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I find that, from the very first, purple has been in use at Rome, but that Romulus employed it for the trabea.1 As to the toga prætexta and the laticlave2 vestment, it is a fact well ascertained, that Tullus Hostilius was the first king who made use of them, and that after the conquest of the Etruscans. Cornelius Nepos, who died in the reign of the late Emperor Augustus, has left the following remarks: "In the days of my youth," says he, "the violet purple was in favour, a pound of which used to sell at one hundred denarii; and not long after, the Tarentine3 red was all the fashion. This last was succeeded by the Tyrian dibapha,4 which could not be bought for even one thousand denarii per pound. P. Lentulus Spinther, the curule ædile, was the first who used the dibapha for the prætexta, and he was greatly censured for it; whereas now-a-days," says he, "who is there that does not have purple hangings5 to his banqueting-couches, even?"

This Spinther was ædile in the consulship of Cicero, and in the year from the Building of the City, 691. "Dibapha" was the name given to textures that had been doubly dyed, and these were looked upon as a mighty piece of costly extravagance; while now, at the present day, nearly all the purple cloths that are reckoned of any account are dyed in a similar manner.

1 The "trabea" was similar in cut to the toga, but was ornamented with purple horizontal stripes. Servius mentions three kinds of trabea; one wholly of purple, which was sacred to the gods, another of purple and white, and another of purple and saffron, which belonged to the augurs. The purple and white trabea was the royal robe, worn by the early kings, and the introduction of which was assigned to Romulus. The trabea was worn by the consuls in public solemnities, such as opening the temple of Janus. The equites also wore it on particular occasions; and it is sometimes spoken of as the badge of the equestrian order.

2 The latus clavus, or latielave, was originally worn on the tunic, and was a distinctive badge of the senatorian order. It consisted of a single broad band of purple colour, extending perpendicularly from the neck down the centre of the tunic. The right of wearing the laticlave was given to children of the equestrian order, at least, as we learn from Ovid, in the reign of Augustus.

3 Hardouin says, that in his time there were still to be seen the remains of the ancient dyeing houses at Tarentum, the modern Otranto, and that vast heaps of the shells of the murex had been discovered there.

4 Cloths doubly dyed, or twice dipped: from the Greek δὶς, twice, and βάπτω, to dip.

5 "Triclinaria." This word probably signified not only the hangings of the table couches, but the coverings, and the coverlets which were spread over the guests while at the meal.

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