DIRTY OR CLEAN
For the modern, middle-class North American, 'clean’ means that you shower and apply deodorant each and every day without fail. For the Roman in the first century, it involved a humdrum routine done daily. 8.1. ................
These were the subsequent stages of this painstaking ritual. For the aristocratic seventeenth century Frenchman, hygiene meant that he changed his linen shirt daily and soaked his hands in water but never touched the rest of his body with water or soap.
Even more than in the eye or the nose, cleanliness exists in the mind of the beholder. 8.2. ..........................
Many of them have always been convinced that cleanliness was an important marker of civility and that was the royal road to a properly groomed body.
Throughout centuries hygiene has been a convenient stick with which to beat inferior nations, who never seem to get it right.
8.3. ................. The ancient Egyptians, for example, scorned the Greeks who would keep a dusty body in still water. In the Middle Ages, European travellers enjoyed nominating the continent’s dirtiest and the most disgusting country; and the laurels usually went to France or Spain. On the contrary, the Muslims were perceived as too clean, which caused even more astonishment.
8.4. ................ Naturally enough, the Muslims regarded the French, Spanish and Italians as downright filthy by their standards.
adapted from “Current", October, 2008