in both of which passages it is treated as a name of Seth; so also in PGM
XIV, 24, a Greek portion of the London-Leiden magical papyrus.96
On the other hand, it appears also in invocations of Apollo (PGM
I, 291., II, 125), who, as identified with Horus, is hostile to Seth. A small green jasper in my possession has the formula on the back and bevel while the obverse shows Harpocrates on the lotus in a boat (D. 201
). A somewhat similar stone is described in Zoega's catalogue of the Borgia collection; but in that specimen there is a reverse design of the cock-headed god with serpent legs, and the palindrome encircles it.97
Here, then, are four instances in which the αβεραμενθωου palindrome is associated with solar deities. Furthermore, a haematite published by Barry, with this formula on the reverse, has on the other side a design of a deity with a crowned serpent rising from his shoulders instead of a human head; the figure was probably intended for Agathodaimon, who, as noted above, is often identified with Harpocrates.98
The obvious conclusion is that the palindrome was not confined to any particular magical context, but was a name of power to be used wherever and whenever the operator pleased.
This explains why part of the formula, Aberamentho, was actually used by certain Gnostics as a name of Jesus; it appears thus in Pistis Sophia
The borrowing, I am convinced, was from the magicians by the Gnostics, not vice versa.100
The Gnostic borrowers show no knowledge of the whole formula; but since long sequences were often mentioned in the magical books by the opening syllables (usually the first four), it is not quite safe to infer that they did not know it. However, the Gnostic use of Aberamentho without the rest of the palindrome has led to futile speculation about the meaning of those syllables. Even so keen a scholar as Burkitt fell into the trap, actually suggesting a connection between Aberamenthoou and Rhadamanthys.101
Αεμειναβαρωθερ-ρεθωρ κτλ. Preisendanz couples this with the foregoing palindrome as Typhonic, and it is used in such a connection in PGM IV, 196. But I find it also on the reverse of a uterine amulet in my collection which shows no obvious Typhonic influence (D. 141
). The obverse represents Harpocrates seated on the uterine symbol; no other deities are present. I have not found the formula on other amulets. It could perhaps be argued that, if the palindrome is Typhonic, its presence in this place might be a covert threat to the afflicted organ. In the chapter dealing with uterine amulets two specimens were described (p. 84
) on which threats of danger from Typhon were clearly intended to control the womb and restore it to its normal state.
Αυεβωθιαβαθ-αβαιθ κτλ. This appears with other magical words, mostly
96 Soc. ég. de papyrologie, Études, 1 (1932), 22, n.; Procopé-Walter, ARW 30 (1933), 47.
97 Museo Borgiano, p. 441, 41.
98 Ann. du serv., 7, 248, 10.
99 C. Schmidt, Koptisch-gnostische Schriften, pp. 233, 237, 242.
100 See the series of common magical words that are incorporated in the prayer, Pistis Sophia, p. 232 (Schmidt, Koptisch-gnostische Schriften).
101 Church and Gnosis, pp. 39, 82f.