Most ancient writers were from the Southern European civilisations, and generally took the view that people living in the north of their lands were barbarians. Pale skin and light hair were described as signs of barbarism by Polemon of Laodicea in his book Physiognomica. Pseudo-Aristotle noted differences between Greeks and the people of the north, believing that Greek superiority was visible in their medium skin tone, as opposed to pale northerners and dark southerners and Africans. Aristotle himself claimed that blue eyes had less liquid in them than darker eyes, and that they indicated poor eyesight, especially in daylight.
Despite this, Aphrodite was often depicted with blonde hair, as were deities associated with the sun. Likewise, the Roman historian Tacitus idealized the Germanic tribes (which he considered autochthonous
to their land) for qualities such as superior warlike ardor and
chastity, in contrast to the Romans of his day - though his portrait is
not unmixed - as he also portrays them as incurably lazy and addicted to
Many Romans believed that fair features were beautiful. Wealthy
Romans paid for blond and red wigs made from the hair of captured
Germanics or Celts.
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