Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/161

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147
THE KISS OF FRIENDSHIP

sentative amongst the basiatores. When a man, in ancient times, was afraid of meeting his tailor, it was not so much on account of the latter's bill as by reason of his kisses.

"Rome," says Martial, "gives, on one's return after fifteen years' absence, such a number of kisses as exceeds those given by Lesbia to Catullus. Every neighbour, every hairy-faced farmer, presses on you with a strongly-scented kiss. Here the weaver assails you, there the fuller and cobbler, who has just been kissing leather; here the owner of a filthy beard, and a one-eyed gentleman; there one with bleared eyes, and fellows whose mouths are defiled with all manner of abominations. It was hardly worth while to return."

People kissed whenever they met: morning and evening, at all seasons of the year: spring and autumn, summer and winter. The winter kisses seem to have been especially unpleasant, and Martial censures them, in the strongest terms, in his epigram to Linus:

'Tis winter, and December's horrid cold
Makes all things stark; yet, Linus, thou lay'st hold
On all thou meet'st; none can thy clutches miss;
But with thy frozen mouth all Rome dost kiss.