The Greeks Did Not Have Blue

One thing that I discovered recently whilst reading on the philosophy of light, was that Homer and his contemporaries lacked the word for blue. Goethe, in 1810, first pointed out this curious fact and it has caused no shortage of questions since.
The word kyanos (related to cyan), which Theophrastus used to describe the precious blue mineral that we call lapis lazuli, was used in Homeric Greek, but it did not mean blue.

"a cloud of dust rose where Hektor was dragged, his kyanos hair was falling about him"

Rather than blue, kyanos meant dark, but there was no other word to describe the colour we take for granted and so kyanos was used to describe, among other things, hair, clouds and earth.

The word used by later Greek colour theorists to describe green, chloros, has a similar qualitative rather than definitive function in Homeric Greek. Describing tears, blood, dew and honey, chloros, it can be seen, means not green but fresh and alive.

It is strange to try and imagine your world in an Homeric way, imbuing objects and people with qualities rather than colours. Most would probably still understand the sea on a dark night as 'blue', even though our eyes see it as black (or absent of light) and technically water has no colour at all. Could we ever conceive of how our world would look? Is it possible to look at blood and not see red, to even read the word 'blood' or hear it and not see its colour?
Or for the sea to change quality as the day progressed, like Monet's haystacks; we know the sea is 'blue' and the hay is 'golden' but what about when the sea is pink at sunrise and when the hay is blue in winter dusk?

{Reference - Catching the Light - Arthur Zajonc
gif - Howl's Moving Castle}