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Ch. 7: Hyacinthus, Sapphire, Corundum

Ch. 7:  Hyacinthus, Sapphire, Corundum Page of 377 Ch. 7:  Hyacinthus, Sapphire, Corundum Text size:minus plus Restore normal size   Mail page  Print this page
HYAC1NTHUS.
245
But to return to the precious stone. Pliny must nave believed that it derived its name from its resemblance in colour to the flower ; but there was as little foundation for this as for most other ancient etymologies in this depart­ment. The Indian name for the stone, of which the Arabic Jacut preserves the sound, was readily assimilated by the poetical Greeks to that of Apollo's favourite Hyacinthus, more properly written " Hyacis " —the more especially as there is some reason for believing that the gem, at least in later times, was accounted sacred to the sun.
The identity of names between Apollo's darling and the precious stone, gave origin to the epigram (ix. 751) :
But that the Hyacinthus of the ancients is the Sapphire of the moderns will be perfectly evident to every mineralogist who will carefully peruse the minute description of the same gem given by Solinus : "Amongst these things (in Ethiopia) of which we have treated, is found also the Hyacinthus of a shining cerulean colour ; a stone of price if it be found without blemish, for it is extremely liable to defects. For generally it is either diluted with violet, or clouded with dark shades, or else it melts away into a watery hue through too great paleness. The best colour of the stone is an equable one, neither dulled by too deep a dye, nor too clear with overmuch transparency, but which draws a sweetly-coloured tinge (florem) from the double mixture of lustre and violet (purpura). This is the stone that feels the influence of the air, and sympathises with the heavens, not shining equally whether the sky be cloudy or bright. Besides, when put in the mouth, it is
Ch. 7:  Hyacinthus, Sapphire, Corundum Page of 377 Ch. 7:  Hyacinthus, Sapphire, Corundum
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