Diamond
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Source: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 2004 (Bestiaire de Moyen Âge) Copyright 2004 Copyright 2004 Bibliothèque Nationale de France Manuscript description Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 14429, Folio 117r


 

Diamond

Latin name: Adamas

Other names: Diamant, Lapis adamantius

If a diamond is kept in a house, demons cannot enter

 

 
General Attributes

The diamond comes from the East, where it is found at night by its shining. It can overcome anything. No harm can come to a house containing a diamond; not even demons can enter. A person who possesses a diamond can overcome both men and beasts. The diamond does not keep the smell of smoke or fear iron. Only the hot blood of the he-goat can dissolve diamond.


Allegory/Moral

The diamond represents Christ, who no devil can overcome.


Sources (chronological order)

Augustine [5th century CE] (City of God, Book 21, chapter 4): The diamond is a stone possessed by many among ourselves, especially by jewellers and lapidaries, and the stone is so hard that it can be wrought neither by iron nor fire, nor, they say, by anything at all except goats blood. Let me further say what I have read about the magnet. When a diamond is laid near it, it does not lift iron; or if it has already lifted it, as soon as the diamond approaches, it drops it. These stones come from India.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 16, 13:2-3): Adamas is a stone that is an unconquerable despiser of steel and of fire, yet it is softened by the fresh, warm blood of stags, and then is shattered by many blows of an iron instrument. It is said to reveal poisons as does amber (electron), to drive away useless fears, to resist evil arts.

Sir John Mandeville [14th century CE] (Travels, chapter 17): ... they grow together, male and female. And they be nourished with the dew of heaven. And they engender commonly and bring forth small children, that multiply and grow all the year. I have often-times assayed, that if a man keep them with a little of the rock and wet them with May-dew oft-sithes, they shall grow every year, and the small will wax great. For right as the fine pearl congealeth and waxeth great of the dew of heaven, right so doth the very diamond; and right as the pearl of his own kind taketh roundness, right so the diamond, by virtue of God, taketh squareness. And men shall bear the diamond on his left side, for it is of greater virtue then, than on the right side; for the strength of their growing is toward the north, that is the left side of the world, and the left part of man is when he turneth his face toward the east. He that beareth the diamond upon him, it giveth him hardiness and manhood, and it keepeth the limbs of his body whole. It giveth him victory of his enemies in plea and in war, if his cause be rightful. And it keepeth him that beareth it in good wit. And it keepeth him from strife and riot, from evil swevens from sorrows and from enchantments, and from fantasies and illusions of wicked spirits. And if any cursed witch or enchanter would bewitch him that beareth the diamond, all that sorrow and mischance shall turn to himself through virtue of that stone. And also no wild beast dare assail the man that beareth it on him. Also the diamond should be given freely, without coveting and without buying, and then it is of greater virtue. And it maketh a man more strong and more sad against his enemies. And it healeth him that is lunatic, and them that the fiend pursueth or travaileth. And if venom or poison be brought in presence of the diamond, anon it beginneth to wax moist and for to sweat. ... After that, men take the adamant [magnet], that is the shipman's stone, that draweth the needle to him, and men lay the diamond upon the adamant, and lay the needle before the adamant; and, if the diamond be good and virtuous, the adamant draweth not the needle to him whiles the diamond is there present. (The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (1900) Macmillan edition of 1900)


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