The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 145.

brown or black, sometimes yellow), and they often have a suspension hole. The obverse shows Isis seated on a chair, often with arms and high back, holding Horus on her lap. On the reverse is the stocky, neckless, bandy-legged dwarf Bes, wearing a headdress of tall feathers; a star and a crescent moon in the field.33
Bes is known from very early times as a protector of women in childbirth and of infants. It has been often remarked that the Christian representations of the Virgin seated with the child on her knees may owe something to the type of Isis and Harpocrates. If we could imagine an Italian maker of religious medals yielding to popular superstition so far as to place a gobbo (hunchback) on the reverse of a medal of Madonna and child, we should have a close parallel to the amulet type just described.
Certain magical words seem to belong particularly to this type of Isis, Harpocrates, and Bes. Round the group of the mother and child the words αθθα βαθθα are placed. These words also occur in a formula used in the magical papyrus of the Bibliothèque National: ἐγώ εἰμι Ὧρος (magical words, among them, Ιαω) υἱὸς Ἴσιδος αθθα βαθθα καὶ Ὀσίρεως Ὀσορ‹ον›νωφρεω‹ς›. The words αθθα βαθθα are a palindrome and probably have no other excuse for being, though Jacoby suggested that they represent the Hebrew words for “thou art father.”34 Round the figure of Bes is the meaningless τασβερβερετας.
Another infant type shows Harpocrates, seated (in one specimen on a low pedestal), the sun disk over his head, the flail over his left shoulder, the right hand raised towards his mouth. Behind him Isis, kneeling, her hands holding the head of the child; she wears a tall headdress probably intended to suggest the atef crown.35 On most of the specimens her garment is blown back behind her shoulders in the form of a loop. This suggests that the scene is supposed to be on a boat, and in fact on a specimen in the British Museum the two figures seem to be on a kind of raft indicated by several parallel lines with two strokes crossing them vertically. Elsewhere they are either on a mere ground line or on a sort of pedestal. The posture of Isis suggests that Harpocrates represents the new-born sun-god, and reminds us of Plutarch's characterization of Harpocrates as ἠλιτόμηνον, “untimely born.”36 On three of the six specimens known to me the reverse (or the reverse and bevel) is inscribed with the Iaeo palindrome, which we have seen to be a solar formula. One in the Metropolitan Museum has the reverse

33 So in two well-worn specimens belonging to me (D. 3132), one in the Michigan collection (D. 30), and one described in the Museo Borgiano (pp. 422-423). A fine specimen in the Brummer collection (D. 33) is unusual in showing, on the obverse, triads of animals, as they appear with Harpocrates alone. The reverse has the solar formula, often associated with Harpocrates, sthombaule, etc.; see Chapter XIV.
34 PGM IV, 1075 ff., with the footnote.
35 Six specimens of this type are known to me: Southesk N 20; Mouterde, “Le Glaive de Dardanos,” p. 88, fig. 18 (the only one hitherto shown in an illustration); Museo Borgiano, p. 424, 9; B. M. 56541; Metrop. Mus. 81.6.296; Mich. 26060 (see D. 3435). Mouterde (p. 89) is wrong in his notion that of Harpocrates faces Isis in some specimens of this type. He seems to have misunderstood Zoega's description the stone in the Borgia collection.
36 Isis and Osiris 358 E.

Last modified: 2012-11-05 11:21:12

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