Were the Ancient Greeks Color-Blind?

Were the Ancient Greeks Color-Blind?

Or did they just understand color differently?

William Gladstone, the 19th Century British Prime Minister, was also a classics scholar and observed that color operated in a very different way in antiquity, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In a recent program the ABC quotes Mark Bradley, Associate Professor of Ancient History at the University of Nottingham. ‘We have a great deal of difficulty in translating Homer’s color terms into modern western languages,’ he said.

Gladstone noted that Homer actually used very few color terms, that black and white predominated, and that he used the same colors to describe objects that looked quite different.

“This established the idea that Homeric Greeks had defective color vision and that perhaps were color blind en masse. It’s been a hotly debated scholarly topic for over a hundred years,” the ABC notes.

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