- skip - Brewer’s

Adamant

is really the mineral corundum; but the word is indifferently used for rock crystal, diamond, or any hard substance, and also for the magnet or loadstone. It is often used by poets for no specific substance, but as hardness or firmness in the abstract. Thus, Virgil, in his Æneid vi. 552, speaks of “adamantine pillars” merely to express solid and strong ones; and Milton frequently uses the word in the same way. Thus, in Paradise Lost, ii. 436, he says the gates of hell were made of burning adamant:

“This huge convex of fire


Outrageous to devour, immures us round


Ninefold, and gates of burning adamant


Barred over us prohibit all egress.”

Satan, he tells us, wore adamantine armour (Book vi. 110):


“Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,

Came towering, armed in adamant and gold.”

And a little further on he tells us his shield was made of adamant (vi. 255):


“He [Satan] hasted, and opposed the rocky orb

Of ten-fold adamant, his ample shield

A vast circumference.”

Tasso (canto vii. 82) speaks of scudo di lucidissimo diamante (a shield of clearest diamond).

Other poets make adamant to mean the magnet. Thus, in Troilus and Cressida, iii. 2:


“As true as steel, as plantage to the moon,

As sun to day, as turtle to her mate,

As iron to adamant.”


(“Plantage to the moon,” from the notion that plants grew best with the increasing moon.)

And Green says:


“As true to thee as steel to adamant.”

So, in the Arabian Nights, the “Third Calendar,” we read:


“To-morrow about noon we shall be near the black mountain, or mine of adamant, which at this very minute draws all your fleet towards it, by virtue of the iron in your ships.”

Adamant is a (negative) and damao (to conquer). Pliny tells us there are six unbreakable stones (xxxvii. 15), but the classical adamas (gen. adamant-is) is generally supposed to mean the diamond. Diamond and adamant are originally the same word.

previous entry · index · next entry

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

previous entry · index · next entry

Adam
Adam
Adam Bell
Adam Cupid
Adam’s Ale
Adam’s Apple
Adam’s Needle
Adam’s Peak
Adam’s Profession
Adams
Adamant
Adamastor
Adamic Covenant
Adamites
Adaran
Adays
Addison of the North
Addixit
Addle
Adelantado
Ademar