previous next


It is quite clear that the interior of the pearl is solid, as no fall is able to break it. Pearls are not always found in the middle of the body of the animal, but sometimes in one place, and sometimes another. Indeed, I have seen some which lay at the edge of the shell, just as though in the very act of coming forth, and in some fishes as many as four or five. Up to the present time, very few have been found which exceeded half an ounce in weight, by more than one scruple. It is a well-ascertained fact, that in Britannia1 pearls are found, though small, and of a bad colour; for the deified Julius Cæsar2 wished it to be distinctly understood,3 that the breast-plate which he dedicated to Venus Genetrix, in her temple, was made of British pearls.

1 Cuvier observes, that most of the rivers and lakes of the north of Europe possess the mya margarifera: the pearls of which, though much inferior to those of the East, are sufficiently esteemed to be made an article of commerce. Pad pearls, of a dead marble colour, are also very frequently found in the mussels taken off our coasts. Pearls have in modern times declined very considerably in value; those of about the size of a large pea can be purchased, of very fine quality, for about a guinea each, while those of the size of a pepper-corn sell at about eighteen-pence. Seed pearls, of the size of small shot, are of very little value. Tavernier speaks of a remarkable pearl, that was found at Catifia, in Arabia, the fishery probably alluded to by Pliny, in C. 54, and which he bought for the sum of £110,000, some accounts say £10,000, of our money. It is pear-shaped, the elenchus of the ancients, regular, and without blemish. The diameter is .63 of an inch, at the largest part, and the length from two to three inches. It is said to be in the possession of the Shah of Persia.

2 Tacitus, in his Agricola, says that pearls of a tawny and livid colour are thrown up on the shores of Britain, and there collected. Suetonius absolutely says, c. 4, that Julius Cæsar invaded Britain in the hope of obtaining pearls, in the weight and size of which he took considerable interest.

3 By the inscription placed beneath the thorax, or breast-plate.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (12 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: