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Of all metals, the ores of iron are found in the greatest abundance. In the maritime parts of Cantabria1 which are washed by the Ocean, there is a steep and lofty mountain, which, however incredible it may appear, is entirely composed of this metal, as already stated in our description of the parts bordering upon the Ocean2

Iron which has been acted upon by fire is spoiled, unless it is forged with the hammer. It is not in a fit state for being hammered when it is red-hot, nor, indeed, until it has begun to assume a white heat. By sprinkling vinegar or alum upon it, it acquires the appearance of copper. It is protected from rust by an application of ceruse, gypsum, and tar; a property of iron known by the Greeks as "antipathia."3 Some pretend, too, that this may be ensured by the performance of certain religious ceremonies, and that there is in existence at the city of Zeugma,4 upon the Euphrates, an iron chain, by means of which Alexander the Great constructed a bridge across the river; the links of which that have been replaced are attacked with rust, while the original links are totally exempt from it.5

1 We learn from Bowles that the celebrated mine of Sommorostro is still worked for this metal.

2 See B. iv. c. 34.—B.

3 Both the reading and the meaning of this passage are very doubtful.

4 See B. v. c. 21.—B.

5 We may presume that Pliny supposed that the ancient links had been protected by some of the substances mentioned above, although this is not distinctly stated.—B. Or rather by some religious ceremony as above alluded to.

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