Tonsor

haircut

Quid? illos otiosos vocas, quibus apud tonsorem multae horae transmittuntur, dum decerpitur, si quid proxima nocte succrevit, dum de singulis capillis in consilium itur, dum aut disiecta coma restituitur aut deficiens hinc atque illinc in frontem compellitur? quomodo irascuntur, si tonsor paulo neglegentior fuit, tamquam virum tonderet? quomodo excandescunt, si quid ex iuba sua decisum est, si quid extra ordinem iacuit, nisi omnia in anulos suos reciderunt? quis est istorum qui non malit rem publicam turbari quam comam suam? qui non sollicitior sit de capitis sui decore quam de salute? qui non comptior esse malit quam honestior? hos tu otiosos vocas inter pectinem speculumque occupatos?
(Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae 12.3)

Tell me, do you call those people leisured who spend many hours at the barber’s while any overnight growth is trimmed away, solemn consultation is taken over each separate hair, and disheveled locks are rearranged or thinning hair is combed forward from both sides to cover the forehead? How angry they get if the barber has been a little too careless, as if he were cutting a real man’s hair! How they flare up if anything is wrongly cut off their precious mane, if a hair lies out of place, or if everything doesn’t fall back into its proper ringlets! Which of those people wouldn’t rather have their country thrown into disarray than their hair? Who isn’t more concerned about keeping his head neat rather than safe? Who wouldn’t rather be well groomed than well respected? You call leisured these people who are kept busy between the comb and the mirror? (tr. John W. Basore)

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