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Chrōmata (ΧΡΩΜΑΤΑ)

Lessico dei termini greci di colore
I: alpha

Maria Fernanda Ferrini

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In Greek culture, colour is a quality that is closely related to things and cannot be separated from them: it characterizes things through one of their defining features (regardless of whether these are intrinsic or acquired); it identifies them in relation to other things; finally, it places them within a series of analogies or antitheses that structure the universe. Colour is also a property of things that is highly appreciated and welcomed for the aesthetic pleasure it provides to the viewer. Above all, it is a category of knowledge, a tool that allows us to look at the world in its multiplicity, so as to identify contrasts or correspondences. Ancient speculation saw it as a phenomenon that could reveal hidden processes and used it as a means of exemplifying the very concept of movement-change, of metabolē. In Greek thought, colour is perceived as something through which we know more than something to be known.
Beginning with a number of exegetical works in antiquity, the chromatic lexicon has constantly been at the centre of scholarly attention. The meaning of colour terms in the works of Greek literature is still today a subject of a growing debate, which involves not only philologists or those engaged in the very complex art of translation, but also linguists, psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists, all dealing with the perception and classification of colours in various languages and cultures. When we read the works of Greek literature, we are initially disoriented by the uncanny quality of observations and remarks that reflect a different sensibility, and by a lexicon that seems to lack order and consistency. It does, in fact, presuppose specific coordinates, and they emerge only if we broaden the scope of our investigation. Chromatic terminology cannot be isolated from a system of interrelations that is built on different levels (perceptive, cognitive, socio-cultural and communicative), and language in its strict sense is part of this system.
In spite of the great interest generated by the classification, nomenclature and use of colour terminology in Greek, we still do not have a specific lexicon of colours. My proposed research project intends to fill this gap. It will represent the basis and the tool for much-needed in-depth study of the numerous issues, of various types, linked to a terminology that is much richer and more dynamic than what is generally believed.

About the Author
Maria Fernanda Ferrini is Associate Professor of Greek Language and Literature at the University of Macerata. Her main monographic publications concern the technical and scientific treatises of Corpus Aristotelicum (De coloribus, Problemata, Physiognomonica, De audibilibus, Mechanica, De plantis, Rhetorica ad Alexandrum).

  • Codice ISBN 978-88-6056-610-2
  • Numero pagine 136
  • Formato 17x24
  • Anno 2019
  • Editore © 2019 eum edizioni università di macerata

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