[Milton-L] Serpents and their coloring
Horace Jeffery Hodges
horacejeffery at gmail.com
Sat Nov 1 20:43:07 EDT 2014
I found some sources on "serpentine" as a color:
According to the *Encyclopaedia Londinensis, or, Universal dictionary of
arts, sciences, and literature* (1817), compiled by John Wilkes,
"serpentine green" - and also "serpentine black" - is the color of an
amygdalite "with a calcareaous base. 7. Amygdalites ophites : consisting of
marble and serpentine. Found in Sweden, Italy, and the south of Africa.
Generally white, the serpentine green or black" (page 470, column 1).
And here's some information on "serpentine color":
Serpentine Gemstone Information
About Serpentine - History and Introduction
Serpentine is a gem-quality hydrated magnesium silicate, usually green,
yellowish-green, or brownish-green in color. Its name is thought to be
derived from its serpent-like green colors. Serpentine is not just a
gemstone, but rather, it is a group of minerals which includes up to 20
different related members. Although there are a variety of serpentines,
there are only two basic aggregate structures of serpentine which include
antigorite and chrysotile . . .
On Sat, Nov 1, 2014 at 11:29 PM, Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu> wrote:
> According to Milton's Adam, snakes in the fallen world have a "color
> serpentine" (10.870) so that settles it. In the DuPont Corian product
> line,, "serpentine green" is a sort of celadon toned toward olive.
> On Sat, Nov 1, 2014 at 4:46 AM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <
> horacejeffery at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Thanks, Nancy, that fiery color of red and gold recalls the point - which
>> I recall running across in *Sir Gawain and the Green Knight* - that red
>> and gold were treated as the same color . . . though I can't quite place
>> the reference . . .
>> On Sat, Nov 1, 2014 at 4:32 PM, Nancy Rosenfeld <rosenfeld.n at gmail.com>
>>> Dear Jeffery,
>>> Thanks for raising the question of traditions as to serpents' coloring
>>> (and for posting the link to the tapestry).
>>> Actually we can start with the Hebrew Bible itself, focusing on Numbers
>>> 21:6-9, which tells how the Deity sent "fiery serpents" (KJV) to bite
>>> people as punishment for speaking "against the Lord." In response to Moses'
>>> prayer, God instructs him to "make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a
>>> pole." Moses "made a serpent of brass" and held it aloft; everyone who had
>>> been bitten and looked on the brass serpent was able to live.
>>> [In Hebrew the above is a play-on-words, since nahash (serpent) and
>>> nehoshet (brass in KJV; copper in the Jewish Publication Society
>>> translation) come from the same 3-letter root. There's also a problem
>>> understanding saraf - the word translated as fiery. I looked at 2
>>> commentaries on these verses - Rashi and Ramban - but couldn't get much out
>>> of them - my fault; I'm not a biblical scholar.]
>>> But whichever metal the serpent was made of - brass or copper: both
>>> brass and copper, especially when held aloft with the strong desert sun
>>> shining on them, would probably have a fiery color which is a combination
>>> of red and gold (and fire itself is often pictured by combining red and
>>> Hope this helps,
>>> Dr. Nancy Rosenfeld
>>> Max Stern College of Jezreel Valley, 19300, Israel
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