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There are several kinds1 of amber. The white is the one that has the finest odour;2 but neither this nor the wax-coloured amber is held in very high esteem. The red amber is more highly valued; and still more so, when it is transparent, without presenting too brilliant and igneous an appearance. For amber, to be of high quality, should present a brightness like that of fire, but not flakes resembling those of flame. The most highly esteemed amber is that known as the "Falernian," from its resemblance to the colour of Falernian wine; it is perfectly transparent, and has a softened, transparent, brightness. Other kinds, again, are valued for their mellowed tints, like the colour of boiled honey in appearance. It ought to be known, however, that any colour can be imparted to amber that may be desired, it being sometimes stained with kid-suet and root of alkanet; indeed, at the present day, amber is dyed purple even. When a vivifying heat has been imparted to it by rubbing it between the fingers, amber will attract chaff, dried leaves, and thin bark, just in the same way that the magnet attracts iron. Pieces of amber, steeped in oil, burn with a more brilliant and more lasting flame than pith of flax.3

So highly valued is this as an object of luxury, that a very diminutive human effigy, made of amber, has been known to sell at a higher price than living men even, in stout and vigorous health. This single ground for censure, however, is far from being sufficient; in Corinthian objects of vertu, it is the copper that recommends them, combined with silver and gold; and in embossed works it is the skill and genius of the artist that is so highly esteemed. We have already said what it is that recommends vessels of murrhine and of crystal; pearls, too, are of use for wearing upon the head, and gems upon the fingers. In the case of all other luxuries, in fact, it is either a spirit of ostentation or some utility that has been discovered in them that pleads so strongly in their behalf; but in that of amber we have solely the consciousness that we are enjoying a luxury, and nothing more. Domitius Nero, among the other portentous extravagances of his life, bestowed this name upon the ringlets of his wife Poppæa, and, in certain verses of his, he has even gone so far as to call them "succini." As fine names, too, are never wanting for bodily defects, a third tint has been introduced of late for hair among our ladies, under the name of "amber-colour."

Amber, however, is not without its utility in a medicinal point of view; though it is not for this reason that the women are so pleased with it. It is beneficial for infants also, attached to the body in the form of an amulet; and, according to Callistratus, it is good for any age, as a preventive of delirium and as a cure for strangury, either taken in drink or attached as an amulet to the body. This last author, too, has invented a new variety of amber; giving the name of "chryselectrum"4 to an amber of a golden colour, and which presents the most beautiful tints in the morning. This last kind attracts flame, too, with the greatest rapidity, and, the moment it approaches the fire, it ignites. Worn upon the neck, he says, it is a cure for fevers and other diseases, and, triturated with honey and oil of roses, it is good for maladies of the ears. Beaten up with Attic honey, it is good for dimuess of sight; and the powder of it, either taken by itself or with gum mastich in water, is remedial for diseases of the stomach. Amber, too, is greatly in request for the imitation of the transparent precious stones, amethystos in particular: for, as already stated, it admits of being dyed of every colour.

1 These so-called kinds or varieties are mostly accidental variations only in appearance.

2 Which is perceptible on its being rubbed: in some cases the odour of amber is very fine, in others it is perfectly fetid; though in the latter case, as Ajasson remarks, it is doubtful whether it may be considered to be genuine amber.

3 "Lini." Salmasius suggests "pini," "pith of pine."

4 "Golden amber." Brotero thinks that this must have been Hyacinth or Zirconite of a yellowish white colour. Ajasson says that the description would equally apply to Idocrase, Meionite, or Harmotome.

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