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‘Amaze Your Friends!’ Lucretius on Magnets1.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2009

Extract

People wonder at this stone [the magnet]. Indeed it often makes a chain of rings hanging from itself. For you can sometimes see five or more rings hanging down one after another swaying in light breezes, when each hangs down from another, clinging underneath it, and each feels from the other the force and attraction of the stone; so much does its force penetrate and have its effect. … It also happens sometimes that the nature of iron withdraws from this stone, and will flee it and follow it in turn. I have even seen iron rings leap up, and at the same time iron filings seethe in bronze bowls when a magnet has been put underneath, so eager to escape the stone is iron seen to be.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 1996

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References

2. The meaning of Samothracia is quite obscure. Isidore of Seville (Orig. 19 32.5) refers to a Samothracian ring which was golden with some kind of iron attachment, but it is by no means clear that this is what Lucretius has in mind.

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