previous next


Among the multitude of stones which still remain undescribed, there is tophus;1 a material totally unsuited for building purposes, in consequence of its perishableness. Still, however, there are some localities which have no other, Carthage, in Africa, for example. It is eaten away by the emanations from the sea, crumbled to dust by the wind, and shattered by the pelting of the rain: but human industry has found the means of protecting walls of houses built of it, with a coating of pitch, as a plaster of lime would corrode it. Hence it is, that we have the well-known saying, "that the Carthaginians use pitch2 for their houses and lime3 for their wines," this last being the method used by them in the preparation of their must.

In the territories of Fidenæ and Alba, in the vicinity of Rome, we find other soft kinds of stone; and, in Umbria and Venetia, there is a stone4 which admits of being cut with the teeth of a saw. These stones are easy to be worked, and are capable of supporting a considerable weight, if they are only kept sheltered from the weather. Rain, however, frost, and dew, split them to pieces, nor can they resist the humidity of the sea-air. The stone5 of Tibur can stand everything except heat, which makes it crack.

1 Identical, probably, with the Tufa of modern Mineralogy, which thence derives its name, a Carbonate of lime.

2 Thus reversing the order of things with the Romans, who put the lime on their houses, and the pitch in their wines. See B. xiv. cc. 3, 24, 25.

3 See B. xiv. c. 24.

4 A white tufa, Vitruvius says, B. i. c. 7.

5 It was in reference, possibly, to this stone that Cicero made the remark, mentioned in Chapter 5 of this Book; the heat of Chios being so great, perhaps, that the Tiburtine stone could not have endured it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (10 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DOMUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PA´RIES
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (8):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: