The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 54.

2. Nothing relating to gem amulets is better attested than the use of the so-called Chnoubis stones as a remedy for pains and diseases of the stomach. This matter has been touched upon before, but it must now be dealt with at length. The principal authority upon the point is Galen, who is writing about the medicinal qualities of various minerals.16
Ἰδιότητα δέ τινες ἐνίοις λίθοις μαρτυροῦσι τοιαύτην, οἵαν ὄντως ἔχει καὶ ὁ χλωρὸς ἴασπις, ὠφελῶν τὸν τε στόμαχον καὶ τὸ τῆς γαστρὸς στόμα περιαπτόμενον. ἐντιθέασί τε καὶ δακτυλίῳ αὐτὸν ἔνιοι καὶ γλύφουσιν ἐν αὐτῷ τὸν τὰς ἀκτῖνας ἔχοντα δράκοντα, καθάπερ καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς Νεχεψὼς ἔγραψεν ἐν τῇ τεσσερακαιδεκάτῃnβίβλῳ. τούτου μὲν οὖν τοῦ λίθου κἀγω πεῖραν ἱκανὴν ἔχω, καὶ ὁρμάθιόν γέ τι ποιήσας ἐκ λιθιδίων τοιούτων ἐξῆ τον τοῦ τραχήλου σύμμετρον οὕτως ὡς ψαύειν τοὺς λίθους τοῦ στόματος τῆς γαστρός. ἐφαίνοντο δὲ μηδὲν ἧττον ὠφελοῦντες ἢ εἰ τὴν γλυφὴν οὐκ ἔχοιεν ἣν ὁ Νεχεψὼς ἔγραψε.
The text of the last sentence is not quite in order; perhaps ἤ is an error for καὶ (abbreviated).
“The testimony of some authorities attributes to certain stones a peculiar quality which is actually possessed by the green jasper. Worn as an amulet, it benefits the stomach and oesophagus. Some also set it in a ring, and engrave on it the radiate serpent, just as King Nechepsos prescribed in his fourteenth book. I myself have made a satisfactory test of this stone. I made a necklace of small stones of that variety and hung it from my neck at just such a length that the stones touched the position of the cardiac orifice. They seemed just as beneficial even though they had not the design that Nechepsos prescribed.”
Galen's interest in King Nechepsos' prescription is, as we see, confined to the material of the stone itself, which he considered to have some medicinal value whether inscribed with the design of the radiate serpent or not. What is important for us is the testimony that this design was recommended in Ptolemaic times for ailments of the stomach, since the book attributed to Nechepsos is apparently to be dated about 150 B.C. We cannot be sure that Galen meant what is generally considered the typical Chnoubis, i.e. a thick-bodied snake with the head of a lion. His lack of interest in the carving on such stones may have led him to omit mention of the lion head; but it is also to be observed that snakes marked as divine by rays round the head are sometimes entirely serpentine in form, and a human-headed type of Chnoubis snake is also known. However, statements of other writers make it likely, if not quite certain, that Galen had in mind the familiar lion-headed type. The passages are collected by Drexler and need not be repeated here in full.17 In the so-called Sacred Book of Hermes to Asclepius, the first decan of Leo is Chnoumos (Χνοῦμος), who has the face of a lion and for body the coils of a snake rearing upward; he rules over all affections of the

16 Galen De simpl. 10, 19 (XII, 207, ed. Kühn).
17 See Drexler's article “Knuphis” in Roscher, II, 1, 1260–1263.

Last modified: 2012-10-14 17:20:43