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We will now commence with another class of precious stones, those of a purple colour, or whose tints are derived from purple. To the first rank belongs the amethystos1 of India; a stone which is also found in the part of Arabia that adjoins Syria and is known as Petra, as also in Lesser Armenia, Egypt, and Galatia; the very worst of all, and the least valued, being those of Thasos and Cyprus. The name which these stones bear, originates, it is said, in the peculiar tint of their brilliancy, which, after closely approaching the colour of wine, passes off into a violet without being fully pronounced; or else, according to some authorities, in the fact that in their purple there is something that falls short of a fiery colour, the tints fading off and inclining to the colour of wine.

All these stones are transparent and of an agreeable violet colour, and are easy2 to engrave. Those of India have in perfection the very richest shades of purple, and it is to attain this colour that the dyers3 in purple direct all their endeavours; it presenting a fine mellowed appearance to the eye, and not dazzling the sight, as in the case with the colours of the carbunculus. Another variety approaches more nearly the hyacinth in colour: the people of India call this tint "socon," and the stone itself "socondion." A third stone of this class is of a more diluted colour, and is known as "sapenos," being identical with "pharanitis," so called from a country4 on the frontiers of Arabia that produces it. Of a fourth kind, the colour is like that of wine; and in a fifth it borders very closely upon that of crystal, the purple gradually passing off into white. This last kind is but little valued; for a fine amethyst should always have, when viewed sideways5 and held up to the light, a certain purple refulgence, like that of carbunculus, slightly inclining to a tint of rose.

Some prefer giving these stones the name of "pæderos"6 or of "anteros,"7 while to many they are known as "Venus'8 eyelid," a name which would seem to be particularly appropriate to the colour and general appearance of the gem. The falsehoods of the magicians would persuade us that these stones are preventive of inebriety, and that it is from this that they have derived9 their name. They tell us also, that if we inscribe the names of the sun and moon upon this stone, and then wear it suspended from the neck, with some hair of the cynocephalus10 and feathers of the swallow, it will act as a preservative against all noxious spells. It is said too, that worn in any manner, this stone will ensure access to the presence of kings; and that it will avert hail and the attacks of locusts, if a certain prayer is also repeated which they mention. They make similar promises, too, in reference to the smaragdus, if graven with the figure of an eagle or of a scarabæus: statements which, in my opinion, they cannot have committed to writing without a feeling of contempt and derision for the rest of mankind.

1 So called, according to some authorities, from , "not," μεθύω, "to intoxicate," on account of its being a supposed preservative against inebriety. Ajasson is of opinion that Pliny does not here speaks of the Quartz Amethyst of modern mineralogy, but only the Oriental Amethyst, violet Sapphire, or violet Corundum. It is not improbable, however, that he includes them all, as well as violet Fluor spar, and some other purple stones; inclusive, possibly, of the Garnet.

2 He is probably speaking here of violet Fluor spar; Oriental amethyst, or violet sapphire, it is next to impossible to engrave.

3 See B. ix. c. 62.

4 The city of Pharan, mentioned by St. Jerome and Eusebius.

5 "In suspectu." See B. xxi. c. 22.

6 "Lovely youth." The Opal has been thus called in Chapter 22.

7 "Avenger of slighted love."

8 "Veneris gena;" called in Greek "Aphrodites blepharon."

9 Which is most probable; however untrue the story itself may be. See Note 75 above.

10 A kind of Baboon. See B. vi. c. 35, B. vii. c. 2, and B. viii. c. 80.

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