belonging to the British Museum it accompanies a design consisting of a radiate head of Helios with Nike on one side, Tyche on the other.86
Χάρις without the article also seems to be rare. In addition to previously mentioned cameo in the Cabinet des Médailles, occurs on one of the Christian period in the De Clercq collection.87
But ἡ χάρις not uncommon. Since the article is not used with the common words of good omen, ὑγία, ζωή, its presence with χάρις suggests that ἡ χάρις may require a different explanation. It may be a religious ejaculation applicable to various divinities, describing them as “the beauty” (or “the glory” or “the power”) of the world.88
Here the most important evidence is to be found in the so-called stele of Ieû in P. Lond. 46, 157.89
After an invocation of the Headless God and a petition addressed to him, his praises and powers are recited, first in the third person (οὗτός ἐστιν ὃν οἱ ἄνεμοι φοβοῦνται κτλ.), and then in the first. Here we find the striking sentence ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ χάρις τοῦ αἰῶνος. The Headless One in this text is Osiris fused with the God of the Hebrews.
A close association of χάρις with αἰών is indicated in Irenaeus' account of the Valentinian Gnosis, where Charis is one of the names — the others are Ennoia and Sige — given to the companion of the primal Aeon, sometimes called Bythos.90
In the Coptic Gnostic Treatise
published by Mrs. Baynes from the Codex Brucianus we find related passages. “And they (i.e. the entities outside the Pleroma) saw the Grace (χαρις) of the Aeons (αιων) of the light which was freely bestowed (χαριζε) upon them”; and, somewhat differently, “And all your age (αιων) shall be filled with the Grace (χαρις) of the Only-begotten (μονογενης) Son.”91
The phrase χάρις might, then, be regarded as derived from Gnostic theology, but, as we shall see, its connections are pagan, so far as amulets are concerned. The possibility that Gnostic phraseology entered into pagan religion must, of course, be allowed.
Origen quotes an Ophianic prayer as follows: βασιλέα μονότροπον, δεσμὸν ἀβλεψίας, λήθην ἀπερίσκεπτον ἀσπάζομαι, πρώτην δύναμιν, πνεύματι προνοίας καὶ σοφίᾳ τηρουμένην· ἔνθεν εἰλικρινὴς πέμπομαι, φωτὸς ἤδη μέρος υἱοῦ καὶ πατρός· ἡ χάρις συνέστω μοι, ναὶ πάτερ, συνέστω;92
“I salute the solitary King, the bond of invisibility, oblivion inscrutable, the first power, preserved by the spirit of providence and by wisdom. Thence am I sent in purity, now a part of the light of Son and Father. Grace be with me; yea, Father, be it with me.”
It is not certain that the last clause is merely an echo of a well-known Christian formula. Besides numerous New Testament passages embodying the phrases ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ, χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, there
86 B. M. Cat. Gems, 1665, 3025.
88 For the various meanings of χάρις in magical texts see Nock's note in Bell, Nock, and Thompson, Magical Texts from a Bilingual Papyrus, pp. 27–28; also Bevan, Holy Images, p. 144.
90 Iren. 1, 1 (ed. Harvey).
92 Contra Celsum 6, 31, 11. 5–9.