The site of Leontopolis is a place now known as Tell Moqdam in the Delta, on the right bank of the branch of the Nile that debouches at Damietta. The prominence of the lion there is proved by many monuments. The lion-headed god of the town was identified with Re and Horus; his solar character accounts for “Light, Fire, Flame” as names for him. Mios is “the lion that casts a spell” by his glance, an idea conveyed in the two Egyptian elements that are combined in this name, and also reported by Aelian.126
Harmios is Horus-lion, Ousirmios Osiris-lion, probably meaning, as Spiegelberg suggests, the mummy of the dead lion. Phre is the sun; Simiephe is not explained; Phnouto, great god (?).
Though this stone was doubtless an amulet in the sense that its owner wore it for his own benefit and protection, it is nevertheless a religious monument. The reciting of the god's names and epithets is as appropriate in a purely religious context as in a magical one.127
At first glance one might think that the Boston rock crystal (D. 234
), which has been mentioned several times for various reasons, carried an utterance of fervent piety along with the usual magical apparatus of secret names. The inscription on the reverse of the lion-headed god reads Ζεθ αφοβε τωρθροψ μεω μιθορον φαωχι ειλεος τη εμε ψυχη και τυς εμους τεκνυς. But the last words can scarcely be the cry of a devout parent for spiritual benefits to his soul and to his children. ψυχή here is probably no more than “self,” as in Luke 12, 19, Theocritus 16, 24, passages with which we may compare the words of a certain Dios, who sends a message of greeting to τοῦς φιλοῦντας τὴν ἐμὴν ψυχήν.128
This interpretation is confirmed by a closely similar stone in the Newell collection (D. 235
). There the first part of the inscription is the same, except for slight differences that can be explained as errors transcribing from a common original. The petition at the end is ἵλεως
(κύριε) τῇ ἐμῇ ψυχῇ καὶ τῷ ἐμῷiβίῳ, “Be gracious, lord, to me and my goods.”