Salvete Omnes,

While I am working on a Minecraft resource pack that changes the Latin, which hopefully fixes some rough spots in it, I came back to a problem which strikes me occasionally with colors in Latin, which is how Latin describes colors.

While your language does not determine your ability to see colors, every language divides colors into about 2-12 basic colors, and all other colors are considered a shade of one of those basic colors. English has eleven, for example: starting with six, we have red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. We then have three neutral colors, black, white, and gray. We finally have brown and purple, making eleven. If you're Russian, light blue is a twelfth color.

How many basic color terms did Classical Latin have? Do we have any indications from ancient sources about how many colors there were, and how shades were described? Were there indications that the basic colors changed over time?

To give my guess, based on some browsing through Vicipaedia and latintutorial's video on Latin colors, I would guess that there are at least 6-7 colors in Classical Latin: red, yellow, green, blue, white, black, and possibly gray.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.