The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 109.

This drawing has another feature which may throw light on the amulet. Besas has upon his head a crown, called βασίλειον in the text, which looks like a narrow band; it is probably the edge of a flat-topped cap, with three ornaments rising from it. These ornaments are short uprights topped by a circle; they are like the “pins” on the head of the mummy, except that they are all vertical in relation to the base, not so set as to meet on the head in a downward pointing angle. The decoration on the head of the mummy on the London gem may be regarded as a crown, or it may be an inexact representation of the three water plants which are regularly seen on the head of the Nile god. In either case the use of such a decoration for a mummy would be explained by the identification of the dead person with Osiris, who is king of the dead, and is also often connected with the Nile and with moisture in general.24

The outer inscription of the reverse side is Φιλίππας γόνος Ἀντίπατρος κοιμᾶται,25 “Philippa's child Antipater sleeps.” The inner inscription is the same, to the last letter, as that on the obverse. Such fidelity to a copy is unusual on gem amulets. There is a short additional inscription which does not appear on the obverse, ἐγώ at the left of the mummy, ὁ ὤν at the right; the writing downward in both cases. These are the words of God to Moses (Exodus 3, 14), which the Authorized Version gives as “I am that I am.” Their presence here seems virtually equivalent to an invocation of Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, a form of whose name, Ιαω, occurs on the inner of the two longer inscriptions.

When we compare the outer inscriptions of the two faces, we note first that the one on the obverse is a mere statement of a mythological tradition. Memnon, the hero of the Aithiopis, is the son of the dawn goddess Eos, here identified with Hemera, Day, and his death in battle with Achilles and the mourning of his mother were themes to which later miters often returned. But Antipater and Philippa, who take the places of Memnon and Hemera on the reverse, have names that were borne by many people, particularly since the time of the Macedonian supremacy. One can scarcely escape the conviction that this gem is actually an unusual sort of defixio. The person who made it, or had it made, proceeded upon a well-known principle of homoeopathic magic; as Memnon dead, so is Antipater to die. The vivid wish becomes a statement of actual fact, κοιμᾶται being present, all the more naturally because the mummy represents the victim as dead. This interpretation is borne out by the frequent occurrence of mummified figures on the lead curse tablets. Several of them are represented with head decorations

24 Osiris probably derives this particular ornament from his identification with the Nile god api. It is true that the characteristic headdress of Iiapi, which is also the sign for water, usually represents five stalks, of which the outer two are represented as bent or broken. But sometimes only three are shown (Daressy, Statues, 38102). The material used would affect the style of rendering such objects. On coins the head ornament of the Nile god seems usually to be two lotus buds. Were it not for the probable Osirian character of the “pins” on the mummies of the London amulet, they might be considered as nails, which were so commonly used in a defixio. Some critics will doubtless prefer that explanation.

25 For the form Φιλίππας cf. Φιλίππαν on an inscription with a series of Latin names, CIG 5905.

Last modified: 2012-10-14 17:48:09