The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 43.



There are no strange demonic names, no identification of the wearer with a god, no harsh commands to gods or demons. This is true also of the stone published by Köhler in 1836, which shows Perseus armed with his harpe, and a legend on the reverse, φεῦγε, πόδαγρα, Περσεύς σε διώκει, “Flee, gout, Perseus is chasing you”;97 and again of the very numerous representations of Herakles throttling the lion, the magical use of which is attested by ancient authority (D. 108, 109, 110). It may be remarked that the names of Ares and Perseus, belonging in the main to a literary tradition, could scarcely have been chosen anywhere except in a center, however small, of genuine Greek culture.

Nemesis, conceived as the guardian of the golden mean, seems to have gained a more and more important place in Greek thought during the Hellenistic age; and in the Roman period particularly, numerous works of art represent this goddess in a type that allowed minor variations, yet remained on the whole fairly regular.98 The cult was introduced into Egypt, but remained distinctly Greek. A few amulets that are engraved with figures of Nemesis, or invocations addressed to her, may be counted among the Greek elements that preserved their character in the syncretism of the time (D. 57).

In any lot of Graeco-Egyptian gems there will be found some that resemble amulets in material and style, and yet, because of the absence of magical inscriptions, leave the student in some doubt how to class them. Some of them, especially inexpensive stones with no carving except the head or figure of some deity, are amulets only in the sense that the representation of a god on a ring stone or pendant seems to invoke his protection for the owner. On others, divinities appear in symbolic relations to one another which may have some magical import bearing upon the situation of the wearer. A stone showing Ares binding Aphrodite might be appropriate for a soldier who wished to withdraw from an embarrassing love affair; and the well-known design of Eros bound and tormented by Psyche (D. 161) might be fitly worn by any lover who sought to escape from the storm of his passion and leave the inspirer of it to suffer.99 But it would be bold indeed to seek a magical meaning to all such jeux d'esprit of the glyptic art.

Finally, we must count certain literary allusions as Greek contributions to the make-up of magical amulets. When the lovesick Simaitha of Theocritus' Sorceresses prays that her recreant lover may forget his new love even as Theseus forgot Ariadne, she is not departing as far from the language of practical magic as some commentators have supposed.100 The masters of the art were not altogether unlettered, and sometimes they reinforced their charms



97 H. Köhler, “Über ein Schreiben Rubens' an Peiresc,” Mém. Acad. St.-Petersbourg, Ser. 6, III (1836), 21 f. and Pl. I, 27.

98 See the monograph of H. Posnansky, Nemesis und Adrasteia (Breslauer philol. Abhandlungen 5, 2), 1890.

99 See the classic essay of Jahn, “Über einige auf Eros und Psyche bezügliche Kunstwerke” (Ber. sächs. Akad., 1851, pp. 153–179, especially pp. 162–165. For literary sources, Anth. Pal. 16 (App. Plan.), 195–199. Good illustrations of gems of this type in De Ridder 3107, 3110, Pl. 24.

100 Theocr. 2, 43–45.




Last modified: 2012-11-05 10:19:34
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