latter city was sacked by Alaric this relic formed a part of the
spoils, and, like the Sacro Catino, it turned out to be glass.
Antique glass emeralds, far superior in color, lustre, and
hardness to modern pastes, have sometimes been recut and
faceted for rings, by modern Roman dealers, and sold to incautious dilettanti for the real article. The Cingalese are
charged with using the bottoms of wine-bottles from which
they cut "bona fide" emeralds for foreigners, and the
" Brighton emeralds " purchased by visitors have a similar
It is related that the tomb of one of the princes of Cyprus
placed near the sea was surmounted by a lion with emerald
eyes so lustrous that the fishes were scared away by their
brilliancy, and, for the sake of the fisherman's craft, they were
removed. It is possible, remarks Mr. King, that the marble
lion brought from Cnidos with eyes deprived of their pupils,
now in the British Museum, may be the identical lion of Cyprus.
Topaz. — The topaz of antiquity, it is supposed, was the
chrysolite, while the modern topaz was known to the ancients
by some other name ; that it was employed by them as a gemstone is evident from Greek intagli, of a very early period,
which have come down to the present day. The origin of the
word has been ascribed to topaza, signifying "to guess," and
also to Topazos, an island in the Red Sea, from which the
early nations obtained their topaz, whatever that may have
been. It is thought the greenish yellow topaz was called by
the ancient lapidaries Chrysoprase, a term now applied to a
variety of quartz.
There are two kinds known to modern mineralogists ; the
oriental, constituting a variety of the precious corundum,
and sometimes denominated yellow sapphire; and the occidental, of a different composition, forming a distinct species.