Pliny: Natural History

56sparsa, non convoluta, canitie. neque ex ophite columnae nisi parvae admodum inveniuntur. duo eius genera: molle candidi, nigricantis1 durum.2 dicuntur ambo capitis dolores sedare adalligati et serpentium ictus. quidam phreneticis ac lethargicis adalligari iubent candicantem. contra serpentes autem a quibusdam praecipue laudatur ex iis quem tephrian appellant a colore cineris. vocatur et Memphites a loco, gemmantis naturae. huius usus conteri et iis quae urenda sint aut secanda ex aceto inlini; obstupescit ita corpus nec sentit cruciatum. 57rubet porphyrites in eadem Aegypto; ex eodem candidis intervenientibus punctis leptopsephos vocatur. quantislibet molibus caedendis sufficiunt lapicidinae. statuas ex eo Claudio Caesari procurator eius in urbem ex Aegypto advexit Vitrasius3 Pollio, non admodum probata novitate; nemo certe postea 58imitatus est. invenit eadem Aegyptus in Aethiopia quem vocant basaniten,4 ferrei coloris atque duritiae, unde et nomen ei dedit. numquam hic maior repertus est quam in templo Pacis ab imperatore



scattered greyish-white spots which are not rolled into coils. Another difference is that only quite small columns made of serpentine are to be found.Serpentine. It has two varieties: one is soft and white, the other hard and dark. When worn as amulets, both are said to relieve headaches and snakebites. Some authorities recommend the white variety as an amulet to be worn by sufferers from delirium or a coma. But as an antidote to snakebites some praise particularly the variety of serpentine known as ‘tephrias’a from its ashen colour. Another stone, named from its place of origin, is the Memphis stone, whichDolomite (?). is like a gem. The method of using this is to grind it to powder and to smear it mixed with vinegar on places which need to be cauterized or lanced; thus the body is numbed and feels no severe pain. In Egypt too there is red porphyry, of which a varietyImperial porphyry. mottled with white dots is known as ‘leptopsephos.’b The quarries supply masses of any size to be cut away. Statues of this stone were brought from Egypt to the emperor Claudius in Rome by his official agent Vitrasius Pollio, an innovation that did not meet with much approval. No one at least has since followed his example. The Egyptians also discovered in Ethiopia what is called ‘basanites,’ aGreywacke. stone which in colour and hardness resembles iron: hence the name they have given it.c No larger specimen of this stone has ever been found than that dedicated by the emperor Vespasian in the temple of

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938