Posted By Snipehunter at 5:36 PM - Wed Mar 27 2019
So we've mentioned this before, but just to be explicit:
The reason Hrothi are clean-shaven isn't physiological, it's cultural. Specifically, as the Shields of Virtue of the Vitori faith, the Hrothi have some opinions about what lifeway is best. They believe that as a people they are stronger together, and that it is virtuous to walk the middle path, neither throwing themselves fully into vice, nor pushing their love of virtue into fanaticism. The two ideals combine into a third: A harmonious society is a society that itself walks the middle path, standing fast and not indulging in anything too extreme in either direction. You can abstract this into a cultural desire for discipline and conformity from the individual. A good Hrothi has the self discipline not to be a slob, and desires to live in harmony with their fellows, not dressing or appearing in a way that makes them seem wild or iconoclastic.
Beards are, like their Brudvir neighbors, a bit wild and maybe even a little slovenly, especially in the presence of the work Hrothi do. A beard might keep you warm in the taiga, but in the heat of the forge, what value does it have? It collects crumbs and bits, it sheds. A beard is a sign that one lacks the discipline to groom themselves well, and doesn't value their fellows enough to stand with them in solidarity/conformity. It's not good when considered from the perspective of what they see as living a good life.
It's not that it's illegal to wear a beard or anything. But, it is that wearing a beard as a Hrothi is basically saying, "Yeah, well screw this and screw you" to what the Hrothi believe, and they'll react accordingly when they see a Hrothi with a beard.
So, no, even on an expedition, or in the middle of a war, a Hrothi - in their eyes - should have the discipline to see to their appearance, because to do otherwise is to slip out of the golden mean into the vice of sloth, but they aren't going to force you to see things their way or even fist-fight when they see the sweet Caspian on your chin, because that's just slipping out of the golden mean into the vice of wrath. But are they gonna assume you're a bad Hrothi? Well yeah, everything about your appearance screams it's true.
Hope that helps! :)
This post is causing a lot of angst in what will probably be a Hrothi community. I get that Hrothi should be disciplined, like the Romans, and that this description might try to suggest Stoic self-control and sociality or the pragmatic commitment to the golden mean of the Peripatetics. But it rather suggests a conformity that hits a wrong note. Sounds like a particularly puritanical group of short Waerd.
Personally, if I am Hrothi, I will have my character grow a beard like Marcus Aurelius as soon as I can. I get opposing the anarchist beards of the epicureans, or the animal beards of the cynics, but surely a good, well-groomed, lightly-oiled Peripatetic beard is fine, and a washed and trimmed Stoic beard should be fine, too.
But, I’m ok with a clean shaven Hrothi cultural starting position. I will use Epictetus’s argument for beards, “the true philosopher will only act according to reason or nature, rejecting the arbitrary conventions that guide the [beardless grooming] behavior of everyone else.”