The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 139.

sanctions for magical practice; the older national religions were deemed more effective for that purpose. Despite the wide dispersion of its monuments, Mithraism left traces upon comparatively few out of the great number of magical stones, perhaps because the cult was propagated chiefly through military groups, but more probably because women were excluded from its mysteries. The variety of solar syncretism that developed the cock-headed god did, it is true, leave its mark on hundreds of magical amulets, and their number and their strange designs led modern inquirers to assign a disproportionate importance to them; but it is to be remembered that the solar religion, even in its bizarre varieties, was derived from popular cults. Magic, appealing to the lower classes more strongly than to educated circles, sought its allies in the beliefs of the masses; and it was natural that the popular religions of Egypt and Greece, and in time Christianity also, should be drawn upon more than theological systems that appealed chiefly to intellectual groups. The influence of magical ideas upon decadent Gnosticism, as indicated by the use of magical abracadabras in the Pistis Sophia, is more important than the influence of Gnostic theology upon ordinary magical practice.72

72 (Supplementary.) There is a certain resemblance between the rare human-headed anguipede shown on my amulet, D. 180 (cf. p. 128), and Summanus, the Roman god of nocturnal lightning. The only connection seems to be that both have borrowed the Greek idea of the serpent-legged giants. Summanus curies a thunderbolt, while the anguipede of the amulets seems never to have this attribute. For Summanus see L. Curtius, “Summanus,” Römische Mitteilungen, 49 (1934), 233–246, with Pl. 18; also the Utrecht dissertation of H. H. Diephuis, Naturkräfte und ihre Verehrung in der altrömischen Religion, 1941, 141 ff. and frontispiece.

Last modified: 2012-10-29 15:28:46