What are the origins of the term ‘shady’. As in, ‘he was a shady character’?

Answer: It is likely that its genesis was in Ancient Rome where it was believed that people of quality spent their time in the sun. Life in the shade was an easier, less exposed life. It was viewed as a second best life. The active politician, the soldier and administrator lived in the sun and the dust. Virtue, as an entity, was seen as being, among other things, dusty and sunburnt.

Source: Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome by J P V D Balsdon

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