Abstract and embodied color in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
David B. Wharton, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Some prominent, recent research on Latin color language asserts that the ancient Romans mostly lacked abstract color concepts, instead conceiving of “color” as intimately connected with the material substances that Latin color terms typically referred to. This chapter, through a detailed study of Pliny the Elder’s color language, shows not only that the Romans were fully capable of forming and expressing abstract color concepts, but also that they expressed relationships among these concepts using structured metaphors of location and motion in an abstract color space. The evidence from Pliny also suggests that these expressions derived from the everyday language of artisans, merchants, and farmers, and thus appear more frequently in technical, rather than literary, Latin.

Additional Information

Embodiment in Latin Semantics, edited by Wm. Short, John Benjamins, 2016, pp. 177-208. https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.174
Language: English
Date: 2016
Latin color terms, abstract color concepts, color space, structured metaphor

Email this document to