The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 108.

make no sense and probably belong to a magical name, as do also the letters on the bevel.

The owner of the charm, who speaks the prayer, is not named, but is probably a woman. The twofold occurrence of the name Serenilla is rather puzzling. If both places it refers to the same woman, the person using the charm is evidently trying to draw Hierakion away from his mother's influence and control; but Serenilla is a common name, and might, by a coincidence, have belonged to both the mother and the wife or the mistress of Hierakion.


We take a step farther into the domain of black magic when we consider a remarkable gem in the British Museum, a fairly well cut banded jasper, black and red.20 Obverse and reverse show the same design, a figure wrapped as a mummy in a close network of bandages which cover it from head to ankles. On the head are three projections like pins with small rings at the top; their lower ends meet on the crown of the head, suggesting either ornamental hairpins or a crest made of three much-stylized plumes or plants. The only difference between the two figures is that the one on the obverse has the feet turned to the left, while in that on the reverse they are turned to the right. Round the obverse face of the oval stone runs the inscription Ἡμέρας γόνος Μέμνων κοιμᾶται, “Memnon, child of Day,21 sleeps (i.e. lies dead).”22 Inside this inscription another is cut round the central figure, κραβαζαζηραβιραθκηβαιαωεω, in which the only recognizable element is ιαω near the end. Under the feet of the mummy is an object which, though quite distinct, is still puzzling. It consists of a staff or a bar with a small circle at each end — whether a ring or a mere decorative detail uncertain — and a hook attached to the bar at or near the middle point and curving downward. One might think of a boat hook, but neither end of the bar ends in a spike; or it might be a one-fluked anchor — but then the bar extends too far beyond the hook.

It may be no more than a coincidence that this object resembles a detail of a drawing in the London papyrus 122 which belongs to a formula called ὀνειραιτητὸν τοῦ Βησᾶ, “revelation obtained in a dream from Besas.” The operator is told to draw a figure of Besas, following explicit directions, and in addition, the scribe has supplied the figure for the reader's guidance.23 The god holds a sword in his right hand and in his left a ῥάβδος (rod or twig) which in the drawing appears as an upright with a sort of knob or bud at the top and a curving, hooklike projection from the upright, which may be meant for a leaf. But since ῥάβδος can also serve as an equivalent of σκῆπτρον, this object may be interpreted as a peculiar scepter with a hook attached to it.

21 For the post-Hesiodic identification of Hemera and Eos see Drexler, article “Hemera” in Roscher, I, 2, 2032, and Paus. 1, 3, 1.

22 For κοιμᾶται = τέθνηκε cf. Soph. Electra 509, and M. B. Ogle's discussion of the words in “The Sleep of Death,” pp. 83–85 (Mem. Am. Acad. in Rome, 11, 1933). κοίμησις = θάνατος in Audollent, Defix. Tab., No. 242, 29–31.

23 PGM VIII, 64–110, with Pl. I, 6.

Last modified: 2012-11-05 11:12:03