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M. Lepidus, who was consul with Q. Catulus, was the first to have the lintels of his house made of Numidian marble, a thing for which he was greatly censured: he was consul in the year of Rome, 676. This is the earliest instance that I can find of the introduction of Numidian marble; not in the form of pillars, however, or of slabs, as was the case with the marble of Carystus, above-mentioned, but in blocks, and that too, for the comparatively ignoble purpose of making the thresholds of doors. Four years after this Lepidus, L. Lucullus was consul; the same person who gave its name, it is very evident, to the Lucullan marble; for, taking a great fancy to it, he introduced it at Rome. While other kinds of marble are valued for their spots or their colours, this marble is entirely black.1 It is found in the island of Melos,2 and is pretty nearly the only marble that has taken its name from the person who first introduced it. Among these personages, Scaurus, in my opinion, was the first to build a theatre with walls of marble: but whether they were only coated with slabs of marble or were made of solid blocks highly polished, such as we now see in the Temple of Jupiter Tonans,3 in the Capitol, I cannot exactly say: for, up to this period, I cannot find any vestiges of the use of marble slabs in Italy.

1 The black marbles, Ajasson remarks, are comparatively rare. He is of opinion that the colour of the Lucullan marble was the noir antique of the French, and says that it is to be found at Bergamo, Carrara, Prato in Tuscany, and near Spa in Belgium.

2 "Chios" is another reading.

3 "Thundering Jupiter." This temple was built by Augustus.

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  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ALABANDA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), NUMI´DIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ROMA
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