Bonner, SMA – PDF, 92.
Museum of Archaeology at Toronto.58 The reverse calls for no comment; the ouroboros encircles a well-cut “vessel” with the key as usual, but no divinities are shown. The obverse shows a naked woman standing, or rather, in a position between standing and squatting; the legs are wide apart, and the knees are turned outward and bent almost to right angles. Her swollen body may indicate pregnancy, and her hands are pressed to the sides of her abdomen. The posture suggests violent straining to relieve pain. Round the edge runs an inscription, ουρωρερμιθαθ η ουρωριουθ; the last word is a mere variant of the significant name Ororiouth. There also a short inscription, καταστιλον (κατάστειλον), beginning over the woman's head and ending at the right side opposite the knee. In connection with a previously discussed Cairo gem we have seen that στέλλω and its derivatives, when used in a medical sense, have such meanings as “check,” “contract,” “reduce”; and the imperative on this Toronto stone must be addressed to Ororiouth as μήτρας γυναικῶν κύρως, adjuring him to relieve the tortured womb of its burden, whether giving easy delivery of a child or reducing an abnormal congestion.
A British Museum gem (red jasper) has something in common with the Toronto specimen.59 We examine the reverse side first. Here also a woman is represented in a half-squatting position, but she is holding a sword in her right hand. The simplest explanation that she holds it merely as a threat to the powers whom she invokes with the aid of the amulet; one may compare the remarkable vase painting of the two nude women armed with swords, who are drawing the moon down from heaven.60 The lower part of the stone has been broken away, and some uncertain cuttings at each side of the woman's feet may be the ligaments of a uterine symbol occupying the lower part of the surface. The obverse of this stone presents the familiar design of Herakles throttling the Nemean lion. The three kappas which usually go with this type were cut on the reverse, though one has been lost with the fragment broken off the bottom. This combination of types — Herakles and the lion with the suffering woman — suggests that in the minds of the common folk a remedy for colic would also help abdominal pains originating in the uterus. A connection between these disorders, however absurd from a scientific point of view, seems to have been firmly established in various popular superstitions. The subject has been treated at some length by Drexler, in connection with the “Medusa” type of uterine amulet and the charm accompanying it.61
Another remarkable amulet in the British Museum deserves a minute description.62 This is a well-preserved red jasper set in a modern gold ring. The obverse shows a naked woman seated in a very wide low chair, with her knees far apart. The arms, front legs, and back of the chair are shown, and the woman's feet rest on a line which is probably not merely an indication
58 D. 147.
60 Article “Magia” in Daremberg-Saglio, Dict. des Ant., p. 1516, fig. 4785.
61 Philol. 58, 599 ff.; see also F. Pradel, ARW 12, 152.