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Among the various kinds of glass, we may also reckon Obsian glass, a substance very similar to the stone1 which Obsius discovered in Æthiopia. This stone is of a very dark colour, and sometimes transparent; but it is dull to the sight, and reflects, when attached as a mirror to walls, the shadow of the object rather than the image. Many persons use it2 for jewellery, and I myself have seen solid statues3 in this material of the late Emperor Augustus, of very considerable thickness. That prince consecrated, in the Temple of Concord, as something marvellous, four figures of elephants made of Obsian stone. Tiberius Cæsar, too, restored to the people of Heliopolis, as an object of ceremonial worship, an image in this stone, which had been found among the property left by one of the præfects of Egypt. It was a figure of Menelaüs; a circumstance which goes far towards proving that the use of this material is of more ancient date than is generally supposed, confounded as it is at the present day with glass, by reason of its resemblance. Xenocrates says that Obsian stone is found in India also, and in Samnium in Italy; and that it is a natural product of Spain, upon the coasts which border on the Ocean.4

There is an artificial Obsian stone, made of coloured glass for services for the table; and there is also a glass that is red all through, and opaque, known as "hæmatinum."5 A dead white glass, too, is made, as also other kinds in imitation of murrhine6 colour, hyacinthine, sapphire, and every other tint: indeed, there is no material of a more pliable7 nature than this, or better suited for colouring. Still, however, the highest value is set upon glass that is entirely colourless and transparent, as nearly as possible resembling crystal, in fact. For drinking-vessels, glass has quite superseded the use of silver and gold; but it is unable to stand heat unless a cold liquid is poured in first. And yet, we find that globular glass vessels, filled with water, when brought in contact with the rays of the sun,8 become heated to such a degree as to cause articles of clothing to ignite. When broken, too, glass admits of being joined by the agency of heat; but it cannot be wholly fused without being pulverized into small fragments,9 as we see done in the process of making the small checquers, known as "abaculi," for mosaic work; some of which are of variegated colours, and of different shapes. If glass is fused with sulphur, it will become as hard as stone.

1 Voleanic glass, feldspar in a more or less pure state, our Obsidian, is probably meant; a word derived from the old reading, Obaidius, corrected by Sillig to Obsius.

2 He is speaking of the stone, not the glass that resembled it.

3 A thing very difficult to be done, as Beckmann observes, by reason of its brittleness.

4 The present Portugal.

5 "Blood-red" glass.

6 See B. xxxvii. cc. 7, 8, 11. This glass was probably of an opal colour, like porcelain.

7 This passage is commented upon by Beckmann, Vol. II. p. 75, in connexion with a similar passage in Isidorus, Orig., which is probably corrupt.

8 See B. xxxvii. c. 10. He was not aware, apparently, that in such case they act as convex burning-glasses, and that ice even may be similarly employed.

9 This is, probably, the meaning of "in guttas;" a new reading, which is only found in the Bamberg MS.

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