Greek Color Theory

Δημόκριτος φύσει μὲν μηδὲν εἶναι χρῶμα· τὰ μὲν γὰρ στοιχεῖα ἄποια, τά τε ναστὰ καὶ τὸ κενόν· τὰ δὲ ἐξ αὺτῶν συγκρίματα κεχρῶσθαι διαταγῆι τε καὶ ῥυθμῶι καὶ προτροπῆι, ὧν ἡ μέν ἐστι τάξις ὁ δὲ σχῆμα ἡ δὲ θέσις· παρὰ ταῦτα γὰρ αἱ φαντασίαι. τούτων δὲ τῶν πρὸς τὴν φαντασίαν χρωμάτων τέτταρες αἱ διαφοραί, λευκοῦ μέλανος ἐρυθροῦ ὠχροῦ.

[ Democritus says that in nature there is no color. For the elements — solids as well as the void — are without qualities. Things compounded from them have acquired color on the basis of arrangement, proportion and movement, of which one resulting factor is their rank, another their shape and position. With these factors (outer) appearances are in accord. In reference to the impression of colors arising from them, there are four varieties: white, black, red, yellow.]

Diels 55A 125 Aët. I 15, 8 (D. 314)

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