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From: Jon Camfield <GriffJon@Mail.UTexas.edu>
Subject: (urth) "Severus, bishop of Milevis"
Date: Sun, 04 Oct 1998 21:16:46 

While reading through some Augustine, I came across this tidbit.  While it
seems to have little direct connection, Bathanarius does serve a similar
purpose as Baldanders, showing Severus 'strange' technology (that at a
different time is seen as unimpressive) yet offering no explanations.

But anyway, the text:

"Yet far more astonishing is what I heard about this stone [lodestone] from
my brother in the episcopate, Severus bishop of Milevis.  He told me that
Bathanarius, once count of Africa, when the bishop was dining with him,
produced a magnet, and held it under a silver plate on which he placed a
bit of iron; then as he moved his hand with the magnet underneath the
plate, the iron upon the plate moved about accordingly.  The intervening
silver was not affected at all, but precisely as the magnet was moved
backwards and forwards below it, no matter how quickly, so was the iron
attracted above.  I have related what I have myself witnessedl I have
related related what I was told by one whom I trust as I trust my own eyes.
 Let me further say what I have read about this 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.
 But if we cease to admire them because they are now familiar, how much
less must they admire them who procure them very easily and send them to
us?  Perhaps they are held as cheap as we hold lime, which, because it is
common, we think nothing of, though it has the strange property of burning
when water, which is wont to quench fire, is poured on it, and of remaining
cool when mixed with oil, which ordinarily feeds fire."

(City of God, XXI, 4-5; Trans. Dods)

This 'sounds' like Severian speaking, to my mind, and many parallels can be
drawn, though some of which might be nothing more than pure academe-- the
approach of the diamond causing the echnology to fail (Sev fighting with
Baldanders), the rare stones which are in truth very common in other parts,
not to mention the 'burning in water' connection ('bullets of power' of the
shore-people at Diuturna)

Jon Camfield      "GriffJon"  	|Webmaster, Plan II Honors Program:
GriffJon@mail.utexas.edu   	| www.dla.utexas.edu/~plan2
Homepage, Gallery, Resume:	|Channel Manager, Undernet #Poetry
 ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~griffjon 	| www.tripod.com/~ircpoetry
"The most incomprehensible fact about nature is that it is comprehensible"
-- Albert Einstein

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