Historical Hairdos

‘Sappho’: fresco of a lady holding a stylus to her lips, with a writing tablet in her left hand. From Pompeii.

Recently my sister told me about this amazing lady called Janet Stephens who makes youtube videos on reconstructions of historical, mainly ancient, hairdos. A lot of them actually involve using a needle and thread to stitch the hair in place, and so also require a handy slave to do all the work.

I also found this wonderful quote in the catalogue for the current Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition at the British Museum:

Ovid in his Ars Amandi (III, 133ff) “…in the same way you can’t count the acorns on an oak tree, so you’ll never be able to count the different ways of doing women’s hair … many women look great with a bedraggled careless look. You’d think it was yesterday’s hairdo (but she’s only just done it…). Contrived styles must look casual.”

Paul Roberts, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum (British Museum Press, London, 2013), p. 135