Updated: 2023-10-28 (Bronwen MacDonald)
You give scarlet and violet (garments) to the infamous adulteress:
(Should) you wish to give the gifts that she deserved, send her a toga4.
- coccina (scarlet/red) is derived from coccus, that is a ‘berry’ (Gk. κόκκος) that grows on the Scarlet Oak Tree (Quercus coccifera). Now days we know that this is not a berry, but a kind of insect called kermes. ↩︎
- ianthina (violet) is from the Greek ἴανθος meaning a violet flower. ↩︎
- moechae (moecha) is also from Greek μοιχός, meaning someone who is promiscuous. ↩︎
- Why a toga? It’s said that unlike a ‘proper’ Roman lady who would wear a stola and palla, sex workers preferred (or were forced) to wear a toga. Some scholars say this is a deliberate choice to set themselves apart and make themselves more visible to potential clients. ↩︎