The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 246.



AN ASTROLOGICAL PROBLEM


The stone that gives rise to this problem is one of the most remarkable of the fine group in the Brummer collection (D. 378). It might have been included in the chapter dealing with pantheistic and monstrous forms, since its obverse face shows one of the most elaborate and, fortunately, one of the most distinct pantheos types hitherto recorded. A previously described haematite in the Walters Art Gallery is noteworthy for its close relation to the usual obverse design of the late dynastic stelae of Horus; the Brummer amulet is equally remarkable for its approach to the type of the pantheistic demon, sometimes called the Old Sun, or the pantheistic Bes, which represented on the reverse of the Metternich stele, and also on small magical stelae of the same class as the Horus stelae proper. The obverse of the Brummer amulet includes several details, especially small subsidiary figures, which it is not easy to account for. Enough has been said about the pantheos design in general in Chapter XII; and the unusual features of this specimen may be most conveniently presented in the description preceding the plates. It is perhaps worth while to mention the inscription encircling the design. Though slightly damaged and not everywhere distinct, it seems to contain several of the secret or magical names of the planets (Semea, Kenteu, etc.), some of them differing from their usual forms.

The reverse side requires fuller discussion. The principal design is common enough, the cock-headed god with serpent legs, carrying whip and shield (not inscribed) in the usual attitude. Below him is a lion walking to left, a feature not usually associated with the anguipede. Round the margin is the inscription λέων ἰμί (for εἰμί), λέοντα φορῶ, Διός ἰμί οἰκητήριον, “I am a lion, I carry a lion, I am the house of Zeus.” But who is the “I”? If the lion speaks, the words λέοντα φορῶ are puzzling. One may scarcely suggest that the lion is carrying the anguipede above him, for they are not in actual contact; and how could an anguipede demon be called a lion? The fact that both are solar symbols is not enough to explain it. Apparently the stone is supposed to say λέοντα φορῶ, and then the subject changes back to the lion in the last clause.

Those who are readier than I to believe that magical amulets have been strongly influenced by Mithraism would probably explain this inscription as the words of a Mithraic Lion, that is, an initiate who had reached the grade of Leo. That would provide for the first two clauses, “I am a Lion, I wear (the image of) a lion,” but it does not avoid the difficulty of the third clause, where the speaker must be the Lion as a zodiacal sign. Perhaps the most plausible explanation of all is that, just as a magician may declare himself to be such and such a god, because he desires to use divine power, so he may call himself a lion, identifying himself completely with all aspects of the animal, including the astrological, and interpolating the boast λέοντα φορῶ. I am the house of Zeus” is certainly to be taken in the astrological sense, and, following modern practice, we should say “house of Jupiter.”




Last modified: 2012-11-02 15:17:44
Link: classics.mfab.hu/talismans/pandecta/1691