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Were I at this point to pass on to other subjects, luxury, no doubt would think itself defrauded of its due, and so accuse me of negligence; I must therefore make my way into the very workshops even, so that, just as among articles of food the various kinds and qualities of corn are known, all those who place the enjoyment of life in these luxuries, may have a still better acquaintance with the objects for which they live.1

There are two kinds of fish that produce the purple colour; the elements in both are the same, the combinations only are different; the smaller fish is that which is called the "buccinum," from its resemblance to the conch by which the sound of the buccinus or trumpet is produced, and to this circumstance it owes its name: the opening in it is round, with an incision in the margin.2 The other fish is known as the "purpura," or purple, and has a grooved and projecting muzzle, which being tubulated on one side in the interior, forms a passage for the tongue;3 besides which, the shell is studded with points up to the very apex, which are mostly seven in number, and disposed4 in a circle; these are not found on the buccinum, though both of them have as many spirals as they are years old. The buccinum attaches itself only to crags, and is gathered about rocky places.

(37.) Purples also have another name, that of "pelagiæ5 there are numerous kinds of them, which differ only in their element and place of abode. There is the mud6 purple, which is nurtured upon putrid mud; and the sea-weed7 purple, which feeds on sea-weed; both of which are held in the very lowest esteem. A better kind is the reef-purple,8 which is collected on the reefs or out at sea; still, however, the colour extracted from this is too light and thin. Then, again, there is the variety known as the pebble-purple,9 so called from the pebbles of the sea, and wonderfully well adapted for dyeing; and, better than any of them, that known by the name of "dialutensis,"10 because of the various natures of the soil on which it feeds. Purples are taken with a kind of osier kipe11 of small size, and with large meshes; these are cast into the sea, and in them cockles are put as a bait, that close the shell in an instant, and snap at an object, just as we see mussels do. Though half dead, these animals, as soon as ever they are returned to the sea, come to life again, and open their shells with avidity; upon which the purples seek them, and commence the attack, by protruding their tongues. The cockles, on the other hand, the moment they feel themselves pricked, shut their shells, and hold fast the object that has wounded them: in this way, victims to their greediness, they are drawn up to the surface hanging by the tongue.

1 "Præmia vitæ suæs."

2 Cuvier says that the buccini, properly so called, have at the bottom of the orifice of the shell an incision, which is the characteristic of the genus. Our whelks are the best known specimen of the buccinum that we have. They received their name, he says, from the buccinum, or buccina, the conchshell. (with which Triton is commonly painted), and that in its turn was so called from its resemblance to a buccina, trumpet or herdsman's horn.

3 It is not the tongue, Cuvier says, that occupies this passage, but a prolongation of the skin or coat that envelopes the animal, and its office is to conduct to the branchiæ the water necessary for the purposes of respiration.

4 This description, Cuvier says, is applicable to the Murex brandaris, the Murex tribulus of Linnæus, and other species that denote their growth by the increase of the spirals furnished with spines.

5 Or "deep sea" purples. Dalechamps remarks, that Pliny here unwittingly gives to the purples in general, a name which only belonged to one species; there being some that only frequent the shore, and are not found out at sea.

6 "Lutnensis."

7 "Algensis."

8 "Tæniensis."

9 "Calculensis."

10 From the Greek διαλυτὸς, "free," or "roving;" in consequence of its peculiar mode of life.

11 Nassis. See Note 51 in p. 421.

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