Adamant

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Adamant and similar words are used to refer to any especially hard substance, whether composed of diamond, some other gemstone, or some type of metal. Both adamant and diamond derive from the Greek word αδαμας (adamas), meaning "untameable". Adamantite and adamantium (a metallic name derived from the Neo-Latin ending -ium) are also common variants.

Adamantine has, throughout ancient history, referred to anything that was made of a very hard material. Virgil describes Tartarus as having a screeching gate protected by columns of solid adamantine (Aeneid book VI). Later, by the Middle Ages, the term came to refer to diamond, as it was the hardest material then known, and remains the hardest non-synthetic material known.

It was in the Middle Ages, too, that adamantine hardness and the lodestone's magnetic properties became confused and combined, leading to an alternate definition in which "adamant" means magnet, falsely derived from the Latin adamare, which means to love or be attached to.[1] Another connection was the belief that adamant (the diamond definition) could block the effects of a magnet. This was addressed in chapter III of Pseudodoxia Epidemica, for instance.

Since the word diamond is now used for the hardest gemstone, the increasingly archaic term "adamant" has a mostly poetic or figurative use. In that capacity, the name is frequently used in popular media and fiction to refer to a very hard substance.

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Adamant and Adamantine in mythology

  • In Greek Mythology, the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus using an adamant sickle. An adamantine sickle or sword was also used by the hero Perseus to decapitate the Gorgon Medusa.
  • In the Greek Tragedy, Prometheus Bound translated by G. M. Cookson, Hephaestus is to bind Prometheus "to the jagged rocks in adamantine bonds infrangible."
  • In Norse mythology, Loki is bound underground by adamantine chains.[citation needed] In some versions, his chains are made from the intestines of his son.
  • In the King James Version of the Bible the word adamant is also used in several verses, including:
    "As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house." (Ezekiel 3:9) Other, later translations substitute the word diamond for adamant.
  • In John Milton's Paradise Lost (Book 1), Satan is hurled "to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire". Later (Book 6), Satan's shield is described as "of tenfold adamant," and the armor worn by the angels is described as "adamantine."[2]
  • In the travels of John Mandeville, he makes mention of a certain material upon which diamonds grow on his travels to India.

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