COLORI DELL'EROS NELLA GRECIA ANTICA

Franco Giorgianni

Abstract


COLOURS OF LOVE IN ANCIENT GREECE

The paper contains a detailed investigation of some colour terms (poikýlos, chlor˛s, erythr˛s, p˛rphyros and their compounds) which are examined in their semantic aspects and in their use by the Greek archaic lyric poets as well as by ancient physicians, particularly in erotic contexts. It emerges, according to previous studies by other scholars on this issue, that both lyric poetry and medicine contribute to an extension and upgrading of the traditional semantic and cultural range of these terms, often to the detriment of their chromatic traits. Specifically, the comparison between the poetic and medical, particularly Hippocratic, use of the colour terms considered shows some correspondences in representation and imagery of erotic experience: in the case of chlor˛s, love is represented as a disease which consumes the lovers, while the adjectives erythr˛s and p˛rphyros express the blood agitation which makes the person in love blush, according to the topic of the fire of love. Poikýlos is used in poetic context to allude to the deceptive and seductive aspects of love, while in the medical language it refers to a theatrical show of technical skills, where no apparent connection with erotic motifs is present.


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