Little did we know that well before Eliot Spitzer would be caught up in a high-priced prostitution scandal, that a woman was wandering the streets of New York with a clue that would blow the lid on the whole cover. At least that is depending entirely on how you translate your Latin…

The woman in question is Ashley Alexandra Dupre, the woman who was the most famous of those involved in Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution broo-ha-ha. Recently some pictures of Ashley hanging out with her daughter on the beach have surfaced vis a vis The Daily News, and since then, much ado about a tattoo has erupted as the meaning of Ashley’s tattoo was questioned.

Ashley’s tattoo, as you see here, is located just beneath her belly button. Very cute I must say, with an exquisitely scripted Latin verse reading “tutela valui” which most authorities agree is some Latin phrase of sorts. But what does it mean? This in fact, has stirred up some debate, ultimately leading those who questioned to a final answer that is a wee revealing on Ashley’s personal life. Or it could be, again, it’s all a matter of interpretation.

The reporters at the New York Times were not letting this one get away easy. This was no answer that would be satisfied through a Google search. The first they called were some folks at New York University, though with spring session just in closing, no answer there. The next were the big guns at Columbia University. Hey, why not go to the top, right? Graduate student Eric Ensley answered the phone and when ‘tutela valui’ was spelled out, he found it a little odd.

But then Eric recalled one of his Latin professors saying that were they ever to get a tattoo in Latin to run it past him first, as tattoos in Latin often seem to uh…get lost in the translation. After looking up the phrase in a database, the best he could come up with was a string of words such as “custodian or defense” for Tutela, and “strong” for Valui. His best interpretation? “I was strong by means of safety….”

Just then, New York University returned the call to the New York Times, with Nancy Smith-Amer, an administrative assistant calling to say the department had come up with a satisfactory agreement on the translation, “I fared well by protection.”

Eric Ensley at Columbia was called back to be advised as much. “Oh God.” Were his first comments, remarking that it could in fact be indirectly translated to the modern world after all. His not so indirect translation?

“I used protection.”

Yes folks. Latin or no Latin. Sometimes a prostitute is just a prostitute