Asbestos is so called from being inextinguishable even by
showers and storms, if once set on fire. The name derives from
an ancient Greek term for a fabulous stone. Pagan peoples
made use of it for lights in their temples. Plutarch records that
the Vestal Virgins used perpetual lamp wicks, while Pausanias
mentions a lamp with a wick that was not consumed, being
made from a mineral fiber from Cyprus. Asbestos is of woolly
texture and is sometimes called the Salamander’s Feather. Leonardus
stated: ‘‘Its fire is nourished by an inseparable unctuous
humid flowing from its substance; therefore, being once kindled,
it preserves a constant light without feeding it with any

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