What Did Colors Symbolize in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, colors held significant symbolic importance. Colors were used to represent various emotions, ideas, and even social status. Understanding the significance of colors in ancient Greek society is crucial to understanding their art and culture.


Black was a color of mourning in ancient Greece. It was associated with death and loss. It was also worn by judges and lawyers as a symbol of their authority.


White was a symbol of purity and innocence in ancient Greece. It was also associated with new beginnings and represented the bride’s attire during weddings.


Red was a color of passion, love, and desire in ancient Greece. It was also associated with war, bloodshed, and violence. The red figure pottery created during this time often depicted scenes from mythology or daily life.


Yellow represented happiness and positivity in ancient Greece. It was also associated with wealth and prosperity.


Green represented growth and fertility in ancient Greece. It was also associated with nature and the outdoors.

  • The Significance of Color in Ancient Greek Art

In Ancient Greek art, color played an essential role in conveying meaning. Depictions of gods were often painted using gold or other bright colors to symbolize their divinity and power.

Similarly, clothing worn by important figures would be adorned with bright colors to indicate their social status or position within society. For example, purple was reserved for royalty or high-ranking officials since it was expensive to produce.

The Use of Color in Greek Architecture

The use of color extended beyond just art; it also played a role in Greek architecture. Buildings were often painted white to reflect the sun’s heat during hot summers, while columns would be painted different colors to create patterns across the structures.

The Symbolism of Colors in Mythology

Colors were also used symbolically in Greek mythology. For example, the goddess Athena was often depicted wearing white or gold to symbolize her purity and wisdom. In contrast, the god Ares was often depicted wearing red to symbolize his association with war and violence.

In conclusion, colors held significant symbolic importance in ancient Greece. They were used to convey emotions, ideas, and social status. By understanding the significance of colors, we can gain a better understanding of ancient Greek art and culture.