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Topazos1 is a stone that is still held in very high estimation for its green tints: indeed, when it was first discovered, it was preferred to every other kind of precious stone. It so happened that some Troglodytic pirates, suffering from tempest and hunger, having landed upon an island off the coast of Arabia known as Cytis,2 when digging there for roots and grass, discovered this precious stone: such, at least, is the opinion expressed by Archelaüs. Juba says that there is an island in the Red Sea called "Topazos,"3 at a distance of three hundred stadia from the main land; that it is surrounded by fogs, and is often sought by navigators in consequence; and that, owing to this, it received its present name,4 the word "topazin" meaning "to seek," in the language of the Troglodytæ. He states also, that Philon, the king's præfect, was the first to bring these stones from this island; that, on his presenting them to Queen Berenice, the mother of the second Ptolemæus, she was wonderfully pleased with them; and that, at a later period, a statue, four cubits in height, was made of this stone,5 in honour of Arsinoë, the wife of Ptolemæus Philadelphus, it being consecrated in the temple known as the "Golden Temple."

The most recent writers say that this stone is found also in the vicinity of Alabastrum, a city of Thebais, and they distinguish two varieties of it, the prasoïdes6 and the chrysopteron;7 which last is similar to chrysoprasus,8 all the shades of it tending, more or less, to resemble the colouring principle of the leek. Topazos is the largest of all the precious stones, and is the only one among those of high value that yields to the action of the file, the rest being polished by the aid of stone of Naxos.9 It admits, too, of being worn by use.

1 Under this name Pliny evidently speaks of the stone known to us as Chrysolite, and possibly of green agate as well. Our Topaz cannot be easily recognized in this Chapter, at all events.

2 See B. vi. c. 34.

3 See B. vi. c. 34.

4 To πάζω, in Greek, signifies "to conjecture."

5 It was agate, most probably.

6 "Leek-green." Ajasson and Desfontaines think that this must have been either Oriental Chrysolite or Oriental Peridote.

7 Some would identify this with Oriental topaz or yellow corundum, a variety of the Sapphire; while others would see in it the genuine Topaz; and others, again, think it synonymous with the Chrysoprase. The name "chrysopteron" means "golden-wing."

8 "Leek-green and gold." An apple or leek-green Chalcedony, coloured by nickel. See Chapters 20, 34, and 73, of this Book.

9 See B. xxxvi. c. 10.

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    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 3.115
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