Re: Did Ancient Roman Soldiers Shave?

From: Travis Morien (
Date: 11/20/04

Date: 20 Nov 2004 09:56:03 -0800

"Samuel W. Heywood" <> wrote in message news:<>...
> If we are to believe Hollywood movies we would believe that
> the regulations for ancient Roman soldiers required them all
> to be very clean shaven. In all the movies that I have seen
> in which ancient Roman soldiers are depicted, all of them are
> always seen as clean shaven. Wouldn't razors have been very
> expensive way back then? Wouldn't the custom of shaving every
> day be a luxury that no ordinary and common and lowly paid
> ancient Roman foot soldier would be able to afford? I don't
> think the ancient Roman government would have been supplying
> all of its soldiers with expensive luxury items. Have any
> entire regiments of very cleanly shaven ancient Roman soldiers
> ever been seen anywhere except in the movies?
> Sam Heywood
> -- USAR and MDARNG (Ret.)
> -- Message handled by Pine, Version 4.61

Quoting from:

"The tradition of intricately groomed beards was quite common among
the Greeks and Etruscans (the principle cultural influences on the
Romans). The Romans though until 300 BC remained pretty much

It was only with the introduction of the fashion of shaving during the
age of Alexander that the Greeks began to shave. This of course also
happened in the so-called area of Magna Graecia in southern Italy
which was controlled by Greek colonies. From there the fashion was
introduced to the Romans. It finally took a firm hold in Rome in about
the third century BC. The great general Scipio Africanus is believed
to have been the first to have begun the fashion of shaving daily.
During the third century BC many barbers from the Greek parts of
Sicily moved to Rome and opened shops.

Young men tended not to shave at first and it was seen as very
fashionable to keep a small, well-groomed beard (barbula). It was
largely when the first grey hairs started showing that the beard would
be shaven off completely.
This fashion lasted for a long time until the reign of emperor
Hadrian. Hadrian's face was slightly disfigured, hence he grew a beard
to hide the fact. Beard hence returned to fashion, until the the reign
of Constantine the Great who reversed the trend, with the men of the
empire remaining mostly clean-shaven."