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CHAP. 109. (105.)—OF NAPHTHA.

Naphtha is a substance of a similar nature1 (it is so called about Babylon, and in the territory of the Astaceni, in Parthia2), flowing like liquid bitumen. It has a great affinity to fire, which instantly darts on it wherever it is seen3. It is said, that in this way it was that Medea burned Jason's mistress; her crown having taken fire, when she approached the altar for the purpose of sacrificing4.

1 The substance here mentioned may be considered as not differing essentially from the Maltha of the last chapter, except in being of a more fluid consistence.

2 The Astaceni are supposed to have inhabited a district near the sources of the Indus, probably corresponding to the modern Cabul.

3 We may conceive of a quantity of inflammable vapour on the surface of the naphtha, which might, in some degree, produce the effect here described.

4 Horace, in one of his Epodes, where he refers to the magical arts of Medea, says, that it was a cloak, "palla," which was sent to Creüsa; v. 65. So far as there is any foundation for the story, we may suppose that some part of her dress had been impregnated with an inflammable substance, which took fire when she approached the blazing altar.

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