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1 Isidorus and Solinus, however, say that the pearl is so called, because two are never found together. The derivation given by Pliny is, however, the more probable one. From the Latin "unio," comes our word "onion;" which, like the pearl, consists of numerous coats, one laid upon the other.
2 Hence we must conclude that the word "margarita" is not of Greek, but Eastern origin.
3 Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. xv. c. 8, says, that the Indian pearls, and those which come from the Red Sea, are the best.
4 The laminæ of the lapis specularis, described by Pliny, B. xxxvi. c. 45.
5 "Exaluminatos." It is clear from this passage that Pliny was acquainted with our alum, as he here clearly implies that the alum known to him was of a white colour. Beckmann, however, in his History of Inventions, asserts that our alum was certainly not known to the Greeks and Romans, and that their "alumen" was nothing else but vitriol, the green sulphate of iron, and that not in its pure state, but such as forms in mines. Pereira, however, in his Materia Medica, says, that there can be little doubt that Pliny was acquainted with our alum, but did not distinguish it from sulphate of iron, as he informs us that one kind of alum was white, and was used for dyeing wool of various colours. It is mentioned more fully in B. xxxv. c. 52, where he speaks of its use in dyeing.
6 These alabaster boxes for unguents are mentioned by Pliny in B. xxxvi. c. 12. They were usually pear-shaped; and as they were held with difficulty in the hand, on account of their extreme smoothness, they were called ἀλάβαστρα, from ὰ, "not," and λαβέσθαι, "to be held." The reader will recollect the offer made to our Saviour, of the "alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious." Matt. xxvi. 7. Mark xiv. 3.
7 Seneca, Benef. B. vii. c. 9, speaks of them as hanging in tiers from the ears of the Roman matrons, two and two; and he says that they are not satisfied unless they have two or three patrimonies suspended from each ear.
8 From their resemblance to "crotala," used by dancers, and similar to our castanets.
9 That the pearls as fully bespeak the importance of the wearer, as the lictor does of the magistrate whom he is preceding. The honour of being escorted by one or two lictors, was usually granted to the wives and other members of the imperial family.
10 Even on the "socculus," or "soccus," a shoe or slipper which did not require any "obstragulum," or tie. We find from Seneca, De Ben. B. ii. c. 12, and Pliny, B. xxxvii. c. 6, that Caligula wore gold and pearls upon his socculi.
11 Æian, Hist. Anim. B. xv. c. 8, states to this effect from Juba.
12 They are found also, Ajasson says, at the present day, in some of the coldest rivers and torrents of Auvergne.
13 Or "pinna," the Greek name of this kind of pearl oyster.
14 Cuvier remarks, that he is here probably speaking of some spiny bivalve, perhaps the Spondylus of Linnæus.
15 "Grandini." But Hardouin thinks, and probably correctly, that the meaning here of the word is the "measles of swine;" for Androsthenes, in Athenæus, B. iii., has a similar passage, in which he says: "The stone (i. e. pearl) grows in the flesh of the shell-fish, just as the measles grow in the flesh of swine."
16 He is also mentioned in B. xxxvi. c. 12, and B. xxxvii. cc. 9, 11, 23, 35, and 50, as a writer on gems; but nothing else seems to be known of him.
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