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BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
“Beard,” The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)

Included in The Devil's Dictionary (1911). Originally published in the "Devil's Dictionary" column in the San Francisco Wasp (1881-04-30).
Added on 14-Nov-23 | Last updated 14-Nov-23
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The hair she swears is hers Fabulla bought.
So, Paulus, is that perjury or not?

[Iurat capillos esse, quos emit, suos
Fabulla: numquid, Paule, peierat?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 12 (6.12) (AD 91) [tr. McLean (2014)]

Perhaps a reference back to Paulus doing something similar with poetry (ep. 2.10). (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You see the goodly hayre that Galla weares,
'Tis certain her own hair, who would have thought it?
She sweares it is her owne: and true she sweares:
For hard by Temple-barre last day she bought it.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600), Ep. 162 - Epigrams Book 2 #66 "Of Galla's goodly Periwigge"]

The golden hair that Galla wears
Is hers: who would have thought it?
She swears 'tis hers, and true she swears,
For I know where she bought it.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600), as paraphrased in Bohn, possibly from Anon. below.]

Fabulla sweares her haire (which at a rate
She bought) is hers. Is she forsworne in that?
[tr. May (1629)]

Shee sweares tis her owne hayre. Who would have thought it?
Shee's nott forsworne though: I know where shee bought it.
[tr. Anon. - British Library MS Add. 27343 (17th C)]

Locks Fabby purchas'd, and her own she swore.
Who would not, Paul, the perjury deplore?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 163]

Fabulla swears that the hair which she has bought is her own. Does she perjure herself, Paulus?
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Fabulla swears that the hair she buys is hers.
Does she therefore swear falsely, Paulus?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Those purchased tresses which her head adorn
Fabulla swears are hers -- is she forsworn?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "By Right of Purchase"]

That plush hair Fabulla wears?
It's hers, Fabulla swears.
I've no reason to deny it:
I saw Fabulla buy it.
[tr. Matthews (1992)]

Fabulla swears that the hair she buys is her own. Is that perjury, Paulus?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Swears Fabby of her hair so fine,
"I purchased it, so, yes, it's mine."
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

The coif she wears she claims she grew.
Does that seem splitting hairs to you?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

She swears the hair she bought is her own.
Is she lying? No.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "No Lie"]

Fabulla swears that hair is hers -- the hair she bought; tell me, Paulus, is she lying?
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Added on 25-Mar-22 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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You seem a youth to look upon.
You dyed your hair — and lo,
The locks once whiter than a swan
Are blacker than a crow.
Not everyone can you deceive
And, though you hide the grey,
Yet Proserpine will not believe
But snatch the mask away.

[Mentiris iuvenem tinctis, Laetine, capillis,
Tam subito corvus, qui modo sygnus eras.
Non omnes fallis; scit te Proserpina canum
Personam capiti detrahet illa tuo.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 43 (3.43) (AD 87-88) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Proserpina (the Roman version of Persephone) was the goddess / Queen of the Underworld.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou dy'st thy haire to seeme a younger man,
And turn'st a Crow, that lately wert a Swan.
All are not cousen'd; hels queene knows thee grey.
She'll take the vizor from thy head away.
[tr. May (1629)]

Lentinus counterfeits his youth
With periwigs, I trow,
But art thou changed so soon, in truth,
From a swan to a crow?
Though canst not all the world deceive:
Proserpine knows thee gray;
And she'll make bold, without your leave,
To take your cap away.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

Thou that not many months ago
Wast white as Swan, or driven Snow,
Now blacker far than Aesop's Crow,
Thanks to thy Wig, set’st up for Beau.
Faith Harry, thou'rt i'the wrong box,
Old Age these vain endeavours mocks
And time that knows thou'st hoary locks,
Will pluck thy Mask off with a pox.
[tr. Brown (1699)]

Why should’st thou try to hide thy self in youth?
Impartial Proserpine beholds the truth,
And laughing at so find and vain a task,
Will strip thy hoary noddle of its mask.
[tr. Addison (fl. early 18th C)]

With tinctur'd locks the dotard youth puts on:
Behold a raven, from but now a swan!
Though cheat'st not all; not her, who rules the dead:
She soon shall pull the mask from off thy head.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Part 2, ep. 21]

Before a swan, behind a crow,
Such self-deceit ne'er did I know.
Ah! cease your arts-- death knows you're grey,
And spite of all will keep his day.
[tr. Hoadley (fl. 18th C) §240]

You simulate youth, Lentinus, with your dyed hairs; so suddenly a crow, who were so lately a swan. You do not deceive everyone: Proserpina knows you for a greybeard, she will tear off the masque from your head.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 4, ep. 140]

Letinus, fain to cheat men's eyes,
You smear your head with umber dyes;
And, late a swan as white as snow,
You've suddenly become a crow.
Is everyone deceived by you?
No, one can tell the genuine hue.
Proserpine knows your hair is grey,
And she will tear that mask away.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You ape youth, Laetinus, with your dyed hair; and you, who were but now a swan, are suddenly become a crow! You will not deceive everyone: Proserpine knows that you are hoary, and will snatch the mask from your head.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

You pretend you're still youthful by dyeing your hair --
Now a crow, though a swan just of late --
But you don't fool us all, for Proserpina knows,
She'll show up the sham of your pate.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

You falsely ape youth, Laetinus, with dyed hair, so suddenly a raven who were but now a swan. You don't deceive all; Proserpine knows you are hoary: she shall pluck the mask from off your head.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You play the youth with raven hue assumed
But yesterday like swan of Leda plumed.
Not all you cheat; Proserpine knows you grey.
Some day she'll pluck your silly mask away.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

You wish, Lætinus, to be thought a youth,
And so you dye your hair.
You're suddenly a crow, forsooth:
Of late a swan you were!
You can't cheat all: there is a Lady dread
Who knows your hair is grey:
Proserpina will pounce upon your head,
And tear the mask away.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

It's artificial for you to look like a young man
with your dyed hair, suddenly turning into a crow
when just a while ago you were a swan. You won't fool
everyone: Proserpina knows you are white-haired
and she will make you take your mask off.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You've dyed your hair to mimic youth,
Laetinus. Not so long ago
You were a swan; now you're a crow.
You can't fool everyone. One day
Proserpina, who knows the truth,
Will rip that actor's wig away.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

You were a swan, you’re now a crow.
Laetinus, why deceive us so,
With borrowed plumage trying?
The Queen of Shades will surely know
When she slips off your mask below,
In Death there's no more dyeing.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley (1987)]

You simulate youth, Laetinus, by dying your hair; so suddenly a raven, who were but now a swan. You don't fool everybody. Proserpina knows your hair is white. She will drag the mask from your head.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You dye your hair, Laetinus, to feign youth --
a swan before, a raven now instead.
You don't fool all. Proserpina can tell
you're gray. She'll pull that mask right off your head.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You counterfeit youth with hair-dye, Laetinus: all of a sudden you're a raven, when just now you were a swan. You don't fool everyone: Proserpina knows you are grey; she will drag the mask from your head.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Thou, that not a month ago
Wast white as swan or driven snow,
Now blacker far than Aesop's crow,
Thanks to thy wig, sett'st up for beau:
Faith, Harry, thou'rt i' the wrong box;
Old age these vain endeavours mocks,
And time, that knows thou 'st hoary locks,
Will pluck thy mask off with a pox.
[tr. Browne]

Before a swan, behind a crow,
Such self-deceit I ne'er did know.
Ah, cease your arts! Death knows you're grey,
And, spite of all, will have his way.
[tr. Hoadley]

Added on 23-Jul-21 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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What is it you want to change? Your hair, your face, your body? Why? For God is in love with all those things and he might weep when they are gone.

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Italian Catholic mystic, activist, author
Added on 6-Nov-20 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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Here is a dream.
It is my dream,
My own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt,
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“My Dream” (1954), You Can’t Get There from Here (1957)
Added on 7-Aug-20 | Last updated 7-Aug-20
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There’s one thing about baldness; it’s neat.

Don Herold (1889-1966) American humorist, cartoonist, author
There Ought to be a Law (1926)
Added on 23-May-20 | Last updated 23-May-20
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Since the gleaming expanse on the top of your head,
Marinus, seems painfully wide,
You gather together and spread on the tract
The hairs that remain on each side.
But the breath of the wind promptly blows them about
And straightway the middle space clears.
And long strands so surround the bare waste that you seem
Like a Roundhead ‘twixt two Cavaliers.
Now why not be candid, confess that you’re old,
Meet nature with heart unappalled?
You’ll at least then seem one man: there’s nothing so bad
As a being hirsute and yet bald.

[Raros colligis hinc et hinc capillos
Et latum nitidae, Marine, calvae
Campum temporibus tegis comatis;
Sed moti redeunt iubente vento
Reddunturque sibi caputque nudum
Cirris grandibus hinc et inde cingunt:
Inter Spendophorum Telesphorumque
Cydae stare putabis Hermerotem.
Vis tu simplicius senem fateri,
Ut tandem videaris unus esse!
Calvo turpius est nihil comato.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 83 (10.83) (AD 95, 98 ed.) [tr. Nixon (1911), “A Most Delicate Matter”]

"To Marinus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Your thin-sown hairs on any side
With dextrous care you cull;
And rob your temples of their pride,
To thatch your shining skull.
Repell'd by ev'ry puff of wind,
They take their former stand,
And then your desert poll they bind,
With locks in either hand.
So 'twixt two tuzzy youthful pates,
One Halmyrotes sees.
Throw ridicule no more such baits:
The bare old-man will please.
But, that at length you may seem one,
The shaver quick be call'd;
And let him o'er the remnant run:
Belock'd! oh shame! and bald!
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, part 2, ep. 17]

You collect together a few locks of hair that remain on your temples, and cover with them the wide expanse of your shining bald pate; but no sooner are the locks commanded by the wind than they return to their places; and, as before, they gird, on each side, your naked head; just as if Cidas's statue of the old man were placed between two youths having luxuriant hair. Will you candidly confess your senility? In order that you may appear what you really are, let some barber shave the remnant of your hairs; nothing is more disgraceful than a bald man wearing hair.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 4, #138]

You collect your straggling hairs on each side, Marinus, endeavouring to conceal the vast expanse of your shining bald pate by the locks which still grow on your temples. But the hairs disperse, and return to their own place with every gust of wind; flanking your bare pole on either side with crude tufts. We might imagine we saw Hermeros of Cydas standing between Spendophorus and Telesphorus. Why not confess yourself an old man? Be content to seem what you really are, and let the barber shave off the rest of your hair. There is nothing more contemptible than a bald man who pretends to have hair.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

From one side and the other you gather up your scanty locks and you cover, Marinus, the wide expanse of your shining bald scalp with the hair form both sides of your head. But blown about, they come back at the bidding of the wind, and return to themselves and gird your bare poll with big culres on this side and on that. You would think that Hermeros of Cydas is standing between Spendophorus and Telephorus. Will you, please, in simpler fashion confess yourself old, so as after all to appear a single person? Nothing is more unsightly than a bald man covered with hair.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You scrape a few hairs from the side of your head,
So that over your bare-shining baldness they spread;
But blown by the wind they return to their place
And with two big curls your poor naked poll grace.
You’ld think that we had old Silenus in sight
Between young Adonis and Hermaphrodite.
Confess your old age and leave all your head bare:
There’s nothing more ugly than bald men with hair
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Your scattered side-locks to a bunch you train,
And draw a forest to the shining plain.
Then comes the wind, and once again are seen
Two curly masses with a space between.
Spendophorus and Telesphorus you'ld swear
And Hermerotes in the midst were there.
Be one, Marinus; your old age confess;
A bald coot feathered vaunts his ugliness.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #572 "To One Who Hides His Baldness"]

Marinus, you collect your scattered locks from this side and from that, and cover the broad expanse of your shining baldness with hair from your temples. But at the wind's bidding they move and return and are restored to themselves, to surround your bare top with big curls on either side. You would think that Cydas' Hermeros was standing between Spendophorus and Telesphorus. Why not be straightforward and admit to being an old man, so that at least you look like one man? Nothing is uglier than a baldhead with a lot of hair.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Your hairs are carefully disposed
Lest your bald pate should be disclosed.
But winds lift them in wavy drifts,
Moved in a blur of constant shifts.
How can you have so little hair,
Yet have it show up everywhere?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 3-Nov-14 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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