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The style dates back to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, where the god Pan was traditionally depicted with one. When Christianity became the dominant religion and began coopting imagery from pagan myth, Satan was given the likeness of Pan, leading to Satan traditionally being depicted with a goatee in medieval and renaissance art.

The goatee became popular again in the late 19th century, becoming one of the characterizing physical traits of the bohemians in Paris. In the USA, the style became popular around the time of the United States Civil War. Numerous wartime figures from the era wore variations on the goatee, including Abraham Lincoln, who shaved his beard into a traditional goatee at various points during his presidency.

The goatee would not enjoy widespread popularity again until the 1940s, when it became a defining trait of the beatniks in post-World War II US. The style remained popular amongst the counter culture until the 1960s before falling out of favor again. In the 1990s, goatees with incorporated mustaches became fashionable for men across all socioeconomic classes and professions, and have remained popular into the 2010s.

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