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Homer’s Wine Dark Sea

It was not until about 4500 years ago that humans first gave a name to the color blue. The first ones to do so were the Egyptians who knew how to produce blue dye.

The standard interpretation of this is that blue was seen as a special shade of green. Without a separate word for blue, people did not see it as all that different from green.

However, if this is true, then the sky and the sea should be described as green in ancient texts, and that is not the case.

The sea is described as wine dark by the ancient Greek poet Homer. He also describes oxen in the fields as red.

Roman illustration of Odysseus on a wine dark sea

By Giorcesderivative work: Habib M’henni – File:GiorcesBardo54.jpg, Public Domain,

This indicates that the sky was not blue, but red. The light reflected off of the sea would then have been properly described as wine dark, especially if there were some threatening clouds hanging over it. Brown cattle would appear to be red.

With everything bathed in a red light, things would appear red or golden in color, and blue would be very difficult to distinguish from green.

If our Sun was redder in color in the past, blue would have been a very rare color to see. It would in truth have been a special shade of green.

It would also mean that there actually was a golden age before our age, and that we should take this quite literally. The golden age really was golden in the sense that everything was bathed in a pleasant golden light.

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