The first time I read of the wine-blue Greek sea, I was baffled.  However, I took a second translation to read in Mykonos. Sitting one morning in a blindingly white sunlit courtyard, I cooled my eyes by looking at the sea and suddenly realized what ‘wine-blue’ means. 

Somewhere between the deepest shade of a dark grape or the darkest spot of blue on a hyacinth. 

See also the bestellar reviews, complete with rich quote-mosaics, of Adam Nicolson’s magnificent Why Homer Matters, and Christopher Logue’s War Musica muscular rendition of several books of the Iliad. 


‘Sixty was the number of their ships, and in each ship

went many men of Arkadia, well skilled in battle.

Agamemnon the lord of men himself had given

these for the crossing of the wine-blue sea their strong-benched vessels…’


‘And some day one of the men to come will say, as he sees it,

one who in his benched ship sails on the wine-blue water:

“This is the mound of a man who died long ago in battle,

who was one of the bravest, and glorious Hektor killed him.”‘


Source: Homer, The Iliad of Homer, trans. Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1961 (1951)), book 2, p. 92; book 7, p. 170


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