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Bill Thayer

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 p220  Calamistrum

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p220 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

CALAMISTRUM, an instrument made of iron, and hollow like a reed (calamus), used for curling the hair. For this purpose it was heated, the person who performed the office of heating it in wood-ashes (cinis) being called ciniflo, or cinerarius (Hor. Sat. I.2.98; Heindorf, ad loc.). This use of heated irons was adopted very early among the Romans (Plaut. Asin. III.3.37), and became as common among them as it has been in modern times (Virg. Aen. XII.100). In the age of Cicero, who frequently alludes to it, the Roman youths, as well as the matrons, often appeared with their hair curled in this manner (calamistrati). We see the result in many antique statues and busts.​a

Thayer's Note:

a We see the result in many antique statues and busts: As still happens in our own time, not only women and young men, but ridiculous old fops as well. See Smollett's opinion of Nero, illustrated by a photo I took in the Capitoline Museum.

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Page updated: 8 Dec 00