make drinking vessels from the onyx from Carmania which is called murrhina'3 as
well as the feet for beds, seats and pillars just as if it were marble.
These are made by rubbing two pieces of onyx together on a table until
they are so hot they almost glow and cannot be held in the hand.
I shall now take up the gems that have a fiery glow or color. Gems which are espcially fiery were called άνθράκια by the Greeks. Theophrastus called them άνθρακαs and also άνθρακίτιδας because, when exposed to the sun's rays they appear to glow like burning coals. For the same reason these stones are called carbunculus in Latin.34 Some of these stones which are not affected by fire certain Greek writers have called απνρωτοτ (ά, not; τνρ, fire).
They are found in many places, in Spain near Olisipo; in Gaul near
Massilia; in Germany along the Misena river above the fortified city of
Hoestein where they are associated with hyacinthus; in Bohemia
five miles from Litomerice in the fields along the road to Trebe-nice,
also near Schelkowitz about three miles from this locality and in the
fields of Lotedorf about ten miles from Most on the road to Mount St.
Catherine. They are found also in Bohemia in a spring between the
fortified city which is known by our name for a royal watchtower and
the city of Plana. Other localities are Riseberg, Lygius; Thrace;
Corinth and Troezen, Peloponnesus; Orchomenus, Arcadia; the island of
Scio; the promontory of Orthosia and near the town of Miletus, Caria.
They are also found in India, especially in the mountains of the
fabulous island of Ceylon; at Thebes, Egypt; near the city of Syene
near the island of Elephantina; in the interior of Ethiopia in the
district of Pselcis; among the Garamantes and Nasamones.35
All carbunculi are
red and brilliant but variations in this gem have given rise to several
species. Stones that are especially red and brilliant but usually small
are called spinellus (spinel). Stones with a pure bright red color and brilliancy but found in large sizes are called rubinus by the Italians, after the color, and pyropus by the Greeks and Ovid because they appear to be burning. These same names are given also to carbunculi with colors similar to the amethyst. The older Greek writers called these latter stones amethystizon although they are distinct from the amethyst. The latter stone has a purple tint that is mildly alluring while the carbunculus dazzles the eye. Some carbunculi have a lighter color and luster and these the younger writers have called ballagius because of the color and the older writers candidus because of the luster.36 The luster of the carbunculi of the second species approaches the rose-like luster peculiar to the amethyst
" Some of these vessels were exceptionally beautiful and commanded very high prices.
34 The Greek names are derived from the word &νθρα£, coal; the Latin from carbo, a little coal.
35 Tribes of interior and northern Africa.
36 The derivation of the name ballagius or
balas is uncertain. Some believe the name to come from Ballaheia, a
mountain in India mentioned by Marco Polo as being the source of the
balas-spinel; King believes that the name may come from