This morning, after brushing my teeth, I asked myself, "Why bother shaving? Where did this whole thing about no facial hair come from?"
Well, it's the Egyptians' fault. Evidently, they were making razors as long as 5,000 years ago. The people of India invented them around the same time.
Then Alexander the Great got involved. He made his men shave their beards, since he knew they would be fighting in close combat. Short hair is hard to grab, and no hair is even harder to grasp.
The first barber showed up in Rome in 300 B.C. .
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For a while I thought that it was all the sculptors' fault -- aiming for smoothness and form in their sculptures. After all, so many sculptures show perfectly clean-shaven individuals. Just think. Michelangelo's statue of David never gets a five O'clock shadow.
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Even Clement of Alexandria argued for the beard:
For God wished women to be smooth, and rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane; but has adorned man, like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him, as an attribute of manhood, with shaggy breasts,-a sign this of strength and rule[....] so high a value does God set on these locks, that He orders them to make their appearance on men simultaneously with discretion, and delighted with a venerable look, has honoured gravity of countenance with grey hairs. [.....] This, then, the mark of the man, the beard, by which he is seen to be a man, is older than Eve, and is the token of the superior nature. In this God deemed it right that he should excel, and dispersed hair over man's whole body. (Clement, "The Instructor"
Um. Oh. Yeah. Well...but wait...
St. Augustine of Hippo argued that:
The beard signifies the courageous; the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man. (Exposition on the Psalms -- Psalm 133
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After all, even Pericles wore a beard. Hmm. I suppose that destroys my beard and sculpture idea. Michelangelo's Moses clamps down the coffin on that idea.
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But now I remember why I don't wear a beard. It gets in the soup. I would hate to comb out all the cracker bits.