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THE ART OF BEAUTY
NOW learn, my dears, the art of beautifying your faces; learn by what means you can retain your charms. Cultivation makes the sterile ground bring forth fruit; it destroys the thorny brambles. Cultivation softens the sourness of the apple, and the grafted tree bears fruit both rich and strange. Art clothes all things with beauty. Lofty ceilings are gilded with gold; the dark soil is hidden by the marble edifices raised upon it. The fleeces are dyed many times in the brazen cauldrons with Tyrian purple, and ivory from India is carved and cut to suit the luxury of our times.
Maybe, in those far-off days, when Tatius was king, the Sabine women thought more of dressing the fields of their forefathers than of dressing themselves. In those times, the red-faced matron, perched clumsily on her high stool, would spin and spin the livelong day. She put into the shed the flocks her daughter brought home from the meadows; she tended the fire herself by heaping furze and faggots on it. But your mothers' daughters are daintier and more refined than that. You must needs have dresses embroidered with gold; you like to do your perfumed hair in countless different ways; you must have sparkling rings upon your fingers. You adorn your necks with pearls brought from the East, pearls so big that your ears can scarcely bear the weight of them. Nevertheless we must not reproach you with the care which you bestow upon your person, since the men, in these days, pay immense attention to their dress.
[paragraph continues] The men take a leaf out of the women's book, and the wives can hardly outdo their husbands in luxurious attire.
Thus then let every woman strive to look her best. It matters not how love shall spread its lure. Tasteful simplicity no one can find fault with. There are women who, though buried in the country, are yet most careful about their hair. Even if rugged Athos should hide them from view, they would dress well-for Athos. They even take a pleasure in dressing to please themselves, and every young girl loves to make the most of her attractions. The bird of Juno, when his plumage is praised, spreads out his tail to be admired, and dumb though he be, is proud of his beauty. To kindle in us the fires of love, dress is more potent than the dread arts of the magician. Trust not to herbs, nor to philtres compounded of divers juices, and essay not the flux of the mare on heat. Serpents are not cut in two by the incantations of the Marsians; and rivers no longer flow backwards to their sources. You may bang the brass of Temesa as much as you will, it will never bring down the moon to earth.
Your first preoccupation, my dears, should be your manners. When a woman's manners are good, she never fails to attract. Manners indeed are more than half the battle. Time will lay waste your beauty, and your pretty face will be lined with wrinkles. The day will come when you will be sorry you looked at yourself in the mirror, and regret for your vanished beauty will bring you still more wrinkles. But a good disposition is a virtue in itself, and it is lasting; the burden of the years cannot depress it, and love that is founded on it endures to the end.
Now, when you have had your full of sleep, and your delicate limbs are refreshed, come learn from me how to impart a dazzling whiteness to your skin. Strip of its straw and husk the barley which our vessels bring to our shores from the fields of Libya. Take two pounds of
peeled barley and an equal quantity of vetches moistened with ten eggs. Dry the mixture in the air, and let the whole be ground beneath the mill-stone worked by the patient ass. Pound the first horns that drop from the head of a lusty stag. Of this take one-sixth of a pound. Crush and pound the whole to a fine powder, and pass through a deep sieve. Add twelve narcissus bulbs which have been skinned, and pound the whole together vigorously in a marble mortar. There should also be added two ounces of gum and Tuscan spelt, and nine times as much honey. Any woman who smears her face with this cosmetic will make it brighter than her mirror.
Then make haste and bake pale lupins and windy beans. Of these take six pounds each and grind the whole in the mill. Add thereto white lead and the scum of ruddy nitre and Illyrian iris, which must be kneaded by young and sturdy arms. And when they are duly bruised, an ounce should be the proper weight. If you add the glutinous matter wherewith the Halcyon cements its nest, you will have a certain cure for spots and pimples. As for the dose, one ounce applied in two equal portions is what I prescribe. To bind the mixture and to make it easy of application, add some honey from the honeycombs of Attica.
Although incense is pleasing to the gods and soothes their wrath, it must not be kept exclusively for their altars. A mixture of incense and nitre is good for black-heads. Take four ounces of each. Add an ounce of gum from the bark of a tree, and a little cube of oily myrrh. Crush the whole together and pass through a sieve. Bind the resultant powder by mixing with honey. Some people recommend that fennel should be added to the myrrh; nine scruples of myrrh and five of fennel is the proportion. Add a handful of dried rose-leaves, some sal-ammoniac and male frankincense. Pour on barley-water, and let the weight of the
sal-ammoniac and the incense equal the weight of the roses. After employing very few applications of this mixture, you will have a charming complexion.
I have seen a woman pound up poppies soaked in cold water and rub her cheeks with them. . . .
Medicamina Faciei Femineae
discite quae faciem commendet cura, puellae,