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Poster Handle aether
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Ancient Greek Color Vision

As seen through the eyes of the Ancient Greeks, color perception is a very different thing than our own color perception. Why is this, what is it about our eyes and brains that causes this difference of visual perception from person to person and culture to culture?

In his writings Homer surprises us by his use of color. His color descriptive palate was limited to metallic colors, black, white, yellowish green and purplish red, and those colors he often used oddly, leaving us with some questions as to his actual ability to see colors properly . He calls the sky "bronze" and the sea and sheep as the color of wine, he applies the adjective chloros (meaning green with our understanding) to honey, and a nightingale . Chloros is not the only color that Homer uses in this unusual way. He also uses kyanos oddly, "Hector was dragged, his kyanos hair was falling about him" . Here it would seem, to our understanding, that Hector's hair was blue as we associate the term kyanos with the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, in our thinking kyanos means cyan . But we cannot assume that Hector's hair was blue, rather, in light of the way that Homer consistently uses color adjectives, we must think about his meaning, did he indeed see honey as green, did he not see the ocean as blue, how does his perception of color reflect on himself, his people, and his world..................
 Quoting: observation

[link to serendip.brynmawr.edu]

This correlation between Homer and other Ancient Greeks on the subject of color vision suggests some questions about Ancient Greek color vision leading to ideas inquiring into the ability of the Ancient Greek eye to perceive color at all. It is possible, in light of evolutionary theory, that the retina of the Ancient Greek was not evolved to the point of full color perception.
 Quoting: observation


or was our environment different
 
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