The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 5.

tation and have emended the passage in different ways, but I believe that Fritzsche was right; at any rate amulet inscriptions are known in which the part to be protected is put in the genitive case, and the malady against which protection was desired may well have been indicated in the same way.13 If this interpretation is correct, the passage gives evidence that amulets inscribed for a specific purpose were known early in the fourth century and probably even in the fifth. Written charms of one sort or another are implied in an allusion to the wearing of Ἐφέσια γράμματα in the fourth-century comic poet Anaxilas (Fr. 18 K.):

          ἐν σκυταρίοις ῥαπτοῖσι φορῶν
          Ἐφέσια γράμματα καλά.

“Wearing fine Ephesian charms in little sewed bags.” The σκυταρία ῥαπτά are little leather amulet bags to be hung round the neck or shoulders. The Ephesia grammata were actually employed in a charm inscribed on a lead tablet found in Crete; it is assigned to the fourth century B.C.14

Rings sold for a drachma could hardly have been set with engraved stones; the kind mentioned by Antiphanes and Aristophanes must have been of bronze, upon which even a mediocre craftsman could cut magical designs or inscriptions with a moderate expenditure of time and labor. Gems shown by inscriptions to be magical have not come down to us from classical or even from Hellenistic times; in fact, except for the names of owners and occasionally of artists, which are found even on stones of the archaic period, gem inscriptions belong to the Roman period. Of the 750 that Le Blant publishes, he dates none earlier than the Christian era.15 Before that time the wearing of magic rings with inscriptions was probably common only among the lower classes of society, whose purses limited them to cheap works of silver, bronze, or iron. Theophrastus related that Pericles showed a friend, who visited him in an illness, an amulet that the women of the household had hung round his neck, intimating that he must be in a bad way to put up with such nonsense as that.16 The amulet (περίαπτον) may have been a bronze plaque or a small bag containing some of the well-known “similars” supposed to be suited to the sick man's case.

It should be remembered that many earlier gems that are usually considered merely artistic seal stones may have been amulets also; or at least they may have been worn by the owner with feelings such as we associate with amulet wearers. We have seen that certain stones were believed, probably from

13 Cf. Mouterde, “Le Glaive de Dardanos,” Mélanges de l'Univ. Saint-Joseph, 15, 3 (1930), 74 f., who publishes a specimen of the common Chnoumis gems with the inscription στομαχου. See De Ridder, Coll. De Clercq, VII (Pierres gravées), 3456; also a chrysoprase in the British Museum (56062), an “Abrasax” stone with an inscription σφεων, probably to be read ὄφεων.

14 See C. C. McCown in TAPA 54 (1923), 128–140; he edits the Cretan tablet (132–133) and refers to previous publications of it. See also a stone (N 5) in the Southesk collection, which bears on its margin an imperfect version of the formula.

15 E. Le Blant, 750 Inscriptions de pierres gravées, Mém. Acad. Inscr., 36, p. 12.

16 Apud Plut. Pericl. 38, 2.

Last modified: 2012-09-20 10:57:43