Ovids Grooming

In the new frescoed Roman art and portraiture set up for permanent public display on their household walls and floors, there were no lice, smells, wrinkles, disfigurements, or blemishes just delicately pencilled oval faces and graceful bodies, as neat and as perfect as their owners had intended themselves to be. Egypt had formerly dominated the western Asian cosmetics trade now Rome was becoming the main consumer and entrepot for powders, oils, perfumes, incense, silk, shawls, artificial...

Vitalist Health Care

The medical bible of the end-of-century European Naturphilosophie vitalists was the health book by Goethe's friend Christian Wilhelm Hufeland (1762-1836), called Makrobiotik, oder, Die Kunst, das menschliche Leben zu Verlangern (1794), translated into English as The Art of Prolonging Life in 1797 (thus taking the strange foreign word Makrobiotik out of the title).64 Makrobiotik was a handbook on how to control the 'rapid or slow vital consumption' of the life force, and how to regulate the...

Civil Cleanliness

Adam Dickson, Essay on the Causes of the Present High Prices of Commodities (London, 1773), 22-4, written three years before Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (London, 1776). 2. E. L. Jones and M. E. Falkus, 'Urban Improvement and the English Economy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries', in Peter Borsay (ed.), The Eighteenth Century Town, 1688-1820 A Reader in English Urban History (London Longman, 1990), table 1 'New Bodies of Improvement...

Modern Well Being

In the 1960s and 1970s naturism and wealth coincided on the warm and sunny Pacific coast of California, and produced a luxurious 'New Age' theology of body culture that ultimately became the 'well-being sector'. 'Hippie' teenagers who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s formed the core group of affluent health enthusiasts who rediscovered multicultural medicine in the 1980s and 1990s and in the United States, where personal health insurance was expensive or simply not affordable, and individual...

Protestant Regimens

Sir Francis Bacon, Historia Vitae et Mortis, in Collected Works of Francis Bacon, 12 vols., ed. J. Spedding, R. Ellis, and D. D. Heath (London Routledge Thoemmes, 1996), v. 215. 2. Erasmus, 'Antibarbari', in The Collected Works of Erasmus, i Literary and Educational Writings, ed. Craig Thompson (Toronto University of Toronto Press, 1978), 23-4. Peter Burke, 'Without Spot or Stain Rituals of Purification in Early Modern Europe', seminar, Cambridge, Oct. 1997, highlighted the phenomenon of the...

Revolutionary Hygiene and Naturphilosophie

After 1789 the French Revolution gave hygiene a new political status. Revolutionary French hygienists enthusiastically followed the plan of rational medicine set by the philosophes, and used hygiene and preventive medicine as a stick with which to beat the forces of conservatism. Revolutionary hygiene progressed from being a lengthy article in the Encyclop die m thodique in the 1780s to becoming officially adopted as one of the rights of the healthy citizen, and one of the duties of the state,...

The Body Beautiful

Roemer, 'Internationalism in Medicine and Public Health', in W. F. Bynum and Roy Porter eds. , Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine, 2 vols. London Routledge, 1993 , ii. 1417-35 W. F. Bynum, 'Medical Philanthropy after 1850', ibid. ii. 1480-94. See also the classic work by Pyotr Kropotkin that influenced early 20th-century socialists, communists, and anarchists, Mutual Aid A Factor of Evolution London William Heinemann, 1902 . 2. M. Gorsky, J. Mohan, and T. Willis,...

Water Water Water

Greece Louteron

Skin care, nudity, and water go together and water evidently mattered a lot to the Greeks. They paid particular attention to water in their new-built settlements. For the Greeks a pure water supply was an important part of public policy and a very visible sign of civic growth and prosperity. They collected rainwater in stone cisterns and drew from springs and wells but from the sixth century bce, impressive new public water supplies were created from artificial conduits. The tyrants of Samos,...

The Private Parts

'The cleanliness of the rest of your person, which, by the way, will conduce greatly to your health, I refer from time to time to the bagnio,' remarked Chesterfield casually, but not urgently.9 He might have known better than to send his son to France with that advice or perhaps he assumed that French aristocratic males merely looked on while their womenfolk bathed and sluiced. In France the aristocratic tendre for cosmetic cleanliness that had developed during the seventeenth century had...

Christian Purity

Cleanness was innate to the Holy Spirit. According to the early theology of Jesus Christ, Jesus carried his holiness within and about him, in incorruptible flesh. Like any sacred priest, anything he touched made it holy. When Jesus washed the leper's feet, or embraced other untouchables, such as the poor, the sick, or the prostitute Mary Magdalene, he was not thereby rendered unclean. On the contrary, his holiness, his cleanness, healed them and made them whole. For Christians, full purity was...

Training and Gymnastics

From the eighth century bce onwards the stadiums and palaes-tras probably functioned like an experimental laboratory for the therapeutics of hygiene, taking on the challenge to bring and keep a single body in perfect condition through exact training and regimen. Behind the scenes stadiums were lively medical meeting-places, used for viewing both routine and unusual surgical cases. Physical therapies were constantly being devised especially for the athletes during intensive physiotherapy...

The Trotula Corpus

It has long been thought that Trotula was a woman physician working in Salerno who wrote a famous book on cosmetics but recent detective work has proved that this was a myth perpetuated in the 1544 edition by a humanist doctor, Georg Kraut. Like so many medieval popular works, the corpus of work known as The Trotula was compiled by many different hands. During the twelfth century in Salerno two scholarly tracts, Treatise on the Diseases of Women and On the Conditions of Women, were bound...

The Salerno Regimen

Salerno was originally a Roman coastal health resort and spa, situated 35 miles south-east of Naples down the coast from Baiae. In 847 Salerno became the port capital of a new Lombard principality, and the first Benedictine medical monks arrived. Over 300 years nine monasteries were established, and Salerno's three Roman aqueducts were rebuilt, serving a series of public fountains, the old public bathhouses, and private customers en route, some with their own private bathhouses including the...

Neoplatonism

Most of the Church Fathers were soaked in the classics of Roman scholarship St Jerome had to put himself under a special penance to stop himself from reading them. The pagan philosophies themselves were still strong and active. The Alexandrian philosopher Plotinus ad 205-70 had inspired an ascetic, Neoplatonic, or 'gnostic' tradition within the early Christian Church, and his prolific writings on the joys of contemplation lived long after him.14 Plotinus believed that all physical matter was...