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The other kinds are made artificially, all of which will be described in the appropriate places, the more celebrated kinds first coming under our notice. Formerly a mixture was made of copper fused with gold and silver, and the workmanship in this metal was considered even more valuable than the material itself; but, at the present day, it is difficult to say whether the workmanship in it, or the material, is the worst. Indeed, it is wonderful, that while the value of these works1 has so infinitely increased, the reputation of the art itself2 is nearly extinct. But it would appear, that in this, as in every thing else, what was formerly done for the sake of reputation, is now undertaken for the mere purpose of gain. For whereas this art was ascribed to the gods3 themselves, and men of rank in all countries endeavoured to acquire fame by the practice of it, we have now so entirely lost the method of making this valuable compound by fusion, that, for this long time past, not even chance itself has assumed, in this department, the privilege which formerly belonged to art.4

Next after the above compound, so celebrated in antiquity, the Corinthian metal has been the most highly esteemed. This was a compound produced by accident, when Corinth was burnt at the time of its capture.5 There has been a wonderful mania with many for gaining possession of this metal. It is even said, that Verres, whom M. Cicero caused to be condemned, was proscribed by Antonius, along with Cicero, for no other reason than his refusal to give up some specimens of Corinthian metal, which were in his possession. But most of these people seem to me to make a pretence of their discernment in reference to this metal, rather for the purpose of distinguishing themselves from the multitude, than from any real knowledge which they possess; and this I will briefly show.

Corinth was captured in the third year of the 158th Olympiad, being the year of the City, 608,6 some ages after the period when those artists flourished, who produced all the specimens of what these persons now call Corinthian metal. It is in order, therefore, to refute this opinion, that I shall state the age when these different artists lived; for, if we reckon according to the above-mentioned era of the Olympiads, it will be easy to compare their dates with the corresponding years of our City. The only genuine Corinthian vessels, then, are those which these men of taste metamorphose, sometimes into dishes, sometimes into lamps, or even into washing-basins,7 without any regard to decency. They are of three kinds; the white variety, approaching very nearly to the splendour of silver, and in which that metal forms a large proportion of the compound; a second kind, in which the yellow colour of gold predominates; and a third, in which all the metals are mixed in equal proportions. Besides these, there is another mixture, the composition of which it is impossible to describe, for although it has been formed into images and statues by the hand of man, it is chance that rules in the formation of the compound. This last is highly prized for its colour, which approaches to that of liver, and it is on this account that it is called "hepatizon:"8 it is far inferior to the Corinthian metal, but much superior to the Æginetan and Delian, which long held the first rank.

1 He alludes to the ancient works of art in this compound metal.

2 The art of making compound metals.

3 Vulcan, namely.

4 No one has accidentally stumbled upon the art of making this composite metal.

5 We have an account of the destruction of Corinth, and the accidental formation of this compound, in Florus, B. ii. c. 16. Although this account was generally received by the ancients, we may venture to assert, that it cannot be correct; we cannot conceive the possibility of such a fusion taking place during the destruction of the city, or of the complete union of the components, in the mode in which they have been found to exist.—B.

6 B.C. 146.—B.

7 "Trulleos." In an epigram of Martial, B. ix. Ep. 97, the word "trulla" signifies a chamber-pot.

8 From the Greek ἥπαρ, "the liver."

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