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In the earliest times the Greeks wore their hair kome (long), and thus they are constantly called in Homer karekomoontes. This ancient practice was preserved by the Spartans for many centuries. The Spartan boys always had their hair cut quite short (en chroi keirontes); but as soon as they reached the age of puberty, they let it grow long. They prided themselves upon their hair, calling it the cheapest of ornaments (kosmon adapanotatos), and before going to battle they combed and dressed it with especial care, in which act Leonidas and his followers were discovered by the Persian spy before the battle of Thermopylae. It seems that both Spartan men and women tied their hair in a knot over the crown of the head. At a later time the Spartans abandoned this ancient custom, and wore their hair short, and hence some writers erroneously attribute this practice to an earlier period.
The custom of the Athenians was different. They wore their hair long in childhood, and cut it off when they reached the age of puberty. The cutting off of the hair, which was always done when a boy became an ephebus, was a solemn act, attended with religious ceremonies. A libation was first offered to Heracles, which was called oinisteria or oinesteria; and the hair after being cut off was dedicated to some deity, usually a river-god. It was a very ancient practice to go to Delphi to perform this ceremony, and Theseus is said to have done so.
The ephebi are always represented on works of art with their hair quite short, in which manner it was also worn by the athletes. When the Athenians passed into the age of manhood, they again let their hair grow. In ancient times at Athens the hair was rolled up into a kind of knot on the crown of the head, and fastened with golden clasps in the shape of grasshoppers. This fashion of wearing the hair, which was called krobylos, had gone out just before the time of Thucydides. The Athenian females also wore their hair in the same fashion, which was in their case called korymbos.
On vases, the heads of females were most frequently shown covered with a kind of band or a coif of net-work. Of these coiffures one was called kredemnos, which was a broad band across the forehead, sometimes made of metal, and sometimes of leather, adorned with gold; to this the name of stlengis was also given, and it appears to have been much the same as the ampyx. But the most common kind of head-dress for females was called by the general name of cecryphalus, and this was divided into the three species of cecryphalus, saccus, and mitra. The kekryphalos, in its narrower sense, was a caul or coif of net-work, corresponding to the Latin reticulum. It was worn during the day as well as the night, and has continued in use from the most ancient times to the present day. It is mentioned by Homer, and is still worn in Italy and Spain.
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