Living Age 135, 10.11.1877
From The Nineteenth Century.
*) Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age, Vol. iii. sect iv., p. 437.
*2 P. 438. Twenty years go, an examination of the Homeric text led me to what I then thought a very startling conclusion. It was this: that, although Homer had used light in its various forms for his purposes with perhaps greater splendor and effect than any other poet, yet the color-adjectives and color-descriptions of the poems were not only imperfect, but highly ambiguous and confused. It as only after submitting the facts to some very competent judhes that I published in 1858 a section of my Homeric studies,* "On Homer's Perceptions and Use of Color;" for the case appeared to open up questions of great inerest, with respect to the general structure of the human organs, and to the laws of hereditary growth. My proporitions were:*2 -
1. That Homer's perceptions of the prismatic colors, or colors of the rainbow (which depend on the decomposition of light by refraction), and a fortiori of their compounds, were, as a general rule, vague and indeterminate.
2. That we must therefore seek another basis for his system of color.
* P. 488I rejected the supposition, that this was due to any defect in his individual organization: and found that his system of color, or rather his "system in lieu of color," was "founded upon light, and upond darkness, its opposite or negative;" and that "the organ of color" was "but partially developed among the Greeks of his age."* My meaning was susbtantially this; that he operated, in the main, upon a quantitative scale, with white and black, or light and dark, for its opposite extremeties, instead of the qualitative scale opened by the diversities of color.
* Researches on Color Blindness. Edinburgh, 1855. 8vo.
*2 Wilson, oo. 8, 9.
*3 Ibid, p. 10.
*4 P. 11.The curious phenomena of color-blindness had been very recently set forth by Dr. George Wilson.* He considered it in three forms: 1, as inability to discern color at all; 2, to distinguish the nicer shades of the more composite colors, such as brown, greys, and neutral tints; 3. to distinguish between the primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, or between these and the secondary or tertiary colors, under which head he names green, purple, orange and brown. The first form, he says, is rare, and perhaps not absolutely ascertained.*2 Color-blindness does not depend upon weakness in the organ: for he mentions the casxe of a woman, who could distinguish no colors, yet "could often read for nearly a quarter of an hour in the greatest darkness." In one family, three persons called all bright tints white, and all dull ones black.*3 A house-painter in Australia could not distinguish colors, but had a good eye for form, and was excellent in designing and drawing. Once, however, he mixed his own colors, and thought he had got the stone tint, but it was found that he was painting the building blue.*4 Painters, days Dr. Wilson, "know how long it is before the most susceptible eye acquires its maximum sensibility to color." But the commonest form of color-blindness appears to be that which confounds red and green. Now these are not neighboring colors in the spectrum. Were it a question only of imperfect development of a sense, it would be shown first and most in inability to distinguish a color from that next to it. But red is separated from green by the intervening spaces of orange and yellow. Color-blindness proper, then, appears to partake of the nature of organic defect. But, as Dr. Wilson has pointed out (and I have had an opportunity of verifying the remark), painters know that there is an education of the eye for color in the individual. The proposition, which I desire to suggest, is that this education subsists also for the race.
Within the last few years, this subject has been freely discussed both in Germany among philologists and physiologists, and likewise among Oriental scholars. I understand the general tendency of the discussions to be in favor of the doctrine that color was little known to the ancients, and that the sense of it has been gradually developed, until it has now become a familiar and unquestioned part of our inheritance. Perhaps one of the most significant relics of the older state of things is to be found in the preference, known to the manufacturing world, of the uncivilized races for strong, and what is called in the spontaneous poetry of trading phrases loud, color.
I shall endeavor to give a view of the subject from Dr. Hugo Magnus, a German inquirer who has recently written on it with great care and ability. He is a physiologist as well as a scholar, and teaches, as Privatdocent in the University of Breslau, on the care and treatment of the eye. He gives some indications of a conflict of opinion which has been manifested in his country. But my principal object, after presenting a sketch of his labors, will be to make a contribution to the stores of material, upon which the questions at issue will ultimately be determined, from the quarter where I feel myself most competent, or least incompetent, to search for it.
I understand from an able Hebraist that the Old Testament offers much evidence of the imperfect conception of color in early times. But I take it that by far the most important magazine of information on this subject is to be found in the Homeric poems: the most important on account of its mass, of its unity, and of that high organization which belongs in a degree to genius in general, and which the text of Homer indisputably proves him to have possessed with regard to the two kindred subjects of motion and form. Treading, therefore, with a bolder and firmer step, than when I had no one within view to lean on, I shall now endeavor to present the results, which are to be obtained from Homer, in a more positive and decided shape: and shall suggest a method of meeting, at least in part, the principal and not inconsiderable difficulties which they bring into view.
Dr. Magnus has published (I.) "Die geschichtliche Entwickelung des Farbensinnes" (Leipzig, 1877), and (II.) a tract which partially covers the same ground, and is entitled "Die Entwickelung des Farbensinnes" (Jena, 1877). I shall refer to these tracts as I. and II. respectively.
He observes in his preface on the extreme pauxity of materials supplied by previous labor; and proceeds to anticipate the counter-argument, which some might be disposed to draw from the admitted sharpness of sense in the savage. This sharpness of sense, which may be observed also in the inferior animals, is wholly distinct from a high development of special aptitudes contained within the bounds of each domain. There appears , I would remark, to be a sort of analogy in the relation of the two to the relation between muscular strength and muscular pliability. Homer himself illustrates the argument of Magnus. I have observed that hardly any poet has made such free and effective use of light in general for poetical purposes. Nowhere has he been more bold than in his figure of black pains (II. iv. 117, 191; xv. 394), of the soul purpling in painful apprehension (II. xxi. 551, et al.), of blazing rumor, or battle (II. ii. 93, et al.), and the like. We must presume that his retina was especially sensitive to light and dark; and yet it is in him, too, that we lack the developed sense of color. And we may find an independent analogy in the case of mental gifts; where it will sometimes be found that those who are clearest and strongest in their perception of board outline are endowed with the narrowest capacity for apprehending even essential distinctions. Dr. Magnus quotes Geiger, who published in 1871 on the historical development of man, as pointing out that the dog with his wonderful faculty of scent, had no power of distinction between smells which are agreeable and smells which are offensive. He can deal with quantity only, not with kind, in smell. And so a keen perception of sound is entirely distinct from a good ear for music. As to the sense of smell, I may observe that it would be difficult to find in Homer and instance of its pleasurable exercise except once in relation to the aroma or bouquet of wine (Od. ix. 210); unless we allow that another instance is supplied by the rather carnal idea of the [---], or savor which ascends to heaven from the sacrifices, and which apparently is more related to tasthe than smell. He calls a store-room fragrant (II. iii. 382(, and he calls the growing cypress and oil, oddly enough to our apprehension, by the same name (Od. ii 339, v. 64). He was not, however, insensible to a strong stench, and he mentions with a vigorous and hearty detestation the seals of Proteus: - [---] - Od. iv. 442. He speaks of flowers as tender (Od. ix. 449), white (II. xvii. 56), and hyacinthine, but nowhere as sweet-smelling. And Magnus observes that the frangrance of flowers is nowhere noticed in the Old Testament until we reach the Song of Solomon.
* Newton's Optics.So much for the principle involced. Having drawn the distinction between the elementary activity of one organ, and its higher exhibitions of function, we may now proceed to a brief outline of the facts. And I shall best introduce the general view of Dr. Magnus by quoting Sir Isaac Newton on the scale of colors: "The lights of colors are more refrangible one than another in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, deep violet."*
Dr. Magnus considers that, in the progressive education of the human organ, three colors have been successively disclosed to it, and have by degrees come to be part of its regular perceptions, in the order here given: the order of their greater or less refrangibility, of their wealth or poverty in light. The increase of susceptibility acquired by the retina has become hereditary, and has grown with a long series of generations.
*Magnus, II, p. 8.We will now pass to the stages of the historical development. The startingpoint is, an absolute blindness to color in the primitive man. Anaxagoras, it seems, believed that in the earliest times there was no sence of color at all. The first stage attained is that at which the eye becomes able to distinguish between red and black. Red comes first into our perceptions, because it is the most luminous of the colors; but, says Geiger, in the "Rigveda" white and red are hardly severed.* Greek philosophers, Aristotle in particular, lean to treating colors chiefly as degrees of the luminous and non-luminous, or as mixtures, atomistic or otherwise, of black and white.
* Magnus II, p. 10.In the next stage of the development, the sense of color becomes completely distinct from the sense of light. Both red and yellow, with their shades, that is to say, the red, orange, and yellow of the Newtonian scale, are now clearly discerned. To this stage Magnus* refers the Homeric poems, in which red and yellow colors are set forth, but there is no mention of green or blue; for example of green for trees and plants, or of blue for the heavens. I may intimate in passing, that in my opinion it is hardly possible to pass more than an approximative judgment on the sense of color in Homer, but I think the estimate of it given by Magnus is liberal rather than the reverse.
With this comparatively early axquisition of the sense of redness, Magnus connects the prominence which that color acquired both in the initial stages of the painter's art, and in the costumes of high personages. It had as it were got a start, and had the first possession of the ground which, in costume particularly, it has retained. But we must remember that, in public exhibition and ceremonial, it is, from its luminous character, highly satisfactory to the eye.
The characteristic of the third stage is the recognition of colors which in point of luminouness belong to neither extreme, but are in a mean: he refers to green with its varieties. The clear and bright green he regards as a next onward step from yellow; but the dark green is classed as belonging to the dark family in general. At this point we are reminded of what seems to be the greatest difficulty of the entire subject. We find its lines traverse one another; the light and dark, within the limits of each particular color, giving us one scale of comparison, while the colors as such present another, and the two scales having no common measure. Nay, it may even seem that each color is capable of being deepened into black, by a road of its own, without passing through the other colors. But, making these remarks as I pass, I proceed with the historical outline.
* Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, B. I., s.89.
*2 Magnus, II, p.12.In the fourth stage of the development, we find an acquaintance with blue begin to emerge.This is a stage not even now reached universally. "Bastian relates* that in Burmah a striking confusion between blue and green is a perfectly common phenomenon, which in fact attracts the attention of strangers arriving there, in a manner thoroughly surprising."*2 A like confusion is sometimes observable among ourselves as to these two colors when seen by candle-light, in the case of persons who have not, in any degree, the specific defect of color-blindness.
Our author next gives his adhesion to the Newtonian doctrine, and finds the law of that progression, which has now been traced, in the wealth or poverty of living force possessed by the respective colors, which determines their early or late admission to the list of things perceived by the average man. Thus red begins, blue and violet close, the scale; and the retina, gradually trained to a higher susceptibility, grasps at length with ease what formerly and long eluded it.
* II, p. 13.
*2 Magnus II, p. 16.
*3 I., p.38.By way of illustration, he considers the manner in which the ancients have treated the rainbow. Homer deals with it, he thinks,* as one-colored, red or purple ([---], II. xvii. 547); so does the Arabic, which describes it as nadathon, red, and applies the same phrase to the sunset and sunrise. Also as castalanijjathon, with the same meaning and applications. The reader will observe how we again strike upon the "stone of stumbling." How were men led to equate the color-impression from the rainbow with that from the morning and evening glow? So, about 600 B.C., we find Ezekiel (i. 27-8) in a similarly backward state. I quote the English version: "I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about." Which cannot be explained but by supposing that, for the eye of the prophet, red was the fundamental, and exclusively prevailing color of the rainbow. But I shall have to show that this was a point which Homer, living, as I think, many centuries earlier, had by no means reached. Magnus, now passing beyond it, brings us to Xenophanes, who sees in the rainbow the several hues of red (phoinikeon), purple (porphureon), and yellow-green (chloron). In Aristotle it is still tri-color; but, with red and green, blue is now set forth as a substantive color. Ovid (Met. vi. 65-7) treats it as of a thousand colors, with shades hardly distinguishable each from its next neighbor, but with extremes very remote from one another. Him Seneca seems to follow. But Aristotelian triad of colors is reproduced by Suidas and Galen; is found in the Edda and in Varahamihira; in the Arabian literature, and in the West down to the opening of modern times,*2 notwithstanding the struggle of the improving sense to assert itself, at least by recognizing minor shades as innumerable. Finally Newton appears on the scene, and establishes the scientific (yet not undisputed) doctrine of color. Throwing back one glance as far as the Augustan age, we see Virgil (Æn. iii. 63-4) using cæruleus, blue, in a sense interpreted by Servius as equivalent to niger, and not capable of being rendered more mildly than by the word "dark."*3 Statius, Juvenal, and Valearius Flaccus may be quoted to the same effect. The details concerning the rainbow are treated by Magnus as a verifying formula for the general doctrine.
I now come to consider and present the Homeric materials.
It has been said above that there is difficulty in determining with any precision the true bounds of Homer's perception of color. Prolonged examination moves me rather to reduce than no extend former estimates. I find that the more we treat, as a general rule, what are apparently his words of color as quantitative expressions of light or its opposite, the nearer do we come to the establishment of harmony and coherence in his terminology. With regret, but in deference to truth, I find it safe to lean to this canon of interpretation. Perhaps, in thus exhibiting the narrow range of his [---] or material, I am doing a special homage to his transcendent genius. If without the aids of lengthened history, of wider survey of the earth and man, of long heredtary development of the organs, he has achieved his present results, what would he have accomplished had he been possessed of the vast and varied apparatus of all kinds which we enjoy! And what have natural selection, and the survival of the fittest, with their free play through three thousand years, done for us, who at an immeasurable distance are limping afgter him, amidst the laughter, I sometimes fear, of the immortal gods?
To pass at once in medias res. The epithets which are even apparently true epithets of color in Homer are but few, although they are apparently multiplied by the fact that some of them have a large progeny. For example, we have phoinix (II. xxiii. 454), phoinceis (II. xii. 202), phoinos (II. xvi. 159), phoinios (Od. xviii. 96), phoinikoies (II. x. 133, et al.) phoinikopareos (Od. xi. 124, xxiii. 271), and finally daphoinos (II. ii. 308), with its verb daphoineo (II. xviii. 538).
In speaking of true color, I here strike out of view the extremes of white, with brightness, on the oe side, and of black, with darkness, on the other.
When we proceed to examine these words of color, we find that the poet's sense of color was not only narrow, but also vague, and wanting in discrimination.
Take first the word phoinix. We are introduced to it as a substantive, describing a material which was used as a dye for ivory; and it is made the subject of a comparison with the blood of Menelaos flowing forth upon his flesh (II. iv. 141). So far so good. With this some other passages agree. But in the games the word describes the color of a horse (xxiii. 454), who was phoinix all over, but had a white spot, like the moon, on the forehead. The same epithet sits very ill upon blood and the bay color of a horse; nor would it mend the matter if we were to render the word chestnut. It is a new difficulty to connect these senses of the word with Od. vi. 163, where it means the palm.
Passing to the other members of the family, we find applied to blood phoenecis (II. xii. 202, 220), phoinos (II. xvi. 159), phonikoeis (xxiii. 716), daphoineo (II. xviii. 538).
Of these words the three first named are used in no other connection. But daphoinos, the adjective, is used in II. ii. 308 for the back of a serpent; and thus we are thrown back at once from the color red, the near neighbor of light, and from blood associated with it, upon blackness or darkness, at the other end of the scale. If more evidence on this word be desired, we find it applied in II. xi. 474 to jackals, and in II. x. 23 to the skin of a lion, which could hardly be either black or red, except upon a sign-post.
So again, phoinikoeis is principally used for a cloak or mantle (II. x. 133, et al.). Now it is pretty certain that these were not red; because Homer never once applies to them the word [---], or any other word directly connected with that color.
Durther, we have phoinikopareos applied to the painted bows of a ship (Od. xi. 123, xxiii. 272). It is commonly supposed that this means red, and agrees with the word [---] (II. ii. 627), which is rendered vermilion. Now, whatever this word meant, it seems to have been descriptive no only of the twelve ships of Odusseus, as in this place, but of ships in general; for in Od. ix. 125 we are told that [---] are not found among the Kuklopes. But, proceedng a step further, we find not only that the favorite phrase of Homer for ships is "black ships," but that he has another epithet for the pwos much more distinctive than the two compound words already quoted, namely kuanoproros, with pronzed or dark prows, which he uses no less than thirteen times, agains twice for each of the other two. Consequently the strongest presumption arises that phoinikopareos and miltopareos mean for him the same thing as kuanoproros. And to set the matter at rest we find that, while all the twelve ships of Odusseus have called miltopareoi in II. ii., we have kuanoproros applied to his ship in Od. ix. 432, 539, x. 127, and elsewhere.
From these difficulties we are of course tempted to escape by generalizing the sense, and interpreting the words as only having the force of dark at large. But this way is in some degree stopped against us; for (a) we are thus travelling at once from red, the strongest light color, down to the opposite of light; and (b) brightness is directly and strongly associated with the present root in II. vi. 219, vii. 305, Od. cciii. 201, where it is distinctly applied to a girdle or a stripe of leather [---], bright with the dye called phoinix.
If we pass on to the important word porphureos, we shall find it not less embarrassing. Of all the color-words this, with its verb [---], has the largest and most varied application in Homer. They are used, in all, thirty-two times. The verb [---], like the adjective [---], is employed to describe mental operations and [---] is also applied to immaterial subjects. We find it placed in connection with -
[---], carpets (II. ix, 200, Od. xx. 278).
[---], blankets (II. xxiv. 643).
[---], the mantle (Od. xix. 225).
[---], the cloack (II, viii. 221, Od. viii. 85).
[---], female robe (II, xxiv. 796).
[---], a web (II. iii. 124, xxii. 441).
2. The Rainbow (II. xvii. 547).
3. Blood (II. xvii. 361.)
4. A cloud (II, xvii. 552).
The sea (II. xvi. 381).
The wave (II. i. 482, xxi. 326; Od. ii. 428, sea or river).
The sea darkening ([---], II.xiv. 16).
6. The ball for play in Scheria (Od. viii. 373).
7. Death (II. v. 83, xx. 477, xvi. 334).
8. The mind in painful apprehension (II. xxi. 552), or perplexity (Od. iv. 427, 572, x. 398); ([---]),
9. Lastly, the wool on Kalupso's distaff is of the porphurean of the sea, [---] (Od. vi. 53); also on Arete's distaff (ibid. 306); and garments made of it (Od. xiii. 108) are the same.
Upon examining this remarkable phrase in its several applications, I think it is clear -
a) That in many cases the idea to be conveyed is undeniably that of darkness.
b) That in no one case can we positively affirm it to be a color-epithet, as contradistinguished from a light-epithet.
In proof of the first I cite the figurative application like [---] to death, and as it seems only to bloody death; and to painful rumination, in which it recalls the [---]; and to a dark cloud.
Again, the light robes cast over the body of Hector in II. xxiv. are porpureoi. Now we know, from the case of thetis (II. xxiv. 93) after the death of Patroclos, that dark vestments were even thus early used in connection with death, and evidently by way of mourning. Such then were, in all likelihoood, these peploi.
Again, the rainbow is porphuree. But, it may be asked, did Homer, like the Arabians, mean brightness by this phrase? Evidently not. For, firstly, we may remark that to his personal Iris he never attaches an epithet either of color or of light. The nearest to it is aellopous, strom-footed. He might have said, if he had liked, ray-footed. But more; he mentions the physical phenomenon in one other passage, II. xi. 23, where the three serpents on the breastplate of Agamemnon are compared to rainbows, but are also called [---], bronzed, or of bronze; an expression which I think settles the question, and shows that the bow for Homer's eye was dark; the indigo and violet were mor, for his perception, than the red, orange, and yellow.
Further, I cannot doubt that, when the poet applies porphureon to the sea, he so applies it as an image of darkness. It is (II. xiv. 16) the sea darkening for a storm: again, we have the roaring water of Scamandros when angry and in flood (II. xxi. 386); and the sea swollen by furious rivers (II. xvi. 391).
Besides all this, we have to consider that, if he did not mean the dark lowering color of the sea, be it green or brown, and intended to convey brightness, this would be a blue brightness. But blue is a color weak in light; and of a blue brightness Homer nowhere shows the smallest idea. The negative proof becomes overwhelming, when we consider that, living under a Mediterranean sky, he never calls that sky by the name blue.
This argument covers the wool on the distaff and the garments made of it; and presumably the other objects named, such as vestments. I doubt, indeed, if any one case Homer gives us a vestment bright by color. In Od. xxiv. 147 we have the web of Penelope, bright, not with color, but with light, "as the sun or the moon is bright." It is, however, when she has just washed it, and when it carries some gloss of light. And hence it is that in the mourning-time of Laertes he does not, we are told, use bright coverlids or blankets. The meaning appears to be that, being in sadness, he did not use fresh, bright, glossy, well-kept garments; and this appears to be in exact conformity with the force of the epithet sigaloenta (Od. xi. 189), here used to denote brightness.
I will pass now to what I take to be in itself the best approach to a true, genuine color-epithet in Homer, namely the word [---]. No garment in Homer is eruthos, or red. Of purple as a color, the weakest of all as it is in luminosity, Homer could plainly have no idea. But what is strange is that even his idea of red does not seem to be wholly distinct, as we shall find in considering the family of epithets, of which eruthos is the head.
Here the poet is so far on the right road, that he takes hold of a word which is meant to signify color in itself, and not merely as residing in some object which is taken for the standard. He deals with redness; and not with rosiness or roselike-ness. I doubt whether so much can be said of any other word in the poems except xanthos.
Eruthos is applied to -
1. Copper (II. ix. 365).
2. Nectar (II. xix. 38; Od. v. 93).
3. Wine (Od. v. 165; ix. 163, 208, xii. 19, 327, xiii. 69, xvi. 444).
4. Blood in [---] (II. x. 484, xxi. 21).
The favorite use of the word, it will bow be seen, is for wine: including nectar, we have it thus applied in nine cases out of a total of only twelve. This is very remarkable; because wine is not of a redness proper, ut only approximative, and which a decided infusion of the idea of darkness. Accordingly, we find that Homer has but one other epithet of color for wine, namely [---], and this belongs to a family in which (infra) the notion of darkness predominates.
Again, we may observe of the application of eruthos to copper, that this metal is rather freely associated with color-phrases. It is called
aithops eleven times ... Dark epithet;
enops three times ... Bright epithet;
norops eight times ... -"-
and he has splendid descriptions of the effulgence of the copper-wrought arms; as in
[---] - II. xix. 362,
No one of Homer's best color-associations in with [---], as he acalls the red blazing heaven the copper heaven (II. v. 504, xvii. 425); but this very word helps to show us the determined predominance of the light-perception over the color-perception, when he so many times uses for it both epithets of brightness and epithets of darkness, which have thei only possible meeting-point in the notion of light affused or withdrawn.
Again we have, as might be expected, the notion of red twice applied to blood, which he also once calls phoinion and once porhureon. But his favorite epithets of color for blood are all epithets of blackness; [---], II. iv. 140, and in six other places; [---], II. i. 303, and in nine other places; most of all [---], II. iv. 149, and in eleven other places.
We have also, as place-names in the catalogue Eruthrai and Eruthinai, probably with reference to the brown red of sandstone soil or rock (II. ii. 499, 855).
Thus even the red of Homer, represeted by [---], is in the great majority of instances associated with dark rather than with bright.
Passing now to the rose, we find it supply the staple epithet for morning; rhododactulos, rose-fingered. There is no direct point of contact between Homer's expressions taken from the rose, and eruthos; as they are never applied to the same objects. A very pale reddish pink, far removed from ruddiness, seems to be indicated in this epithet; and its application, we should remember, is to the dawn, not the day. It is doubtful whether the whiteness, or the redness, which are here combined, contributed most to fashion the poet's perception. Probably the whiteness, as I judge from the only other indication he has afforded as to his notion of the rose. It is in the curious phrase rosy oil, rhodoen elaion, which was used to anoint hte body of Hector, II, xxiii, 186. Here we can trace no greater resemblance to the rose than the glossy shine of oil: again an instance of the dominance of the light-sense, of the rudeness and feebleness of the color-sense.
Upon the whole, perhaps the best and truest acknowledgment of pure color in the poems is conveyed, through indirectlym in a reference to the human form, by the epithet kallipareos, fair-cheeked. This rather favorite word is applied by Homer to the following persons, all certainly or presumably beautiful: -
1. Chruseis (II. i. 143).
2. Briseis (II, i. 134).
3. Theano, the priestess of Athene (II. xi. 224).
4. Diomede, the war-concubine of Achilles (II. ix. 665).
5. Helen (Od. xv.23).
6. The goddes of Themis (II. xv. 87).
7. The goddess of Leto (II. xxiv. 607).
8. The saucy Melantho (Od. xviii, 320).
9. Penelope, in [---] (Od. xix. 91, 208).
We have here to consider what are the distinct hues of Homer's men and his women. We find him apply the name of Melas to a Greek of rank (II. xic. 117). Odusseus, on his restoration to beauty by Athene, becomes melanchoies (Od. xvi. 171(. The Melanochrös of his herald in Od. xix. 246, does not seem to bear any different sense. Homer's melas means dark rather than black, and is itself but indefinite; we are obliged to take these words as referring to an olive complexion. But, in his women, whiteness is commended. Penelope (xviii. 195) is whiter than ivory. Like Here and Andromache in the Iliad, and even like Helen herself, the attendant maidens, in Od. xviii. 197, are [---], white-armed. To the beauty of this white skin, color in the cheek is the proper supplement; nor is it easy to see on what other maked ground the cheek should be selected as a part so characteristic. This, then, is rosy or red color, and it is perhaps the best example in the poems of a normal relation between the perception, the expression, and the object.
I take now the difficult word [---] with its cognates aithos, aithe, Aithiopes and aithaloies: also with [---], wine-dark according to Liddell and Scott, which, in this rare case unable wholly to follow them, I take to be kindred in sense to aithops. I begin with oinops, wine-colored.
Oinops is applied to no more than two objects; and only to one of these two with any frequency. It is used twice of oxen, in II. xiii. 703, and Od. xiii. 32. But of the sea it may be called a stock epithet, being so employed eighteen times. Now we have already found, in arguing the case of porpuhureos, that the sea-epithets of tint are dark, though without positive color. Such, therefore, is the probable sense of oinops with the sea. This sense is supported by its special associations: as with the mental sadness of Achilles gazing over it, II. i. 350 and xxiii. 143; with the word [---], in II. v. 770-1; and with the state of the sea under a rattling breeze at night, Od. ii. 421.
Again it is plain that we cannot associate oinops with any one leading color specifically. The only question, in reference to wine, would be whether it meant the brightness of sparkling wine. But this kind of brightness is totally inapplicable to the [---]. As they cannot be white, and are not sparling, they must be dark. Oinops, then, means dark in this case also.
Having thus found the color of Homer's wine as it presented itself to his eye, we are in a better condition to judge of any epithets of color which he applies to it. There are only two, eruthos and aithops. It has already been found that eruthos, with wine, carries the notion of darkness rather than light; it is therefore unlikely that the other staple epithet should not greatly correspond with it. Yet there is an element of doubt in the case. Aithops seems t o be applied to dark objects, but commonly to such dark or dull objects as are capable of brightness by reflecting light. Thus it is a favorite epithet of chalkos, to which it is applied eleven times, and chalkos is one of the few Homeric words which decidedly lean to epithets of brightness, such as enops and norops. I do not therefore identify aithops, as applied to wine, with oinops. It includes the element of light; but it includes also the element of darkness, for we have it applied to yet the third subject, namely, smoke (Od. x. 152).
When we look to kindred words, we find them bearing witness on both sides, and thus illustrating the dualism of idea; the brightness of lights which impinge upon a dark subject.
The adjective [---], for example, is applied to
Iron (II. iv. 485, et al.),
Eagle (II. xv. 690),
Oxen, bull (II. xvi. 488; Od. xviii. 371),
where the sense of darkness, subsisting in various degrees, appears obvious. But an opposite idea, that of brightness produced by rays of light falling on a dead surface, is presented by its application to -
1. The lion (II. x. 23, et al.),
and more especially to -
2. tHE COPPER CAULDRON (II. ix. 123); also the tripod (II. xxiv. 233).
But again: the dark element prevails in Aithiopies, for the Ethiopian nation, with whom is associated Poseidon the dark-haired god (Od. i 22); probably in the horse Aithon (II. viii. 184) and the mare Aithe (II. xxiii. 295), for the horses could hardly sparkle, though the horse Lampos (II. viii. 185) might shine in the sense of Virgil, -
Quæ cura nitentes
Pascere equos. - Æn. vi.
Again aithaloeis applied to dark or sooty beams of a roof, II. ii. 415, and Od. xxii. 239; and to tephre, ash, in II. xviii. 23, which in v. 25 is at once called melaina. But in the word aither for the atmosphere, in aithein, used for the lightning of a fire, and in aithousa, the open portico of colonnade of a mansion, the element of light prevails; not, however, and element of color. So it is, that we are buffered about in the attempt to deal with this the most difficult and unmanageable group of all the color of light-words of Homer.
It is not necessary to dwell long upon kuancos. I conceive it to mean (1) made of, (2) in hue like to, bronze. In the latter sense it is applied -
1. To the eyebrows of Zeus and Here (II. i. 528, xv. 102, xvii. 209).
2. To a dark cloud (II. v. 345, xx. 418, xxiii. 188).
3. To the hair of Hector (II. xxii. 402); to the beard of Odusseus restored to beauty (Od. xvi. 176); agreeing apparently with his hyacinthine hair (Od. vi. 231).
4. To the serried mass of the Greek and Trojan armies as they move (II. iv. 281, xvi. 66).
5. To the mourning garments of Thetis. Her veil is kuaneon; and the poet adds [---] (II. xxiv. 94). Nothing could be more black than this garment; and yet, in II. iv. 277, we have a cloud black as pitch.
6. To the sea-sand just left bare by the water (Od. xii. 243).
Further, in compounds -
1. To hair, of Poseidon (II. xiii. 563. xv. 174, et al.); to a mare (II. xx. 224).
2. Amphitrite, as the sea (Od. xii. 60).
3. To a ship's prow (II- xv. 693, et al.).
There are also various cases in which a question may be raised whether homer intends to signify the metal, or merely the color belonging to the metal.
1. The breasplate of Agamemnon, which has ten layers of black kuanos ([---]), together with twelve of gold and twenty of tin, carries likewise on each side three serpents called kuancoi (II. xi. 26). The change of form from the genitive to the adjective will be observed; it might possibly indicate the transition from the metal to the mere color without the metal. It should be remembered that the chruseos of Homer for the most part means not golden but gilded, and his argureos in like manner silver-plated.
2. On the belt of Agamemnon (ibid. 38, 39,) which is argureos, there is another serpent which is kuaneos.
3. On the shield of Achilles, round the golden vineyard and the silver stakes, is a trench called kuanee (II. xviii. 564).
4. The foot of a finely-wrought table is signified by the epithet kuanopeza (II. xi. 628).
Upon the whole it may be most likely that in all these four places the metal is indicated, and not the color only. But this dies not affect the argument, for it is clear that the poet has the contrast of light and dark in his eye, and that kuanos supplies the dark tint as agains silver, gold, and tin, and also against copper in Od. vii. 87. I think it almost certain that kuanos is bronze, which is normally dark and not bright. But whatever it be, it is clearly assigned, in respect of color, to the dark family by its association with the hair of Poseidon, the mourning garment, the based sea-sand, the sea itself, and the cloud. It is clear, indeed, that the word when applied to the ship's prow means something separate, as to hue, from the ship itself, which is always melas. But the word wholly refuses to lend itself to anything but what is more or less dark, and of degrees in dark and light there is no doubt that Homer had a substantive, if not a very minute, conception.
*) The learned Archimandrite Myriantheus, in his work on ancient Cyprus (with which the Greeks were in close communication), observes of a Cypriote river; [---], p. 6. Athena, 1868.This last proposition is illustrated by the fact that the violet did not escape the notice of Homer, and that, like the hyacinth named but once, it is clearly associated by him with the dark tribe. Thrice we have the sea declared to be violet-colored, ioeides, in II. ix. 298, Od. v. 55, xi. 106. But it is quite plain from what we have already seen that this means the dark sea, not the bright; therefore the brown or dark-green sea, not the blue. Then we have ioeis, violet-like, used as an epithet (II. xxiii. 850) for iron. This is manifestly dark, but not with a deep darkness. We have the iron heaven (sidereos, Od. xv. 328), in contrast undoubtedly with the burnished copper heaven, but meaning what we should call grey. Finally, we have the kindred word iodnephes applied to wool in Od. iv. 135. There can be little question that this is dark wool: first, from the sense forced upon us by iocides; secondly, from the fact that the distaff and teh wool are presents made to Helen in Egypt (ibid. v. 130), and all our southern associations of color are ineradicably dark; as the hair of Poseidon, the wool on the distaffs of Kalupso and Arete, the bulls offered to Poseidon (Od. iii. 6), and the ram promised for a sacrifice to Teiresias (Od. xi. 33).* It is plainly the wool of a dark-brown ram that the poet has in view, or else a wool dyed to a deep purple, which is not an unlikely interpretation.
The work xanthos in Homer I think resembles eruthos in being a thoroughly true word of color, though imperfectly conceived. I conceive it principally to represent orange in the scale of the spectrum, and so far probably to agree with phoinix. He found that color represented for his eye in chestnut or auburn, and in bay. It is remarkable that Homer is so limited in his applications of this word; and they are more consistent in proportion. He uses it principally for hair, male and female, as of Menelaos, passim; for the coat of horses (II. ix. 407) generally; and also as represented in the horse Xanthos; and finally in the name of the river Xanthos, a strong and often turbid stream, though likewise called by him silver-eddying, argurodines (II. xxi. 8, 130).
I conceive that we have now done with the Homeric adjectives and phrases of color, as contradistinguished from those of light. In Argos, marmareos, marmairon, there is plainly no idea conveyed except that of light. On one or two exceptional cases I shall remark further on. But I must notice here two words, which might at first sight be set down as epithets of colour, namely, polios and chloros. I take first the case of chloros, which has the stronger pretensions of the two.
The derivation of the word is from chloe, herbage. But it is plain, from the applications of it, that green was not on the list of Homer's colors. If I am to choose an English equivalent for the phrase, it will be pale: and pale is not properly an epithet of color so much as of light, although there may perhaps be detected in it a very faint inkling, so to speak, of yellow.
Including two derivatives, namely, Chloris, the wife of Neleus (Od. xi. 281), and chloreis, which is applied to the nightingale, the word is used nineteen times in Homer. Ten times metaphorically, as an epithet of fear. Twice for the paleness derived from fear (II. x. 376 and xv. 4); uses which give us the basis of the metaphor just named. Twice for honey (II. xi. 630, Od. x. 234); twice for the olivewood club of Polyphemos (Od. ix. 320, 379); one for the twigs used by Eumaios to make a "shakedown" bed for Odusseus (Od. xvi. 47). In these five cases, freshness and not color seems to be the idea. If we strive to give the sense of color, we find there is none that will cover them in common; yellow suiting in some cases, green in others, neither of the two in all.
* Liddell and Scott, in voc. Buchholz Homerische Realien, I. ii. 122.
*2 Bolton's "British Songbirds," ii. 22.The word chloreis has been the subject of much dispute. There is a temptation to give it the very poetical sense of greenwood-lowing; an epithet peculiarly suitable to the nightingale, which delights in copses, the greenest of all greenwoods. But the balance of authority* attaches the phrase to the hue or aspect of the bird; and when so attached it loses all definite idea of color. Bolton finds the color of the nightingale require a long description. "The head and back of a plain tawny, dashed with olive; the tail is of a deep tawny red; the throat, breast, and upper part of the belly are of a light glossy ash color; the lower part nearly white; the exterior parts of the quill-feathers are of a dull reddish brown; the interior of brownish ash-color."*2 Evidently enough, Homer's idea in this matter could not but be most vague and dim.
Chloros then, so far as it has a visual meaning, is a light-epithet rather than a color-epithet.
The word polios is a stock adjective for the sea, II. i. 350, and in twenty-three other places. Foam is the mere accident of the sea: and we must, I think, consider the epithet as drawn from its general and standing character. I should render it grey; and I take this word to indicate not a color proper, though we may now apply it to various - mixtures of colors, but a quantitative composition, midway, so to speak, between white and black.
*) Goldsmith, ii. 258, 268.The word is also applied -
1. To the human hair in old age (II. xxii. 74, xxiv. 516).
2. To iron (II. ix. 336, xx. 261; Od. cci. 381, xxiv. 167).
3. To the hide of a wold, which Dolon (II. x. 334) put on for his nocturnal expedition. Treating Dolon as a simpleton, the poet may have meant that he put on a white hide, which would make him visible; but perhaps this idea is far-fetched, an we must take grey, I suppose, as the dominant color of the wolf. "his color is a mixture of black, brown, and grey;" but there are also white wolves.*
The idea of whiteness is totally inapplicable to iron. But in any case it seems plain, that the conception exhibited by the polios of Homer is simply a mode of light.
By way of completion of this survey, it may be interesting to examine in exact detail the statistics of color, so to speak, taken from some sufficiently extended portions of the poems.
I select for this purpose the last ten books of the Odyssey, which contain 4,924 lines, and the last eight of the Iliad, which contain rather more, namely 5,131 lines. I begin with the Odyssey.
In the ten books, I count 133 epithets or phrases, which relate either to color, or to light and its opposite, or its modifications.
I. I fist deduct the epithets and phrases of brightness and darkness, and show the proportion which they form of the whole.
[---] a robe (xv. 108) ... 1 times
[---] bright or flashing eyed Athene ... 18
[---] a mantle (xxiv. 148) ... 1
[---] dazzling (xxiv. 466, 499) ... 2
[---] wild boar (xix. 446) ...1
[---] bright - tunic, apartment, rug; in xix. 242 likened to the sin of a dried onion ... 9
[---] flash of copper (xvii. 437) ... 1
[---] used of the sun (xxii. 388) ... 1
[---] bright - used for a bowl, a brooch, a quiver, polished leather ... 7
[---] Aphrodite (xvii. 37, xix. 53) ... 2
[---] Eos ... 6
[---] smutty - roof-beam (xxii.239) ... 1 times
[---] dark - of night (xv. 50) ... 1
[---] Erebus-like - the earth (xxiv. 106) ... 1
[---] dark - ways to the under-world (xx. 65) ... 1
II. I next deduct the epithets of whiteness and blackness, as neither properly designates color. Argos and argennos, thought originally referable to motion and the light resulting from it, seem to have acquired in these cases the sense of white.
[---] white - a goose (xv. 161) ... 1 times
[---] white - sheep (xv. 472) ... 1
[---] white - Leucadian rock (xxiv. 11) ... 1
[---] white - sails, bones of the dead, wild boar's tusk, sails, arms, Penelope whiter than polished ivory (xviii.196) ... 10
[---] black - blood (xvi. 441, xix. 447) ... 2 times
[---] dark-skinned - Eurubates the herald (xix. 246) ... 1
[---] black - ship, fate, death, earth (xix. 111); blood, [---] (xxiv. 188); mainland (xxi. 109); evening (xviii. 305) ... 20
NextI shall deduct the words which indicate the shade of grey, haltway, so to speak, between white and black, but without decomposition, or refraction, and therefore not propperly a color. The epithets used for it in these ten books are three.
1. [---] is here applied to iron (xxi. 3, 81, xxiv. 167); to the sea (xxii. 385, xxiii. 236); to the old (xxiv. 316, 498) ... 7 times
2. [---] , like [---] , [---] is applied to heaven, and if an adjective of color, which is doubtful, means grey (Od. xv. 329).
3. [---] of fresh twigs of brushwood (Od. xvi. 43); metaphorically of ([---]) fear (Od. xxiv. 449, 532); and [---] (xxix. 518): see supra. In all the passages are ... 4
Thus we have
Epithets of light and dark ... 55 times
" white and black ... 30
" grey ... 12
Thus there remain some thirty-one cases in nearly five thousand lines, where Homer can be said to introduce the element or idea of color; or about once in one hundred and sixty lines.
The epithets used are
[---] for redness.
[---] for auburn or chestnut.
[---] ; all these words expressing vaguely and confusedly an idea of color based upon red, purple, or brown verging into black.
It will be interesting in connection with the discussion on the identity of authorship for the two poems, and on the theory that the Iliad was produced earlier, the Odyssey later in life, to observe the relative uses of color in the one and the other.
In the last eight books of the Iliad, I find, as nearly as I can reckon, about 208 light and color phrases, as agains 133 in the last ten books of Odyssey. Allowing for an excess of about two hundred lines in the books of the Iliad, we may take the number of light and color phrases in an equal number of lines at two hundred, to be compared with 133 in the Odyssey; or, in other words, the Iliad seems to have, in the same space, three color phrases for two in the Odyssey. I do not think the difference can be wholly accounted for by the domesticity of the subject of the Odyssey. Indeed it should be remembered that in three of the books from the Iliad (xviii., xxiii., xxiv.), containing more than four-ninths of the whole, there are no field operations whatever. This remarkable difference in light and color phrases seems to be in accord with the hypothesis (of course it is nothing more) that the Iliad is the work of the poet's early maturity and more fiery mind and imagination, the Odyssey the production of his later age and less susceptible temperament.
Pursuing the same process with the Odyssean books, I first set out and deduct the phrases which relate only to light and darkness.
Light Phrases ... Total 63
Phrases of Darkness ... Total 23
Whiteness ... Total 26
Blackness ... Total 26
The classification of the word [---] is disputable. As applied to dogs, I take it to mean swiftness, for this is a general charasteristic. As applied to oxen, where it cannot mean swift, I render it white, as the occasion (xxiii. 30) is that of a solemn funeral celebration, and Homer has oxen of tin as well as gold (supra) on the shield, and probably drew no broad distinction between the two hues. As, however, the whiteness signified by [---] seems to have applied originally to rapid motion, it might be classed as an epithet of light. There is another question, namely, whether [---] means strenuous oxen.
Again, Homer's idea of darkness passes into that of blackness by such vague shading that the classification on this side is merely one of approximation. But I proceed:
Lastly, I have to deduct what signifies the merely intermediate stage between white and black, namely grey. For this we have
[---] ... 9 times
[---] ... 1
Thus we have the total of light and color phrases ... 208 times
From which we deduct for
light and dark ... 63 + 23 = 86
white and black ... 26 0 20 = 52
grey ... 10
Leaving epithets of color proper ... 60
Among these, however, there stand (xix. 400, 404) wto of a doubtful character: balios, meaning dappled or perhaps piebald, and the phrase [---] applied to the horse Xanthos, which, as I contend, means the white foot on a chestnut animal, or as it is familiarly called, the white stocking. These two are hardly to be presented in any other classes, but they evidently belong rather to light than to color in this inquiry. The color phrases, then, may be thus classified: -
Redness is represented by [---] (xix. 38), [---] conveying the same idea (xxi, 21), [---] (xxiv. 6478, 676(, [---] (xxiii. 186(, and [---] (xxiii. 109).
For auburn and chestnut we again have xanthos; applied to the horse of Achilles, the river Scamandros, the hair of Achilles, and especially Menelaos.
And we have [---] (4 times), [---] (6), [---] (2), [---] (1), [---] (9), and the verb [---] (used in xxi. 551 to describe troubled and fearful meditation) as the exponents of that particular idea of color in Homer which was based upon red; and also on purple or brown verging into black.
Let us deviate for a few moments from the subject of color in order to consider the bearing of these facts upon the question whether the Iliad and the Odyssey were produced by the same or by different minds.
It has long been clear to me that a thorough settlement of this question, which is not free from what I may call surface difficulties, could only be had by the most minute analysis, and comparison of particulars, especially of such particulars as are undesigned. It is too wide to be settled except on a comprehensive basis, and a very diversified scrutiny is required. I do not rely then on a single result; but surely the result before us is not unworthy of notice.
We find in the first place, upon the basis of this examination, that the light and color phrases of the Odyssey, as compared with those of the Iliad, diminish in a ration proportioned to what we might expect from the subjects of the two poems, and the spirit in which they are composed.
Next, on examining the proportion between light-phrases and color-phrases, we find it nearly the same. In the Odyssey, we have 31 color-phrases to 103 light-phrases, somewhat under a third: in the Iliad we have 58 color-phrases to 150 light-phrases, somewhat under a third.
The leading light-phrases are the same in both, [---], with their respective compounds. The phrases for darkness are much more varied in the Iliad; but every word expressing it in the one selected portion is also found in the other except [---]. And here we see how much more stringent is the present mode of comparison, than would be a comparison of the entire poems; for [---] is twice used in other parts of the Iliad (ix. 15, xvi. 4). At the grey or intermediate stage, we have in each poem the same epithets, [---] and [---].
Still more remarkable is the uniformity of material, or mental stock, with which the poet worked, when we come to the epithets of color proper. The fifty-eight phrases of the Iliad are furnished from precisely the same sources as the thirty-one of the Odyssey: The word [---] (still represented in our ruddy), the rose, the beauty of the cheek, [---] and its derivatives, [---], and the well-known family of [---], [---] and [---].
It seems to me manifest that this unity in the expression of light and color raises a presumption in favor of unity of authorship. But only because of the fundamental fact, which in the whole of this paper I wish to exhibit, namely that colors were for Homer not facts but images; his words describing them are figurative words, borrowed from natural objects; in truth, colors are things illustrated rather than described. The word eruthros is in truth a rarity in Homer, from its describing color in the abstract and not as embodied in a particular object. The same may be said of xanthos; but the more common use in Homer by far is to speak of rose-color, wine-color, fire-color, bronze-color, and the like. How would it have been possible, at a time when color was only dealth with by this illustrative method, that two independent poets should light so exactly on the same family of illustrations to supply them with material? There was no fixed terminology of color; and it lay with the grenius of each true poet to choose a vocabulary for himself.
The solution of all our difficulties, as far as a solution can be attained, is in the main, perhaps, one and the same. It is in subordinating, case by case, the question of this or that color to the question of much or little light. The sleek garment freshly washed reflects the light, and is called bright; the same garment used and tumbled ceases to reflect, and is dark. Wine in motion sparkles; held up to the light it glows; withdraw these conditions, and what we call red wine is simply dark, darker indeed than the smoke. The copper arms flash back the sun; their splendor reaches to the heaven and makes the earth to laugh; place the sun behind a cloud, the rutilant effect disappears, the dull, dead face of the metal assumes the tone of the rest of the accountrements, and we have the Homeric phalanxes of bronze. Once more: thus it is that water in Homer commonly has the epithet of black, even the fountain being black-watered; and yet we have the four fountains of Kalupso flowing with white water (Od. v. 70) and the white or pure water (II. xxiii. 282( in which Patroclos used to wash the immortal horses of Achilles. Thus we have to adopt the idea of light and dark as our umpire in all difficulties, our universal solvent. But even in the use of these instruments the poet was elastic, and also ill-defined. the word melas covered many shades of deep red, dark blue, brown, no less than black, even as each one of his winds covered a large arc of the horizon. And his sense of light, however keen, was not critical, or very determinate: a favorite illustration with him as to something brilliant is that it resembles to the sun or moon -
*) Quint. Smyrn., Posthomerika.But sun-brightness and moon brightness are so different, that no modern poet could use this simile without giving himself over to be torn by the beaks of critics. I suppose that Quintus Smyrnæus was sensible of this inconguity in his model, when he substituted for it that "fond thing," his awkward formula* -
For what is the aigle of Zeus except the sun from which it is here parted?
and here, in illustration of the great wealth of Homer in the region we have traversed, I may say that this most sedulous and close but inadequate and inamate imitator does not, I think, use above one light of color phrase for ten that we find in Homer.
*) Werke, xxviii. p. 18
*2) Eastlake's translation, p. xlii.
*3) Preface, p. xii.I am not competent to enter into the philosophy of color itself, and the controversi in which Goethe has taken, with his great name, the side opposed to Newton. He has indeed, in his "Farbenlehre," much disparaged our great countryman, whom he seems t oconsider a great mathematician, but in the dark as a naturalist.* He, too, establishes a scale between light and non-light: "Next to light a color appears which we call yellow; another appears next to the non-light, which we call blue. When these in their purest state are so mixed that they are exactly equal, they produce a third color, called green."*2 Condensed and blackened, blue and yellow may become red respectively; blue passing into a blue-red, yellow into a yellow-red. Also red may be produced by mixing; and thus Goethe completes his scale of six colors. Eastlake himself *3 does not admit the division into seven; and quites Professor Leslie of Edinburgh, who thinks that "in the choice of that number Newton was apparently influenced by some lurking disposition towards mysticism," but that four or five principal colors may be named. One observation only I will hazard. It seems as if there were something in Goethe's ideas, how and what I cannot presume to say, which has a point of contact with the phenomena of color as they are represented in Homer. He appears to find a certain affinity between what lies next to light, and what lies next, at the other end of the scale, to not-light. The archaic man, we are to suppose, sets out equipped with one positive perception, namely light, and one negative, namely not-light or darkness. As his organ begins to be trained, it trespasses on the intermediate space, and Homer has already got, after a fashion, his red and orange, his eruthros and his xanthos. But may not the advance in the organ operate in some way at the other end of the scale also? May not the portphureos and the phinikoies be the indications of the invasion of the new religion from that side; and may not this in some manner account for the curious travelling backwards and forwards, so to speak. of so many of Homer's color-epithets, between a read red at the upper end of the scale and some very deep purple at the other? I cannot describe clearly what I admit that I have not conceived clearly, but I am struck with an impression that, at a certain point, the observations of Goethe appear to touch upon the Homeric facts. I do not suggest this as a substitute for the main explanation which I have already suggested, and which views Homer as often using the same phrase for bright-colored and dark-colored objects according to the greater or lesser quantity of light that falls on the surfaces. This he does in regard to his pithets of color and light generally, though less in the case of xanthos than in others. And this he could not have done, but for the fact that the organ was given to him only in its infancy, which is now full-grown in us. So full-grown it is, that a child of three years in our nurseries knows, that is to say sees more of color, than the man who founded for the race the sublime office of the poet, and who built upon his own foundations an edifice so lofty and so firm that it still towers unapproachably above the handiwork now only of common, but even of many uncommmon men.
W. E. Gladstone.