Abstract and embodied colors in Pliny the Elder’s <i>Natural History</i>

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Some prominent, recent research on Latin color language asserts that the ancient Romans mostly lacked abstract color concepts, instead conceiving of &#8220;color&#8221; as intimately connected with the material substances that Latin color terms typically referred to. This chapter, through a detailed study of Pliny the Elder&#8217;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.


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