The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 78.

a special part of the human body to govern and influence for good or ill, and the region assigned to the Scorpion included the genital organs. It is possible, therefore, that the type that we are considering was valued not only as a protection against scorpions but also as a remedy for sexual disorders and disabilities.44

More than other dangerous ailments, hydrophobia was liable to the imputation of demonic origin. The distressing symptoms attending the later stages of the disease — the convulsions, the nervous excitability, the mental disturbances — were enough like the phenomena of “demonic possession” to fix in untutored minds the conviction that a demon was responsible for the sufferer's agonies and death. It is not surprising, then, to find that a δαίμων ὑδροφόβας is conjured away in an inscription on one of the Athenian amulets published by Delatte, a greenish-black jasper.45 The obverse shows a rectangular space enclosing arrangements of the vowels in five lines, and a sixth line of magical characters. The space round this rectangle is set thick with more characters. The rectangle on the reverse contains a few characters, a star, crescent, and key, the whole surrounded, as on the obverse, with a number of other characters occupying the remainder of the surface. It is worth noting that no definite type is used for this amulet, and the absence of a special design may indicate that the stone was supposed to be protective in a general way; the reference to hydrophobia, which appears only on the bevel, may have been added at the buyer's wish. The words are φύγε δαίμων ὑδροφόβα ἀπὸ τοῦ φοροῦντος τοῦτο τὸ φυλακτήρι‹ο›ν,46 “Flee, demon hydrophobia, from the wearer of this amulet.”

The word φθίσις, “wasting,” became a definite term for pulmonary consumption at an early date. A gem inscription published by Mouterde may have been intended as a safeguard against this disease, although it is equally possible that all wasting diseases are comprehended.47 The important words are ἀπάλλαξον τῆς φθίσεως καὶ τῆς νόσου, “Rid me of the wasting and the disease.” No design accompanies the inscription, which covers both sides of the stone. The amulet was made for Pancrates, son of Mathenis, who may have been a Christian, if the editor's reconstruction of the opening words is right; some important letters are uncertain.

44 The statements made above are fully elaborated and documented in S. Eitrem's essay “Der Skorpion in Mythologie und Religionsgeschichte,” Symb. Oslo., 7 (1928), 53–82; see especially 68 and 70. The arguments used to show that the scorpion had a sexual significance before the time of the astrologers are not entirely convincing, though the idea must have had some foundation in popular belief.

45 Musée Belge, 18 (1914), 70, No. 31.

46 The form ὑδροφόβας (masculine) was used by Plutarch and some medical writers (references in LSJ), and it appears also on the silver lamella published by Froehner, a long phylactery of Jewish origin, directed against a variety of demonic visitations (W. Froehner, “Sur une amulette basilidienne” Caen, 1867, an extract with renumhered pages from Bull. Soc. des Antiquaires de Normandie, 7, 217 ff.). It is scarcely necessary to say that there is nothing Basilidian about the text.

47 Jalabert and Mouterde, Inscr. gr. et lat. de la Syrie, I, 120, No. 221.

Last modified: 2012-10-14 17:28:11