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Among the remaining colours which, as already stated,1 owing to their dearness are furnished by the employer, purpurissum holds the highest rank. For the purpose of preparing it, argentaria or silver chalk2 is dyed along with purple3 cloth, it imbibing the colour more speedily than the wool. The best of all is that which, being thrown the very first into the boiling cauldron, becomes saturated with the dye in its primitive state. The next best in quality is that which has been put into the same liquor, after the first has been removed. Each time that this is done, the quality becomes proportionally deteriorated, owing, of course, to the comparative thinness of the liquid. The reason that the purpurissum of Puteoli is more highly esteemed than that of Tyre, Gætulia, or Laconia, places which produce the most precious kinds of purple, is the fact that it combines more readily with hysginum,4 and that it is made to absorb the colouring liquid of madder. The worst purpurissum is that of Lanuvium.5

The price of purpurissum is from one to thirty denarii per pound. Persons who use it in painting, place a coat of sandyx beneath; a layer on which of purpurissum with glair of egg, produces all the brilliant tints of minium. If, on the other hand, it is their object to make a purple, they lay a coat of cæruleum6 beneath, and purpurissum, with egg,7 upon it.

1 In Chapter 12 of this Book.

2 Plate powder. See B. xvii. c. 4, and Chapter 58 of this Book.

3 See B. ix. c. 60.

4 See B. ix. c. 65, and B. xxi. cc. 38, 97. According to Vitruvius, it is a colour between scarlet and purple. It may possibly have been made from woad.

5 See B. iii. c. 16.

6 See B. xxxiii. c. 57.

7 White of egg, probably.

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