meaning; but a scorpion or a crab might be engraved for artistic reasons also, or for a magical purpose. But since the lion appears as a solar animal in Egyptian art,66
and is clearly identified with solar deities in the magical papyri, it must remain doubtful whether any trace of Mithraism is to be found in the lion amulets.
Certain archaeological discoveries throw light upon an amulet design of a lion resting his forepaw on the head or skull of an ox (e.g. D. 75
), which has also been called Mithraic.67
In the neighborhood of the ancient Iconium there were found several large sculptured lions, evidently intended for grave monuments; six are reported to stand in the garden of the Konia Museum.68
Four of the six shelter between their forepaws an effigy, male or female, probably representing the occupant of the tomb; this would seem to show that the lions were supposed to be the guardians of the dead. Two of the six have a forepaw resting on a bull's head; the writers who describe them say that the bull's head is often depicted in connection with lions on Phrygian tombs and suggest that it serves to emphasize the lion's strength and ferocity.69
The gem design of a lion with an ox skull may be viewed as a charm to give the wearer power over his enemies; this interpretation is supported by such a gem in the collection of Mr. Henri Seyrig (D. 74), which has on the reverse the words κρατῶ σε ἔχω σε, “
I have you, I hold you.” On this stone the object held down by the lion's paw is roundish and more like a human than a bovine cranium; it is possible that, having human enemies in mind, the maker deliberately substituted the one for the other.70
But the small size and mediocre workmanship of such amulets may easily account for the indistinctness of the object.
The ox skull is more plainly cut on several other gems — one in the Southesk collection, one at the University of Michigan, others in the Thorvaldsen Museum at Copenhagen and the British Museum.71
The last-named collection also possesses a stone showing a lion with his paw on the head of a goat; on another he holds down a serpent.72
These themes, originally suggested by actual observation, were adopted as typical of the savage strength of the lion. The use of the design for funeral sculptures is a secondary development, and still later it was used for amulets meant to give the owners power among men like that of the lion among beasts. There is no satisfactory proof of any religious meaning; but when stars and moon were added it is likely that the lion was interpreted as a solar animal.