Metamorphoses VI:62


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Illīc et Tyrium quae purpura sēnsit aēnum
texitur et tenuēs parvī discrīminis umbrae,

I can't figure out what purpura quae sēnsit aēnum Tyrium is supposed to mean.

Both cribs I have say it is purple stored in a Tyrian vessel, but it seems quite a loose translation.


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I think it's more about it having been dyed in a Tyrian vessel. (Tyre was famous for its purple dye.) Now, the line doesn't say this explicitly.

The literal translation is "purple that has felt/experienced a Tyrian cauldron".

I guess you can take that in a number of ways. The interpretation that first occurred to me was the one I said above: that purpura means purple cloth and that this cloth was dyed in a Tyrian cauldron. This fits with texitur in the next line. But it's also possible to take purpura to mean the dye itself, and the whole line to mean that this dye was prepared in a Tyrian cauldron. This fits less literally with texitur (since dye can't be woven properly speaking) but it can still work in a metaphorical way.

The storage interpretation isn't completely impossible either, I suppose, but it seems less likely, as from what I can see aena tended to be used for preparations (involving heating) rather than storage.
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