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Interview with Greek Botanical Perfumer Zoe Strantzali By Ildiko Berecz

Updated: Nov 19, 2023


How about everyday practices?

Both men and women in ancient Greece used perfume in various ways. They practised a form of aromatherapy by using certain perfumes to improve health, vitality and mental moods.

Perfumes were used in almost all traditional rituals and ceremonies, from birth and marriage to death. It was believed that wrapping bodies in perfumed shrouds would ensure their happiness in the afterlife. At the same time, people thought that marriage meant good luck.

Perfume was also a condition of good hospitality for the Greeks; when guests arrived at a house, the house helpers would bathe their feet in aromatic oils. The ancient Greeks also used perfumes in their bathing baths with great reverence as they believed in their importance.

Households in Athens were meticulously clean. The rooms and the dressing rooms smelled of lemon perfume, the apple of the Hesperides, and the scent of peach, Persian apple-protected clothing from moths and other insects.

Alexander the Great played an important role in developing perfumes in Greece. He was why Greece gained access to the scents of India and the Far East, such as sandalwood, nutmeg, and benzoin. His conquests led to a real "fragrance revolution".

The ancient Greeks used to wash their bodies and clothes with ash water. They even used it to clean silver coins so that they would have no odour. Washing was a daily ritual; olive oil was used as a kind of soap. After a bath, they used to apply oils to their bodies for physical hygiene and beauty. While going to bed, they spread powdered aromatic herbs like sage, lavender, and basil on their sheets so that when they woke up in the morning, their body would be naturally scented for the rest of the day.

To learn more about Zoe Strantzali and her work, visit her website at

Read the full Article in the Perfume Special 2023 edition (10.3) E. available in the shop. 

Read the full Article in the Perfume Special 2023 edition (10.3) E. available in the shop.

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