Adamant in classical mythology and later works is the hardest of all substances. In ancient Greek ἀδάμας (adamas), genitive ἀδάμαντος (adamantos), literally "unconquerable, untameable", referred to both a hard metal (probably steel) and to diamond. In fact, the English word diamond is ultimately derived from adamas, via Late Latin diamas and Old French diamant. The corresponding adjective in English is adamantine, from Latin adamantinus and Greek ἀδαμάντινος.[1]

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".[2] 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, and various derivatives of it, are frequently used in popular media and fiction to refer to a very hard substance.

In mythologyEdit

  • In Greek mythology, Cronus castrated his father Uranus using an adamant sickle given to him by his mother Gaia.[3] 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"[4]
  • 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[5]
  • 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 fictionEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ adamas, adamantinus. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project. ἀδάμας ἀδαμάντινος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. ^ Webster's dictionary definition of adamant Archived June 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, 1828 and 1913 editions
  3. ^ 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...
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book one, two, six, and ten (1667). (see text from Project Gutenberg)
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Adamantite Bar". Terraria Wiki. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  8. ^ "Kongo". Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  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.