There is a dittography of ων, and the form intended was πινων, i.e. πεινῶν, “hungry.” For εβωσκετο read ἐβόσκετο. After ἄρτον there are two, perhaps three, indistinct crowded letters. φάω for φάγω, “eat,” makes the best sense and fits the traces best; it is an early example of a form well known in Modern Greek. At the end of the third line it is possible that πινων was intended, for there is a short stroke over ω which may be the sign of final ν. However, reading πίνω, one may render the words as “A wolf, hungry, was fed. I drink water, I am thirsty; I eat bread.”
Like this in its childish tone, but without the narrative aspect of the previous example, is a long inscription on a previously mentioned pendant in the British Museum, which has the ἵππος μοῦλος ἶβις formula on its reverse.37
The obverse has ten lines of writing, much of which is indistinct and very hard to read; below are indistinct cuttings that may belong to the outlines of three animals.
The clue to the character of this inscription, though not to an exact deciphering of it, is found in a Byzantine incantation of which several variants are known.38
It is a charm to cure ailments of the womb. One of them reads ὑστέρα μελάνη μελανομένη ὡς ὄφις εἰλύεσαι καὶ ὡς λέων βρυχᾶσαι καὶ ὡς ἄρνιον κοιμοῦ; “Womb, black, blackening, as a snake thou wrigglest, and as a lion thou roarest, and as a lamb — go to sleep.” Another version inserts the clause καὶ ὡς δράκων συρίζησε (sic
), “and as a dragon thou hissest.”
In the British Museum pendant I can make nothing of the first line and the beginning of the second; then follow the words ἐθέρισε φαεψε κατέφαγεν. The second word may be a blunder for ἀφεύσε (ευ›εφ, εφσ›εψ) or for ἀφέψε (ἀφήψε); so “he reaped, he roasted (or boiled), he ate.” Then follows an enlarged version of the Byzantine incantation, but without the address to the ὑστέρα. The endings of the verbs are partly so indistinct, partly so incredibly irregular, that I can only indicate the sense in a general way by a tentative translation: “as a wolf thou tearest, as a crocodile thou devourest, as a lion thou roarest, as a bull thou gorest (κερατίζω), as a dragon thou wrigglest . . . as a pet sheep (κτίλος).” Some word meaning “to lie down,” “be quiet,” must have stood in the damaged passage indicated by the dots, or else below, where indistinct cuttings are visible but nothing is legible.39
Mouterde has published a specimen which seems to be unique in one respect, namely, that the design of the evil eye attacked by five animals is placed on the obverse under the usual figure of the rider piercing the Evil One.40
The reverse is thus left free for an inscription, below which is a clumsy representation of the cock-headed solar anguipede. The legend is ‹σ›τομαχε αντιστομαχε ως εμα εφαγε ως εμα επιωκεν ουτη κατωδωεη. I make nothing of the last twelve letters; but if επιωκεν can be a mongrel form for ἔπιεν or
38 Heim, Incantamenta magica, p. 542; King, Gnostics, p. 169; Schlumberger, REG 5 (1892), 89–02.
39 This inscription should be reëxamined. I read what I could ten years ago, but comparison with related texts would probably make further progress possible if the object were now accessible.
40 Mélanges Univ. St.-Joseph, 25, 124 (No. 58), Pl. 9. This pendant belonged to the Ayvaz collection, but was not acquired by the University of Michigan.