27 Nov 2017

Tyrian Purple

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(My apologies for inflicting on you the sanctimonious cant at the end of the video.)

“(…) Purple dye production was a gritty and often conspicuous, seaside business for those doing the intense manual labor required to harvest it. Although there are few other references to it, the Roman poet Martial alludes to the fact that Tyrian purple, named after the city of Tyre, retained a distinct, rather fishy smell even after it had been made into a garment. He mentions a certain Philaenis, who enjoyed wearing the luxurious textile for its smell rather than for its color. The poet also composed a list of bad smelling things that he would rather smell like than a woman named Bassa: sulphurous waters, a fish pond, an amorous goat, the old shoes of a veteran soldier, the breath of a Jew who had been fasting, ointment made from Sabine oil, and fleece twice dipped in Tyrian purple (‘bis murice uellus inquinatum’). Smelling worse than even a double-dipped fleece of Tyrian purple was quite the slur against the woman. (…)”

Via Ratak Monodosico.

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