The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 23.

furnish the model for some Graeco-Egyptian amulets.3 Thirdly, like the magical papyri, though necessarily in briefer form, the amulets exhibit certain attitudes towards the gods and demons that are more Egyptian than Greek. Thus the Egyptian practice of threatening the gods, which was censured by Porphyry,4 is common in the papyri,5 and is represented on the amulets by such commands as ‹τοῦτο ποίησον› ἐπιτάσσει γὰρ ‹ὁ δεῖνα, i.e., the name of some god or demon›, “Do this, for (such and such a god) commands”; or by the threat implicit in such phrases as δός μοι χάριν ὅτι εἴρηκά σου τὸ κρυπτὸν . . . ὄνομα,6 “Grant me favor, for I have spoken thy secret name”; for possession of the secret name gives the magical operator power even over superhuman beings. Similarly, when the operator actually claims to be the god whose power he wishes to exert for his own purposes, he is acting in a manner which was repellent to Greek feelings about the divine. The myth of Salmoneus destroyed for imitating Zeus shows what the ordinary Greek would think of such acts,7 and in the sophisticated fourth century before Christ the paranoiac Menekrates-Zeus was simply ridiculed.8 On the amulets, it is true, such phrases as “I am such and such (god or demon)” may be taken as a naive means to identify the being represented in the design of the stone; but the analogy of charms on papyrus, which leave no doubt about this point, shows that the “I am” formulas were sometimes supposed to be spoken by the wearer of the amulet.

There is a fourth point that emphasizes the strength of Egyptian influence in the magical amulets. From the time of the earliest contacts between the two cultures the Greeks were struck by the unfamiliar combination of human and animal parts in the forms of the greatest Egyptian divinities. So numerous and varied are these monstrous combinations in Egyptian religious art that definite names cannot be assigned to all of them, and syncretism, which was a strong force in Egypt from early times, makes it still harder to identify some of these divine or demonic forms. Many strangely compounded shapes appear on our amulets, and often they cannot be referred to a known deity (D. 251–267).

Among the Egyptian divinities, the amulets most frequently represent gods and goddesses of the group in which Osiris is the central figure. He usually appears as a mummy, often flanked by Isis and Nephthys, who in this combination generally appear in their traditional Egyptian forms (D. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

3 There are good illustrations in Daressy, Textes; see also Lacau, in Fondation Piot, Monuments et mémoires, 25, 189–210, Pls. 15–16. The famous Metternich stele, originally published by Golenishchev, is illustrated in Budge, Gods, II, 271, 273.

4 Epist. ad Anebonem 30 f.

5 For examples see PGM IV, 239, 2245. On a haematite in the British Museum (56505) the words επιτασει γαρ ο can be read; what follows is abraded but seems to be a magical name.

6 Capello published a gem (No. 14) bearing an inscription part of which reads as above; there is a corrupt passage where I have set dots, perhaps καὶ ἀληθινόν in the engraver's copy. Capello's work is very rare; his illustration is reproduced in Montfaucon, II, 2, Pl. 147, 1.

7 Apollod. Bibl. 1, 89 (ed. Wagner).

8 See O. Weinreich, Menekrates Zeus und Salmoneus (Tübinger Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft, 1933). The principal sources are Athen. 7, 289 A–C, and Ael. V. H. 12, 51.

Last modified: 2012-11-05 09:31:12