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Medicamina Faciei Femineae: Roman Skin Care

Faisal R. Ali, MA, MRCP; James Fox, MA, PhD; Alexander E. T. Finlayson, BMedSci, MRCP
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(5):591. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.350.
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Written 2 millennia ago, Ovid's Medicamina Faciei Femineae (Cosmetics for the Female Face) provides a unique insight into Roman dermatological practices and attitudes toward beauty. Born in Sulmo (east of Rome) in 43 BC, Ovid trained as an orator before crafting his art as one of the canonical poets of Latin literature.

In this didactic elegy, Ovid frames instructions on how women should behave and care for their skin in elegiac couplets, the literary form typically associated with love poetry. In contrast to his then-peers, Ovid celebrates skin care and beautification, imploring women to take care of their body, not simply competing with their husbands for the ostentation of clothes.


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