The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 166.



nipples, and that he consumes the heads that he takes “through my neck, by the fire that is in me.”51 This last phrase suggests that the projections from the neck of the Akephalos in the Berlin papyrus may actually represent flames, to which they have been casually compared.

It makes little difference whether the Testament was written in Egypt or in Asia, as McCown thinks slightly more likely. This demon bears every mark of a genuine and well-known bogy, and since nothing is more contagious than superstition, he was probably feared by the ignorant in all the eastern Mediterranean countries. The Testament seems to have been written not later than the fourth century of our era, perhaps even in the third; and the beliefs that records are older. Hence there is good reason to treat the Headless Demon of the Testament as closely related to the figure that appears in the papyri and the somewhat different one on the British Museum gem. Furthermore, the idea of headless demons is not closely confined to the period of our amulets and papyri, a proof that it is not a mere sporadic phenomenon. Astrologers of the first and second centuries describe the third decan of Capricorn as a headless demon;52 and in the sixth century the head of Justinian, whom his enemies accused of being a demon, was said sometimes to become invisible.53 In Recension C of the Testament of Solomon (10, 3) a certain demon is said to make men appear without heads, which probably means that he turns them into demons. The evil spirits that caused the plague at stantinople were seen in the forms of headless men;54 the time may have been that of the great plague in Justinian's reign, or of some later outbreak, such as that of 749.55

When a ghastly figure of this kind was taken up by professional magicians and used for their purposes, would be exploited, like other divine and demonic personages, in their usual manner — would be invoked elaborate prayers and addressed by the usual medley of secret names, some belonging properly to beings of very different origin. Some confusion with Osiris would take place almost inevitably, because of the myth relating the mutilation of Osiris by Set; and the headless body of Osiris is shown on Egyptian monuments. Further, the ἀκέφαλος δαίμων invoked in the “Stele of Ieû” (PGM V, 96 ff.) is certainly Osiris, as Preisendanz maintains; this is definitely proved by the phrase σὺ εἶ Ὀσωροννωφρις (101).56 On the other hand, the matter is much more complicated in the second Berlin papyrus (PGM II), where Apollo and his Egyptian equivalent, the Sun, are invoked; and neither Apollo, nor Osiris identified with the sun, can in my judgment be found in the uncouth figure that accompanies the text. It is easier to accept Hopfner's suggestion that the figure is a headless demon of the dead (νεκυοδαίμων) evoked to serve as the medium of a prophecy.57



51 Preisendanz, Akephalos, p. 15, is wrong in saying that the Akephalos of the Testament has a mouth; nor do the words διὰ τῶν μαστῶν (βλέπω) make the demon stethocephalic.

52 Boll, Sphaera, p. 221.

53 Procop. Hist. Arc. 12, 21.

54 Preisendanz, Akephalos, p. 11.

55 Gibbon, Decline and Fall (ed. Bury), IV, 436–440; V, 187, n. 20.

56 See Preisendanz's note on this line.

57 Hopfner, Offenbarungszauber, II, 97, §200.




Last modified: 2012-10-30 18:55:54
Link: classics.mfab.hu/talismans/pandecta/1611