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The Gnostics and Their Remains, by Charles William King, [1887], at

p. 248


The most remarkable specimen of the class known to me was obtained (Jan. 1876) from Sambon, a noted antiquario at Naples. It is a circular bronze disc, 2¾ inches (the ancient palmus) in diameter, with a small projection to top, perforated for suspension. The surface of the obverse bears a genuine patina, and the characters of the legend have the true antique formation; but, for reasons hereafter to be stated, the reverse strikes me as an addition of later times--not, indeed, a forgery to entrap the antiquarian, but something intended in all good faith to augment the virtues of the original talisman.

The Abraxas-god, advancing to the right, with arms extended crucifix fashion, holding sword and shield, above his head and arms,

[paragraph continues] On each side of figure--

[paragraph continues] The whole inclosed within a coiled serpent.

Reverse: King with hand on breast, seated on throne, seen in front-face. Over his head,


[paragraph continues] On each side of the figure--

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[paragraph continues] Under the footstool, similarly surrounded by the coiled serpent,

[paragraph continues] This Solomon is a truly mediæval piece of drawing; the lettering, too, evidently differs from that of the obverse; and as the surface of the plate is fresher on this side, it is probable that the whole has been added upon the empty back of the original plate.

Some legends, following the rule of the famous ΑΒΛΑΘΑΝΑΛΑΒΑ, read indifferently from either end. A good example occurs on the reverse of a serapis, carried in the baris between Sol and Luna.

(Sard, from collection of Mr. Webb Ware, Cork.)

Horus seated in the baris; on prow and poop are perched the sacred birds; neatly engraved on dark-green jasper (Pliny's Molochites). On the reverse--

Amongst the various contents of a tomb at Saintes, discovered in 1885, was a metal ring set with a heliotrope engraved with the Agathodæmon, furnished with a human trunk, standing. On the reverse a novel formula--

Ruchael, "Spirit of God," is known as the name of an angel; but the other words defy interpretation.

The best executed of such talismans known to me, belongs to Mr. Webb Ware, of Cork. It is an elliptical sard, about 1¾ inches long and wide; engraved very neatly, with Serapis

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seated on the Baris, busts of Osiris and Isis on prow and poop; above, ΑΛΔΑ; below, ΒΑΙΝ. On the reverse, finely cut--

There is no distinction between Α and Λ in the original, but I have made it where clearly required. The ΑΛΔΑ is a novelty; but many words in the long formula are of common occurrence in other gems.

Next: IV. The God Abraxas as Described by the Christian Fathers