OLTHOF, Dorothee and Martine TEUNISSEN (2018). Beauty en Fashion: De Laatste Trends uit het Oude Rome, Leiden: Sidestone Press. ISBN 9789088906381. Paperback, colour photographs, 210 pp.,. Price: €19.95 (ebook €9.95, available to be read free on-line).
“To be beautiful is an art with a secret” wrote the Roman poet Ovid (43 BCE-17 CE). This fun-to-read Dutch language book contains many more such quotations from Roman writers, all relating to the art of making one’s self beautiful during Roman times. There are chapters on hair styles, clothing (both female and male), face masks, skin creams, perfume, jewellery, and more. Each chapter is well illustrated, with colour photographs of Roman artifacts (many of them discovered in the Netherlands) and easy to follow instructions on reproducing beauty recipes (the writers suggest omitting crocodile faeces or gladiators’ sweat), hair styles and Roman clothing.
Recommendation: The authors (an archaeologist and an historian) run a Roman beauty salon during museum events and Roman festivals. They clearly know what they are writing about and how to make this knowledge interesting to a modern audience. This book will be of interest to a general public, to Roman re-enactors, Latin teachers and to museum staff who want to plan enjoyable educational workshops for the public.