The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 35.

between Helios and Mithra. That combination is suggested by a gem in the Metropolitan Museum which shows on one side the sun-god in his chariot, with magical words above and below, on the other a tauroktonia.59 The latter, however, is not the typical Mithraic group. There is only one figure, which may be female, slaughtering a bull; though wingless, it could be taken for a Victory. But the Persian hood which the figure wears is reminiscent of Mithra, and at the time when the design was cut, it would suggest the Mithraic pattern more readily than the sacrificing Victory of Hellenic art.
A combination which provokes conjecture appears on another gem of the Borgia collection, unfortunately a fragment, though the main designs are unmistakable.60 On the reverse of a normal tauroktonia Eros and Psyche are shown embracing. The word νειχαροπληξ encircles the surviving part of the design, and on the bevel is part of the long palindrome ιαεωβαφρενεμουν κτλ., which occurs on many amulets and in the magical papyri.
Reitzenstein's investigations have shown that the prominence of Psyche in the minor works of Hellenistic art is not due merely to a strengthening of the element of sportive fantasy or a growing interest in a popular folk tale.61 Although the combinations that he has made are rather fragile, he has at least shown that a goddess Soul played a part in an Iranian creation myth; and Ψυχή appears in the cosmogony of the Leyden papyrus J 395, the source of which he believed to be Iranian.62 There is even a Manichaean fragment connecting Mithra with Soul;63 and although the tenuous character of the evidence warns against drawing any positive conclusion from it, the point is worth recording in connection with the Borgia amulet. Eros also is something more than a figure of allegory or of folk tales. Though he plays no part in the Iranian mythology, he is a god in the solemn invocation on the “Sword of Dardanus,” one of the spells of the great Paris papyrus, and also in the “Paredros Eros” of the Leyden papyrus J 384 (W).64 In both passages he is associated with Psyche, and in the latter he is identified with Harpocrates. Has Eros-Harpocrates a parallel in Eros-Mithra? It is a question to consider, but at present hardly more than that.
Several gems engraved with the figure of a lion have been called Mithraic, particularly when a star or a crescent or both are set in the field over the animal;65 it is also remembered that “lion” was one of the grades in the Mithraic hierarchy (cf. D. 73, 237, 238, 239, 240). Others have taken the lion to represent a sign of the zodiac, with merely astrological significance, and there are a good many stones engraved with one or another of a few zodiacal creatures. Capricorn, for example, can scarcely have any other than an astrological

59 D. 71; formerly in the King collection. There is a figure in King, Gnostics, p. 157, but on p. 433 he misinterprets the reverse design.
60 Museo Borgiano, p. 473, 14; Cumont, Monuments, II, 450.
61 Das Märchen von Amor und Psyche, pp. 79ff.; Die Göttin Psyche, Ber. Heidelb. Akad., 8 (1917), 100
62 PGM XIII, 192, 522.
63 Manichaean fragment M 10, cited by Reitzenstein, Die Göttin Psyche, p. 100.
64 PGM IV, 1716–1870; XII, 15–95, especially 87 f.
65 E.g. by Matter, III, 65, P1. 4, 7.

Last modified: 2012-11-05 10:11:11

Related objects: 6 item(s)