Pliny,   Natural History

-   Book 37 ,   sections 107-205

Translated by D.E.Eichholz (1962), with some minor alterations. Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.

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{32.} L   [107] Peridot {topazus} still preserves its special reputation. It is a greenish variety of its own and, when first discovered, was preferred to any other. Once some Trogodytes, who were pirates, came ashore, exhausted by hunger and stormy weather, on an Arabian island, the name of which was Cytis; and it so happened that, while they were digging up plants and roots, they unearthed a peridot. [108] This, at least, is the account accepted by Archelaus. Juba states that Topazos is the name of an island situated in the Red Sea at a distance of some 35 miles from the mainland. According to him, the island is fog-bound: consequently sailors often have to search for it, and this is why it has acquired its name; for in the Trogodyte language topazin means 'to seek.' Juba records that the stone was first brought from here as a gift for Queen Berenice, the mother of Ptolemy the Second {285-246  BC}, by his governor Philon; and that, because the king greatly admired it, a statue 4 cubits high was later made of peridot in honour of this Ptolemy's wife, Arsinoe, and consecrated in the shrine which was named after her the Arsinoeum. [109] Our most recent authorities assert that the stone is found also near Alabastrum, a town in the Thebaid, and divide it into two varieties, the 'prasoides,' or 'leek-like,' and the 'chrysopteros,' or 'golden-feathered,' of which the latter resembles the 'chrysoprasus.' In general, the colour tends to resemble the tints of the leek. Incidentally, the peridot is the largest of gemstones. Also, it is the only precious stone that is affected by an iron file, whereas all others have to be smoothed with Naxian stone and emery. Moreover, peridot is worn away by use.

{33.} L   [110] With this stone is associated, but more closely in respect of similarity in appearance than of esteem, the pale-green 'callaina.' It occurs in the hinterland beyond India among the inhabitants of the Caucasus, the Hyrcani, Sacae and Dahae. It is of exceptional size, but is porous and full of flaws. A far purer and finer stone is found in Carmania. In both localities, however, 'callaina' occurs amidst inaccessible icy crags, where it is seen as an eye-shaped swelling loosely adhering to the rocks, as though it had been attached to them, rather than formed upon them. [111] Thus tribes accustomed to riding on horseback and too lazy to use their feet find it irksome to climb in search of the stones; and they are also deterred by the risks. They, therefore, shoot at them from a distance with their slings and dislodge them, moss and all. This is the article that pays their taxes, this they acknowledge to be the most beautiful thing that can be worn on neck or fingers, from this they derive their wealth, this is their pride and joy as they boast of the number that they have shot down since their childhood, an operation in which success varies, seeing that some win fine stones with their first shot, while many reach old age without obtaining one. Such, then, is the way in which they hunt the 'callaina.' Subsequently, the stone is shaped by the drill, being in other respects an easy stone to deal with. [112] The best stones have the colour of 'smaragdus,' so that it is obvious, after all, that their attractiveness is not their own. They are enhanced by being set in gold, and no gem sets off gold so well. The finer specimens lose their colour if they are touched by oil, unguents or even undiluted wine, whereas the less valuable ones preserve it more steadfastly. No gemstone is more easily counterfeited by means of imitations in glass. Some authorities say that 'callainae' are found in Arabia inside the nests of the birds known as 'melancoryphi,' or 'black caps.'

{34.} L   [113] There are also many other kinds of green stones. A member of the commoner class is the prase. A second variety of this stone differs in respect of its blood-red spots, and a third, because it is sharply marked with three white streaks. Preference, however is given to the 'chrysoprasus,' or 'golden prase,' which likewise reproduces the tint of a leek, although in this case the tint veers slightly from that of peridot towards gold. This stone, moreover, may be large enough to be made even into small cups, and it is very commonly cut into cylinders.

{35.} L   [114] India produces not only these stones, but also the 'nilios,' which differs from the 'chrysoprasus' in showing a weak lustre and one that is elusive when it is looked at closely. Sudines states that it is found also in the Siberus, a river in Attica. Its colour is that of smoky, or on occasion honey-coloured, peridot. Juba records that the stone is formed on the banks of the river known to us as the Nile, from which its name, according to him, is derived.

{36.} L   Malachite is an opaque stone of a rather deep green shade and owes its name to its colour, which is that of the mallow. It is warmly recommended because it makes an accurate impression as a signet, protects children, and has a natural property that is a prophylactic against danger.

{37.} L   [115] A green stone that is often translucent is the 'iaspis,' which still preserves the reputation that it enjoyed in the past, even though it now yields to many others. Numerous countries produce it. India produces a variety resembling 'smaragdus,' Cyprus one that is hard and dull greyish-green in colour, and Persia one that is like the blue sky and is therefore called 'aeizusa,' or 'sky-blue.' A similar kind comes from the Caspian region. A deep-blue variety is found near the River Thermodon in Phrygia a purple one, and in Cappadocia another that is purplish-blue, sombre and without lustre. From Amisus comes a kind similar to the Indian, and from Chalcedon one that is cloudy. But it is not so important to distinguish countries of origin as excellences. [116] The best stone is that which has a shade of purple, the next has one of rose, and the next again of 'smaragdus.' The Greeks have applied epithets to each kind in accordance with its character. The fourth variety is known among them as 'boria,' or 'north-wind iaspis,' because it is like the sky on an autumn morning. This will be identical with the kind that is called 'arizusa.' There is also the 'terebinthizusa,' or 'turpentine iaspis,' the epithet being inappropriate, in my opinion, because the stone is, as it were, compounded of many gems of the same variety, for it is not only like a sard, but also resembles in its colour a violet. There are just as many kinds that remain to be described, but all are blue to a fault, or else are like rock-crystal or a sebesten plum. Consequently the better specimens are set in an open bezel so that they may remain exposed on both faces, with only their edges clasped by the gold. [117] A defect found in them is their weak lustre and failure to shine at a distance, and also specks resembling salt, as well as all the faults that occur in other gemstones. They too can be counterfeited in glass, and the deception becomes obvious when the brightness of a stone is scattered abroad instead of being concentrated within. The remaining varieties are called 'sphragides,' or 'signets,' the common Greek name for a gemstone being thus bestowed on these alone because they are excellent for sealing documents. [118] However, all the peoples of the East are said to wear them as amulets. That variety of 'iaspis' which resembles 'smaragdus' is often surrounded in the middle by a slanting white line, and is therefore called 'monogrammos,' or 'single-lined': if there are several such lines the stone is 'polygrammos,' or 'many-lined.' In passing, it gives me pleasure to refute here, as elsewhere, the falsehoods of the Magi, who tell us that this stone is helpful to public speakers. There is also an 'iaspis' combined with onyx known as 'iasponyx,' or 'jasper onyx,' a stone that has a cloudy inclusion in it and specks on it that look like snow, and is spangled with red dots. There is also an 'iaspis' that resembles Megarian salt and is stained as though with smoke: hence it is called 'capnias,' or 'smoky.' I myself have seen a figure, representing Nero in a breastplate, that was made of this stone and was 16 inches high.

{38.} L   [119] We shall now give a separate account of 'cyanus,' for a short time ago we applied this name to an 'iaspis' owing to its blue colour. The best kind is the Scythian, then comes the Cyprian and lastly there is the Egyptian. It is very commonly counterfeited by tinting other stones, and this is a famous achievement of the kings of Egypt, whose records also mention the name of the king who first tinted stones in this way. 'Cyanus,' too, is divided into male and female varieties. Sometimes inside cyanus there is a golden dust, which, however, differs from that which occurs inside lapis lazuli; for there the gold glistens as dots.

{39.} L   [120] Lapis lazuli also is blue and is only rarely tinged with purple. The best is found in Persia, but nowhere are there any transparent stones. Moreover, they are useless for engraving, because cores like rock-crystal interfere with this. Lapis lazuli which is of the colour of azurite is regarded as a male variety.

{40.} L   [121] Next, we shall assign to another category purple stones or those varieties that deviate from them. Here the first rank is held by the amethysts of India, although amethysts are found also in that part of Arabia, known as Petra, which borders on Syria, as well as in Lesser Armenia, Egypt and Galatia, while the most imperfect and worthless specimens occur in Thasos and Cyprus. The name 'amethyst' has been explained by the supposed fact that the brilliant colour of the stone closely approaches that of wine, but stops short of absorbing it and ends in a violet shade. Others, again, offer the explanation that the characteristic purple colour contains an element that is not quite bright red, but fades into the colour of wine. However this may be, all amethysts are transparent and are of a handsome violent tint, and all are easy to engrave. [122] The Indian amethyst has the perfect shade of Tyrian purple at its best, and it is this stone that the dye-factories aspire to emulate. The stone, when examined, sheds a gentle, mellow colour, which does not, like that of the 'carbunculus,' dazzle the eye. A second kind of amethyst deviates towards the sapphire. Its colour is known to the Indians as 'socos,' and the variety of gem as 'socondios.' A fainter variety of the same stone is called 'sapenos' and also, in the districts adjacent to Arabia, 'pharanitis' after the name of a tribe. A fourth kind has the colour of red wine, [123] while a fifth degenerates nearly into rock-crystal, since its purple fades away towards colourlessness. This is the least valuable kind, since a fine stone should, when held up to the light, display in its purple colour a rosy tint shining forth gently as though from a 'carbunculus.' Some people prefer to call such stones 'paederotes,' or 'favourites,' others 'anterotes,' or 'love requited,' and many 'eyelid of Venus.' [124] The Magi falsely claim that the amethyst prevents drunkenness, and that it is this property that has given it its name. Moreover, they say that, if amethysts are inscribed with the names of the sun and moon and are worn hanging from the neck along with baboons' hairs and swallows' feathers, they are a protection against spells. Again, they assert that, however they are used, amethysts will assist people who are about to approach a king as suppliants, and that they keep off hail and locusts if they are used in conjunction with an incantation which they prescribe. Moreover, they have made similar claims on behalf of the 'smaragdus,' provided that it is engraved with an eagle or a scarab beetle. I can only suppose that in committing these statements to writing they express a derisive contempt for mankind.

{41.} L   [125] There is a considerable difference between the amethyst and the 'hyacinthus,' which, however, shows only a slight deviation from a closely related tint. The difference lies in the fact that the brilliant violet radiance that is characteristic of the amethyst is here diluted with the tint of the hyacinth flower; and although at first sight the colour is agreeable, it loses its power before we can take our fill of it and, indeed, is so far from satisfying the eye that it almost fails to strike it and droops more rapidly than the flower of the same name.

{42.} L   [126] Besides the 'hyacinthus,' the 'chrysolithus,' a bright golden, transparent stone, comes to us from Ethiopia. Preference over this variety, however, goes to the Indian and, if the colour is uniform, to the Tibarene stones. The worst stones are the Arabian, for these are murky and mottled, with their brilliance broken up by cloudy spots. Even the clear stones that have come to light are full of a kind of powder. The best specimens are those which, placed alongside gold, make it assume a white, silvery appearance. These stones are set in an open bezel so as to remain fully transparent, while the rest are backed with brass foil.

{43.} L   [127] Although they have now ceased to be used as gems, there are certain stones to be mentioned that are called 'chrysoelectri,' or 'golden amber.' Their colour passes into that of amber, but only in morning light. Those from Pontus are betrayed by their light weight. Some of these stones are hard and reddish, while some are soft and full of flaws. Bocchus assures us that they have been found also in Spain, in the place where, according to his previous account, rock-crystal is dug up from shafts sunk to water-level, and adds that he saw a 'chrysolithus' weighing twelve pounds.

{44.} L   [128] There occur also 'leucochrysi,' or 'golden-white' stones, which are traversed by a bright white vein; and there is also the 'capnias,' or 'smoky stone' belonging to this class. There are, moreover, stones closely resembling those made of glass-paste, their colour being a kind of bright saffron-yellow. They can be so convincingly counterfeited in glass that the difference cannot be observed, although it may be detected by touch, since the glass-paste feels warmer.

{45.} L   In the same class is the 'melichrysus,' or 'honey-gold stone,' which looks like pure honey seen through a clear film of gold. This stone, a product of India, is brittle, although hard, but is by no means unpleasing. India produces also the 'xuthos' or 'brownish-yellow stone,' a gem regarded there as fit only for the common folk.

{46.} L   [129] White stones are headed by the 'paederos,' or 'favourite,' although we may ask to which colour we should assign a stone bearing a name that is so often bandied about among beautiful objects of different kinds a that the mere term has become a guarantee of beauty. However, the species which the name claims as its very own likewise fulfils our great expectations. Here, indeed, with the transparency of the rock-crystal are associated a characteristic sky-green tint, along with a brilliant glint of purple and of golden wine, of which the last colour is always the last to be seen, but always has a purple halo. All these colours, both individually and collectively, seem to pervade the stone; [130] and there is no gemstone that can match its clarity, which is delightfully agreeable to the eye. The most highly valued kind is found in India, where it is known as 'sangenon,' while the second-best occurs in Egypt, where the name used is 'tenites.' Third in order is a variety found in Arabia, but this kind is rough. Then there is the 'paederos' from Pontus, which has a weaker lustre, and the kind from Thasos, which is still weaker. Finally, there are the stones of Galatia, Thrace and Cyprus. The defects of the 'paederos' are faintness and the intrusion of uncharacteristic colours, as well as those that belong to all other gems.

{47.} L   [131] Next among the bright colourless stones is the 'asteria,' or 'star stone,' which holds its high position owing to a natural peculiarity, in that a light is enclosed in it, stored in something resembling the pupil of the eye. This light is transmitted and, as the stone is tilted, is displayed successively in different places, as if capable of locomotion within. When it is held up to the sun the same stone reflects bright beams radiating as if from a star; and thus it has acquired its name. The stones found in India are difficult to engrave, and those from Carmania are preferred.

{48.} L   [132] A similarly bright colourless stone is the 'astrion,' or 'little star,' which closely resembles rock-crystal, and occurs in India and on the coasts of Patalene. It has inside it at the centre a star shining brightly like the full moon. The name is sometimes explained by the fact that the stone, when held up to the stars, is supposed to catch their glitter and reflect it. It is said that the best variety is found in Carmania, and that no kind of gem is less liable to possess defects. We are told that there is also a variety known as 'ceraunia,' or 'thunder-stone,' which is inferior, and that the worst of all recalls the glimmer of a lantern.

{49.} L   [133] Another stone that is much esteemed is the 'astriotes,' again a star stone. It is recorded that  Zoroaster proclaimed the remarkable merits of this stone when used in the practice of magic.

{50.} L   The 'astolos' according to Sudines, resembles the eye of a fish and sheds brilliant white beams like the sun.

{51.} L   [134] Among the bright colourless stones there is also the one called 'ceraunia' ('thunder-stone') which catches the glitter of the stars and, although in itself it is like rock-crystal, has a brilliant blue sheen. It is found in Carmania. Zenothemis admits that it is colourless, but describes it as 'containing a twinkling star.' He mentions that there are also to be found dull 'cerauniae' which if steeped in soda and vinegar for several days form such a star, which, however, fades away again after as many months. [135] Sotacus distinguishes also two other varieties of the stone, a black and a red, resembling axe-heads. According to him, those among them that are black and round are supernatural objects; and he states that thanks to them cities and fleets are attacked and overcome, their name being 'baetuli,' while the elongated stones are 'cerauniae.' These writers distinguish yet another kind of 'ceraunia' which is quite rare. According to them, the Magi hunt for it zealously because it is found only in a place that has been struck by a thunderbolt.

{52.} L   [136] The name that appears in these writers immediately after 'ceraunia' is that of the so-called 'iris,' or 'rainbow stone.' It is dug up on an island in the Red Sea 60 miles distant from the city of Berenice. In every other respect it is merely rock-crystal, and is sometimes called 'root of crystal' for this reason. It is known as 'iris' in token of its appearance, for when it is struck by the sunlight in a room it casts the appearance and colours of a rainbow on the walls near by, continually altering its tints and ever causing more and more astonishment because of its extremely changeable effects. [137] It is agreed that it has hexagonal faces, like the rock-crystal, but some people assert that it has rough faces and unequal angles; and that in full sunlight it scatters the beams that shine upon it, and yet at the same time lights up adjacent objects by projecting a kind of gleam in front of itself. But, as I have said, it does not produce any colours except in a dark place; and even then, the effect is not as though the stone itself contained the colours, but rather as though it were forcing them to rebound from the wall. The best kind is that which produces the spectra that are the largest in size with the closest resemblance to a rainbow. [138] There is also another 'rainbow stone,' the 'iritis,' which is similar to the former in every respect except that it is very hard. According to Orus, this when burnt and crushed to a powder cures ichneumon bites, but is actually found in Persis.

{53.} L   A stone that is similar in its appearance but different in its effects is the so-called 'leros,' or 'trifle,' in which there is a white and a black streak traversing the rock-crystal.

{54.} L   I have now discussed the principal gemstones, classifying them according to their colour, and shall proceed to describe the rest in alphabetical order.

[139] The agate was once held in high esteem, but now enjoys none. It was first discovered in Sicily near the river of the same name, but was later found in many countries. Its size can be exceptional, and its varieties are very numerous. The descriptive terms applied to it vary accordingly. For example, it is given names like 'jasper-agate,' 'wax-agate,' 'emerald-agate,' 'blood-agate,' 'white agate,' 'tree-agate' (which is distinguished by marks resembling small trees), 'anti-agate' (which, when burnt, smells like myrrh) and 'coral-agate,' which is sprinkled with golden particles like those of lapis lazuli and is a variety that is very plentiful in Crete. Another name for it is 'sacred agate,' since it is thought to counteract the bites of spiders and scorpions. [140] This I would in any ease believe to be true of the Sicilian stones, since the venom of scorpions is destroyed by a mere hint of a breeze from that province. The agates found in India are also effective in this way and have other very remarkable qualifies besides. For they exhibit the likenesses of rivers, woods and draught-animals; and from them also are made dishes, statuettes, horse-trappings and small mortars for the use of pharmacists, for merely to look at them is good for the eyes. Moreover, if placed in the mouth, they allay thirst. [141] The Phrygian agates contain no green, while those found at Egyptian Thebes lack red and white veins, but these again are effective against scorpions. Those of Cyprus are similarly esteemed. Some people warmly approve of the transparent glassy portions of these last stones. Agates are found too in Trachis near Mount Oeta, on Parnassus, in Lesbos, in Messenia (where they look like flowers on a field-path) and in Rhodes. [142] Other differences among agates are found in the writings of the Magi. Stones are found that resemble a lion's skin, and these, they claim, are effective against scorpions. But in Persia, according to them, the fumes from these stones, when they are burnt, avert storms and waterspouts and stop the flow of rivers, the test of a genuine stone being that it should cool the water when placed in a cauldron that is on the boil. But they insist that, if the stones are to do good, they should be tied to hairs from a lion's mane. Incidentally, when attached to hairs from a hyena's mane, they avert discord in the household. According to the Magi, there is an agate of one single colour that makes athletes invincible. The method of testing such a stone is to throw it into a pot full of oil with various pigments: when it has been heated for no more than two hours it should have reduced all the pigments to a single shade of vermilion.

[143] The 'acopos,' or 'reviver,' which in colour resembles soda, is porous and spangled with gold particles. Oil heated along with this stone and applied as an embrocation dispels fatigue, or so we are led to believe.

'Alabastritis,' which is found at Alabastrum in Egypt and at Damascus in Syria, is a white stone interspersed with various colours. When burnt with rock salt and pounded, it is said to alleviate bad breath caused by the mouth and teeth. [144] 'Alectoriae,' or 'cock stones,' is the name given to stones found in the gizzards of cocks. In appearance they are like rock-crystal, and in size like beans; and it is claimed that Milon of Croton owes to his use of these stones his reputation as one who was never worsted in a contest {540-516 BC} . The 'androdamas,' or 'man tamer,' has a silvery glint, like 'adamas,' and always resembles small cubes. The Magi suppose that its name has been applied to it in virtue of the fact that it subdues violence and hot temper in men. Whether the 'argyrodamas,' or 'silver tamer,' is the same, or a different, stone, is not made clear by our authorities. [145] 'Antipathes,' or the 'contrary stone,' is black and opaque. Its genuineness is tested by boiling it in milk, to which it gives the appearance of myrrh. One might perhaps be entitled to expect something prodigious of this stone; for there are many instances of 'antipathetic' substances, and yet it has been granted exclusive possession of the name. The Magi claim that it helps to counteract witchcraft. The Arabian stone closely resembles ivory, and would pass for it if its hardness did not forbid this. According to the Magi, it helps its possessors when they have pains in their sinews. The 'aromatitis,' or 'aromatic stone,' is also found in Arabia, but likewise in Egypt near Philae. It is always stony and, since it has the colour and scent of myrrh, it is much used by queens. [146] 'Asbestos,' which is found in the mountains of Arcadia, has the colour of iron. 'Aspisatis,' according to Democritus, occurs in Arabia and is of a fiery red colour. He recommends that sufferers from an enlarged spleen should wear it as an amulet with camel dung. However that may be, he states that it is found in the nests of Arabian birds, and that another stone bearing the same name and found in Arabia on Cape Leucopetra has a darting silvery lustre and is effective in counteracting attacks of wild distraction. [147] The 'atizoe', he writes, is found in India and on Mount Acidane in Persis. He describes it as shining brightly like silver, as being just over two inches in length with the shape of a lentil and an agreeable scent, and as being indispensable for the Magi at the installation of a king. The 'augitis' is supposed by many to be identical with the 'callaina.' 'amphidanes' is the stone otherwise known as 'chrysocolla.' It occurs in the region of India where gold is dug up by ants. The stone is found actually in the gold, being similar to gold and having the shape of a cube. Its nature is positively stated to be the same as that of the magnet, except that, according to tradition, it also causes gold to increase. [148] The 'aphrodisiac' stone is red mixed with white. As for the 'apsyetos,' or 'uncooled stone,' it retains its warmth for seven days if it is thoroughly heated in a fire, and is black, heavy and marked with red veins. It is thought to counteract cold. By the 'Aegyptilla,' or 'little Egyptian stone,' Iacchus understands a stone in which the white layer is traversed by bands of carnelian and black, but the term is commonly applied where there is a black ground and an upper layer of blue. It is named after the country where it is found.

{55.} L   [149] As to the 'balanites,' or 'acorn-stone,' there are two varieties, of which one is greenish and the other like Corinthian bronze in its colour. The former comes from Coptus and the latter from the Trogodytes' country, and both are intersected through the middle by a bright red layer. The 'batrachites,' or 'frog-stone,' also comes from Coptus: one variety has a colour like that of a frog, a second is similar and also has veins, while a third is red mixed with black. The 'baptes,' or 'dipper,' has an exceptionally pleasant scent, but is otherwise an ordinary soft stone. The 'Eye of Belus' has a whitish ground surrounding a dark eye which sends out a golden gleam from its midst. Because of its appearance, the stone is consecrated to the holiest god of the Assyrians. There is another 'Belus stone,' as it is called, which, according to Democritus, is found at Arbela and is as large as a walnut, with a glassy appearance. [150] 'Baroptenus,' also known as 'baripe,' is a black stone with blood-red and white nodules.

As an amulet it is rejected because it is liable to cause monstrous births. 'Botryitis,' or `'grape-cluster,' occurs in two varieties, of which one is dark and the other has the colour of a vine, and resembles a young grape. 'Bostrychitis' is the name given by Zoroaster to a stone that somewhat resembles the locks of a woman's hair. 'Bucardia,' resembling an ox-heart, is found only at Babylon. 'Brontea,' or 'thunder stone,' which is like the head of a tortoise, is supposed to fall from thunderclaps and to extinguish fires where lightning has struck, or so we are led to believe. The 'bolos,' or 'clod,' is found in the river Ebro and is like a clod of earth.

{56.} L   [151] 'Cadmitis' is identical with the so-called 'ostracitis,' except that the latter is sometimes surrounded with blue globules. 'Callais` is similar to lapis lazuli, except that its colour is lighter, like that of the sea close inshore. 'Capnitis,' or 'smoke stone,' is regarded by some as a separate variety, but many people treat it as a smoky 'iaspis,' as I have described it in the appropriate place. The 'Stone of Cappadocia' occurs there and in Phrygia, and is like ivory. The 'callaica' is so called from its colour, which is that of a clouded 'callais,' and it is said that several of these stones are always found joined together. [152] The 'catochitis,' or 'clinging stone,' belongs to Corsica and is larger than other precious stones, and more remarkable, if the reports are true, because, if the hand rests on it the stone sticks to it like gum. The 'catoptritis,' or 'mirror-stone,' which occurs in Cappadocia, reflects images from its bright colourless surface. The 'cepitis,' also known as 'cepolatitis,' is white, with lines of veins that meet at a single point. The 'ceramitis,' or 'pottery-stone,' has the colour of earthenware. [153] 'Cinaediae,' or 'cinaedus stones,' are white, oblong stones found in the brain of the fish so named. They have a remarkable effect if only we can believe the statement that they predict conditions at sea, foretelling mist or calm as the case may be. 'Ceritis' reminds us of wax, 'circos' of a hawk, 'corsoides' of grey hair, and 'coralloachates,' or 'coral-agate,' of coral. This has markings like drops of gold. The 'corallis' resembles vermilion, and occurs in India and at  1+Syene. [154] The 'crateritis,' or 'strong stone,' has a colour between that of yellow sapphire and of amber, and is very hard. The 'crocallis' reproduces exactly the appearance of the cells of a honeycomb. 'Cyitis,' or 'pregnant stone,' which is found in the neighbourhood of Coptus, is white and seems to be pregnant with another stone, the presence of which is in fact perceived by a rattling sound. The 'chalcophonos,' or 'brazen-voiced stone,' which is black, rings like bronze when it is dashed against anything; and actors of tragedies are urged to wear it. [155] As to 'chelidoniae,' or 'swallow-stones,' there are two varieties, both of which are swallow-coloured with purple on one side, but in one variety the purple is interspersed with black markings. The 'chelonia,' 'tortoise-stone,' is the eye of the Indian tortoise and, according to the false allegations of the Magi, is the most miraculous of all stones. For they claim that the stone, if it is placed on the tongue after the mouth has been rinsed with honey, confers powers of prophecy - at full moon or new moon, during the whole of the day; when the moon is waning, before sunrise only; and at other times, from dawn to midday. There are also tortoise-stones which are the eyes of other tortoises and resemble the tortoise-stone previously mentioned; and according to their guidance the Magi often pronounce prophetic incantations in order to cause storms to subside. The variety, however, that is sprinkled with gold drops is said by them to generate storms if it is dropped into boiling water with a scarab beetle. [156] The 'chloritis,' or 'greenstone,' which is of a grassy colour, is said by the Magi to be found as a congenital growth in the crop of the water-wagtail. They recommend that it should be set in an iron bezel so as to produce certain of their all too familiar miracles. The 'choaspitis,' which is named after the river Choaspes, is of a brilliant gold colour mixed with green. The 'chrysolampis,' or 'golden gleam,' which found in Ethiopia, is generally pale, but fiery by night. The 'chrysopis,' or 'golden face,' looks just like gold. The 'Cetionis' is found in Aeolis at Atarneus, now a village, but once a town. It is a transparent stone of many colours. The hue is sometimes that of glass, sometimes of rock-crystal and sometimes of 'iaspis,' but even the stones with flaws in them have so brilliant a lustre that they reflect an image as if they were mirrors.

{57.} L   [157] The 'daphnea,' or 'laurel stone,' is prescribed by Zoroaster as a cure for epilepsy. The 'diadochos,' or 'substitute,' resembles beryl. The 'diphyes' is a stone of twofold character. It is subdivided into a black and a white, a male and a female variety, each of the two varieties bearing an outline that distinctively portrays the organ of its sex. The 'Dionysias,' or 'stone of Dionysus,' a hard stone, the colour of which is black intermingled with red spots, produces the flavour of wine when it is ground to powder and mixed with water, and is supposed to be an antidote to drunkenness. [158] The 'draconitis,' otherwise known as 'dracontias,' the 'snake stone,' is obtained from the brains of snakes, but unless the head is cut off from a live snake, the substance fails to turn into a gem, owing to the spite of the creature as it perceives that it is doomed. Consequently, the beast's head is lopped off while it is asleep. Sotacus, who writes that he saw such a gem in the possession of a king, states that those who go in search of it ride in two-horsed chariots, and that when they see the snake they scatter sleeping-drugs and so put it to sleep before they cut off its head. According to him, the stone is colourless and transparent, and cannot subsequently be polished or submitted to any other skilful process.

{58.} L   [159] The 'encardia,' or 'heart stone,' has been given the epithet 'enaristera,' or 'left-side,' and shows the likeness of a heart in high relief on a black ground. Another variety bearing the same name displays the likeness of a heart in green, and a third in black, the rest of the stone being white. The 'enorchis' is white, and when it is split up into pieces reproduces exactly the shape of the testicles. 'Exhebenus' is, according to Zoroaster, a handsome white stone which goldsmiths use for polishing gold. [160] 'Erythallis,' although it is white, looks red when it is tilted. The 'erotylos,' or 'love stone,' otherwise known as 'amphicomos' and 'hieromnemon,' is praised by Democritus in virtue of its use in prophecy. The 'eumeces,' or 'tall stone,' which is found in Bactria, resembles hard limestone, and, when it is placed beneath the head like a pillow, produces dreams that have the force of an oracle. The 'eumitres,' or 'fine headdress,' is held in high regard by the Assyrians as the jewel of Belus, the most holy of their gods. Its colour is that of the leek, and it is much favoured in religious observances. [161] The 'eupetalos,' or 'leafy stone,' has four colours, blue, fiery red, shaped like an olive stone, is fluted like a seashell, vermilion, and apple-green. 'Eureos,' which is but is not so white. 'Eurotias,' or 'mouldy stone,' looks as if its black surface were covered with mildew. 'Eusebes,' or 'reverent stone,' is the kind of stone of which a seat in the temple of Hercules at Tyre is said to have been made, this seat being the one from which only the pious could rise without difficulty. 'Epimelas,' or 'black-on-top,' is an instance of a white gemstone that is overlaid with black.

{59.} L   [162] 'Galaxias,' or 'milk stone,' which is sometimes known as 'galactites,' is similar to the stones next mentioned, but is traversed by blood-red or white streaks. 'Galactitis' is entirely milk-white, and is known also as 'leucogaea' ('white earth'), 'leucographitis' ('white chalk'), and 'synechitis' ('cohesive earth'). It is noteworthy for the fact that when rubbed between the fingers it exhibits a milky smear and flavour, and in the rearing of children it ensures wet-nurses a plentiful flow of milk. Moreover, when it is tied to the necks of babies as an amulet, it is said to make their saliva flow, but we are told that when placed in the mouth it melts and also causes loss of memory. Two rivers, the Nile and the Achelous, produce this substance. Some people apply the term 'galactites' to a 'smaragdus' that is banded with white streaks. [163] 'Gallaica' is similar to 'argyrodamas,' but is somewhat less pure. Two or three stones are found joined together. The 'gassinnades,' which comes from Media, has the colour of wild vetch and looks as if it were sprinkled with flowers. It is found also at Arbela. This is yet another gem that is said to conceive, and to betray the presence of the stone in its womb if it is shaken. The 'embryo,' we are told, takes three months to develop. [164] 'Glossopetra,' or 'tongue stone,' which resembles the human tongue, does not, we are told, form in the ground, but falls from the sky during the waning of the moon, and is indispensable to the moon-diviner. Our scepticism with regard to this account is reinforced by the falseness of the claim made for the stone; for it is stated that it checks gales. The 'Gorgonia,' or 'Gorgon's stone,' is merely coral. The reason for its name is that it is transformed into the hardness of stone after being softened in the sea. It is said to keep off thunderbolts and whirlwinds. The 'goniaea,' or 'faceted stone,' is guaranteed just as falsely to bring about the punishment of one's private enemies.

{60.} L   [165] The heliotrope, which is found in Ethiopia, Africa and Cyprus, is leek-green in colour, but is marked with blood-red streaks. The name is explained by the fact that, when the stone is dropped into a vessel of water and bright sunshine falls upon it, in reflecting the sunlight it changes it into the colour of blood. This is true especially of the Ethiopian variety. When it is out of water, the same stone catches the sunlight like a mirror and detects solar eclipses, showing the passage of the moon below the sun's disc. Here, moreover, we have quite the most blatant instance of effrontery on the part of the Magi, who say that when the heliotrope plant is joined to the stone and certain prayers are pronounced over them the wearer is rendered invisible. [166] The 'Hephaestitis,' or 'Hephaestus stone,' is another that acts like a mirror in reflecting images, even though it is red. The test of its genuineness is that boiling water when poured over it should cool immediately; or, alternatively, that when placed in the sun it should immediately set fire to a parched substance. The stone is found at Corycus. The Hermu aedoeon, or 'sexual organ of Hermes,' is so called from its resemblance to the male organ, the gemstone on which the likeness appears being white or sometimes black, or pale yellow, and surrounded by a circular band of golden yellow. [167] The 'hexecontalithos,' or 'sixty-stones-in-one,' contains many colours in a small compass, and so has appropriated its name. It is found in the Trogodytes' country. The 'hieracitis,' or 'kite stone,' is entirely covered with feathery scales, black ones alternating with others resembling a kite's feathers. 'Hammitis,' or 'sandy stone,' resembles fish roe, and there is another kind that looks as if it were composed of soda, but is otherwise just a very hard stone. 'Hammonis cornu,' or 'horn of Ammon,' which is among the most sacred stones of Ethiopia, has a golden yellow colour and is shaped like a ram's horn. The stone is guaranteed to ensure without fail dreams that will come true. [168] The 'hormiscion,' or 'necklace stone,' which in its appearance is among the most pleasing of gemstones, reflects beams of gold from a fiery red ground, and these gold beams carry a white gleam at their tips. 'Hyaeniae,' or 'hyena stones,' are, it is said, obtained from the eyes of the hyena, which is actually attacked for the purpose. When the stones are placed under a man's tongue, they are alleged to foretell the future, if we are foolish enough to believe such a thing. [169] 'Haematitis' of the finest quality occurs in Ethiopia, but the stone is found also both in Arabia and in Africa. It is blood-red in colour. We must not omit to mention the claims made for it, so that we may expose the treacherous frauds perpetrated by the Magi. Zachalias of Babylon, in the volumes which he dedicates to King Mithridates, attributes man's destiny to the influence of precious stones; and as for the 'haematitis,' he is not content to credit it with curing diseases of the eyes and liver, but places it even in the hands of petitioners to the king, allows it to interfere in lawsuits and trials, and proclaims also that to be smeared with an ointment containing it is beneficial in battle. There is another stone of the same kind which is sometimes called 'menui,' and sometimes 'xuthos,' or 'brownish-yellow' stone. This is the name given by the Greeks to stones that are. light brown.

{61.} L   [170] 'Idaean dactyls,' or 'Fingers of Ida,' have the colour of iron and reproduce the shape of the human thumb. The 'icterias,' or 'jaundice stone,' is like the yellow skin of an apple, and is therefore considered to be beneficial in treating jaundice. There is also another stone of the same name, but of a more leaden colour. A third, resembling a leaf and flatter than the former varieties, is almost without weight and has dull yellow streaks. A fourth kind has dull yellow streaks spreading over a ground of a similar colour, but darker. 'Iovis gemma,' or 'Jupiter's gem,' is white, light in weight, and soft. It is known also as 'drosolithos,' or 'dew stone.' The 'Indica,' or 'Indian stone,' takes the name of its country of origin and is of a reddish hue, but when rubbed between the fingers exudes a purple liquid. Another stone of the same name is colourless and has a dusty appearance. The 'ion,' or 'violet stone,' is a violet-coloured stone found in India, but only rarely is its colour bright and deep.

{62.} L   [171] The 'lepidotis,' or 'scaly stone,' mimics fish scales in various colours, while the 'Lesbias,' or 'stone of Lesbos,' resembles a clod of earth. It takes its name from its country of origin, but is found also in India. The 'leucophthalmos,' or 'white eye,' which is otherwise reddish, includes an eye-shaped layer which is white and black. The 'leucopoecilos,' or 'variegated white stone,' has a white ground marked with drops of vermilion mixed with gold. The 'libanochrus,' or 'colour-of-incense,' shows a resemblance to frankincense and gives off a honey-coloured streak. [172] The 'limoniatis,' or 'meadow stone,' seems to be identical with the 'smaragdus.' As for the 'liparea,' the only fact that is reported is that, when it is burnt, all beasts are flushed from their hiding-places by its fumes. The 'lysimachos' is similar to Rhodian marble with golden-yellow veins, and has to be considerably reduced in size by polishing so that its superfluous excrescences may be smoothed away. The 'leucochrysos,' or 'golden-white stone,' consists of a 'chrysolithos' interspersed with white.

{63.} L   [173] No description of the 'Memnonia,' or 'stone of Memnon,' exists. As for the 'Media,' a black stone found by the Medea who is so famous in legend, it has veins of a golden-yellow colour, exudes saffron-yellow moisture and reproduces the flavour of wine. The 'meconitis,' or 'poppy stone,' closely resembles the poppy. 'Mithrax' comes from Persia and the mountains of the Persian Gulf. It is a stone of many colours and reflects their changing tints in sunlight. `Morochthos' is leek-green in colour and exudes milky moisture. 'Mormorion,' a very dark translucent stone from India, is also known as 'promnion'; but it is called 'Alexandrion,' or 'Alexander stone,' when the colour of garnet is mingled with it, and 'Cyprium,' when that of carnelian is present. It is found also at Tyre and in Galatia and, according to Xenocrates, occurs as well close to the Alps. These are gems which are eminently suitable for cameo-engraving. [174] The 'myrrhitis,' or 'myrrh stone,' has the colour of myrrh and an appearance quite unlike that of a gemstone. It smells like an unguent and, when rubbed, even like spikenard. The 'black myrmecias,' or 'wart stone,' has excrescences like warts, while the 'myrsinitis,' or 'myrtle stone,' is honey-coloured and has the scent of myrtle. A stone is 'mesoleucos,' or 'white in the middle,' when a white band marks the middle of the gem; and is 'mesomelas,' or 'black in the middle,' when a black layer intersects a gem of any colour in the middle.

{64.} L   [175] The 'Nasamonitis,' or 'stone of the Nasamones,' is blood-red with black veins. The 'nebritis,' or 'fawn stone,' which is sacred to Father Liber, derives its name from its resemblance to a fawnskin, but there is another stone of the same kind that is black and white. 'Nipparene,' which gets its name from a city and tribe of Persia, is like the tooth of a hippopotamus.

{65.} L   [176] The stone that bears the foreign name 'oica' is a pleasing mixture of black, reddish-brown, green and white. The 'ombria' ('rain stone'), otherwise known as 'notia' ('south-wind stone'), is said to fall, like the 'ceraurila' and the 'brontea,' in company with heavy rain and thunderbolts, and to have the same properties as these stones. But in addition, so we are told, it prevents offerings from being burnt away if it is placed on an altar. '  'Onocardia,' or 'ass's heart,' is like the scarlet kermesinsect in colour, but we are told nothing further. 'Oritis,' or 'mountain stone,' sometimes known also as 'sideritis,' 'iron stone,' is spherical in shape and not affected by fire. [177] 'Ostracias,' or 'sherd stone,' otherwise known as 'ostracitis,' resembles earthenware, but is harder than 'ceramitis.' It is like agate except that the latter has a greasy appearance when it has been polished. This 'ostracias' is so hard that other gemstones are engraved with pieces of it. The 'ostritis,' or 'oyster stone,' owes its name to its resemblance to an oyster-shell. 'Ophicardelos' is the foreign name for a black stone that is encircled by two white bands. Obsidian has already been discussed by me in an earlier book { 36.196 }. There are also found gems bearing this same name and colour not merely in Ethiopia and India but also in Samnium and, as some people think, in Spain on the shores of the Atlantic.

{66.} L   [178] The 'panchrus,' or 'stone of all colours,' is composed of almost every colour. 'Pangonus,' or all-angles, is no longer than a finger, and it is only its more numerous plane faces that prevent it from being taken for rock-crystal. As for the 'paneros,' or 'all-love,' Metrodorus does not describe it, but he as cites quite a tasteful poem on the stone composed by Queen Timaris and dedicated to Venus. In this poem it is implied that the stone helped her to bear children. Some people call it 'panerastos,' or 'loved-by-all.' [179] The Pontic stone occurs in several varieties. It is spangled sometimes with blood-red, sometimes with golden spots, and is regarded as a supernatural object. One variety has, instead of stars, similarly coloured lines, and another, figures recalling mountains and deep valleys. The 'phloginos,' or 'flame-coloured stone,' which is also known as 'chrysitis,' or 'gold stone,' resembles the yellow ochre of Attica and is found in Egypt. [180] The 'phoenicitis,' or 'date-palm stone,' is so called from its resemblance to a date, and the 'phycitis,' or 'seaweed stone,' from its similarity to seaweed. A stone is 'perileucos,' or 'white-around,' when a white line descends (in a spiral) from the margin to the very base of the stone. The 'paeanis,' or 'Apollo stone,' otherwise known as 'gaeanis,' the 'earth stone,' is said to become pregnant and to give birth to another stone, and so is thought to relieve labour pains. Its birthplace is in Macedonia, near the tomb of Tiresias, and its appearance is that of ice.

{67.} L   [181] 'Solis gemma,' or 'gem of the sun,' is a bright colourless stone that sheds its beams in such a way as to resemble the sun's shining disc. 'Sagda' is the name given by the astrologers to a leek-green stone which they find, so they say, attached to ships' hulls. 'Samothrax,' or 'stone of Samothrace,' is produced in the island after which it is named, and is black, light in weight and like wood. The 'sauritis,' or 'lizard stone,' is stated to be found in the belly of a green lizard when it has been slit with a reed. The 'sarcitis,' or 'fleshy stone,' closely resembles ox-flesh. The 'selenitis,' or 'moonstone,' a transparent, colourless stone with a honey-coloured sheen, contains a likeness of the moon, and reproduces, if the report is true, the very shape of the moon as it waxes or wanes from day to day. It is thought to occur in Arabia. [182] The 'sideritis,' or 'iron stone,' resembles iron and likewise causes some people to quarrel when it is brought to a dispute. It is found in Ethiopia. The 'sideropoecilos,' or 'mottled iron stone,' is a variety of this stone, mottled with specks. 'Spongitis,' or 'sponge stone,' is absolutely true to its name. The 'synodontitis' comes from the brain of the fish known as 'synodus.' The 'Syrtitis' is found on the shores of the Gulf of Syrtis, and indeed, moreover, in Lucania. It is honey-coloured with a saffron-yellow sheen and contains faint starry spots inside it. 'Syringitis,' or 'pipe stone,' which resembles the length of a stalk between two of its joints, is hollow, with a tube running right through it.

{68.} L   [183] The 'trichrus,' or 'three-coloured' stone, which comes from Africa, is black, but gives off streaks of three colours, black at the base, blood-red in the middle and yellow at the top. The 'thelyrrhizos,' or 'lady root,' is ashen or red in colour and is distinguished by its white base. The 'thelycardios,' or 'lady heart,' which displays the colour of a heart, gives great pleasure to the Persians, among whom it is found. Their name for it is 'mucul.' The 'Thracia,' or 'Thracian gem,' occurs in three varieties, emerald-green or alternatively paler, while the third has blood-red spots on it. [184] 'Tephritis,' or 'ash stone,' displays a likeness of the new moon with curving horns, but on a ground that is the colour of ash. The 'tecolithos,' or 'solvent stone,' looks like an olive stone and has no value as a gem, but when sucked breaks up and disperses stone in the bladder.

{69.} L   'Veneris crinis,' or 'the lock of Venus,' is a very dark, brilliant stone, which has an inclusion resembling a lock of red hair. The 'Veientana,' which is an Italian gemstone found at Veii, has a black ground defined by a white edge.

{70.} L   [185] The 'zathenes,' according to Democritus, is an amber-coloured stone found in Media, and if it is ground with palm wine and saffron softens like wax and has a most agreeable smell. The 'zamilampis,' which is found in the Euphrates, is like the marble from Proconnesus, but is greyish-green in the centre. 'Zoraniscaea' is said to be a gem found in the river Indus and used by the Magi, but, apart from this, nothing is reported about it.

{71.} L   [186] There is still another way of classifying precious stones, and it is one which I should like to employ, now that I have already from time to time varied my method of presenting my theme. For there are stones named after parts of the body, for example 'hepatitis' after the liver, and numerous past kinds of steatitis after the fat found in one animal or another. We find 'Adad's kidney,' 'Adad's eye' and 'Adad's finger,' Adad also being a god who is worshipped by the Syrians. Again, 'triophthalmos' is a variety of onyx that displays the likeness of three human eyes simultaneously.

{72.} L   [187] Precious stones are named after animals; for example 'carcinias' takes its name from the colour of the crab, and 'echitis' from that of the viper. 'Scorpitis' is so named because it displays the colour or else the likeness of a scorpion, 'scaritis,' similarly, of a parrot-wrasse, and 'triglitis,' of a red mullet. 'Aegophthalmos' takes its name from a goat's eye, and another stone likewise from a pig's eye. 'Geranitis' owes its name to the crane's neck, 'hieracitis' to the kite and 'atitis' to the colour of the white-tailed eagle. 'Myrmecitis' displays a naturally formed likeness of a crawling ant, and 'cantharias' that of scarab beetles. 'Lycophthalmos' is a stone of four colours, red mixed with blood-red, while in the middle it has black encircled by white, like a wolf's eye. 'Taos' is like a peacock; and a stone which I find bearing the name 'timictonia' similarly resembles an asp in colour.

{73.} L   [188] A resemblance to inanimate objects is found in 'ammochrysus,' or 'sand-gold,' which looks like gold mixed with sand; in 'cenchrites,' or 'millet stone,' which looks as if it were sprinkled with grains of millet; and in 'dryites,' or 'oak stone,' which resembles the trunk of an oak. Moreover, this stone burns like wood. The 'cissitis,' or 'ivy stone,' is a transparent, colourless stone in which ivy leaves are visible, and these cover the whole stone. 'Narcissitis' is marked with veins coloured like narcissus, and has also its scent. 'Cyamias,' or 'bean stone,' is black, but when broken produces from its interior an object resembling a bean. The 'pyren' is so called because it is like an olive stone: sometimes it looks as if it contains fish bones. The 'phoenicitis' is like a date. [189] 'Chalazias,' or 'hail stone,' has the whiteness and the shape of hailstones, and is as hard as 'adamas,' so that even when it is placed in a lire it is said to retain its natural coolness. 'Pyritis,' or 'fire stone,' even though it is black, scorches the fingers when it is rubbed. 'Polyzonos,' or 'many-banded stone,' is marked with a number of white bands on a black ground, while the 'astrapaea,' or 'lightning stone,' on a colourless or blue ground is traversed in the centre by beams like lightning flashes. The 'phlogitis,' or 'flame stone,' seems to have burning inside it a flame which, however, is not released, while the 'anthracitis,' or 'carbuncle stone,' appears to have sparks running in different directions through it. [190] The 'enhygros,' or 'stone with moisture inside it,' has a white, smooth ground, and is always perfectly round. When it is shaken, liquid moves to and fro inside it, as in an egg. The 'polythrix,' or 'hairy stone,' displays hairy streaks on a green ground, but, in spite of its appearance, is said to make one's hair fall out. There are also the so-called 'lion-skin' and 'leopard-skin' stones. [191] Colours too have lent their names to stones. 'Drosolithos,' or 'dew stone,' takes its name from its grass-green tint, 'melichrus,' of which there are several kinds, from its honey colour, 'melichlorus,' or 'honey-yellow stone,' from two tints combined, because it is partly yellow and partly honey-coloured; while 'crocias' is sprinkled as if with saffron, 'polias' with a greyishwhite tint, and 'spartopolias' with markings of a greyish-white more dispersed. 'Rhoditis' is 'rose-coloured,' melitis 'apple-coloured,' 'chalcitis' copper coloured and 'sychitis' 'fig-coloured'. 'Bostrychitis' has white or blood-red leaves branching out on a black ground, while 'chernitis' presents the appearance of white hands clasping each other on stone. [192] The 'anancitis,' or 'compulsive stone,' it is said, is used in divination by water to conjure up divine apparitions, while the 'synochitis,' or 'holding stone,' so we are told, holds the shades of the dead when they have been summoned from below. As for the white 'dendritis,' or 'tree stone,' it is said that if it is buried beneath a tree that is being felled the edges of the axes will not be blunted. There are many more stones that are even more magical; and these have received foreign names from men who have thus betrayed the fact that they are ordinary, worthless stones, and not precious stones at all. But I shall here remain content with having exposed the abominable falsehoods of the Magi.

{74.} L   [193] New, unnamed precious stones come into existence quite unexpectedly, like one which, according to Theophrastus { de Lap. 32 }, was once found in the gold mines near Lampsacus and was sent to King Alexander owing to its great beauty. [194] Moreover, 'Cochlides,' or 'shell stones,' are now very common, but are really artificial rather than natural. In Arabia they are found as huge lumps, and these are said to be boiled in honey without interruption for seven days and nights. Thus all earthy and other impurities are eliminated; and the lump, cleansed and purified, is divided into various shapes by clever craftsmen, who are careful to follow up the veins and elongated markings in such a way as to ensure the readiest sale. Formerly, these lumps were produced in such large sizes that in the East they were made into frontlets for kings' horses aud into pendants to serve as trappings for them. [195] In general, all gems are rendered more colourful by being boiled thoroughly in honey, particularly if it is Corsican honey, which is unsuitable for any other purpose owing to its acidity. Cunning and talented artists succeed also in cutting away parts of variegated stones so as to obtain novelties; and in order that these selfsame stones may not bear their usual name, they call them 'physis,' or 'works of nature,' and offer them for sale as natural curiosities.

But there is no end to the names given to precious stones, and I have no intention of listing them in full, innumerable as they are, thanks to the wanton imagination of the Greeks. Now that I have mentioned the precious stones, and also some, indeed, that are common, I must be content with having given emphasis to the rarer varieties that deserve notice. One point only should be remembered, that, according to the different marks and excrescences that appear on the surface of stones, and according to the varied tracks and colours of the bands that traverse them, names are often altered when the material is commonly the same.

{75.} L   [196] Now I shall make some general observations which concern our study of any precious stone; and here I shall adopt the notions of our authorities.

Concave or convex stones are considered less valuable than those with a plane surface. An elongated shape is the most valuable; then what is called the lenticular; and then a flat, round shape. Stones with sharp angles find the least favour.

[197] To distinguish genuine and false gemstones is extremely difficult, particularly as men have discovered how to make genuine stones of one variety into false stones of another. For example, a sardonyx can be manufactured so convincingly by sticking three gems together that the artifice cannot be detected: a black stone is taken from one species, a white from another, and a vermilion-coloured stone from a third, all being excellent in their own way. And furthermore, there are treatises by authorities, whom I at least shall not deign to mention by name, describing how by means of dyestuffs emeralds and other transparent coloured gems are made from rock-crystal, or a sardonyx from a sard, and similarly all other gemstones from one stone or another. And there is no other trickery that is practised against society with greater profit.

{76.} L   [198] I, on the other hand, am prepared to explain the methods of detecting false gems, since it is only fitting that even luxury should be protected against deception. Apart, then, from the details that I have given in describing the best stones of each class, it is recommended that transparent stones in general should be tested early in the morning or, if necessary, up to ten o'clock, but on no account later than this. [199] Tests are made in many different ways: first by weight, because genuine stones are heavier; then by coolness, since genuine stones also feel colder in the mouth; and after this by structure. For artificial stones show globules deep below the surface, rough patches on the surface itself, filaments, an inconsistent lustre and a brightness that fails to strike the eye. [200] The most effective test is to knock off a piece of the stone so that it can be baked on an iron plate, but dealers in precious stones not unnaturally object to this, and likewise to testing with a file. Flakes of obsidian will not scratch a genuine stone, but on a false stone every scratch leaves a white mark. Furthermore, there is a great difference as between one stone and another in that some cannot be engraved with an iron tool and some only with a blunt iron tool, although all can be worked with a diamond point. But what is most effective in working gemstones is the heat generated by the drill.

The rivers that produce gems are the Acesinus and the Ganges, and of all the lands that produce them India is the most prolific.

{77.} L   [201] For now that I have completed my survey of Nature's works, it is right that I should make a critical assessment of her products, as well of the lands that produce them. This, then, I declare: in the whole world, wherever the vault of heaven turns, there is no land so well adorned with all that wins Nature's crown as Italy, the ruler and second mother of the world, with her men and women, her generals and soldiers, her slaves, her pre-eminence in arts and crafts, her wealth of brilliant talent, and, again, her geographical position and her healthy, temperate climate, the easy access which she offers to all other peoples, her shores with their many harbours, and the kindly winds that blow upon her. All these benefits accrue to her from her situation - for the land juts out in the direction that is most advantageous, midway between the East and the West - and from her abundant supply of water, her healthy forests, her mountains with their passes, her harmless wild creatures, her fertile soil and her rich pastures. [202] Nowhere are the things that man is entitled to expect more excellent - crops, wine, olive oil, wool, flax, cloth and young cattle. Even the native breed of homes is preferred to any other on the training-ground. In ores, whether of gold, silver, copper or iron, no country surpassed her so long as it was lawful to work them. Now she keeps them within her womb, and all her bounty lies in the many different liquors and the diverse savours of crops and fruits that she lavishes upon us. [203] Next to Italy, if we leave aside the fabulous marvels of India, I would place Spain, or at least the districts where Spain is bordered by the sea. For although the country is partly rough desert, yet all its productive regions are rich in crops, oil, wine, horses and every kind of ore. So far,  Gaul is Spain's equal. But it is Spain's deserts that give her the advantage; for here we find esparto grass, selenite and even luxury - in the form of pigments; here is a place where there is an incentive to toil, where slaves can be schooled, where men's bodies are hard and their hearts passionately eager.

{78.} L   [204] However, to return to products pure and simple, the most costly product of the sea is the pearl; of the earth's surface, rock-crystal; of the earth's interior, diamonds, emeralds, gemstones and vessels of fluorspar; of the earth's increase, the scarlet kermes-insect and silphium, with spikenard and silks from leaves, citrus wood from trees, cinnamon, cassia and amomum from shrubs, amber, balsam, myrrh and frankincense, which exude from trees or shrubs, and costus from roots. As for those animals which are equipped to breathe, the most costly product found on land is the elephant's tusk, and on sea the turtle's shell. Of the hides and coats of animals, the most costly are the pelts dyed in China and the Arabian she-goat's tufted beard which we call 'ladanum.' Of creatures that belong to both land and sea, the most costly products are scarlet and purple dyes made from shell-fish. Birds are credited with no outstanding contribution except warriors' plumes and the grease of the Commagene goose. We must not forget to mention that gold, for which all mankind has so mad a passion, comes scarcely tenth in the list of valuables, while silver, with which we purchase gold, is almost as low as twentieth.

[205] Hail, Nature, mother of all creation, and mindful that I alone of the men of Rome have praised thee in all thy manifestations, be gracious unto me.

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