The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 161.



one immediately of the serpent-formed archon Raphael in the Ophianic system; yet it does not mark the amulet as Gnostic, since this and other angel names occur in association with various other types.28 A stone in the British Museum differs from the two just described only in that the figure has a situla in the left hand;29 it is inscribed with magic names which I did not copy, probably because of the indistinct cutting.

A haematite in the Newell collection30 represents a female figure with hand to mouth (gesture of adoration, προσκύνησις) between two serpent-headed male figures, clad only in the kilt, each holding a whip and a tall staff. The reverse has an inscription, which consists of letters (some reversed) strung together with no intent to make sense; there is nothing to identify the demons.

A female demon with serpent head, holding whip and tall scepter, appears on a rather unusual specimen at the University of Michigan.31 This is a large, fusiform haematite, beadlike but unperforated, slightly flattened on two sides. The serpent-headed goddess accompanied by the inscription σεσενγερ is opposite a triple Hecate; on the narrow side between them is a female worshiper in the attitude of proskynesis towards Hecate. On the other narrow edge is what seems to be a wasted corpse (σκελετός).32

Thus far we are unable to name these partly serpentine demons. The elementary water divinities, Nun and Nunt, are too remote to be remembered at this late period,33 and Nehebka and Nehir, who appear among the personages of the world of the dead, are scarcely more likely to have played a part in the popular religion of the late Roman Empire.34 On the whole, it seems most likely that for some special reason various ones of the greater gods were now and then depicted in this serpentine aspect; but we can scarcely say which deities are thus disguised.35

The case is different with a curious stone that formerly belonged to King's collection.36 It is a green jasper, representing serpent-headed deity enthroned at the left, holding a tall scepter in the right hand, a globe in the extended left. At the right a kneeling cynocephalus raises his paws in adoration before the god. King interprets this divinity as “Serapis and Agathodaemon combined in one body” and infers from the adoration of the cynocephalus that “Serapis is to be understood now in the more restricted sense



28 E.g. D. 41, with an Anubis type.




32 In PGM IV, 661 ff., the instructor promises the operator that, after a prayer to the sun and other acts, he will see rising from the deep seven maidens with the faces of asps, dressed in linen garments. They are called Τύχαι of heaven, and they carry golden scepters.

33 Erman, 61; Lanzone, pp. 424–425, Pls. 170, 1; 169, 3; 171, 2.

34 Lanzone, p. 432, Pl. 173, 2; p. 430, Pl. 173, 1. A. W. Shorter (JEA 21 [1935], 42) says that Nehebka is frequently represented in statuettes of the Late Period. Some of the serpent-headed gods on gem amulets might therefore be meant for him.

35 In PGM XII, 159, “the god” is expected to appear “with serpent face” after the proper invocation; but he is identified only by his “great name,” a formula which contains the names of four gods, Phtha, Ra, Thoth, and Hor (Horus), besides a number of unknown magical names.

36 In a note on this stone King marks it “New York,” apparently meaning that it was transferred, along with the bulk of his collection, to the Metropolitan Museum; but the gem is not to be found there and it seems never to have been incorporated into the collections. See his Gnostics, p. 358, fig. 16; p. 434.




Last modified: 2012-10-30 12:46:29
Link: classics.mfab.hu/talismans/pandecta/1606