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Instances of acuteness of sight are to be found stated, which, indeed, exceed all belief. Cicero informs us,1 that the Iliad of Homer was written on a piece of parchment so small as to be enclosed in a nut-shell. He makes mention also of a man who could distinguish objects at a distance of one hundred and thirty-five miles.2 M. Varro says, that the name of this man was Strabo; and that, during the Punic war, from Lilybæum, the promontory of Sicily, he was in the habit of seeing the fleet come out of the harbour of Carthage, and could even count the number of the vessels.3 Callicrates4 used to carve ants and other small animals in ivory, so minute in size, that other persons were unable to distinguish their individual parts. Myrmecides5 also was famous in the same line;6 this man made, of similar material, a chariot drawn by four horses, which a fly could cover with its wings; as well as a ship which might be covered by the wings of a tiny bee.7

1 This statement must have been in some of his lost works.

2 Pliny probably here refers to a passage in the Acad. Quæst. B. iv. c. 81, where Cicero speaks of a person who could see objects, it was said, at a distance of 1800 stadia, equal exactly to 125 miles.—B.

3 The actual distance between the promontory of Sicily and the nearest part of Carthage is between fifty and sixty miles. The acute vision of Strabo is mentioned by Val. Maximus, B. i. e. 8.—B.

4 See also B. xxxvi. c. 4. He was a Lacedæmonian sculptor, who, according to Athenæus, also executed embossed work on vases.

5 His works in ivory were said to have been so small, that they could scarcely be seen without placing them on black hair.

6 Cicero, Acad. Quæst. B. iv. c. 120, speaks of "one Myrmecides, a maker of minute objects of art;" Ælian, Vac. Hist. B. i. c. 17, also speaks of these minute performances of Myrmecides, and styles them "a waste of time." Pliny, in a subsequent part of his work, B. xxxi. c. 4, speaks of similar minute works, executed by these artists in marble; but the account which he gives is scarcely credible.—B.

7 See B. xxxvi. c. 5.

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