The importance of the color scarlet to ancient rome

Aug 2018
43
Pennsylvania
#1
What was the significance of the color scarlet to ancient rome I know purple was worn by the ruling class was the color scarlet worn by important people?
 
Jul 2016
7,185
USA
#5
"Tyrian purple" was the most expensive dye available, it was extremely bright and color fast, so dyed fabrics could be washed over and over again and keep their bright color, making it highly desirable because it always looked good. Because of its quality and that it was rare (made from the Murex shellfish) it was extremely expensive and associated with the rich and royalty, depending on the culture. The color did not have a fixed spectrum, it ranged from shades of red to purple.

Red itself was the color associated with Mars, God of War. It was also one of the cheapest colors available for mass dying, coming from kermes (insect) or madder (plant), with other substances added during the production that would change the color spectrum greatly. Key word is cheap, so it would be used by lower classes and the military when needing paint or dyes for large numbers of soldiers without having to pay a lot of money. There was no real standardized color spectrum, the actual color could range from what we call scarlet to what would have an orange or yellow tint, and largely to pink shortly after dying from wear/sun/washing, as it was not color fast.

There is no real evidence the Roman army ever standardized to one color.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Scaeva

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,883
Dispargum
#7
Julius Caesar supposedly wore red in battle so that his men would recognize him and fight harder if they knew he was watching. 20th century Hollywood always showed Roman soldiers wearing red, but if they had actually worn red, Caesar should have chosen a different color if he wanted to stand out in a crowd. Most likely, the Roman Army did not wear red, at least not in Caesar's day.
 
Aug 2018
43
Pennsylvania
#8
"Tyrian purple" was the most expensive dye available, it was extremely bright and color fast, so dyed fabrics could be washed over and over again and keep their bright color, making it highly desirable because it always looked good. Because of its quality and that it was rare (made from the Murex shellfish) it was extremely expensive and associated with the rich and royalty, depending on the culture. The color did not have a fixed spectrum, it ranged from shades of red to purple.

Red itself was the color associated with Mars, God of War. It was also one of the cheapest colors available for mass dying, with the color coming from kermes (insect) and madder (plant). There was no real standardized color spectrum, the actual color could range from what we call scarlet to what would have an orange or yellow tint, and largely to pink shortly after dying from wear/sun/washing, as it was not color fast.

There is no real evidence the Roman army ever standardized to one color.
Look I know the color has some kind of significance to ancient rome I just need the details
 
Jul 2016
7,185
USA
#10
Julius Caesar supposedly wore red in battle so that his men would recognize him and fight harder if they knew he was watching. 20th century Hollywood always showed Roman soldiers wearing red, but if they had actually worn red, Caesar should have chosen a different color if he wanted to stand out in a crowd. Most likely, the Roman Army did not wear red, at least not in Caesar's day.
That reference's his general's cloak, the paludamentum.

I think the current consensus was there was no need for any specific clothing dye color, but that colors might be standardized for the scutum's fabric and for the helmet crest, which would be the two easiest ways to identify friend from foe in battle.
 

Similar History Discussions