Herodotus himself was rather scornful of such behaviour, as his Greek contemporaries were very proud of their beards. The British Isles were under constant attack from a new and terrifying bearded scourge: In the ancient world, older men equated beards with sagacity, but as the fashion for shaving grew more widespread, younger men began to ridicule the sight of a man with a full beard. Many Greek men wished to emulate the gods Zeus and Heracles, both of whom are defined in art by huge beards. Sugaring, incidentally, involves applying a sticky paste of sugar or honey to the skin, then peeling it off and taking the hair with it. As fashion was dictated by the whim of the current emperor, when Hadrian, in the first century AD, wore a beard to disguise his blemished skin, facial hair once more became fashionable.
During the Crusades — the battles Christians waged against Saracen Muslims to regain the Holy Land — it became a sign of Christian piety to be beardless. Ancient Greek men would also use hot tongs to make their beards hang in long, lustrous curls. Vikings, it is now claimed, were possibly far more hygienic and much better groomed than their British opponents. The men of ancient Rome had a more ambiguous relationship with beards. In the face of such public opposition, Henry was eventually induced to shave. The British Isles were under constant attack from a new and terrifying bearded scourge: Many Greek men wished to emulate the gods Zeus and Heracles, both of whom are defined in art by huge beards. The fourteenth-century knight Edward, Lord Despenser, is depicted with a face covered by chain mail, yet with his dapper moustache still visible as it flows over the edges of his armour. On the other hand, priests belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church were still expected to have facial hair. He therefore hired an army of barbers to shave his soldiers on the night before a battle. As fashion was dictated by the whim of the current emperor, when Hadrian, in the first century AD, wore a beard to disguise his blemished skin, facial hair once more became fashionable. A portrait of Henry I by an unknown artist, c Image: Sugaring, incidentally, involves applying a sticky paste of sugar or honey to the skin, then peeling it off and taking the hair with it. Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, King of Rome in the sixth century BC, is said to have introduced the razor to his countrymen and tried to encourage the habit of shaving. National Portrait Gallery Indeed, being able to grow a full beard at that time was a sign of high status and wisdom. Throughout history, wearing facial hair or choosing to be clean-shaven has often become symbolic of a generational difference. At mass on Christmas Day in , a Bishop Godfrey was said to have refused Holy Communion to any man who had come to church unshaven. They found the long curled beards of the Greeks somewhat off-putting, and those Romans who chose to wear beards tended to keep them clipped and neat. Call or visit books. His reasoning was that, in close combat, a beard could be grasped and used to pull an opponent off his horse. In the ancient world, older men equated beards with sagacity, but as the fashion for shaving grew more widespread, younger men began to ridicule the sight of a man with a full beard. During these dark centuries for the bearded Christian, the Catholic Church waged a war on whiskers, Pope Gregory IV wrote a ninth-century diatribe against bearded priests, and by the early s this pogonophobic feeling had spread to encompass not only priests but also all male worshippers. A century later, the fashion had finally caught on. The Macedonian-born commander, who led the Greek Empire against the Persians, insisted that his soldiers shave before battle. He also revealed that when they were in mourning, the priests stopped shaving, allowing their hair and beards to grow until the mourning period was over. Several centuries after the death of Alexander, people in Britain grew to distrust facial hair as much as the Macedonian general had done.
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