and still Almaden is one of the two chief sources, Idria in Carniola being the other.
Idols made entirely of gold seem to have been peculiar to Oriental nations. Herodotus,9
and after him Diodorus, have left accounts of such in Babylon of a
weight evidently vastly exaggerated by tradition, for the iconoclast
Persians had melted them down, even before the former historian visited
Babylon. The famous statue of Anaitis (Venus), made of solid gold,
remained in her temple at Anaitica on the Euphrates until it was
plundered by Antony's soldiers on his Parthian expedition. Augustus,
dining with an old soldier of Antony's at Bologna, inquired if it were
true that the first plunderer who laid hands on the idol was
immediately struck dead, and received for answer that his host was the
very man in question; that Augustus was then dining out of a leg of the
goddess (converted into a dish) ; and that his whole fortune consisted
in that piece of plunder. The large Chryselephantine statues of the
Grecian sculptors required a comparatively small weight of the metal.
Pausanias notices that the trunk of these figures was made up with
plaster and clay. Gorgias the Ehetorician dedicated a solid figure of
himself at Delphi, but it was doubtless a very small statuette, seeing
the rarity of the metal in Greece at that time, the 70th Olympiad.
Works of the same nature and of immense intrinsic value continued to be
made for dedication in temples under the Roman Empire: thus we find
Priscilla the wife of Abascantius (and he merely an Agens in rebus)
directing by her testament to offer in the Capitol a portrait of
Domitian to weigh one hundred pounds of gold.