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The Scented Spring - Scent Defense.

Throughout history, perfume has been used to please the gods, defend against disease and olfactory insults, and enhance beauty. While we might scoff at the pagan practices of the ancients, the use of incense continues in contemporary religious services, aromatherapy enjoys widespread popularity, and men and women still use perfumes, ointments, and colognes in their arsenal of amorous pursuit.

Perfumes are more than the excretions of a civet or the simple essence of lavender. They are complex creations built on scientific principles. Whether they suggest the delicate scent of Shalimar or possess the olfactory punch of patchouli, aromas are powerful. A disagreeable odor can ruin an otherwise pleasurable moment, just as a floral scent enhances mood. Those who can afford to embellish the aroma of their surroundings have always done so.

The Greeks believed that sweet smells were a good omen, and Alexander the Great burned incense in the anterooms to his chambers. Ancient Romans dedicated certain scents to specific gods. Venus, for example, enjoyed ambergris, while Juno inexplicably preferred the heavy smell of musk. Seventeenth-century courtesans doused themselves with musk and myrrh, and dandies fended off offensive odors with perfumed handkerchiefs and nosegays. Women in India carried perfume inhalers into the twentieth century.

In fact, the use of some kind of scent to disguise or obscure more natural aromas is a human constant, from the Roman emperors who dispensed perfume through silver ducts in their homes to the Sun King's installation of perfume fountains at Versailles. Even the modern bachelor is likely to deploy the forces of Glade when guests are expected.

----C.L.

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Title Annotation:use of perfume to mask other smells
Author:Lancto, Craig
Publication:World and I
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:265
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