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Near Harpasa, a town of Asia, there stands a terrific rock, which may be moved by a single finger; but if it be pushed by the force of the whole body, it resists1. In the Tauric peninsula, in the state of the Parasini, there is a kind of earth which cures all wounds2. About Assos, in Troas, a stone is found, by which all bodies are consumed; it is called Sarcophagus3. There are two mountains near the river Indus; the nature of one is to attract iron, of the other to repel it: hence, if there be nails in the shoes, the feet cannot be drawn off the one, or set down on the other4. It has been noticed, that at Locris and Crotona, there has never been a pestilence, nor have they ever suffered from an earthquake; in Lycia there are always forty calm days before an earthquake. In the territory of Argyripa the corn which is sown never springs up. At the altars of Mucius, in the country of the Veii, and about Tusculum, and in the Cimmerian Forest, there are places in which things that are pushed into the ground cannot be pulled out again. The hay which is grown in Crustuminium is noxious on the spot, but elsewhere it is wholesome5.

1 We may conceive of a large mass of rock being so balanced upon the fine point of another rock, as to be moved by the slightest touch; but, that if it be pushed with any force, it may be thrown upon a plane surface, and will then remain immovable.

2 Perhaps the author may refer to some kind of earth, possessed of absorbent or astringent properties, like the Terra Sigillata or Armenian Bole of the old Pharmacopœias.

3 A σὰρξ, caro, and φάγω, edo We may conceive this stone to have contained a portion of an acrid ingredient, perhaps of an alkaline nature, which, in some degree, might produce the effect here described. It does not appear that the material of which the stone coffins are composed, to which this name has been applied, the workmanship of which is so much an object of admiration, are any of them possessed of this property.

4 Alexandre remarks on this statement, "Montes istæ videntur originem dedisse fabulæ quæ in Arabicis Noctibus legitur....;" Lemaire, i. 425. Fouché, indeed, observes, that there are mountains composed principally of natural loadstone, which might sensibly attract a shoe containing iron nails. Ajasson, ii. 386. But I conceive that we have no evidence of the existence of the magnetic iron pyrites having ever been found in sufficient quantity to produce any sensible effect of the kind here described.

5 We may remark generally, that of the "miracula" related in this chapter, the greatest part are entirely without foundation, and the remainder much exaggerated.

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MYLAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MY´SIA
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