By Aurelia Ray
MEDITERRANEAN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
Sea Life Journal (Phoenicia)
“My name’s Valentine and I’m a Venus Comb Murex. That’s my picture that you can see there. Pretty good, huh? I’m part of a big family of sea snails that like to hang out in the Mediterranean. We are carniverous, so don’t come too close, especially if you’re a shrimp.
Here in the year 42BC, life’s pretty good. Plenty to eat, plenty of clear, clean water. But last night, I was sitting on rocks by the waterline and I overheard two fisherman talking. They said the Emperor, Julius Caesar, will be holding special games in Rome and they think he’ll be needing new clothes.
I don’t know whether to believe them or not, but if it’s true, me and my family need to start getting away from here as fast as we can. They say the last time Caesar needed new clothes, thousands of my kind perished. The remains of their shells were dumped out in the bay in mass un-marked graves. It’s our glands, you see. Humans learnt that they could produce a purple coloured fabric dye from them and the Emperor loves purple.
I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to go now, I’ve got packing to do and I need to see if I can book a ride on the first turtle out of here, tomorrow.
We’re praying for a saviour. A wise eel told me that he will come eventually, but for now, purple means death.”
“Those are the words of one worried Murex resident tonight, here in Sidon, Phoenicia. All the indications are that a mass round up of citizens will be taking place, potentially as early as tomorrow night. Local fishermen have been seen collecting equipment and nets and assembling them on the quayside. Reactions from the Murex community are mixed, but a rising tide of panic and hysteria is evident.”
[With apologies to readers, historians and zoologists, alike.
Valentine’s saviour did appear, nearly 2,000 years later, in 1856, when the first organic chemical dye (‘Perkins’ mauve’) was produced.]
[The Daily Post challenge. 27 March, 2017; “Purple”]