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Ancient Greecian Sky

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659396.  Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:34 pm Reply with quote

I don't think Stephen Fry posed the question correctly. He asks, "What colour was the sky in Ancient Greece?" Then he goes on to correct Joe Brand who said it was blue.

The simple truth is that irrespective of whether or not the Ancient Greeks had a word for the colour blue it was still blue and NOT bronze.

In order for the question to make sense he should have asked, "What colour did the ancient greeks use to describe the sky?"

659407.  Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:25 pm Reply with quote

I think you're right Gray, we were just using the vague phraseology to make the point about colour terminology.

I think we'll claim poetic licence in this case; but thanks so much for taking the time to post - it would be great if you could hang around these talkboards and contribute to our search for all things Quite Interesting.


The QI Elves


659577.  Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:12 am Reply with quote

And although you are, of course, right, the other thing to point out is that we aren't particularly interested in whether the questions make sense or not.

856654.  Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:42 pm Reply with quote

There is perhaps an objective description of colour by wavelength or frequency of light "waves". I say "perhaps" because science is rational theory, always open to question.

I would suggest that colour, as we use it as a categorization, is a mental construct, rather than an external objective reality. And I would even go so far as saying that this use of colour categorization is a mental construct influenced by culture. A recent Horizon documentary showed a tribe who did not distinguish between "colours" that European cultures see as distinct. But modern Europeans cannot claim a true perception because they too are unable to step outside their own pre-conceptions. I feel this as a modern European who does not see a distinct "indigo" between blue and violet, as Newton claims he did.

The colour blind cannot distinguish red from green or blue from yellow. It is possible there might be a "spectrum" of colour partial-sightedness. So the mental image that "blue" conjours in your mind might be different from the idea I have of "blue", no matter that we might agree, in the superficial cultural world of talk, what is blue and what is not.

So I cannot confidently say the sky is blue because I doubt my cultural training. I cannot even be sure that the idea of "blue" is the same for you as for me, so I even doubt that "blue" means anything at all!

Spud McLaren
856658.  Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:48 pm Reply with quote

You seem to have gone straight to the heart of Zen philosophy there, rocky.

Welcome to QI!

856663.  Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:59 pm Reply with quote

I applaud your fine comment, one-handedly

856664.  Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:01 pm Reply with quote

I use "one-handedly" in the ancient Buddhist sense rather than the modern internet sense.

Spud McLaren
856673.  Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:44 pm Reply with quote

It's OK, I got it.

In the ancient Buddhist sense, obviously.

856734.  Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:09 am Reply with quote

rocky wrote:
as a modern European who does not see a distinct "indigo" between blue and violet

Is there a distinct Indigo ? I am sure (tsk not checking before posting) there is some story about indigo only being added to the colours of the rainbow as seven was a "better" number than six

856759.  Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:10 am Reply with quote

Yeah, Newton was a fan of weird number conspiracies. All that "Bible Code" shite was exactly the kind of thing he was into. Dingbats like that viewed the number seven as inherently important, for some reason, so he deliberately split the spectrum up into seven colours.

Anyone who's seen a spectrum will realise this is bollocks. It doesn't consist of lines of sharply defined colours like a Pink Floyd album cover. Instead, each colour merges seamlessly into the next, so you can divide it up into as many, or as few, colours as you like.

856960.  Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:45 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
It doesn't consist of lines of sharply defined colours like a Pink Floyd album cover.

dr.bob refers here of course to the cover of Dark Side of the Moon - which does indeed depict lines of sharply defined colours. Six of them.

857712.  Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:49 pm Reply with quote

Fact is an anchor. It keep the looneys on the path.
Straying maniacally off the path, perhaps the extra colour was introduced by historical brigade so that they could make scientists learn some history, "Richard of York gave battle in vain."

Sadurian Mike
857886.  Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:34 am Reply with quote

rocky wrote:
Fact is an anchor. It keep the looneys on the path.

You evidently haven't encountered bobwilson yet.

858091.  Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:13 pm Reply with quote

I think you're too harsh with yourself, Sad Mike...

1166904.  Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:39 pm Reply with quote

An interesting new article which discusses and debunks the QI claims about the ancient Greeks calling the sky "bronze":


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