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Next in note after this ring, is the jewel that belonged to another king, Pyrrhus, who was so long at war with the Romans. It is said that there was in his possession an agate,1 upon which were to be seen the Nine Muses and Apollo holding a lyre; not a work of art, but the spontaneous produce of Nature,2 the veins in it being so arranged that each of the Muses had her own peculiar attribute.

With the exception of these two jewels, authors make no mention of any others that have been rendered famous. We only find it recorded by them, that Ismenias the flute-player3 was in the habit of displaying great numbers of glittering stones, a piece of vanity, on his part, which gave occasion to the following story. An emerald,4 upon which was engraved a figure of Amymone,5 being offered for sale in the Isle of Cyprus at the price of six golden denarii, he gave orders to purchase it. The dealer however, reduced the price, and returned two denarii; upon which, Ismenias remarked—"By Hercules! he has done me but a bad turn in this, for the merit of the stone has been greatly impaired by this reduction in price."

It seems to have been this Ismenias who introduced the universal practice among musicians of proclaiming their artistic merit by this kind of ostentation. Thus Dionysodorus, for instance, his contemporary and rival, imitated his example, in order that he might not appear to be his inferior in skill; whereas, in reality, he only held the third rank among the musicians of that day. Nicomachus, too, it is said, was the possessor of great numbers of precious stones, though selected with but little taste. In mentioning these illustrations, by way of prelude to this Book, it is by no means improbable that they may have the appearance of being addressed to those, who, piquing themselves upon a similar display, become puffed up with a vanity which is evidently much more appropriate to a performer on the flute.

1 "Achates." A variegated chalcedony. It was probably what is called, from its radiated streaks, a fortification agate. See Chapter 54 of this Book.

2 Ajasson remarks that there can be little doubt that Nature bad at least been very extensively seconded by Art.

3 "Choraules." One who accompanies the chorus on the pipe or flute.

4 "Smaragdus."

5 One of the Danaïdes.

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