The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 124.



with flaps covering the junction of the trunk with the legs, which are serpents. The treatment of these serpentine limbs varies according to the skill and the caprice of the artist; the better gem cutters rendered the heads of the serpents with some care, and gave the bodies a double coil. In others the snake legs show only a simple outward curve, and the heads are mere knobs.

Of the characteristics that mark this monster one can be explained and dismissed briefly. The military habit is simply another instance of that tendency, which has been noted previously, to clothe divine beings, whatever their national connections, in the costume of a Roman emperor. The shield, however, belongs to the private soldier rather than to the commander. Next, it is a natural conjecture that the serpent legs are derived from the Greek tradition of the giants; the great altar at Pergamon must have fixed this type in the minds of thousands. Still, when we remember that the vast majority of all our magical stones come from Egypt, the prevalence of this snake-footed monster may seem a little surprising. The fancy of Egyptian artists depicted serpents with wings, with human heads, occasionally even with human arms and legs,4 also serpent's heads and necks on human bodies, but I have seen no Egyptian work of dynastic times representing a human head, arms, and torso combined with two serpent coils instead of legs. But the Greek type of the snake-footed giant, perhaps already modified by some other influence, seems to have taken root Syria, a region with which, at many periods of its history, Egypt maintained a close and steady intercourse. Mr. Seyrig has published, with full discussion, a remarkable relief, unfortunately much mutilated, which was carved on a great marble beam over the south portico of the temple of Bel at Palmyra.5 The subject is a combat between a warrior standing in a chariot and a snake-legged monster. The champion's bow drawn to the full length of the arrow, which he is about to shoot, but he has already wounded the monster in the breast, and another arrow in flight is about to pierce its neck. The anguipede demon seems to be female, to judge by the moulding of the bust; the head has been broken away (Pl. XXIII, Fig. 4). At the waist a deep fringe of pendent acanthus leaves conceals the junction of the body to the serpent coils, of which there are five. One of them grasps and strangles a small human figure. A previously published bas-relief from Soueida represents a similar combat, the chief differences being as follows. The warrior is on horseback, not in a chariot; the monster, in this case male and with only two coils, grasps two large stones with which he threatens his opponent; a star marks the attacking archer as divine, and between him and the monster a youthful divinity, apparently the sun-god, of whom only the upper parts are shown, holds between his arms a disk enclosing a twelve-rayed rosette or star.6

Mr. Seyrig rightly notes that the idea of a combat with a serpentine or partly serpentine monster is not new to mythology localized Syria and the neighboring regions, for example, Zeus and Typhon, Perseus and the sea



4 Lanzone, Pls. 172–173.

5 Henri Seyrig in Syria, 15 (1934), 165 ff. and 20.

6 Ibid., p. 167, fig. 1




Last modified: 2012-10-29 12:00:20
Link: classics.mfab.hu/talismans/pandecta/1569