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Gagates lapis niger splendens levis ut solus super aquam natet inter alios lapides ut dicunt invenitur in litia circa ripam fluminis ganges aridus et quasi luminosus mediocriter levis valde cuius est melior qui facile exarserit igni et odorem aspalti habet medicine aptus est.


natet ABC | natat e | om. f

litia AC f | licia B e

ganges AC e | gãges B | gandes f

{aridus} et om. B ef


Gagates {"jet stone"} is a light shiny black stone, which - unique among the other stones - floats above water as they say. It is found in Lycia on the shores of the river Ganges. Dry it is almost somewhat luminous and very light; the best quality jet is the one that easily catches fire and has the smell of asphalt. It is good for medicinal purposes.


Simon has an almost identical text, cf. his entry Lapis gagates q.v., where more is said about its source.

Latin Gagates lapis is calqued on Greek γαγάτης (λíθος) /gagátēs/ (/líthos/), Γαγάτης /Gagátēs/ being the adjective derived from the place/region Γάγας /Gágas/ or Γάγαι /Gágai/.

Both Pliny and Dioscorides describe gagates in very similar terms having drawn from the same source. Pliny, 36, 34, 141, ed. Rackham (1938-63: X.112, 114), has gagates derived from the river Gages in Lycia (Gagates lapis nomen habet loci et amnis Gagis Lyciae), whereas the Greek Dioscorides, 5, 128, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: III.95-6) calls the place of origin Γάγαι /Gágai/.

The Longobardic Dioscorides translation is somewhat different 5, 131, ed. Stadler (1902: 238) De lapide gagaten {"On the jet stone"}, saying: In sicilia invenitur in flumine aliquo, qui se miscet mari, sed ubi lapis ipse invenitur, gagas appellatur, inde nomen accepit – "In Sicily it is found in a certain river, which flows into the sea, but the place where the stone itself is found is called Gagas, from where the stone takes its name."

The name of the river and town/region was very early on confused with Γάγγης /Gángēs/, the river Ganges, which explains the forms in Simon's witnesses.

For more information on the origin and properties of jet cf. [[1]], [[2]]

WilfGunther 18/11/13

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