Sunday, December 14, 2014

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

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