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

p. 328


A most singular variation upon the normal type of the Abraxas pantheus gives him the head of Serapis for that of the usual cock. In the field between the serpents are the genital organs, of disproportionate size, represented in a state of rest, not as the fascinum properly appear on amulets; and unmistakably displaying the seal of circumcision. This circumstance is another proof to be added to all those previously observed, that the fabricators of this class of talismans were the Egyptian Jews. As the distinguishing principle of the Gnosis in all its forms was the reprobation of the "doing the work of the Demiurgus" that is, the propagation of the species--it is evident that the object of this symbolism was not of a religious kind. It is probable that the idea was to produce a talisman of medicinal use, perhaps for the cure of impotence or other affections of the parts represented. Of medicinal talismans, expressing their purpose by the legends they bear, numerous examples have been already published. The one now described was made known to me through an impression brought by the Rev. S. S. Lewis of a jasper in the Bourgignon collection at Rome. Another very uncommon subject in the same collection is a skeleton seated on a throne, holding a lance, or perhaps sceptre. Although perfectly corresponding with the mediæval representation of Death, yet the spirited though rude extension of the intaglio is that of the earlier Gnostic period, and the idea intended was that of a larva, not that of the Destroying Power. In the Stosch Cabinet is a similar figure borne along in a car by steeds as fleshless as himself, like the Wild Hunter of the German legend.


FIG. 14
FIG. 14



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