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Off The Ground
How Many People. See Your Sunshine. Getting Closer. Maybe I'm Amazed.
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- Der Einfluss der Physik auf den Roman des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (German Edition).
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It was proposed in one letter to the journal that perhaps the wine the Greeks drank was indeed blue. Robert H. Wright and Robert E. Cattley, of Vancouver, British Columbia, noted in their letter that the ancient Greeks seldom took their wine neat. They often diluted it with as much as six or eight parts of water.www.transalpinaonline.com/wp-includes/402/chat-joven-13-18.php
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Since the geology of the Peloponnesus, the site of some of the action in the epics, includes large formations of marble and limestone, the authors said, the ground water must have been alkaline, perhaps sufficiently so ''to change the color of the wine from red to blue. Wright is a research chemist. Cattley is a retired classics professor from the University of New Brunswick. Other attempts to explain Homer's wine- dark sea have included such ''solutions'' as the absence of a word for ''blue'' in the ancient Greek language, congenital color- blindness in the particular Greeks of the Homeric tales and an outbreak of red-colored marine algae.
Robert Rutherford-Dyer, a retired classics professor at the University of Massachusetts, said scholars had long puzzled over the ''very odd'' color tones sometimes used in classical Greek writing. But Dr. Cattley said the Greeks' color- blindness was ''patently unlikely.
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Wright said, was possible, but because it would not have lasted long it was not a satisfactory explanation for Homer's use of the wine-dark expression in so many instances. Cattley, though he shared authorship of the blue-wine idea, believes that as a phrase the wine-dark sea was less a description than a useful poetic device. This is the traditional interpretation by classical scholars. Throughout the Iliad and the Odyssey phrases and descriptions are repeated, the wine-dark sea being only one of the most familiar and poetic of these. This is presumably the legacy of the generation of minstrels who first told the tales that Homer later transcribed and embellished.
The minstrels fell back on such stock phrases to give their audience time to absorb what had just been sung and to give themselves a moment to think about what they were going to sing next. Besides, in Greek the phrase wine-dark sea made a perfect flourish at the end of the hexameter line used by Homer. The phrase, Dr. Cattley said, is ''just one of a thousand formulaic lines that the minstrels used time and time again on the old principle that 'He writeth best who stealeth best all things both great and small, for the great mind that used them first from nature stole them all.
Cattley dismisses the suggestion that Homer, being blind, made an unreliable witness in such matters. In fact, some people argue that there was no one person called Homer.
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Rutherford- Dyer, in a letter published in Nature last month, disputed the blue-wine idea because Homer in specific references to wines described them as red, dusky or black - ''hence probably like modern mavrodaphne wine. View all New York Times newsletters. A Meteorological Explanation. Rutherford-Dyer suggested a possible meteorological explanation, which he elaborated in the October issue of Greece and Rome, a British journal of classical scholarship.
A wine-dark sea may even have been a sign of good weather ahead, a sign like ''red at night, shepherds' delight. According to his reasoning, high dust content in the atmosphere gives a dark red sunset, and its reflection in a dark sea can give a ''color and texture very close to that of mavrodaphne. And dusty skies, he added, indicate slow- moving winds and, therefore, stable weather conditions. Rutherford-Dyer wrote: ''Further examination of the references to 'wine-dark sea' shows that the phrase is normally used on weather conditions at dark.
At least one modern poet, W.