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Scientists Look Into The Wine Dark Sea For Climate Change Answers

A team of scientists from four countries have set out on a seafaring expedition to discover what colour the Atlantic Ocean is - Telegraph

They have tied in their jaunt with investigating Climate Change of course, but Homer has already answered the question - ωνοψ - or "wine-dark". It seems the Ancient Greeks saw colours very differently to us.
William Gladstone wrote a three volume treatise on Homer's Oddessy and Iliad. A chapter in the third volume looks at color in Homer's works. Gladstone's conclusion is: there isn't much and what there is, is peculiar. The sea is wine-colored. So are oxen. Honey is green. The sky is black. Blue is never used, and despite Homer's rich descriptions about many aspects of nature, color is almost absent. Gladstone hypothesized that humans 3000 years earlier weren't advanced enough to perceive as many colors modern folks.
In 1898, W.H.R. Rivers went on an anthropological expedition to the islands in the Torres Straits between Australia and New Guinea to study a group of people who'd only been exposed to outside Western culture in the previous 30 years. He found their color words to be very similar to what was found in Homer and other ancient writings - black and white, reddish, green which included blues, and just different ways of using color labels - including black sky.
This seems to be true of other primitive cultures as well. It is not because their retinas haven't evolved as some suggest, they are as good at distinguishing colours as we are, they just don't have the language for it.
I wonder when our descendent look back at our crude descriptions of climate change if they will pity us for our inability to describe the natural world because we don't have the language for it yet.


Comments

Odd, innit?

The old greek chappies had all sorts of words for mathematical and philosophical concepts that few today have any idea of let alone words to describe them. Maybe we have lost the ability.

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