previous next


Among the smaragdi is also included the precious stone known as "tanos."1 It comes from Persia, and is of an unsightly green, and of a soiled colour within. There is the chalcosmaragdos2 also, a native of Cyprus, the face of which is mottled with coppery veins. Theophrastus relates that he had found it stated in the Egyptian histories, that a king of Babylon once sent to the king of Egypt a smaragdus3 four cubits in length by three in breadth. He informs us, also, that in a temple of Jupiter in Egypt there was an obelisk made of four smaragdi, forty cubits in length, and four in breadth at one extremity, and two at the other. He says, too, that at the period at which he wrote, there was in the Temple of Hercules at Tyrus a large column made of a single smaragdus;4 though very possibly it might only be pseudo-smaragdus, a kind of stone not uncommonly found in Cyprus, where a block had been discovered, composed, one half of smaragdus, and one half of jasper,5 and the liquid in which had not as yet been entirely transformed. Apion, surnamed "Plistonices,"6 has left a very recent statement, that there was still in existence, in his time, in the Labyrinth of Egypt, a colossal statue of Serapis made of a single smaragdus, nine cubits in height.

1 Supposed by Ajasson to be the Euclase, a brittle green stone, composed of silica, alumina, and glucina. Haüy gave it this name from the Greek words ευ, "easily," and κλάω, "to break." According to Dana, however, Euclase was first brought from Peru: if such is the fact, we must, perhaps, look for its identification in Epidote, a green silicate of alumina.

2 "Brazen smaragdus." It was probably Dioptase, combined with copper Pyrites. See Notes 26, 28, and 29, above.

3 With reference to this statement and the others in this Chapter, Ajasson remarks that these stones can have been nothing but prases, green jaspers, fusible spaths, emerald quartz, and fluates of lime.

4 Herodotus mentions this smaragdus and the temple, B. ii. c. 44, as having been seen by himself.

5 "Iaspis." See Chapter 37 of this Book.

6 Meaning "the conqueror of many," probably; in reference to his contentious disposition. See end of B. xxx.

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