Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire

BDELLIUM.

We are very much puzzled to know what this Bdellium is which is found near the shores of the Pison, a river of the terrestrial paradise which turns into the country of the Havilah, where there is gold. Calmet relates that, according to several commentators, Bdellium is the carbuncle, but that it may also be crystal. Then it is the gum of an Arabian tree and afterwards we are told that capers are intended. Many others affirm that it signifies pearls. Nothing but the etymologies of Bochart can throw a light on this question. I wish that all these commentators had been upon the spot.

The excellent gold which is obtained in this country, says Calmet, shows evidently that this is the country of Colchis and the golden fleece is a proof of it. It is a pity that things have changed so much for Mingrelia; that beautiful country, so famous for the loves of Medea and Jason, now produces gold and Bdellium no more than bulls which vomit fire and flame, and dragons which guard the fleece. Everything changes in this world; and if we do not skilfully cultivate our lands, and if the state remain always in debt, we shall become a second Mingrelia.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:25