The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 153.

right hand brandishes a whip, the left holds a globe on which the equator and a meridian line are faintly indicated. The work is much better than the average of these amulets, though the attempt to foreshorten the right foot is an awkward failure. The inscription on the reverse is as follows:
Ζεθ αφοβε
ειλεος τη εμε
ψυχη και τυς
εμους τεκνυς
The first three lines of this inscription are found on all five of the group with no more differences than can be explained by carelessness in reproducing a copy. The last three are to be read, taking into account some gross orthographic errors, ἵλεως τῇ ἐμῇ ψυχῇ καὶ τοῖς ἐμοῖς τέκνοις. The insertion of ο into εμους is the worst piece of carelessness. Υ is often written for οι at a late period, and the failure to differentiate ε and η is common. The meaning is “Be gracious to me and my children.” τῇ ἐμῇ ψυχῇ is no more than “to myself”; a spiritual meaning of ψυχή is hardly to be allowed here (see further pp. 118119).29
The second and third lines are unintelligible and, so far as I have observed, are not found elsewhere either in papyri or on stone or metal amulets. There remain the two words Ζεθ ἄφοβε, “fearless Zeth.” This “Zeth” seems to be Σηθ; it is hard to account for the coincidence in the spelling of five different inscriptions except by assuming that the lapidaries all followed the same copy, and that may mean that all the specimens came from the same workshop. There is enough likeness in the style in which the figures are engraved to justify a suggestion that one artist did them all; at least this is true of the four that I have minutely examined. Some slight differences in the lettering make it safer to call them products of one studio rather than of one gem cutter.
The narrowly local, perhaps narrowly personal, character of these types may explain the strange fact that an invocation to Seth (Σηθ) is carved on the reverse of a type that all observers would agree to be solar. The attributes of whip and orb place this interpretation beyond the range of dispute; and a figure exactly like that on the crystals is prescribed in a magical procedure where everything points to a solar deity. Further, a plausible restoration of an abbreviation in the papyrus text offers Ἡλίωρος, “Horus the Sun,” as the name of the figure.30 It would therefore seem to be an inescapable conclusion that in some small group of religious theorists syncretism had gone so far that even the ancient god of darkness and evil could borrow a well-known type of the sun-god.
A word should be said about another creature that was connected with the sun from very ancient times, namely, the scarabaeus beetle. On magical

29 Compare Luke 12, 19; Theocr. 16, 24.
30 PGM I, 144.

Last modified: 2012-10-30 11:33:19