Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell by Constan Classen

By Constan Classen

Roses, musk, incense and myrrh--smells have consistently been linked to magic, therapeutic and sexual strength. but what's skilled as aromatic varies dramatically from one tradition to the opposite and from one epoch to the next.

</b><b>Aroma uncovers the key historical past of smells: from the perfumed banquets of historical Greece to "the most sensible blueberry taste ever made", from the candy "odor of sanctity" to the newest in clothier fragrances. A trip of discovery that happens within the fragrance potions of the Pacific in addition to Andean aromatherapies, </b><b>Aroma maps the "smellscapes" of alternative cultures and explores the jobs that odors have performed all through historical past. alongside the way in which, the authors open our senses to the robust cultural meaings of smells. Odors, they express, tell strength kinfolk among the sexes, among periods and ethnic groups--the sultry femme fatale, the "sweaty operating class", the physique scent of "the foreigner" are cultural stereotypes made strikingly real.

With </b><b>Aroma Constance Classen, David Howes and Anthony Synnott invite us to persist with the odor of cultures current and prior and to find a universe criss-crossed by way of the smell trails of the folks, animals and vegetation that inhabit it. them, unite humans or divide them, empower or disempower.

The ebook breaks the "olfactory silence" of modernity by way of providing the 1st complete exploration of the cultural position of odors in Western history--from antiquity to the present--and in a wide selection of non-Western societies. Its issues diversity from the medieval proposal of the "odor of sanctity" to the aromatherapies of South the USA, and from olfactory stereotypes of gender and ethnicity within the smooth West to the function of odor in postmodernity.

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The couch on which the body was laid was sometimes strewn with flowers and, in Rome, a branch of cypress on the front door marked the house of the deceased. Incense would be burnt in the house and along the funeral procession to propitiate the gods and to ward off the ill odour of death. Nero, for example, is said to have burnt more incense than Arabia could produce in a year at his wife Poppaea’s funeral. 155 After being carried in procession through the streets, the dead were either burnt or, particularly after the first century, buried.

65 The association of love with the sense of smell is also made by the Roman playwright Plautus in Miles Gloriosus. In this play a courtesan, Acroteleutium, convinces a man, Pyrgopolynices, of her love by pretending within his earshot that she can sense his presence by his odour. ACROTELEUTIUM: …the man I want is not inside. MILPHIDIPPA: How do you know? ACROTELEUTIUM: My sense of smell tells me; if he were inside, my nose would sense it from the odour. PYRGOPOLYNICES [aside to Palaestrio]: She’s a diviner.

Harsh odours—the stench of the wounded and dead, the acrid smoke of burning fields and towns—were an intrinsic part of ancient battles. 126 Soldiers themselves, sweaty in hot armour, reeking of their rations of cheese and onions, were often caricatured as foul-smelling. 129 Similarly, he has a passage in The Archarnians in which truces of different periods of length are judged by their odours. A three-year truce, which gives the enemy time to rebuild their fleet, is said to smell of pitch and ships.

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