Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rhesus, Seafaring, Red Hair and Phoenicians

A myriad of things today. Firstly, I'll start with a few things I read on the Wikipedia page about the Thracians. It states that several Thracian tombstones have the name Rufus inscribed on them, meaning redhead. And also that;
Rhesus of Thrace, a mythological Thracian King, derived his name because of his red hair and is depicted on Greek pottery as having red hair and beard.
It's mildly odd that a king named Rhesus would be described as having red hair, as red hair is often associated with the rhesus negative blood type on various sites and forums. In fact, red hair and rhesus negative blood are often weaved into the tapestry of the reptilian/grail bloodline stories of modern conspiracy lore.

In other news I also came across the word/name Leroux. According to Wiki this is;
[A] surname of French origin meaning "red-haired" or "red-skinned" and may also come in certain cases (with the spelling Le Roux) from Breton Ar Roue meaning "the King".
The fact that it possibly means both red-haired and kingly is particularly revealing.

On the topic of names I recently received an interesting email from someone with the surname Flanagan. He pointed out to me that Flan, in Gaelic, means red. He also speculated that the agan part of the name could possibly relate to seafaring - giving the general sense of the name as 'red-haired seafarer'. Like myself he was interested in the notion that the seafaring Phoenicians were red-haired.

I've also been thinking about the name Robert and its possible relation to the words ruby and ruddy.

On a different note I've also came across another red-haired figure from history. The description comes from a book titled Postcolonial Moves by Patricia Clare Ingham and Michelle R. Warren.
The great caliph 'Abd al-Rahman III, for example, had red hair, light skin, and blue eyes, and is reported to have dyed his hair black "to make himself look more like an Arab."
Al-Rahman III was a caliph who ruled in Muslim Spain during the 10th Century.

My final little bit of redhead info comes from The Phoenician Origins of Britons, Scots and Anglo-Saxons by L. A. Waddell. I read this book a few years back and at the time it really fascinated me. I recently re-found this passage relating to red hair when I was refreshing my thoughts on the Phoenicians. In it he quotes the findings of a Professor Parsons;
The upper and middle classes are fairer than the lower. Regarding Red Hair, which so frequently accompanies a fair and freckled skin and blue or light eyes, he finds it "is more common in the upper [including middle] than in the lower classes."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Diodorus Siculus - The Sacrifice of Redheads

Finally found something genuinely cool about red hair in these ancient works. This one comes from the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus and concerns the customs of the ancient Egyptians. I found it in a book titled The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian. It was published in London in 1814.
[I]t is lawful to sacrifice red oxen, because Typhon seemed to be of that colour, who treacherously murdered Osiris, and was himself put to death by Isis, for the murder of her husband. They report likewise, that antiently men that had red hair, like Typhon, were sacrificed by the kings at the sepulchre of Osiris. And indeed, there are very few Egyptians that are red, but many that are strangers: and hence arose the fable of Busiris's cruelty towards strangers amongst the Greeks, not that there ever was any king called Busiris; but Osiris's sepulchre was so called in the Egyptian language.
I guess this is where the information in James Frazer's The Golden Bough comes from.

More Ancient Quotes About Red Hair

Firstly, this one from the Roman writer Seneca;
Among his own people, there is nothing distinctive about the colouring of an Ethiopian; nor is red hair tied in a knot unbecoming to a German male. Nothing in an individual is noteworthy or ugly if it is common to his entire nation.
Next up this quote from the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus concerning the Gauls;
For stature they are tall, but of a sweaty and pale complexion, red-haired, not only naturally, but they endeavour all they can to make it redder by art. They often wash their hair in a water boiled with lime, and turn it backward from the forehead to the crown of the head, and thence to their very necks, that their faces may be more fully seen, so that they look like satyrs and hobgoblins.
I like the mention of Hobgoblins. Incidentally, I also came across another translation of this text that renders the red hair blond and the Hobgoblins as Pans :(

And finally this piece of text from the Roman historian Suetonius. It's from his work on the emperor Caligula and concerns his ceremonial parades of captives and criminals.
He now concentrated his attention on the imminent triumph. To supplement the few prisoners taken in frontier skirmishes and the deserters who had come over from the barbarians, he picked the tallest Gauls of the province —'those worthy of a triumph' — and some of their chiefs as well, for his supposed train of captives. These had not only to grow their hair and dye it red, but also to learn German and adopt German names.
Out of interest I also recently found out that the Roman emperor Vitellius was a redhead. The source given for this on the web page I found it on was Malalas, X, 259; cf. Sieglin (1935) 110, which I'll have to check out. The web page concerned the pigmentation of the early Roman emperors

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Red Hair of Grettir the Strong

The following comes from an Icelandic Saga titled The Story of Grettir the Strong. It concerns the story of Grettir √Āsmundarson, an Icelandic outlaw.
Grettir Asmundson was fair to look on, broad-faced, short-faced, red-haired, and much freckled; not of quick growth in his childhood.
Another rouge one to add to the collection.

The Self-Tormenter

The following piece of dialogue comes from a play by the Roman dramatist Publius Terentius Afer titled Heautontimorumenos (The Self-Tormenter).
SOSTRATA: My son, upon my honor I'll give you that charming girl, whom you may soon become attached to, the daughter of our neighbor Phanocrata.
CLITIPHO: What! that red-haired girl, with cat's eyes, freckled face, and hooked nose? I can not, father.
I guess this can be taken as more evidence that red hair was viewed as a vice rather than a virtue back then as well.

Ahenobarbus - Bronze Beard

The following comes from the pen of the Roman historian Suetonius;
The AEnobarbi derive both their extraction and their cognomen from one Lucius Domitius, of whom we have this tradition: -- As he was returning out of the country to Rome, he was met by two young men of a most august appearance, who desired him to announce to the senate and people a victory, of which no certain intelligence had yet reached the city. To prove that they were more than mortals, they stroked his cheeks, and thus changed his hair, which was black, to a bright colour, resembling that of brass; which mark of distinction descended to his posterity, for they had generally red beards. 
The Ahenobarbus were a family line in ancient Rome noted for their red beards. The name translates as "bronze beard".

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Red Haired Urine and Making Swords

The other day I heard a peculiar bit of information about red hair on a BBC 4 programme titled Castles: Britain's Fortified History. It came in a section about making swords. The interviewed blacksmith stated that it was written that "the urine of a ginger virgin boy" was used in the tempering process.

I've previously noted another variation on this story about the urine of red-haired boys being used in the making of stained glass windows. I think it maybe intertwines with the alchemical process of turning one metal to another - hair colour, blondes and reds, symbolising various metals, most notably gold.

Red Hair and the Writer Tacitus

I've recently found a bevy of quotes about red hair from the Roman historian and senator Cornelius Tacitus. They come from three separate works.

Firstly, from The Life of Agricola, this description of the ancient Britons;
Who were the original inhabitants of Britain, whether they were indigenous or foreign, is, as usual among barbarians, little known. Their physical characteristics are various and from these conclusions may be drawn. The red hair and large limbs of the inhabitants of Caledonia point clearly to a German origin. The dark complexion of the Silures, their usually curly hair, and the fact that Spain is the opposite shore to them, are an evidence that Iberians of a former date crossed over and occupied these parts. Those who are nearest to the Gauls are also like them, either from the permanent influence of original descent, or, because in countries which run out so far to meet each other, climate has produced similar physical qualities.
Then this from Germany and its Tribes;
For my own part, I agree with those who think that the tribes of Germany are free from all taint of inter-marriages with foreign nations, and that they appear as a distinct, unmixed race, like none but themselves. Hence, too, the same physical peculiarities throughout so vast a population. All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for a sudden exertion. They are less able to bear laborious work. Heat and thirst they cannot in the least endure; to cold and hunger their climate and their soil inure them.
And finally, this interesting passage about a chap named Civilis from The History;
Then Civilis fulfilled a vow often made by barbarians; his hair, which he had let grow long and coloured with a red dye from the day of taking up arms against Rome, he now cut short, when the destruction of the legions had been accomplished.

The Red Hair and Grey Eyes of the North

I found this nugget about red hair in The Ten Books On Architecture by the Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio.
[I]n the cold regions that are far away from the south, the moisture is not drawn out by hot weather, but the atmosphere is full of dampness which diffuses moisture into the system, and makes the frame larger and the pitch of the voice deeper. This is also the reason why the races that are bred in the north are of vast height, and have fair complexions, straight red hair, grey eyes, and a great deal of blood, owing to the abundance of moisture and the coolness of the atmosphere.
The writings of Vitruvius inspired Leonardo da Vinci's famous Vitruvian Man illustration.

Friday, December 5, 2014

King Nisus of Megara

The following passage about red hair comes from the Description of Greece, a work by the Greek geographer Pausanias.
Behind the Lyceum is a monument of Nisus, who was killed while king of Megara by Minos, and the Athenians carried him here and buried him. About this Nisus there is a legend. His hair, they say, was red, and it was fated that he should die on its being cut off. When the Cretans attacked the country, they captured the other cities of the Megarid by assault, but Nisaea, in which Nisus had taken refuge, they beleaguered. The story says how the daughter of Nisus, falling in love here with Minos, cut off her father's hair.
This is a pretty cool story about red hair. Especially as it links red hair with power - both kingly power and supernatural power.

Interestingly when I checked the Wikipedia page for Nisus (or Nisos) it gives the same story, however in this case the colour of the hair in question is purple. Again I guess it's a case of translation. I'll have to start looking into purple a bit more deeply I think. Violet hair popped up in my last post, and purple also pops up in relation to both the Phoenicians and royalty in general. Two themes we've linked with red hair before.

Purple was the colour of royalty and the Phoenicians supposedly traded a purple dye named Tyrian purple which came from sea snails - originally known by the name murex. Hence the 'divers for murex' of Aristotle's description.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Theseus - A Redhead?

I continued my searching for ancient red hair references today and came across a wealth of information on the Perseus Digital Library website. The following come from the Greek poet Bacchylides.

This first quote comes from Ode 18 (Dithyramb 4). A dithyramb was an ancient Greek hymn sung in honour of the god Dionysus. This one concerns the arrival of Theseus, the mythical founder-king of Athens. He's described thusly;
The herald says that only two men accompany him, and that he has a sword slung over his bright shoulders ... and two polished javelins in his hands, and a well-made Laconian hat on his head with its fire-red hair. A purple tunic covers his chest, and a woolen Thessalian cloak. Bright red Lemnian fire flashes from his eyes. He is a boy in the prime of youth, intent on the playthings of Ares: war and battles of clashing bronze. He is on his way to splendor-loving Athens.
I really like the poetic style of this guy (: I really like his coloured use of language. The following two passages come from Ode 17 (Dithyramb 3). They don't quite refer to red hair, but they're close enough in theme that I can share them.
It may be that the dear lovely-named daughter of Phoenix went to the bed of Zeus beneath the brow of Ida and bore you, greatest of mortals, but I too was borne by the daughter of rich Pittheus, who coupled with the sea-god Poseidon, and the violet-haired Nereids gave her a golden veil.
Father Zeus, great in strength, hear me! If indeed the white-armed Phoenician girl bore me to you, now send forth from the sky a fire-haired lightning bolt, a conspicuous sign.
Bacchylides I salute you.

[Incidentally, in ancient times girls who were about to be married offered locks of their hair to Hippolytus, son of Theseus, as a sign of their virginity.]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Xenophanes and Red-Haired Thracians

My final ancient Greek red hair quote to reference today: this, from the philosopher and poet Xenophanes;
The Ethiopians claim that their gods are flat-nosed and black-skinned; the Thracians, that they are blue-eyed and have red hair.
Luckily this one pops up on the Xenophanes Wikipedia page. It's part of a famous quote of his where he mocks man's tendency to anthropomorphise gods.
"But if cattle and horses and lions had hands or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do, horses like horses and cattle like cattle also would depict the gods' shapes and make their bodies of such a sort as the form they themselves have. ...Ethiopians say that their gods are snub–nosed and black, Thracians that they are pale and red-haired."
The only minor downside is that the accompanying footnote states that sometimes the translation is given as blond rather than red.

Aristotle: Part 3

I've just been trying to find a reference for this Aristotle quote that appears on my website;
"Fishermen, divers for murex, and generally those whose work is on the sea, have red hair."
On Google Books I found this in the Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation; edited by Jonathan Barnes;
"Why have fishermen reddish hair, and divers for murex, and in short all who work on the sea? Is it because the sea is hot and full of dryness because it is salty? Now that which is of this nature, like lye and orpiment, makes the hair reddish. Or is it because they are warmer in their outer parts, but their inner parts are chilled, because, owing to their getting wet, the surrounding parts are always being dried by the sun? And as they undergo this process, the hair being dried becomes fine and reddish. Furthermore all those who live towards the north have fine, reddish hair."
This full passage is much more interesting and gives a lot more detail. The first line is identical in content to my quote too :)

This comes from an Aristotle collection titled 'Problems'. According to scholars there's some doubt as to whether this collection can be attributed to Aristotle or not. It apparently reached its final form somewhere between the 3rd century BC and the 6th century AD :/

Aristotle: Part 2

My second post concerns my attempts to find the origin of this quote;
"Those with tawny coloured hair are brave; witness the lions. [But those with] reddish [hair] are of bad character; witness the foxes." 
This appears on my website page about red hair in the ancient world. At the time I wasn't quite sure about its authenticity, but I came across it used on-line and in various books so I went with it.

It turns out the quote actually comes from a work titled Physiognomics. This was attributed to Aristotle, but it now seems that the general consensus is that it was the work of another author. According to Wikipedia this 'other author' was writing sometime around 300 BC, so it would still be an ancient quote at least.

However, searching for a free on-line edition of this work I could only find this one;

And from this one I get the sense that the quote refers more to skin colour than hair colour.
A tawny colour indicates a bold spirit, as in lions : but too ruddy a hue marks a rogue, as in the case of the fox.
I'll reproduce the whole quote for context.
"Too black a hue marks the coward, as witness Egyptians and Ethiopians, and so does also too white a complexion, as you may see from women. So the hue that makes for courage must be intermediate between these extremes. A tawny colour indicates a bold spirit, as in lions : but too ruddy a hue marks a rogue, as in the case of the fox. A pale mottled hue signifies cowardice, for that is the colour one turns in terror. The honey-pale are cold, and coldness means immobility, and an immobile body means slowness. A red hue indicates hastiness, for all parts of the body on being heated by movement turn red. A flaming skin, however, indicates mania, for it results from an overheated body, and extreme bodily heat is likely to mean mania."
Obviously all translations depend on interpretation so I suppose this isn't definitive, but until I find another translation that suggests differently I think I'll have to accept that this quote is about skin colour rather than hair colour.

Aristotle: Part 1

Got a few posts about 'Aristotle' today. This first one concerns a work called Aristotle's Masterpiece. This was first published in the late 17th century and was written by an unknown author falsely claiming to be Aristotle. I found a few choice quotes about red hair in its pages.
Q. Why doth red hair grow white sooner than hair of any other colour?
A. Because redness is an infirmity of the hair; for it is engendered of a weak and infirm matter, that is, of matter corrupted with the flowers of the woman; and therefore it waxes white sooner than any other colour.
He whose hair is of a reddish complexion, is for the most part, if not always, proud, deceitful, detracting and full of envy. 
Now onto Part 2.