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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:39 pm
by M Sempronia Pulla
Salvete Omnes!

I think I must have learned this at some point, but it has completely slipped my mind and now I'm confused. Which purple in the Roman world was violet and which was Tyrian? What purple is the accurate hue for the tunic/toga stripe, the violet or the reddish one?

In Ecce Romani and on old McCoullough novel covers, the stripes are purple/violet.


In Gladiator and Rome and I believe in documentaries, the stripe is reddish.


Which color is the Tyrian purple, and which was the color of the toga praetexta?

Re: Purple

PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:41 pm
by Formosus Viriustus
Salve Sempronia Pulla,

Googling Janthina janthina, I came across several series of pictures of purple snail shells. Lovely colours. It seems to me there are quite some differences in the intensity of the colour, but it is more towards the deep blueish side of violet / purple. Maybe worth having a look.
(... of cause, you knew that those guys in the picture from Rome are not senators but plebs – pfff - and of cause, you knew that the two main characters from that series, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, are based on real people. ....)

(background) : Stop it ! Now !


Re: Purple

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:26 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete, vestitores!

And yet Colleen McCullough, who has done more reasearch for fun than many academics have done for money, says "Tyrian purple" was more of a carmine (reddish) color. There's good evidence on both sides; and, as Rome did not have the sort of mass-production, all-samples-alike industry that we have, the actual color is likely to have varied from tunic to tunic, toga to toga, according to where and by whom they were made. I would imagine there were regional variations too, depending on the availability and cost of those snails. Too, I've seen a different aquatic snail species cited as the source for the dye. The dye itself was not made from the shells, but from the "ink" inside the snail. Apparently the snails were quite small, and it took a buttload of them to make enough dye for a batch of tunics--re vera, the dye-color may have varied among the individual snails themselves! (How's that for a windy non-answer?) >({|8-)

There's also a perennial argument about the placement of the tunic-stripe. Was there one stripe down the front and back, or one over the right shoulder, or one over each shoulder? (I'm a carmine/two-shoulder sort of fellow; vide the Board's little rank-icons.)

In amicitia et fide,

Re: Purple

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:15 pm
by Formosus Viriustus
Salve Sempronia Pulla et Aldi Mari,

Yes, that's a bit what I, never having asked myself that question before, suspected about uneven quality and local variations. Not to mention the wash and wear.

I myself, wear no purple, you know my friends. Far from me, I' m a plebeian and proud of it. Nor do I much rub shoulders with the high and mighty. So I couldn't help you on the question of the shade of purple those reverent men wear. But if you'd see the beating that woman of mine gives my toga's ! By the time she's done, there's hardly any colour left in them.

That's another good one about the stripes. The things you learn.

Vale bene et nil desperandum,

Re: Purple

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:40 am
by Aldus Marius
Salve, amice Formose!

Perhaps the purple on *your* tunic matches that of the bruises you sustain when Xanthippe beats them while you're still wearing them? >({|;-)

In up to his ears,

Re: Purple

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:35 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Eheu, Formose, that Xanthippe of yours!