An inquisitive reader directs us toward an interesting play on sardonic (see "grin" in Friday Crab Blogging here). Sardonyx is a type of Onx from Sardis, an ancient Lydian city in Turkey. While tempting, it does not appear to be related to Sardinia, the island west of Italy, given the difference in times of ascendancy. But, who knows? The Phoenicians were shuttling between Ionia and the western Mediterranean at that time. (Did you know that Phoenicians traded on the high seas? I didn't.)
I found this onyx cameo carving, the Gemma Agustea from the early part of the first century CE (contemporary with Jesus Christ) to be fascinating. Firstly, the effect of transparency on the robes is a deft stroke. But the bottom collection of figures is quite curious. Not only is there a man in a fedora pulling someone's hair, but there are clearly soldiers raising a Roman Standard (Aquila) as echoed in this iconic sculpture depicting events on Iwo Jima.
This should morph into a discussion of the three symbols below, the presence of an eagle and their use in political cajolary:
But I'm way to weary this morning. Maybe another time.