City of the Violet Crown

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City of the Violet Crown is a term for at least two cities, Athens, Greece and Austin, Texas.

Athens, Greece[edit]

In one of his surviving fragments (fragment 76), the lyric poet Pindar wrote[1] of Athens:

"City of light, with thy violet crown, beloved of the poets, thou art the bulwark of Greece."

The climate of Attica is characterised by low humidity and a high percentage of dust in the air, which make sunsets display hues of violet and purple and the surrounding mountains often appear immersed in a purple haze. In Geoffrey Trease's novel, The Crown of Violet, the name is explained as referring to the mauve-tinted marble of the Acropolis hill.

Austin, Texas[edit]

According to the City of Austin's History Center, the phrase first appeared in The Austin Daily Statesman (now The Austin American Statesman) on May 5, 1890.[2]

It was long believed to have originated in O. Henry's story "Tictocq: The Great French Detective, In Austin", published in his collection of short stories The Rolling Stone published October 27, 1894. In chapter 2 of Tictocq, O. Henry writes:

"The drawing-rooms of one of the most magnificent private residences in Austin are ablaze of lights. Carriages line the streets in front, and from gate to doorway is spread a velvet carpet, on which the delicate feet of the guests may tread. The occasion is the entrée into society of one of the fairest buds in the City of the Violet Crown."

The phrase is generally thought to refer to the atmospheric phenomenon more commonly known as the Belt of Venus. The phrase is also said to be connected to the moonlight towers of Austin.[3]

Another explanation is that, during the 19th century, residents began to call Austin the "Athens of the South" for its university. With his sly reference to the poetry of Pindar, O. Henry may have been satirizing Austin's ambitious claim of a cultural link to ancient Athens.[3]


  1. ^ "About Laguna Gloria". Austin Museum of Art.[dead link]
  2. ^ "Austin History Quiz Answer 3". Austin History Center.
  3. ^ a b "About Our Name". Violet Crown Soap Company. Retrieved April 6, 2022.

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)