The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 202.

It is also among the magical words inscribed on the Toronto celt, where the principal design is the four-winged pantheos;90 on the reverse of an amulet which on the other side represents a mummy with a curious headdress and indistinct face;91 and (usually with other magical words) on several stones that have no figure design.

The preponderance of examples that connect the words of this group with the sun loses something of its significance when one remembers that the solar religion was drawing more and more deities into its circle and identifying them with the Divine Sun. The further this syncretism went, the more would inscribed words of unremembered origin be liable to a solar interpretation. The traditions of their inherent power may well be older than their connection with any particular deity.


A few examples must serve to illustrate a group that may be large in the aggregate, namely, words hitherto recorded only once. In the absence of parallel examples, the accompanying designs give no sure clue to the affiliations of the words, and they present no recognized language elements. Such are the words ασασαμ αδουραμ, one on each side of a hawk-headed god with wings at both the shoulders and the hips and with a bird's tail.92 Round a cow-headed goddess holding torches, an Isis-Hathor-Hecate, is the inscription θαρουχοννω βαλβανηχ λαεννουρα.93 On the reverse of a Harpocrates seated on a lotus is the word ωμεφθαρχενθεχθα.94 Common to these and others like them is the frequency of heavy sounds, in the last example made more noticeable by harsh combinations of consonants. The papyri would doubtless supply a much larger number of these magical ἅπαξ εἰρημένα.


The palindromes make a class in themselves. Since they were constructed solely to run backwards and forwards alike, it would seem futile to look for a meaning in any of them. Hence it is only proper to take a skeptical position toward such attempts as “Thou art our father,” or “Father come to us,” for αβλαναθαναλβα, the commonest palindrome of all.95 On gem amulets the word seems to belong to solar deities, especially to Harpocrates and the cock-headed anguipede, but it is often found, with other magical words, on stones that bear no figure design.

Among the magical palindromes that have been recorded there is one that is especially important, because exemplifies the errors into which scholars have fallen in the effort to find a definite meaning, or at least a definite relationship, for all magical formulas. This is the rather common αβεραμενθωουλερθεξαν κτλ., in which the last ν is the central letter, the others following it in reverse order. Of this Preisendanz says that it is to be found mostly in connection with Seth-Typhon, and it does so occur in PGM IV, 181, 3272,

90 AJA 35 (1931), 1–6.

94 Museo Borgiano, p. 437, 18.

95 Kopp, Pal. Crit., III, 684.

Last modified: 2012-11-01 21:33:37