The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 148.



Purely Greek types of Helios, which show no connection with magic, are well known on gems of the Hellenistic and Roman periods,1 and in the late Roman period they are applied to magical use either by combining them with other types used chiefly for magical stones or by inscribing them with magical words or formulas. Attention has been called above to some amulets that show on one side Helios driving his four-horse chariot, on the other the cock-headed god. Here we notice briefly some specimens in which the sun-god is the principal subject. They fall into two groups: first, those in which the god in his quadriga is seen either in a front view or from the side; secondly, those in which the god is shown standing, and his character as driver of the solar chariot is indicated only by the whip that he carries.

A good example of the first group, hitherto unpublished, belongs to the collection of Mr. Seyrig (D. 228). It is a greenish-black jasper, with a design of Helios driving his four-horse chariot to the left. His head has rays, and he carries a whip over his shoulder. Round the design, above, at the right, and below, the seven vowels were cut, each with a six-rayed star below it; the omicron is damaged, and the iota, which was at the right, has been chipped away. The stars show that the letters represent the seven planets. The reverse and bevel are fully occupied by an inscription which is unintelligible; but part of it is a formula found elsewhere.2 It may be specifically solar since occurs on the reverse of a bronze amulet in the Michigan collection which has Harpocrates with the animals as the obverse type (D. 203). Among the adequately published gems of this sort the most interesting is one in the Southesk collection (N 51). The chariot of the sun-god is preceded by Phosphor, the morning star, represented as a woman with radiate head, carrying a lighted torch. The reverse bears, in addition to some magical words, a personal petition which has been mentioned before — “Keep me ageless and full of charm.” The ever-renewed brilliance of the sun seems to have caused representations of its god to be taken as propitious emblems in various ways. Thus a heliotrope with a standing figure of Helios was a love gift, to judge from the inscription Σιδονία χ῰ρε (l. χαῖρε).3

A bloodstone in the Ruthven collection (D. 227) shows Helios in his chariot seen from the front, with the horses in the usual arrangement, the two outside facing outward, the two pole horses with their heads turned towards

1 Examples may be seen in B. M. Cat. Gems, 1657, 1660, 1661; De Ridder 3060–3061; Southesk D 1.

2 This formula should read σθομβαοληβαολ σθομβαλακαμσθομβλη (a version established by comparing several slightly varying examples).

3 Furtwängler, Beschreibung, 8653, Pl. 61.

Last modified: 2012-10-30 10:45:13