Monday, August 19, 2019


The Physiognomy Defence

Cicero, In Defence of Quintus Roscius 7.20 (tr. J.H. Freese):
I beg and beseech you, who know them, to contrast their lives; you who do not know them, look at their faces. Do not the head itself, and those clean-shaven eyebrows seem to reek of malice and proclaim craftiness aloud? If one can make a guess from the silent form of a man's body, does not Fannius seem to be composed entirely of fraud, trickery, and lies from the tips of his fingers to the top of his head? He always has his head and eyebrows shaved, that he may not be accused of having a single hair of an honourable man on him...

oro atque obsecro vos, qui nostis, vitam inter se utriusque conferte, qui non nostis, faciem utriusque considerate. nonne ipsum caput et supercilia illa penitus abrasa olere malitiam et clamitare calliditatem videntur? non ab imis unguibus usque ad verticem summum, si quam coniecturam affert hominibus tacita corporis figura, ex fraude, fallaciis, mendaciis constare totus videtur? qui idcirco capite et superciliis semper est rasis, ne ullum pilum viri boni habere dicatur...
See Elizabeth C. Evans, "Physiognomics in the Ancient World," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 59.5 (1969) 1-101 (at 43). Cicero here portrays Fannius as a vir mollis, according to Jan B. Meister, "Pisos Augenbrauen: Zur Lesbarkeit aristokratischer Körper in der späten römischen Republik," Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 58.1 (2009) 71-95 (at 78-79).

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