The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 174.

for occasional proper names, Latin words have not been observed in these amuletic inscriptions. It would seem that early in the period of their contact with the Romans the Syrians adopted domnus, domna as equivalents for their own marā, marthā, words which were addressed to divinities and also serve as titles of respect for human beings. These Latin words were also used as personal names for human beings in Syria (cf. Julia Domna), and even more frequently in Pisidia and Lycaonia — at least, epigraphic evidence from those regions is more plentiful, though that may be a matter of chance.


The subject of acclamations, especially those of a religious character, has been ably treated by Erik Peterson in a work so thorough that leaves little to reward those who glean after him.55 Here we are concerned chiefly with words and phrases that originally expressed a religious conviction in brief exclamatory form — thus serving as a sort of symbol among believers — or, more simply, as an utterance of religious feeling, ascribing greatness and power to a deity. Such expressions often became apotropaic; praise of a god invokes his aid against sinister powers. Sometimes acclamations are little more than wishes for good luck, especially those that consist merely of the name of some desirable quality or power, like ζωή, τύχη, ὑγία (for ὑγίεια). Acclamations occurring on amulets are usually of the kinds collected by Peterson, and a brief comment and reference to his work will dispense with the need of full discussion.

Εἷς θεός in a strictly religious sense must be regarded as an expression of monotheistic faith, and is rightly held to be of Jewish origin. It was taken over by the Christians and appears on a great number of bronze pendants, mainly of Syrian and Palestinian origin, which have on one side the Rider Saint with the motto εἷςsθεὸς ὁ νικῶν τὰ κακά, and on the other, usually, some apotropaic device directed against the evil eye. These appear in the late third or early fourth century and continue into Byzantine times. The lower limit of their occurrence is hard to determine because the manufacture was early standardized and the technique changed little. These pendants, with some examples of the Byzantine medals that seem to have superseded them, will be treated in Chapter XV.

The same words were also adapted to pagan use, perhaps especially in connection with the solar cult, which approached and sometimes became a monotheism. Thus εἷςsθεὸς is engraved on the reverse of an amulet in the De Clercq collection, where the obverse design is a god with radiate head; he is winged, wears a cuirass with flaps and holds a globe in his right hand.56 Peterson is strictly right in saying that the inscription need not refer to the god, but may be merely an apotropaic or exorcistic formula; yet such caution seems a little excessive.

When used of a pagan god, εἷς expresses the great power or the preëminence

55 Heis Theos, Göttingen, 1926 (Forsch. zur Rel. und Lit. des Alten und Neuen Testaments, N. F. 24).

56 De Ridder 3457; Peterson, op. cit., p. 265.

Last modified: 2012-11-05 11:23:37