Agate of Pyrrhus  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

The agate of Pyrrhus is an agate stone described by Pliny in the thirty-seventh book of his Natural History. On this gem, he said, can be seen "Apollo with his lyre and the nine muses, each with her proper attribute, rendered not by art but by nature, through the pattern of the spots".

In the entry Gamaheu, in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, one reads:

a natural cameo, or intaglio. These stones (chiefly agate) contain natural representations of plants, landscapes, or animals. Pliny tells us that the “Agate of Pyrrhus” contained a representation of the nine Muses, with Apollo in the midst. Paracelsus calls them natural talismans. Albertus Magnus makes mention of them, and Gaffaret, in his Curiosités inouïes, attributes to them magical powers. (French, camaïeu, from the oriental gamahuia, camehuia, or camebouia.)

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Agate of Pyrrhus" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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