"Blue is black with green, like the sea."
July 18, 2011 1:00 PM Subscribe
"We certainly cannot follow the example of Odysseus and, going down to Hades, tempt with a bowl of blood a representative sample of native speakers to label particular areas of the standard Munsell color continuum ..."David Wharton's Latin Color Bibliography collects quotations from ancient literature and modern research on how languages classify colors, and tries to work out the meanings of color words in classical Latin.
The title quote comes from Maurus Servius Honoratus in Isidore's Etymologies, alluded to in comparison with Tzetzal Maya descriptions of blue and purple. The pull quote comes from John Lyons' chapter in The Language of Color in the Mediterranean, quoted here.
Bonus: Aulus Gellius talks about the differences between Greek and Latin colors, green and grey horses, and marmor flavum, the "yellow marble" of sea foam. (Scroll down for translation.)
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