The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 193.

upon the sound of the original word, but upon its appearance, for transposition momentarily deceives the eye, and number values are worked out in writing. Thus they form a transition to the second division of these magical inscriptions.
Here first to be considered are the palindromes, most of which can be pronounced, and so might seem to belong to the preceding division. But only a very short palindrome that immediately reveals itself to the ear as such, and can do so only if the vowels are clearly uttered and if each has a single quality, or at least a narrow range of quality. We scarcely think of “refer” as a palindrome when we hear it, and “Able was I ere I saw Elba” is not to be recognized as one unless we see it written. Greek, even Egyptian Greek, is more phonetic than English, but palindromes of 30, or 60 letters cannot be recognized without writing them out. They lent themselves particularly to the making of charms in ring form like that figured in a magical papyrus of the British Museum (PGM I, Pl. 3, 6).
It seems to follow from the very nature of palindromes that whatever value the imagination attributed to them came solely from the fact that they are the same whether read forwards or backwards. Consequently it is futile to examine them for meanings that can be expressed ordinary language, and no trustworthy inferences can be drawn from their occurrence in invocations of known divinities in papyrus books, or with representations of gods on gem amulets. They were simply powerful charms applicable wherever the magician chose to use them. The inconsistencies that result from any other view of them mill be illustrated in connection with the Aberamentho formula in the list that to follow.
Combinations of the vowels were sometimes so used in magic as to appeal to the eye as much as to the ear. This was done by arranging them in certain figures, among which the commonest was the ordinary pyramid, made with a single alpha at the apex, two epsilons below it, and so on to seven omegas at the base. An example of a pyramid with omega at the apex may be seen in Preisendanz's Papyri Graecae Magicae, and just above it there is a progressive sequence from a single alpha to seven omegas, not, however, pyramid form but set down on two lines of the text.26 Other schemes are illustrated and discussed by Dornseiff, among them various permutations of the order of the seven vowels or a smaller group of them.27 On gem amulets the pyramidal arrangement occasionally found, but oftener the scanty space makes it necessary to write a progressive sequence in one line, sometimes round the edge of the stone.
To a person entirely ignorant of the art, the very act of writing may seem like magic. An unscrupulous maker of amulets could cover a piece of haematite stone or a scrap of papyrus with letters chosen at random, and pass off as a powerful charm made to suit the buyer's purpose. Some such knavery may account for a curious haematite in the Michigan collection.28 The obverse, which has an area of less than one half of a square inch, is covered with

26 PGM I, Pl. 3, 5.
27 Das Alphabet, pp. 35–51.

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