"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.