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Adamant in classical mythology is an archaic form of diamond. In fact, the English word diamond is ultimately derived from adamas, via Late Latin diamas and Old French diamant. In ancient Greek ἀδάμας (adamas), genitive ἀδάμαντος (adamantos), literally 'unconquerable, untameable'. In those days, the qualities of hard metal (probably steel) were attributed to it, and adamant became as a result an independent concept.

In the Middle Ages adamant also became confused with the magnetic rock lodestone, and a folk etymology connected it with the Latin adamare, '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 contemporary word diamond is now used for the hardest gemstone, the increasingly archaic term adamant has been reduced to mostly poetic or anachronistic use. In that capacity, the name, and various derivatives of it, are frequently used in modern media to refer to a variety of fictional substances.

In mythology[edit]

  • Adamant is used as a translation in the King James Bible in Ezekiel 3:9 for the word שמיר(Shamir), the original word in the Hebrew Bible. [2][3]
  • In Greek mythology, Cronus castrated his father Uranus using an adamant sickle given to him by his mother Gaia.[4] An adamantine sickle or sword was also used by the hero Perseus to decapitate the Gorgon Medusa while she slept.
  • 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 Virgil's Aeneid, the gate of Tartarus is framed with pillars of solid adamant, "that no might of man, nay, not even the sons of heaven, could uproot in war"[5]
  • In John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, adamant or adamantine is mentioned eight times. First in Book 1, Satan is hurled "to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire" (lines 47–48). Three times in Book 2 the gates of hell are described as being made of adamantine (lines 436, 646 and 853). In Book 6, Satan "Came towring [sic], armd [sic] in Adamant and Gold" (line 110), his shield is described as "of tenfold adamant" (line 255), and the armor worn by the fallen angels is described as "adamantine" (line 542). Finally in book 10 the metaphorical "Pinns [sic] of Adamant and Chains" (lines 318–319) bind the world to Satan, and thus to sin and death.[6]
  • In some versions of the Alexander Romance, Alexander the Great builds walls of Adamantine, the Gates of Alexander, to keep the giants Gog and Magog from pillaging the peaceful southern lands.[citation needed]
  • In The Hypostasis of the Archons, Gnostic scripture from the Nag Hammadi Library refers to the Adamantine Land, an incorruptible place 'above' from whence the spirit came to dwell within man so that he became Adam, he who moves upon the ground with a living soul.[7]

In fiction[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Webster's dictionary definition of adamant Archived June 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, 1828 and 1913 editions
  2. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Ezekiel 3:9 - King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  3. ^ "Ezekiel 3 / Hebrew - English Bible / Mechon-Mamre". Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  4. ^ Hesiod; Richard S. Calwell (1987). Hesiod's Theogony. Cambridge, Ma: Focus Information Group. pp. 37–38 at lines 161–181. ISBN 9780941051002. Quick she [Gaia] made the element of grey adamant, made a great sickle...
  5. ^ Virgil, Eclogues. Georgics. Aeneid: Books 1-6, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, rev. G. P. Goold, Loeb Classical Library 63 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1916), p. 571.
  6. ^ John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book one, two, six, and ten (1667). (see text from Project Gutenberg)
  7. ^ The Hypostasis of the Archons. (Translated by Bentley Laton and the Coptic Gnostic Library Project [1])
  8. ^ Bang, Mary Jo (23 December 2019). "Bang's Purgatorio". The New Yorker.
  9. ^ Ubisoft Quebec (16 July 2019). Assassin's Creed OdysseyThe Fate of Atlantis: The Judgement of Atlantis (PC, PS4, Xbox One). Ubisoft. Level/area: Most Adamantly.
  10. ^ Pullman, Philip (2000). "The Adamant Tower". The Amber Spyglass. New York: Alfred A Knopf. p. 57. ISBN 0-679-87926-9.