Colors in Ancient Greek

RandallButh
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by RandallButh » December 12th, 2019, 5:31 am

You might put ὠχρόν "pale" with μήλινον or even left of λευκόν, since it is a bridge between yellow and white.
“τὸ δὲ ὠχρὸν γίγνεται λευκοῦ ξανθῷ μειγνυμένου”

Platon, Timaeus 68c:
[68c] but when these colors are mixed and more completely burned, and black is blended therewith, the result is “violet.” “Chestnut” comes from the blending of yellow and grey; and “grey” from white and black; and “ochre” from white mixed with yellow. And when white is combined with “bright” and is steeped in deep black it turns into a “dark blue” color; and dark blue mixed with white becomes “light blue”; and chestnut with black becomes “green.”

ἐρυθρὸν δὲ δὴ μέλανι λευκῷ τε κραθὲν ἁλουργόν: ὄρφνινον δέ, ὅταν τούτοις μεμειγμένοις καυθεῖσίν τε μᾶλλον συγκραθῇ μέλαν. πυρρὸν δὲ ξανθοῦ τε καὶ φαιοῦ κράσει γίγνεται, φαιὸν δὲ λευκοῦ τε καὶ μέλανος, τὸ δὲ ὠχρὸν λευκοῦ ξανθῷ μειγνυμένου. λαμπρῷ δὲ λευκὸν συνελθὸν καὶ εἰς μέλαν κατακορὲς ἐμπεσὸν κυανοῦν χρῶμα ἀποτελεῖται, κυανοῦ δὲ λευκῷ κεραννυμένου γλαυκόν, πυρροῦ δὲ μέλανι πράσιον.
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Shirley Rollinson » December 12th, 2019, 6:06 pm

Devenios Doulenios wrote:
December 10th, 2019, 10:18 am
- - - snip snip - - -
I would love to have the opportunity to teach Greek directly, in a classroom or to individuals. Living in a small rural community as I do, though, the interest isn't there. So I hope to provide some materials like this to help teach indirectly. That, and articles I write for my blog.

- - - snip snip - ------
You might consider teaching online - it's quite a bit different from teaching face-to-face, but online is sometimes the only way students can continue their education (eg. military personnel, economically disadvantaged areas - "the Rez") Or how about local pastors/preachers/bible study groups ?
Shirley R.
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Stephen Nelson
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Stephen Nelson » December 13th, 2019, 1:01 am

RandallButh wrote:
December 12th, 2019, 5:31 am
You might put ὠχρόν "pale" with μήλινον or even left of λευκόν, since it is a bridge between yellow and white.
“τὸ δὲ ὠχρὸν γίγνεται λευκοῦ ξανθῷ μειγνυμένου”
Thanks!

I've moved some things around. The yellow spectrum now grades from μήλινον to θειῶδες to ὠχρόν.

I'm puzzled by the LSJ reference to ὠχρόν as "of a frog" (Batr.81). What is Batr. 81?

I suppose it could refer to a yellow frog :lol:. But it leads me to suspect that it might have been more of a greenish yellow at some point :mrgreen:. I'm inclined to go with whatever Plato says.

Per a suggestion on Textkit, I've added a strip of blood-red to the front of ξουθόν since LSJ has a citation for its ascription to blood.

Image
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Stephen Nelson
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Stephen Nelson » December 31st, 2019, 3:48 pm

Based on various descriptions in the Gospels of the ᾽red/purple᾽ robe that the Romans temporarily put on Jesus prior to His crucifixion (in light of other valid examples of these colors in Greek), is it safe to conclude that "scarlet" (κόκκινον) and “purple” (πορφύρα/πορφυροῦν) were quite distinct and NOT easily confused? Or were they similar and/or interchangeable to some degree?

I imagine people’s interpretation here will be colored by their view of the ‘synoptic problem’ and ‘inerrancy’. This seems to be the case in various commentaries and lexicons. But it seems to me like the robe in gMatthew was meant to entail a brighter color of ‘κόκκινον’ (per my current color chart) than what gMark and gJohn describe as ‘πορφύρα’ and ‘πορφυροῦν’ respectively.

I’m not sure how a proponent of the 2-source or 4-source hypotheses would approach this vis-à-vis a 'Q source', since gMatthew and gLuke are in conflict here. In other words, I’m not sure what color 'Q' would have referred to. But here’s how I would interpret the progression of the color descriptions in the Gospels, based on the Farrer hypothesis:
  • gMark portrays the Romans temporarily dressing Jesus in expensive πορφύρα to (mockingly) indicate His royalty.
  • gMatthew seemingly portrays the garments as being of a cheaper κόκκινον fabric; decidedly NOT πορφύρα.
  • gLuke avoids nailing down a specific color; rather the ‘clothing’ (ἐσθύς) was ‘fine, expensive, luxurious’ (λαμπρά); though I imagine this could be interpreted as ‘light, bright (of color)… and thus closer to gMatthew, without blatantly contradicting gMark.
  • gJohn comes down on the side of Mark, describing the robe as πορφυροῦν.
Here are the verses in question from the Gospels:

Mark 15:17a, 15:20a
They dressed Him [in a scarlet robe and] in purple fabric (πορφύραν)… they took [the robe and] the purple fabric (πορφύραν) off Him and put His own garments on Him.
*"in a scarlet robe and" seems to have been interpolated into verse 17 in Codex Θ-Coridethianus, Family 13 and Minuscule 124, harmonizing Mark towards Matthew.

Matthew 27:28
They stripped Him and put [a purple robe and] a scarlet robe (χλαμύδα κοκκίνην) on Him
.
*"a purple robe and" seems to have been interpolated into verse 28 in Codex Bezae, Minuscule 157 (omit καί) and in several Latin and Syriac witnesses, corroborated by Chromatius, harmonizing Matthew towards Mark.

Luke 23:11
And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in *fine robe (ἐσθής λαμπρά) and sent Him back to Pilate.
*A gloss of ‘λαμπρός’ as ‘fine (of clothing)’ or as “gorgeous” seems to negate any potential association with ‘brilliance’ or ‘brightness (of color)’.

John 19:2, 19:5a
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe (ἱμάτιον πορφυροῦν) on Him… Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe (πορφυροῦν ἱμάτιον).
Rodney J. Decker’s ‘A Handbook of the Greek Text’ of Mark 9-16 states -
πορφύρα refers to "purple cloth/garment," or perhaps "a red-colored cloak, such as common soldiers wore" (Souter, 211, citing this text; cf. BDAG, 855). Matt 27:28 refers to the garment as a χλαμύδα κοκκίνην (“scarlet robe”).
Here Decker appears to be open to the possibility that πορφύρα could actually be similar or equivalent to κόκκινον. But I wonder if this interpretation is theologically biased in light of gMatthew. Can this be backed up by any extra-biblical references that conflate κόκκινον with πορφυροῦν? I do get a hit for ‘κοκκίνη πορφύρα’ from Gymnasmata pneumatica.

https://books.google.com/books?id=rSBIZ ... B1&f=false

Are there any other examples of the conflation of κόκκινον and πορφύρα/πορφυροῦν? Based on the textual variants in the Gospels (mentioned above) it's hard to believe that 'correcting' scribes would have felt the need for harmonization if the colors were relatively interchangeable.

BDAG specifically says the following under πορφύρα:
Of the red garment which the soldiers put on Jesus Mk 15:17, 20; GPt 3:7 (Appian, Bell. Civ. 2, 150 the Roman soldier’s cloak is called ἡ πορφύρα; s. χλαμύς.—Dio Chrys. 4, 71 and Jos., Ant. 11, 256; 257 of a royal purple garment; cp. 1 Macc 10:62).—Lit. s. κόκκινος, also RGradwohl, Die Farben im AT, Beih. ZAW 83, ’63, 66–73 and lit.; Pauly-W. XXIII 2200–220; Kl. Pauly IV 1243f; BHHW III 1532f; ABD s.v. ‘Purple’ (V 557–60) and ‘Zoology (Animal Profiles)’ (VI 1149f); New Docs 2, 25–27 (lit.); CHemer, New Docs 3, 53–55; also Hemer, Acts 114; HStulz, Die Farbe Purpur im frühen Griechentum ’90.—Schmidt, Syn. III 44–51. DELG. M-M.
BDAG says the following under κόκκινος:
ParJer 9:18; Philo; Jos., Ant. 8, 72 v.l.; Just., D. 46, 5) red, scarlet χλαμὺς κ. a red cloak of the ‘sagum purpureum (paludamentum)’ of Roman soldiers, a cheaply dyed garment in contrast to the expensive ‘purple’ garments (cp. Gradwohl 73–75; WBorn, Scarlet: CIBA Review 7, ’38, 206–27; GFaber, Dyeing in Greece, ibid. 284; LJensen, JNES 22, ’63, 111) whose hues were derived from shellfish and worn in the upper classes (s. πορφυροῦς) Mt 27:28
PS:

This may be a meaningless aside for most/all readers here. But, for what it's worth, the Old Slavic translation of uses "препряда" for "πορφύρα" and "багряна" for "πορφυροῦν" and "червлёный" for "κόκκινον (in Mark and John and Matthew respectively). In Luke the garment is unambiguously described as "light" colored (светлая).

The terms "препряда" and "багряна" are BOTH rendered in Russian Bibles as "багряница", which appears to be an umbrella term for BOTH κόκκινον and πορφύρα. However, the adjectival form - багряный - is blood-red, which appears to be consistent with the RED color of Jesus' robe in Orthodox iconography. For example:

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Баграяница
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Paul-Nitz
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Paul-Nitz » January 12th, 2020, 10:14 am

I've just been reading a fascinating account of color in Guy Deutscher's Through the Language Glass. He contradicts the anti-Whorf crowd with a sensible view of the influence of language on thought. His gives a 95 page history of a debate on color and language (beginning with Gladstone's study of Homer https://archive.org/details/studiesonho ... /page/n477 ).

He's convinced me that it is not unreasonable to imagine the Greeks having only a few words for color, black, white, red, and maybe green. He concludes that Gladstone was largely right, that ancients had no need for various names for color since they had very little artificial coloring. For example, the only blue they would see is the sky or lapis lazuli, both of which could be called "sky" or "lapis lazuli" straight up... who needs a color name for it?
https://sites.google.com/site/guydeutscher/
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Stephen Nelson
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Stephen Nelson » January 13th, 2020, 5:38 pm

Paul-Nitz wrote:
January 12th, 2020, 10:14 am
For example, the only blue they would see is the sky or lapis lazuli, both of which could be called "sky" or "lapis lazuli" straight up... who needs a color name for it?
That's interesting. I also found this video rather entertaining and informative - https://youtu.be/NVhA18_dmg0

It seems like, even if those assumptions are true, eventually cultures develop new color concepts that are anchored to objects in real life. That may provide some level of objectivity to some extent.

For instance, if the name of 'purple/magenta' (i.e. Tyrian purple) is anchored to objects in real life - the dye extracted from certain sea snails and the resulting fabrics died from it - πορφύρα/πορφυροῦν can presumably be anchored to those objects in real life. Maybe the exact hue of the fabric had some variation (i.e. lighter or darker shades, redder or bluer hues).

The same may be said of κόκκινον (bright red, scarlet), insofar as it has any connection to 'scarlet runner beans' (Phaseolus coccineus). That would seem to indicate a much brighter red than what might be labelled as "purple".

That's what I find perplexing about the different colors used to describe Jesus' robe in the gospels. It seems like those are two distinct/different colors, and not simply two different descriptions of the same color. But I'm open to feedback on this from anyone who knows more about this stuff than I do, which is probably most people on this forum...
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Brian Gould
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Brian Gould » January 14th, 2020, 7:36 am

Stephen Nelson wrote:
January 13th, 2020, 5:38 pm
That's what I find perplexing about the different colors used to describe Jesus' robe in the gospels. It seems like those are two distinct/different colors, and not simply two different descriptions of the same color.
The explanation, I think, is that the soldiers are engaging in mockery. Just as the crown of thorns is not a true king’s golden crown, so a soldier’s red cloak is not a true royal robe of purple. Matthew suggests that one of the soldiers may have simply taken off his own red χλαμύς and placed it on Jesus’ shoulders, while Mark’s πορφύρα is what it is supposed to represent, a splendid purple robe.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 14th, 2020, 8:56 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:
January 12th, 2020, 10:14 am
I've just been reading a fascinating account of color in Guy Deutscher's Through the Language Glass. He contradicts the anti-Whorf crowd with a sensible view of the influence of language on thought. His gives a 95 page history of a debate on color and language (beginning with Gladstone's study of Homer https://archive.org/details/studiesonho ... /page/n477 ).

He's convinced me that it is not unreasonable to imagine the Greeks having only a few words for color, black, white, red, and maybe green. He concludes that Gladstone was largely right, that ancients had no need for various names for color since they had very little artificial coloring. For example, the only blue they would see is the sky or lapis lazuli, both of which could be called "sky" or "lapis lazuli" straight up... who needs a color name for it?
https://sites.google.com/site/guydeutscher/
I dunno... not a lot of artificial coloring (at least in the early stages), but lots of shades of color in nature.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Shirley Rollinson » January 14th, 2020, 7:44 pm

What has just occurred to me is that, even today, different people-groups 'see' colors differently. Many years ago I taught a class composed entirely of Iraqi students - and they had great difficulty in distinguishing between 'blue' and 'green' (It was a Chemistry class; one of the tests for an alkali is that it 'turns red litmus blue' - and they would frequently record 'green'). It wasn't that they didn't know the words, it was that they didn't see the difference between blue paper and green paper.
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Peng Huiguo
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Re: Colors in Ancient Greek

Post by Peng Huiguo » January 18th, 2020, 1:04 am

Randall, that Warburton article has some inaccurate info about chinese words. In particular, there's never been a qǐ meaning "clear".
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