???? ???????? (Peri chr?mat?n): Colour formation and investigation method.


  • Maria Fernanda Ferrini Department of Humanities, Macerata, Italy




colours and elements, lights and pigments, shadow and darkness, physis and technē, dyers and painters


In this essay, the attention is focused on the method used to investigate colours, as produced in nature. This method was proposed by the author of the treatise Peri chr?mat?n, which has become part of the Corpus Aristotelicum. The colours are first divided into two large categories, simple and mixed, in accordance with other scientific and philosophical approaches. Simple (primary) colours are considered to be white and yellow, and are associated with the elements (air, water, earth, and fire/sun); black is also associated with the elements as they transform into one another. This division is new in comparison with previous theories based on two or four fundamental colours. The endless range of colours seen in objects, plants and animals, is connected to the mechanisms of mixing different qualities and quantities, inherent in what it comes into contact with, and in the consequent changes, in conditions and states of matter, in the incidence of light, qualitatively and quantitatively different. The heuristic reference scheme and the analogical model are represented by the dyeing process. The essentially phenomenological treatise contains historically significant insights: no colour can be seen in its purity; the reciprocal interaction of colours; the variability of conditions that determine the chromatic impression; light as a component of mixtures, and its diversity depending on the source; and the chromatic value of shade. In it, we can also see the formation of a classification of colours and a nomenclature, founded on the relationship of distinct chromatic notations with light and darkness.

Author Biography

Maria Fernanda Ferrini, Department of Humanities, Macerata, Italy

Maria Fernanda Ferrini is Associate Professor of Greek Language and Literature at the University of Macerata. Her principal monographies are focused on the technical and scientific treatises of the Corpus Aristotelicum (De coloribus, Problemata, Physiognomonica, De audibilibus, Mechanica, De plantis, Rhetorica ad Alexandrum). Amongher most recent publications is ΧΡΩΜΑΤΑ (Chrōmata).Lessico dei termini greci di colore. I: alpha (2019)


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How to Cite

Ferrini, M. F. (2020) “???? ???????? (Peri chr?mat?n): Colour formation and investigation method”., Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 12(02), pp. 16–20. doi: 10.23738/CCSJ.120202.