Alexander's Hair Color

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Phoebus
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Post by Phoebus »

Hmmmm... they loaded for me. :?
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Vergina Sun
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Post by Vergina Sun »

I probably seem odd for obsessing over such a small detail as hair color, but does anyone have any references to what Philip II and Olympias's hair colors were?
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Paralus
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Post by Paralus »

Seem?

Nooooo.....
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Vergina Sun
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Post by Vergina Sun »

Paralus wrote:Seem?

Nooooo.....
Oh, you're doing wonders on my self-esteem. :wink:
ruthaki
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Alexander's hair colour

Post by ruthaki »

I believe the northern people were often russet or red-headed. (I don't think it was 'blonde') And henna was very popular among the women as a hair rinse as it is even now.
Alita
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Hair colour

Post by Alita »

I think I posted something on this topic somewhere else. The Greek word for fair is xanthos/xanthe. This is anything from medium brown, to auburn, to chestnut, to light-brown, to golden-blond. Anything that isn't black is basically xantho. Also, if someone has brown hair and light eyebrows and fair skin, they are also likely to be called xanthos. I think the Pompeii mosaic is the most reliable and accurate depiction we have of Alexander today (probably the most-shown image of him too and no wonder) and it shows him clearly with light-brown to auburn hair.

Now, an interesting question: Does anybody know whether the ages would have an effect on the appearance of colours in ancient paintings? For example, would browns turn into reds over time due to chemical alterations in the paint etc? Or fair colours darken? This might be an interesting avenue to study as well.

I was also reading what everyone wrote about ancient Greeks dying their hair. While I'm not too sure about the idea of Alexander wanting to dye his hair like the women of Greece/Persia, just think of all those years he spent in the hot desert with the sun beating down on him... Honestly, I don't think he needed any bleach! The sun would have easily lightened his hair and also uncurled it to some extent with the hot, dry winds (the curls in his young hunting scene pictures are very small and tight, you might have noticed).

A very interesting conversation here I must say. It makes Alexander seem all the more real to me, for some reason! :D

Ciao 8)
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Alexander's hair

Post by appietas »

The ancient text which expressly describes Alexander's hair as fair is Aelian VH xii.14 (kome: xanthe:), also commenting that Alexander's appearance is reported to have been naturally attractive but slightly alarming as well.

I always imagined that this was a hereditary thing from his mother, who was Illyrian/Molossian, and supposedly descended from Achilleus. Pyrrhos was from the same family; perhaps there is something about Pyrrhos' hair in Plutarch.


Here's an excerpt from a note I posted to another list on a related topic a couple of years ago:

(quote)
When considering the meaning of words for natural colours, as with hair, it's a good idea to proceed with several words (competing for meaning, as it were) rather than the one.
Romans had a perfectly good word for golden; aureus. For the sandy/yellowish tints of blonde they used flavus (cf. flavens, flavescere, verbs which can be associated with actual sand), and for the reddish, or auburn tints they used rutilus (rutulus is the same
word, just an older spelling, cf.maximus, from older maxumus, from older still maxsumus).

These and related words are especially to be found in the nomenclature, where cognomina tend to express physical features (especially abnormalites and deformities), hair colour, complexion, as well as habits and manners.
The variations of classical rutilus (of which the most common is rutulus) are particularly well known because this was the cognomen/surname of one of the earliest patrician families to undergo transitio ad plebem, and make it more palatable to the patricians for plebeians to hold the highest offices of state. After one of the Marcii Rutili held the censorship twice (unparalleled and never repeated), the old physical surname was dumped and replaced by another honouring the political achievement; same lineage but
now Marcii Censorini.

<snip>

coma is your typical 1st declension noun (pl.comae).
"comis", as in "comis rutilis" is another ablative pl.
Latin often expresses features/attributes possessed by individuals in the ablative, I suppose from the habit of omitting the standard verb of attribution as understood (praeditus = "endowed with", "possessing"). Without the verb they are known as ablatives of quality.
The singular can also be used for describing animal fur or fleeces. The legendary Golden Fleece was "aurea coma". The poets used the collective singular in all sorts of novel metaphorical ways (e.g. the leaves of trees or whole forests, rays of sunlight).
(end quote)
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Efstathios
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Post by Efstathios »

I think I posted something on this topic somewhere else. The Greek word for fair is xanthos/xanthe. This is anything from medium brown, to auburn, to chestnut, to light-brown, to golden-blond. Anything that isn't black is basically xantho. Also, if someone has brown hair and light eyebrows and fair skin, they are also likely to be called xanthos.
Well actually there is the word "kastanos" for chesnut in Greek. The actual word in the sources is "fair hair". In this case, a light chestnut hair is also included.
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