Ancient Spa Rituals from Greece

IMG_8165Take a look at any of the amazing ancient Greek statues and you can bet you’ll see a gorgeous muscle sculpted chiseled man or well endowed woman draped in classical flowing robes. The ancient Greeks had a firm belief that there was a direct connection with ones appearance to ones mind and persona. Although many of the famous statues are based upon the Greek Gods, they were sculpted off actual people with what was considered the ‘ideal face and figure.’ In fact, the art world boasts that the ancient Greek statues have delicately balanced the bodily proportions symmetrically, as symmetric features were considered perfect. The Greeks took their appearance so seriously many of the ancient gravesites contained mirrors. Considering the ancient Greek culture looked so favorable upon ones appearance, there is lots of evidence they took superb care of their skin and efforts to enhance their looks.

The ancient Greeks had a word for the beautiful people, they called those people ‘kaloskagathos’ or gorgeous to look at. Even in the early Olympics games, there was an actual game or contest where women were judged for their appearance similar to today’s beauty contests. The Greeks called this event a ‘kallisteia’ or ‘pageant of beauty.’ In fact today’s word of cosmetics comes from the Greek word, kosmetikos. Kosmetikos means a sense of harmony, order and tranquility.

One of Greece’s most famous beautiful idols was Helen of Troy. The English playwright Christopher Marlowe wrote that she had ‘the face which launched a thousand ships.’ She was definitely extraordinary as her legend claims she is the daughter of Zeus in Greek Mythology. Her legendary story unfolds at the young age of 12 years old where she was kidnapped by the Greek hero Theseus and then taken to Attica. Theseus’ mother locked her away, until Helen’s brothers recued her where she was taken back to Sparta. Once some time passed, the Spartan King, King Tyndareus, allowed suitors from all over Greece to win the hand of the famous beauty. However, he was afraid the suitors would become enraged over competition of her hand. Thus, the King was advised to have all the suitors agree to take an oath to accept her choice of husband and promise to support her chosen husband should the need ever arise.

Helen chose a Prince from Mycenae named Menelaus. They lived happily together for several years where she and Menelaus had children together and he eventually became the King Of Sparta. One day a prince of Troy had traveled to Sparta on the advice of goddess Aphrodite in order to find the most beautiful women in the world. Once he saw Helen, he took her back with him to Troy. While she was taken, King Menelaus was away in Crete. Once Menelaus returned and found she was taken, he reclaimed the oath given by the other suitors to support her chosen husband in a time of need. Thus began the Trojan War, where stories vary in saying she sometimes had sympathy towards the Trojans and sometimes to the Greeks. Ultimately the Greeks won the war and she was reunited once again with King Menelaus.

This story is important because of how much one’s appearance was valued within the ancient Greek culture. One’s appearance could elevate your position within society, have wars started over it and even create legends around it. Stories like this lead both men and women in ancient Greece to take very good care of their appearance. Of course the ancient Grecians had the luxury of a perfect climate to cultivate fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts. They also had a direct connection to trade routes from other developed countries for items not naturally grown within their lands.

During the Archaic period (750 BC to 500 BC), commonly known as the developmental period, the ancient Greeks established the art form of skin care. The ancient Greeks used plants, herbs, waters, milk and other natural compounds to achieve their best skin results.

During the Classical period (500BC to 323BC), commonly known as the _ period, the concept of skin care evolved to include physical physic and also more advanced medical assistance. Physical exercise was believed to be a major component of beauty. As we are aware today, exercise can result in greater strength, weight loss, and toned muscles but it also helps the skin. In fact the Ancient Greeks knew the importance of a nutritious diet in order to contribute to their healthy bodies. They knew what foods worked well to provide healthy glowing skin. Even today, there are several published articles claiming that the Mediterranean diet can help one live a longer healthier life. The Ancient Greek Mediterranean diet focused on primarily on omega rich fish and plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. They used herbs and spices rather than salt to flavor foods. Limiting red meat to once a week, usually for celebration. Their diets had ample amount of Omega-3 fatty acids to help the skin glow and keep the body slim.

Greeks also use yogurt as a natural skin care product. Lactose, proteins, vitamins and minerals help treat sunburn and slough off dead skin cells.

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