Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

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methods are not sufficiently exact, as they are not based on essential and exclusive
characteristics. — Hardness, luster, transparency, and beauty of color, are the most im-
portant peculiarities and recommendations of a gem.

See F.B. Brilckman's Abhandlung von Edelsteinen. Braunschw. 1773. 8. and Beitrage to the same. Braunschw. 1778. and 1783.

for a view of the nature of gems, see F. S. Beudant, Traile element, de Mineralojie. Par. IE30. vol. i. p. 704. Cf. Die

tionnaire classique d'Histoire Naturelle, par Audouin, &c. Par. 1S2S. tome iii. p. 5A2.—Mawe, Treatise on Precious Stones. Lond.
1813. 8. with colored plates.— L. Feuchlwanger, Treatise ou Gems, &c. a Guide for the Lapidary, Artist, Amateur, he. N. York,

1838. 8.

§ 195. Without going into a full enumeration of all the kinds of precious
stones, we shall mention those which are worthy of notice on account of their
use in lythoglyphy.

1 u. The Diamo7id (dSana?, adamas), with the ancients, held the first rank among
precious stones, on account of its brilliancy, hardness, and transparency. Yet it is
not certain that they employed it for engraving. Even the pohshing of it seems to
have been unknown to them., or the art was lost and discovered again about 1467 by
Louis de Berguen of Brixen.

The Biihy (Trnpawoj, carhunculus) approaches the diamond in hardness, and often sur- it in luster. The Romans named different varieties of this gem, rubacellus,
pnlassius, spinellus. Phny (xxxvii. 29) mentions lychnis as a sort of ruby.

The Emerald probably had its name {sjnaragdus, ajxapaycos derived from fiapao-trw) from
hs pecuhar gloss. On account of its beautiful green, both agreeable and salutary to
the eves of the artist, it was frequently used in lithoglyphy. The ancients seem to
have included under the term smaragdus all gems of a green color, and especially the
dark beryl, called by jewelers the aquamarine. The smaragdites was merely a va-
riety of green marble", -which, although often called smaragdus^, must be distinguished
from the emerald.

The Sapphire {<Tcn:<pcipo? , sappliirus, also K^mvog. cyanus), of a beautiful sky-blue color,
was esteemed nearly equal to the diamond. That, which had mingled with it tinges
of gold, was called chrvsoprase {xprco-paaog).

The name of Beryl (/?))pi'XXoj, heryllvs) was given to all transparent stones of a pale
or sea green. The 'Chrysoheryl was of a yellowish hue.

The Jacinth or Hyacinth {vaKivdog) is of a deep red, often an orange color. The stone
of violet hue, to which the ancients gave also the same name, seems to have been
rather a species of amethyst.

The Amethyst {Aiitdmroi), violet colored in different degrees and shades, was much
sought for by ancient artists. One variety of it was held in particular estimation ;
that which they termed TraiScpcog, or dvTcpiog. and the gem of Venus (gemma Veneris).

The Agate (dxarrig) received its name from the river Achates in Sicily, where the
stone was first found. Agates^ are of various shades in transparency and color. The
agate-onvx, with a while surface and another color beneath, was often employed for
engraving in relief, the surface of the stone being used for the figure. There are
numerous sorts.

The Carnelian is so called from its color resembling that of flesh {carnis). It be-
longs to the class of agates. It was very frequently used for purposes of engraving',
on account of the ease with which it could be wrought.

The Sardine or Sardius (adpSivog, aapiiog, sarda) is likewise red and of the same kind
as the carnelian. It is used for seals and signets very much, because it is so readily
detached from the wax. The term sarda was a common name for every kind of

The Opal [UnaWiog, opalus) is ordinarily whhe, but occurs with other colors. It was
much esteemed'* by the ancients.

The Jasper (J'ainris, iaspis) presents various colors, red, green, brown, gray, which
sometimes appear simple, and sometimes mingled. For lithoglyphy the latter kind
was preferred, particularly that whh red spots upon a green ground, w-hich was also
called hel iotropia.

The Onyx (owl) took its name from its whitish red color resembling the nails of the


hand. That which presents veins of red was termed Sardonyx. A kind of marble
of similar color was also termed onyx or Onychitis, and Ukewise Alabastrites.

The Crystal (*f/>wraXXoj, crystallus) was so called from its resemblance in form to
ice (/c/wof, Kfivarao)). Ancient artists made use of it both in hthoglyphy, and for drink-
ing vessels on which devices were to be sculptured.

t Pliny speaks of many varieties of the Emerald. The real eem was highly prized. When
the rich Luculliis visited Alexandria, Ptolemy is said to have presented to him an emerald bear-
ing on it an engraved likeness of the king of Ejrypt ; and this was considered as the most va-
luable present which could be made. But, when it is stated that the hall of Ahasuerus wag
paved with emerald ; that a temple of Hercules was adorned with pillars of emerald ; and that
whole statues were cut in emerald ; the maragdites, or some variety of marble, must be meant.

Gems of emerald have been found at Herculaneum and Pompeii. ^ borates seem to have been

frequently used for vases; some beautiful vases of this stone are preserved in the collections at
Dresden and Brunswick. If a stone presented two colors, so that the raised ficure could be of a
color different from the rest of the surface, it was specially valued. Very fine specimens of such

engraved stones are preserved in the Royal Museum at Paris. 3 The Carnelian, and the stones

included under the names of .'Jgate and Onijx, seem to have been the ones most commonly used

in forming cameos (cf $ 196). Many very fine'specimens are preserved in the public collections.

♦ "Nonius, a Roman senator, possessed an Opal of extraordinary beauty valued at £160,000;
rather than part with which to Mark Antony, he chose to suffer e.xile. He fled to Egypt ; and
there, it was supposed, secreted his gem ;" and it was never more beard of until, in modern
times, a Frenchman by the name of Roboly pretended to have found it amidst the ruins of
Alexandria. Only a few engraved specimens are found in the collections.

2 u. In reference to the accounts given of precious stones by ancient writers, par-
ticularly hy Pli7iy, the 37th book of whose Natural History is devoted to this topic, it
must not be forgotten that the names and characteristics therein given do not always
belong to the stones which bear those names in modern science. I\Iany of the ancient
gems must be distinguished from such as have the same names now, but diftcrent cha-
racteristics. The smallest points of variance were sufficient with the ancients to
secure to a precious stone a new name.

See L. de Launny's Tableau de Comparaison de la Mineralogie des Anciens avec celle des Modernes, in his Mineralogie da
Ancient Brux. 1S03. 2 vols. 12. — A". F. Mocre, Ancient Mineralosy, or Inquiry respecting the mineral substances mentioned by
the ancients, &c. N. York, 1S34. 12. commended in SillimarVs Jouraa.] of Science, vol. xiviii. p. 1S8.

3. Several precious stones are enumerated in Exodus (xxviii. 17 — 20) ; by the

Sept. thus : aapSiov, ro-dCtoi/, c/iapdySos, avOpa^, caTrcpeipog, \acnng, Xiy'vptov, dxaTrjs, dnWvGTOs,

Xf>vo6\idog, [iripv\\iov, ovvxiov. The list in Rev. xxi. contains also x^-^i^^v, capcuw^, xpV'
ampauoq, vaKtvOoi.

Sec Epiphanivs, de xii. Gemmis, &c. on the xii.gems in the breastplate of Aaron, in his Opera. Colon. 16S2. 2 vols. fol. — also in
Gtisner, De fossilium genere, cited P. V. § 26S.

4. Some have included among the gems the Murra or murrTiiiivm. mentioned by
Phny, of which were made the vessels {vasa murrina) so much valued by the Ro-
mans. But as to the nature of this substance there have been many conjectures, of
which the most probable seems to be, that it was a kind of porcelain ; in i'avor of this
view, a passage is quoted from Propertius {El. iv. v. 26), where he speaks of murrhine
cups as baked or burnt {miirrea pocula cod a). " The vases were in such esteem at
Rome, in the first ages of the Christian era, that two of them were bought by one of
the emperors at the price of 300 sestertiiim, more than ;C2000 sterling each. A cup
capable of holding three sextarii was sold for seventy talents ; and a dish for three
hundred ; a talent being equal to =C1S0 English."

Silliman's Acer. Journ. of Science and Art, vol. xxvi. p. 236.— See Graf von Vdtheim, Abhandlnn? Qber die Vasa murrina.
Helmst. 1791. 9.—Gurlitt. as cited § 213. X—Roloff, aber die murrinischen Geflsse der Alien, in the Mtaeum dcr Alterlhumsw.
\sf Wolf and Bvitmann (Bd. \\.)—Launay, Mineral, des Anciens, above cited, vol. i. p. 85.— Ze Blond and Larctier, Les Vases
murrhines, Mem. Acad. Inscr. vol. xliii. p 217, 23S. — yiongez, Sur les vases murrhins, Mem. de VInstit. C 1 a s s e de Lit. et Beaux
ArU, vol. ii. p. 133 —Cf. Class. Journ. i. 242.

5. The substance called alabaster (d}.d0a(TTpos) was employed by the ancients as the material
for their unstientary vases, or the vessels for holding precious perfumes and ointments. Hence
the term d\a6ao-Tpov came to be used as a conunon nan)e for a vase or bottle designed for thib
purpose (cf. jyiatt. xxvi. 7), of whatever it might be formed, whether of alabaster, gold, glass, or
other material. The alabaster of the ancients was, according to Dr. Clarke, carbonated lime, and
precisely the substance which forms the stalactites in the famous grotto of Antiparos.

See£. D. Claike's Travels, vol. iii. p. 275, ed. N. York, 1S15.

6. The pearl (liapyapls, napyapirrjg, ixapyapiTig, margarita') was valued very highly by the
ancients; pearls being ranked by them among the most costly jewels'. ".Tulius Cssar' pre-
sented-! Servilia, the mother of Brutus, with a pearl, for which he paid a sum equal to 48.457
pounds." " A pearl which Pliny valued at $375,000 of our present moneys, Cleopatra is said to
have dissolved at a banquet, and drank off to Antony's health." Natural pearls are "calcareous
excrescences found as well in the bodies as in the shells of several kinds of crustaceous fish."
What is now called mother of pearl or J^acre, is " the inner part of the shell of the pearl-oyster
or pearl-muscle." The Romans received tii^ir pearls by commerce from the east, where thev
were procured by diving in the waters of the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean
near Ceylon or Taprobana. The ancients seem not to have known any of the modern ways of
producins artificiul pearls ; yet, it is said, there was a method of liasteniiig the natural forma-
tion ; according to a curious passage in the biography of Apollonius by Philostratus, the Arabs
on the shores of the Red Sea " dived in those spots where they knew the fish were to be found,

51 2l2


and enticed them to open their shells by rubbing them with some kind of ointment as a bait;
which having effected, they pricked them with a sharp instrument, having first placed near them
a vessel hollowed out in various places into the form of pearls, into which molds the liquor
which flowed from the wounds was received, and there hardened into the shape, color, and con-
sistence of the native gems."

1 Bechmann'a Hist, of Invent. Abridg. Lond. 1823. vol. ii. p. 236. a Bibl. Repot. Sec. Ser. iv. 321 3 Encydop. Ama.

iz. 371.

§ 196. The figures on gems were formed either in depression below the sur-
face, or in relief above. Engraved gems of the first kind were called, by the
ancients, %iBoi 8idy%vrttoi,, gemmx diaglyphicx, insculptse. Those of the other
kind were called •ki.doi avdy'kvTttoi, gemmas tclypas, unaglypkicse, exsculpfae. The
moderns also apply distinguishing terms to the two kinds: gems with figures
cut below the surface are called intaglios,- gems with figures in relief above the
surface are called cameos.

1 u. Where the figure is formed below the surface of the gem, the depression is of
different degrees, according to the perspective. Sometimes the surface of the gera
receives a swelling form like that of a shield, to enable the artist to express the pro-
minent parts more naturally and without curtailment and preserve a more accurate

2 u. I'he word cameo was formed, it may be, from the union of two words, viz.
gemma onychia, as it originally was applied only to gems of onyx having two colors,
the figure in relief being formed of the upper color, and the other appearing in the
ground. Or it may have come from the name of a shell, Came, which is found on
the coast of Trapani in Sicily, and which has various figures on it in a sort of rehef

See /. D. FioriUo, Abh ttber das Wort Camee, in bis Klein. Schrift. artistischen Inhalts.

§ 197. The objects represented upon engraved gems are very various. Often
the figures transmit and preserve the memory of particular persons, remarkable
events, civil and religious rites and customs, or other matters worthy of notice.
Sometimes the whole is an arbitrary device of the artist, combining and exhibit-
ing mythical, allegorical, and imaorinary objects. Frequently we find merely
heads, of gods, heroes or distinguished personages; either singly, or one after
another {capita jugata) ,• or facing each other {adversa) ,• or turned the opposite
way {aversa). The heads usually appear in profile. In discovering and ex-
plaining the design, it is useful to compare the pieces with coins and with other

§ 198. Upon many gems are found figures in full length, either single or
grouped. There are, for example, full figures of gods, with various costumes
and appendages. Frequently, mythical and allegorical representations are
united. In many cases, the engravings illustrate points of history and antiqui-
ties. Festivals, sacrifices, bacchanals, feats in hunting and the like, are often
presented. There are gems also with inscriptions, which usually give the
name of the artist, but not with certainty, because the inscription is so often
made subsequently to the time of the engraving. Some gems also bear in large
letters the names of the persons who caused them to be engraved. Occasion-
ally the inscription contains the words of some sacred or votive formula ; scarcely
ever an explanation of the subject represented.

See Fr. de Ficoroni, Gemmae antiquse literatae. Rom. 1757. 4.

Particular gems were considered as peculiarly appropriate to certain gods; e. g. representa-
tions of Bacchus were specially common on the amethyst having the color of wine; Neptune
and the nymphs were executed in aquamarine having the greenish color of water. — In Plate
XLVII. fig. 5, and 6, we have specimens of whole figures engraved on gems. In lis. 5. Daedalus
is seen sitting on a block and fabricating a wins which rests on a tripod ; it is curious that he
seems to be working with a mallet. In fi? 6, Cupid is sitting on a shell, and playing with a
butterfly; the oval ring in the fig. shows the artual size of the beautiful gem here exhibited.
This may be an allejorical device, as the butterfly was resarded by the ancients as an emblem
of the soul. Winckelmann gives an antique, in which a philosopher is looking contemplatively
upon a human skull with a'b\itterfly on the crown of it, supposed to represent" Plato meditating
on the immortality of the soul. So in the gem here exhibited, the artist may have designed to
intimate the influence of love upon the so?iZ, or to remind the observer of the allegory of Eros and

Psijche (cf P. II. $50). In figs. 7, and 8, we have a Hermes and a Hermeracles, as engraved on

gems. In fig. 1, is a mythological representation : Harpocrates, the god of silence, sits on a lotus
flower, holding in his left hand a scourge (Jla^ellum), instead of the horn of plenty, which more
commonly he holds, and placing the fore-finger of his right hand upon his lips ; on one side of him
is the sun, and the moon on the other; on his head he has a vessel of some sort instead of a
crown. — In Plate XIV. fig. 2, the soddess Nox is given as represented on a gem. The represen-
tations of Nemesis in Plate XXXVI. are also from engraved gems ; as are likewise the figures
of Justice, Castor and Pollux, and Anubis, iu the Sup. Plates 16, 21, 27.


§ 199. The history of this art has its different periods, and principal changes
and characteristics in reference to origin, progress, and decline, in common with
sculpture or image-work in general. Like sculpture, it depends much on de-
sign; its advancement is affected by the same causes as that of sculpture; so
also is its decline; its progress, likewise, presents the same varieties of style,
the rude, the more cultivated, and the elegant. It is probable, that soon after
the discovery of precious stones men began to etch upon them, at first, perhaps
mere characters or simple signs. The Bible gives the earliest notices of the
art, in the precious stones of the Ephod and the Breastplate of Aaron, on which
were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Gems and precious
stones are spoken of at a still earlier period.

Of. § 195. 3.— See Gen. ii. 12. Job xxviii. 6, 16, 19. Comp. Lev. xxvi. \.—J. J Bellermann, Die Urim und Thummim, die iltes
tenGemmen. Berl. 1824. S.—Eichhum, DeGemmis sculptis Hebraeorum, in the Comment. Sex. Gott. vol. ii.

§ 200. The Israelites without doubt derived the art from the Egyptians,
among whom it had been long known, and had been promoted by their super-
stitious ideas respecting the wonderful efficacy of such stones in the preserva-
tion of health. In this view they were marked with hieroglyphic characters,
and used as talismans, or amulets.

1 u. Many of these stones yet e.xist, especially of a convex form hke that of the
beetle, termed Scarabcei {Kapafio;) ; however, many of them were wrought at a later
period, after the time of Christ, to which more recent class belong also those called
by the name of Abraxas.

2. Great numbers of the gems called by this name are preserved in the cabinets of
Europe. The word Abraxas, being interpreted according to the numerical force of its
corresponding Greek letters, aiSpa^a^, would signify 365, the number of days m the
year. It is said to have been fabricated by Basilides, who maintained that there were
so many heavens ; or by some of the sect called Gnostics. The engraved stones
designaied by this name are supposed to have proceeded from the followers of this sect,
and to have been designed as a sort of amulets or talismans. The word Abraxas is
also explained as having been formed by combining the initials of the following words ;
ya, Father ; jj, Son ; nn, Spirit ; inN, One (i. e. one God) ; Xptoro's, Christ ; "Aj^dpo).

TTog, 3Ian; "Ziorf^p, Savior: thus having an origin similar to that of the mystical name
'IxOvi, composed of the initials of the following words, 'Ifjo-oiij Xptardj ewD 'Yidj, "Lcjrnp.

Mnvtfaucon divides the gems called Mraxas into seven classes : 1. those with the head of a
cock usually joined to a human trunk with the legs ending in two serpents ; 2. those with the
head or body of a lion, having often the inscription jMiihrns ; 3. those having the inscription or
the figure Serapis ; 4. those having .^nubis, or scarabfei, serpents, or sphinxes; 5. those having
human figures with or without wings; 6. those having inscriptions without figures; 7. those
having unusual or monstrous figures. The term Abraxas, sometimes written Jibrasax, is found
only on a few. A specimen of the first class is given in our illustrations, Plate XLVII. fig. 2.
The imace engraved has the hody and arms of a man ; in the right hand is held a round shield;
in the left Xhefiagellum ; the head is that of a cock with a crest, and the legs assume the form of
serpents. It bears the inscription I A UU, t a w, which is commonly found on these stones, on the
shield or on some other part ; this may be intended to correspond to the Hebrew of Jehurah (see
Plate XXX VIII. fig. e, line 6); the wird Jldnnai is found on some of these stones. A very singular

specimen is given in IValsh,or\ Coins, &c. p.C8. as cited ^ 213. The mystic word ABPA("AAABPA

{JlBRACADJiBRA) is su|)posed to have come from the sect above mentioned. An amulet was
formed by writing these letters in stich a way that they should make an inverted cone or tiiangle
with the whole word at the base and the letter A at the apex ; which was done by beginning the
word one place farther to the right in each successive line and also cutting off at each time one
letter from the end. This was employed as a charm for the cure of a fever, particularly the in-
termittent called np.iTpira'ios, or double-ttrtimt. In the Precepts of Serenns Sammoniciis (cf. P.
V. § 553) is a prescription, which after describing this amulet directs that it be worn on the neck ;
His lino nexis culluvi redimire memento.

See Mrmtfaiccon, L'Antiquile Expliqu^e, vol. ii. p. 353, (part 2, livre iii.) — Cf. Spren^el, Hist, de la Med. vol. ii. p. Hf.—Joa.
Macarii, Abraxas s. Apistopistus ; antiquaria disquisitio de Geaimis Basilidiania. Antv. 1657. 4. — P. C. Jablonshy, De Nominis
Abraxas vera si^nificatione, in the Miscdl. Lips. JS'cv. (Bd. 7. Th. I.)— i". Munter, Sinubilder und Kunstvorstelluugen der altcn
Christen. Alton. 1825. 4. — J J. Bellermann, Uber die Gemmen mit dem Abraxas Bilde, unJ uber die Scarafaaeen-Gemnien. Berl.
IS 17. 8.

3. The most fanciftil and supers" itious notions have prevailed respecting the marvelous powers
of gems. Fabulous accounts of the origin of diflJ'erent stones were invented by the ancients.
Particular gems were imagined to hold peculiar relations to certain planets, constellations, and
months of the year. The gem appropriate for a particular month was worn as an amulet during
the month, and was supposed to exert a mysterious control in reference to beauty, health, riches,
honor, and all good fortune ; as e. g. a sapphire for April, an atrate for J\Jay, and an emerald for
June. DiflTereiit gems were also supposed to possess specific powers; e. g. tire evierald was an
antidote to poison, and a preventive of melancholy; the amethyst was a security against intoxi-
cation, if worn as an aiiiulet or used as a drinking-cup ; the ruby nr spinelle was a. pranoter of
joy and a foe to all bad dreams. Such notions were cherished also among the Arabians and
the eastern nations ; and were embraced in Europe in the middle ases. Indeed, to understaiul
the virtues of gems was esteemed an important part of natural philosophy, and treatises v/eri


written on the subject (cf. P. V. $ 268). Marhodus, a monk of the 12ih century, who wa3 made
bishop of Rennes, wrote a poem (De^emmis) setting forth, in Latin verse, the m'iracnlous efficacy
of precious stones. Cf IVarton's Hist. Eiig. Poetry. Lond. 1824. 2d vol. p. 214. Twelve gems
were appropriated as symbolical of the twelve Apostles, and called " Tlie Apostle gems ;" the
jint having been drawn from the twelve gems representing the twelve tribes on Aaron's breast-
plate, and from the figurative language of the Apocalypse of John (Rev. xxi. 14, 19, 20), in which
the walls of the new Jerusalem are represented as having twelve foundations of precious
stones, inscribed with the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

4. We may mention here a class of engraved stones, sometimes called Socratic,
having heads of various animals connected with the form or feet of a cock, or other
devices, among which is found a head resembling Socrates.

See Sulzer, Allg. Theorie, &c. vol. ii. p. 399. — Joa. Chifletii Socrates, s. deGemmis ejus imagine cslatis Judicium. Antv. 1662. 4.
~Middleton''s Antiq. Tab. sxi. sect. 10. Cf, Doddridge, Family Expositor, Note on Rev. iv. 7. (p. 913. Am. ei. Amherst, 1833.)

§ 201. Among the Egyptians, lithoglyphy, like the other plastic arts, and on
account of the same hinderances (cf. § 169,) never reached any distinguished ex-
cellence or perfection. Stones and gems, adorned with figures in relief, were
much less common among them than among the Greeks and Romans, with
whom a greater degree of luxury in general favored the exercise of this art in

"The ancients appear to have obtained the emerald from Egypt. CaiUimid has succeeded in
finding the old emerald mines in the Theban deserts on the Arabian Gulf. He mentions having
found subterranean mines capable of allowing four hundred men to work; he likewise found
tools, ropes, lamps and other utensils."

§ 202. Among the Ethiopians and Persians, and other nations of Asia and

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