rock, extremely fine-grained, of a deep black, but showing a slight
tinge of green when viewed at a certain angle. The Romans got it from
Egypt, and its name (Coptic) implied that it had both the appearance
and the hardness of iron (xxxvi. 11). Indeed, sculptures in Basalt have
greatly the appearance of cast-iron figures. The surface, however
highly polished, exhibits a granular texture, serving to distinguish it
from the rarer antique black marble, the " Nero antico."
largest work in Basalt known to the Romans was the recumbent Nile, with
his sixteen infants sporting about him—alluding to the number of
cubits- attained by his annual rise. This had been dedicated in the
Temple of Peace by Vespasian, but is not the one now in the Capi-toline
Museum which passes for it, the latter being in marble. It was
apparently a work of the age of the Ptolemies, and brought from
Alexandria by the Emperor named as the dedicator. Pliny mentions a
report that there existed at Thebes a similar statue, but of Serapis.
The Capitoline Museum in fact possesses some wonderful Centaurs and
Stags in Basalt, ascribed to the reign of Hadrian, of whom Pausanias
had remarked as something noteworthy a statue in this material, "
Egyptian stone," in the Olympeum, Athens. His love for Egyptian art had
revived the use of this stone, in which some extraordinary monuments of
the earliest times were executed, such as