From the standpoint of inherent fitness and beauty, this Athenian costume is the noblest ever seen by the world. Naturally there are ill-advised creatures who do not share the good taste of their fellows, or who try to deceive the world and themselves as to the ravages of that arch-enemy of the Hellene,—Old Age. Athenian women especially (though the men are not without their follies) are sometimes fond of rouge, false hair, and the like. Auburn hair is especially admired, and many fine dames bleach their tresses in a caustic wash to obtain it. The styles of feminine hair dressing seem to change from decade to decade much more than the arrangements of the garments. Now it is plaited and crimped hair that is in vogue, now the more beautiful "Psyche-knots"; yet even in their worst moods the Athenian women exhibit a sweet reasonableness. They have not yet fallen into the clutches of the Parisian hairdresser.
The poets, of course, ridicule the foibles of the fair sex. Says one:
The golden hair Nikylla wears
Is hers, who would have thought it?
She swears 'tis hers, and true she swears
For I know where she bought it!
You give your cheeks a rosy stain,
With washes dye your hair;
But paint and washes both are vain
To give a youthful air.
An art so fruitless then forsake,
Which, though you much excel in,
You never can contrive to make
Old Hecuba young Helen.
But enough of such scandals! All the best opinion—masculine and feminine—frowns on these follies. Let us think of the simple, dignified, and æsthetically noble costume of the Athenians as not the least of their examples to another age.
Next Chapter : The Slaves
Back to A Day in Old Athens Contents
The Greek Word Library
Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/old-athens-costume.asp?pg=7