„The mother of chemical peeling“ – Oder: Wie Kleopatra zum Bad in Eselsmilch kam

Abstract

Application areas and drugs of Egyptian, Greek and Roman medi-cine are popular references of research in the field of recent aes-thetic dermatology. There, Cleopatra VII is referred to as “mother of chemical peeling” because she is said to have bathed in donkey’s milk. Although extremely popular, there is no ancient source sup-porting Cleopatra’s bath in milk. Nevertheless, Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of Emperor Nero, is said to has bathed in donkey’s milk to beautify her skin. The aim of the paper is to reconstruct the genesis and develop-ment of the modern myth of Cleopatra bathing in donkey’s milk. The origin of this myth can be traced back to the cinema of the 1930s. The result is that in the person of the actress Claudette Colbert her two roles as Cleopatra and Poppaea converged. This convergence was the basis for the popularization of the milk bath by the Cleopat-ra movie of 1963 with Elizabeth Taylor.

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Published
2021-02-22
Section
Articles