older sister. “The wig. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong. You want to look different, not cheap. Here, put on this black one, use this salve to rouge your lips, and then do what I do: Line your eyes with this.” She poked me with a pot of kohl. “And while you’re at it—you look a little sulky—paint your lids green with some of this powder. And hurry! We’re not here to play dress-up. We’re here to stop a murder!”

Not yet knowing that cinnabar and red lead were poisonous, Roman women used them extensively for rouge. Kohl, the main ingredient in eye makeup, was made from ashes or soot, powdered antimony, and saffron to improve the smell. And green eyeshadow came from powdered malachite, which was then mixed with animal fat.

Of course, the stories in The Deadliest Deceptions are about more than cosmetic attempts at deception. Don’t miss the lust, greed, trickery, deceit, and murder that accompany those deceptions. Just click here.


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