Radiolab Podcast: Why Isn’t the Sky Blue?
I can’t stop thinking about this. As a lifelong student of Homer and a longtime lover of science, languages and culture, this blew my mind like it hasn’t been blown in what feels like years. Absolutely incredible!
What is the color of honey, and “faces pale with fear”? If you’re Homer—one of the most influential poets in human history—that color is green. And the sea is “wine-dark,” just like oxen…though sheep are violet. Which all sounds…well, really off. Producer Tim Howard introduces us to linguist Guy Deutscher, and the story of William Gladstone (a British Prime Minister back in the 1800s, and a huge Homer-ophile). Gladstone conducted an exhaustive study of every color reference in The Odyssey and The Iliad. And he found something startling: No blue!
Supposedly Gladstone’s chapter on colors in Homer is available here; I will have to take a look at it, because wow.