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Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 118

On colours

The colour dark grey is sign of sadness; we all wear this clothing when we make our sacrifices at the graveside.

But a white robe is sign of an honest soul and pure mind; hence fine linen is pleasing to holy men.

Green teaches us to hope. Hope is said to be in green - how often it falls away unfulfilled.

Yellow is the colour for greedy people. It is right for lovers and prostitutes, and for those whose hope is certain.

But, let a red garment adorn the armed horsemen, and let shame display the boys whose faces redden.

Sea-blue is the the colour of sailors and those prophets who, stunned senseless by too much religion, seek things from heaven.

Natural wool for dun-coloured coverings is cheap; such blankets are commonly owned by men with wooden clogs.

He whom massive cares or jealous love torment - he is believed to be appropriately dressed in yellow cloth.

Whoever is happy with his lot, let him wear violet-coloured garments; likewise he who calmly bears the weariness of fortune.

As nature is varied in producing colours, so different things please different people. But to each of us, our own things are pleasing.