Fragment 510817



though they were done up in abundance of gold, silver, amber, ivory, and porphyry.

Original French:  quoy que y feuſt en abondance Or, Argent, Electre, Iuoyre, & Porphyre.

Modern French:  quoy que y feust en abondance Or, Argent, Electre, Ivoyre, & Porphyre.


Mélange d’or et d’argent.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Œuvres de F. Rabelais
p. 310
L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) [1806–1884], editor
Paris: Charpentier, 1840


Le mot electrum (ἤλεχτρον des Anciens) désignait: 1° l’ambre jaune ou succin (Pline, XXXVII, 2); 2° un alliage de 4/5 d’or et 1/5 d’argent. (Pline XXXIII, 23). On donna depuis à ce dernier le nom de bas or, or blanc, or d’Allemagne (Du Pinet.) «Cum quinta argenti portio additur ad aurum, eam misturam electrum facticium possumus nominare» (Agricola, De nat. foss., l. VIII). Voir aussi sur l’Electrum ou asèm, alliage naturel d’or et d’argent, Barthelot, Introd. à l’étude de la chimie des anciens de tu moten âge, Paris Steinheil, 1889. (Paul Delaunay)

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Oeuvres. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre
p. 365
Abel Lefranc [1863-1952], editor
Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931


amber. Forms: ambra, aumber, -ur, ambyr, ambre, awmer, amber. [adopted from French ambre, cognate with Provençal ambre, adopted from Arabic ayin.anbar, `ambergris,’ to which the name originally belonged; afterwards extended, through some confusion of the substances, to the fossil resin `amber.’ In French the two are distinguished as grey, and yellow amber, ambre gris (`ambre proprement dit’), and ambre jaune (succin); in modern English as amber-gris and amber.]

A product of the whale. Originally = ambergris. (In 17th century greece of amber, gris ambre, gray amber.) Obsolete

1398 John de Trevisa Bartholomeus De proprietatibus rerus xiii. xxvi. 463 The whale haþ gret plente of sperme… and yf it is gaderid and dryeþ, it turneþ to þe substaunce of ambra [1535 ambre].

1477 Thomas Norton The ordinall of Alchemy (1652) v. 70 Amber, Narde, and Mirrhe.

1587 William Harrison The description of England i. ii. xx. 330 Induing the fruits with the savour of muske, ambre, etc.

1662 Thomas Fuller The history of the worthies of England i. 194 It is called Ambra-gresia, That is, Gray Amber, from the Colour thereof.

1670 Charles Cotton, translator The history of the life of the Duke of Espernon iii. ix. 447 Some pieces of Amber-gris, (or rather black Amber, for it was of that colour).

1693 in Blount Nat. Hist. 14 Great variety of Opinions hath there been concerning Amber. Some think it to be a Gum that distils from Trees: Others tell us, it is made of Whales Dung; or else of their Sperm or Seed, (as others will have it,) which being consolidate and harden’d by the Sea is cast upon the Shore.

white amber (medieval Latin ambra alba): Spermaceti. [Confused with preceding, as the `sperm’ of a whale.] Obsolete
[Cf. 1598-1611 Florio, Ambra, amber, also amber greece, also the sperme of a Whale called Spermaceti. 1611 Randle Cotgrave, A dictionarie of the French and English tongues, Ambre blanc, white Amber.]

The resin.

A yellowish translucent fossil resin, found chiefly along the southern shores of the Baltic. It is used for ornaments; burns with an agreeable odour; often entombs the bodies of insects, etc.; and when rubbed becomes notably electric (so called from its Greek name hlektron). (See also lamber.)

C. 1400 The gest hystoriale of the destruction of Troy, an alliterative romance translated from Guido de Colonna’s Hystoria Troiana v. 1666 Bourdourt about all with bright Aumbur.

C. 1450 The book of Curtasye iii. 481 The wardrop he herbers, and eke of chambur Ladyes with bedys of coralle and lambur.

1463 in Bury St. Edmunds, Wills and inventories from the registers of the Commissary 15 A peyre bedys of ambyr with a ryng of syluir.

A. 1529 John Skelton Elynour Rummyng 603 But my bedes of amber, Bere them to my chamber.

1552 Richard Huloet Abcedarium Anglico Latinum Ambre called lambre or yelow Ambre.

1556 Richmond. Wills (1853) 89 One paire of long beads of awmer.

1602 Shakespeare Hamlet ii. ii. 200 Thicke Amber, or Plum-Tree Gumme.

1658 Sir Thomas Browne Hydriot. ii. 18 That Romane Urne… wherein were found an Ape of Agate, an Elephant of Ambre.


ivory. Forms: iuor, yuor(e, -ere, iueer, iuoere, euor, yvoyre, yuer, euour, iv-, yvor(e, iuyr, iwr, yvoire, evour(e, evor(e, euir, euoir; ebure. [adopted from Old French yvoire (13th century), Norman French ivurie (12th century), iviere, yvyere (15th century), modern French ivoire: -Latin eboreus adj., from ebur, ebor– ivory: compare Coptic ebu ivory, Sanskrit ibhas elephant. The form ebure in Lyndesay is refashioned after the Latin.]

The hard, white, elastic, and fine-grained substance (being dentine of exceptional hardness) composing the main part of the tusks of the elephant, mammoth (fossil ivory), hippopotamus, walrus, and narwhal; it forms a very valuable article of commerce, being extensively employed as a material for many articles of use or ornament.

A. 1300 Cursur Mundi (The Cursur of the World). 9944 (Cott.) A tron of iuor [Gött. yuor] graid. C.

13… K. Alis. 7666 (MS. Bodl.) Þe pynnes weron of yuory.

1320 Sir Tristram 1888 Mirie notes he fand Opon his rote of yuere. A.

1340 Hampole Psalter xliv. 7 Howsis of euor.

13… E.E. Allit. P. A. 178 Hyr vysage whyt as playn yuore.

C. 1386 Geoffrey Chaucer Sompnour’s Tale. 33 A peyre of tables al of yuory.

C. 1369 Geoffrey Chaucer Dethe Blaunche 946 Hyr throte… Semed a rounde toure of yvoyre.

1387 John de Trevisa Higden (Rolls) I. 79 Euery and precious stones.

1388 John Wyclif Bible Song of Solomon vii. 4 Thi necke is as a tour of yuer.

1390 John Gower Confessio amantis II. 17 Of yvor white He hath hire wroght.

C. 1400 Maundev. (Roxb.) xxv. 115 Ilkane… beres before him a table of iaspre, or of euour.

14… John Lydgate in MS. Soc. Antiq. 134 lf. 14 (Halliwell) Like yvor that cometh fro so ferre, His teeth schalle be even, smothe and white.

C. 1440 Promptorium parvulorum sive clericorum 267/1 Ivor, or ivery (H. iwr, or iwery, S. yvory, P. iuyr), ebur.

C. 1450 Mirour Saluacioun 1148 Of fynest gold and aldere whittest yvore.

1463 Bury St. Edmunds, Wills and inventories from the registers of the Commissary (Camden) 15 My tablees of ivory.

C. 1475 Sqr. lowe Degre 100 Anone that lady, fayre and fre Undyd a pynne of yverè.

1481 William Caxton Myrrour of the Worlde. ii. vi. 76 The tooth of an olyfaunt is yuorye.

1530 Lyndesay Test. Papyngo 1107 Syne, close thame in one cais of Ebure fyne.

1552 Invent. Ch. Goods (Surtees) 43 One pix of everye, bounde with silver.

1590 Edmund Spenser Faerie Queene i. i. 40 Double gates… The one faire fram’d of burnisht Yvory.

1596 Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice. iii. i. 42 There is more difference betweene thy flesh and hers, then betweene Iet and Iuorie.

1610 Holland, translator Camden’s Britain i. 368 To the feate Of Artisan, give place the gould, stones Yv’ry, and Geat.

1611 Bible Ezek. xxvii. 15 Hornes of Iuorie, and Ebenie.


porphyry. Forms: porfurie, -’urye, -forie, -phurye, -phiri(e, -firie. purfire, -fere, -fure; -phure, porphier, -phuer, -phir, -phyre, -phere, puphire, porphyr. porpherie, -phury, -phyrie, prophyry, purphorie, porphiry, porphyry. [The ultimate source of the word in all its forms is Greek porfuroj purple, porfura the purple-whelk, and its dye; but the stone was called in Greek porfurithj, Latin porphyrites, whence porphyrite. The Romantic names of the stone point however to late Latin forms *porphyrius, *porphyrus, purple (stone), or *porphyrium, *porphyrum: compare Romaic porfuron.]

The word used to render Latin porphyrites, Greek porfurithj, the name given to a beautiful and very hard rock anciently quarried in Egypt, composed of crystals of white or red plagioclase felspar embedded in a fine red ground-mass consisting of hornblende, plagioclase, apatite, thulite, and withamite, the last two being bright red in colour. By modern poets often used vaguely, in the sense of a beautiful and valuable purple stone taking a high polish, including red granite and marble. The site of the ancient quarries, after being long lost, was discovered by Burton and Wilkinson at Gebel Dokhan, near the Red Sea.

A. 1400-50 Alliterative Romance of Alexander 5275 Þe pilars ware of purfire polischt & hewen.

1560 Bible (Genev.) Esther i. 6 margin, The beds were of gold and of siluer vpon a pauement of porphyre.

1562 Leigh Armorie (1597) A vj b, The third is a piller of Porphier in a golden field.

1589 Lodge Scillaes Metam. (Hunter. Cl.) 41 Where purphure, Ebonie, white, and red, al colours stained bee.

1590 Greene Mourn. Garm. (1616) 31 The Saphir [is] highlier esteemed for the hue, then the Porphuer for his hugenesse.

1596 Danett tr. Comines (1614) 278 Beautified with many great peeces of Porphire and Sarpentine.

1648 Bury St. Edmunds, Wills and inventories from the registers of the Commissary 217 My great grinding-stonne of purfure with the muller to it, and the little grinding-stonne of purfere with the muller to it.

A. 1693 Urquhart’s Rabelais iii. xxviii. 227 The most durable Marbre or Porphyr.

1750 Samuel Johnson Rambler No. 82 p.9, I have two pieces of porphyry found among the ruins of Ephesus.

1818 Byron Childe Harold iv. lx, Her pyramid of precious stones, Of porphyry, jasper, agate, and all hues Of gem and marble.



Posted 23 January 2013. Modified 1 February 2016.

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