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C.    W.    KING,    MA. 

Nam  veluti  puori  trcpidant  atque  omnia  caacis 
In  tencbris  metuimt,  sic  nos  in  luce  timemus 
Intcrdum  nilo  qua;  sunt  metueuda  magis  quam 

ori  in  tenebris  pavitant,  finguntque  futura. 


DAVID    NUTT,    270,    STRAND. 




[All  rights  reserved.] 


WHEN  this  work  first  appeared,  three-and-twenty  years  ago,  it 
became  at  once  an  object  of  unmerited  abuse,  and  of  equally 
unmerited  praise.  Small  divines  mistaking  it  for  an  insidious 
attempt  to  overthrow  opinions  "  as  by  law  established,"  spurted 
at  it  with  pens  dipped  in  the  milk  of  the  Gospel ;  whilst,  under 
the  very  same  hallucination,  "  Friends  of  Light "  lauded  it  to 
the  skies — either  party  equally  ignorant  both  of  the  subject, 
and  of  the  purpose  of  my  labours.  One  noted  Zoilus  (whose 
recollections  of  Homer  would  seem  to  be  of  the  same  deeply- 
marked  nature  as  Ensign  Blifil's)  is  disgusted  at  my  citing 
"  Aidoneus "  as  a  title  of  the  God  of  the  Shades ;  another  is 
astonished  at  my  ignorance  in  calling  Bardanes  a  Persian, 
whereas  he  was  a  native  of  Pontus ;  not  understanding  that 
my  argument  was  equally  valid  in  spite  of  the  mistake — Pontus 
being  originally  a  province  of  the  empire  of  Darius,  and  what 
is  more  to  the  purpose,  the  actual  focus  whence  Mithraicism 
diffused  itself  over  the  Eoman  world. 

A  still  greater  cause  of  outcry  against  the  book  was  my 
presuming  to  lay  presumptuous  hands  upon  the  Sacred  Ark  of 
Masonry,  and  openly  express  my  opinion  that  the  "  Free  and 
Accepted  "  of  these  times  have  no  more  real  connexion  with  the 
ancient  Craft,  out  of  whose  terms  and  forms,  like  fig-leaves,  they 
have  stitched  together  aprons,  wherewith  to  cover  the  real 
nakedness  of  their  pretension,  than  the  Italian  Carbonari  of 
Murat's  day  had  with  the  trade  of  charcoal  burners,  whose 
baskets  were  borrowed  for  the  President's  throne.  King 
Hiram's  skull  gnashed  his  teeth  with  rage  within  the  cista 
mystica  ;  and  one  valiant  young  Levite  of  the  course  of  Abia, 


proceeds  thus  logically  to  confute  all  my  assertions  :  "  Athelstan 
built  a  church  :  he  could  not  build  without  masons ;  argal, 
Athelstan  was  the  founder  of  Masonry  in  England. 

But  enough  of  this ;  the  same  treatment  is  necessarily  in  store 
for  the  present  edition ;  it  must  look  fur 

"  Verbera,  carnifices,  robur,  pix,  lamina,  taedae." 

The  one  reviewer  of  its  predecessor  who  exhibited  any  acquain 
tance  with  the  literature  of  the  subject,  felt  himself  (from  his 
position)  "  in  duty  bound  "  to  qualify  his  praise  by  passing  the 
summary  judgment  "  that  I  had  displayed  in  the  work  more  of 
the  spirit  of  a  Gnostic  than  of  a  Catholic  Christian."  This 
sentence,  intended  for  condemnatory,  I  accept  as  the  highest 
praise  that  could  be  given  to  my  labours — taking  yvwortKos  in 
its  strict  sense  of  "  one  addicted  to  knowledge " ;  and  who 
therefore  studies  the  history  and  remains  of  any  opinion  for 
the  solo  purpose  of  understanding  the  truth ;  and  not  for  the 
sake  of  demonstrating  the  Truth  can  only  exist  under  one 
defined  form. 

Let  me  now  proceed  to  state  how,  in  the  present  edition,  I 
have  endeavoured  still  further  to  deserve  the  appellation  attached 
to  me  by  the  good-natured  Aristarchus.  My  Treatise  was  the 
only  one  upon  Gnostic  Archaeology  (for  Dr.  Walsh's  little  book 
scarce  deserves  the  name)  that  had  appeared  since  Chiflet's 
admirable  "  Apistopistus  "  (1617); — Matter,  in  his  '  Histoire 
Critique  du  Gnosticisme  (1827),  an  excellent  analysis  of  the 
doctrines  of  the  Gnosis,  doing  nothing  for  its  monuments, 
beyond  republishing,  on  a  reduced  scale,  the  engravings  of  the 
"  Apistopistus."  The  only  sources  of  information  accessible  to 
me  at  the  time  of  writing  that  edition  were  the  same  as  those 
drawn  upon  by  Matter  before  me,  namely  the  treatises  of 
Irenaeus  and  Epiplianius.  In  the  interval,  I  have  become 
acquainted  with,  and,  in  order  thoroughly  to  master,  have 
made  complete  translations  of,  two  recently  discovered  works 
that  throw  much  light  upon  many  difficult  questions  in  this 
investigation.  The  one  is  the  'Refutation  of  all  Heresies,' 
ascribed,  either  to  Origen  or  Hippolytus :  its  author  being  inti 
mately  acquainted  with  the  doctrines  which  he  holds  up  for 


detestation,  or  for  ridicule ;  and  (what  makes  his  criticisms  of 
far  higher  value  to  students  of  the  present  day)  illustrating 
them  by  copious  extracts  from  the  then  so  extensive  heretical 
literature,  soon  to  be  completely  exterminated  by  the  triumph 
of  the  "  orthodox  "  Faith. 

The  other  aid  is  the  "  Pistis-Sophia,"  sole  survivor  of  the  once 
numerous  family  of  Gnostic  Gospels ;  but  fortunately  the  most 
important  of  them  all  for  our  purpose,  and  the  very  one  for 
whose  escape  (in  its  Coptic  disguise)  the  archreologist  ought  to 
feel  most  grateful  to  the  ignorance  of  the  destroyers.  For, 
whereas  the  other  Gnostic  teachers  appear  (as  Hippolytus  loves 
to  point  out)  to  build  up  their  systems  upon  the  lines  of  various 
Grecian  philosophies,  the  "  Pistis-Sophia  "  makes  known  to  us 
what  were  the  deepest  secrets  of  the  so  celebrated  Egyptian 
Mysteries,  which  are  identical  with  those  of  the  Eabbinical 
Kabbala,  the  only  alteration  being  that  of  putting  them  into 
the  mouth  of  Scripture  personages,  in  order  to  adapt  them 
to  the  prevailing  change  of  ideas.  This  book,  therefore, 
from  its  very  nature  supplies  a  kind  of  elucidation  of  con 
temporary  monuments  not  to  be  found  elsewhere,  for  the 
Christian  Fathers  discuss  only  the  doctrines  of  their  adversaries, 
not  condescending  to  notice  their  application  to  the  uses  of 
everyday  life.  It  is  the  latter  point  that  gives  such  interest  to 
the  "  Pistis-Sophia  " — we  gain  from  it  the  whole  category  of 
Holy  Names,  of  such  talismanic  virtue;  the  powers  and  titles 
of  the  actual  genii,  the  constitution  of  the  soul ;  and  its 
state  after  death.  But  what  is  yet  more  curious,  the  "  Pistis- 
Sophia  "  exhibits  the  leading  principles  of  the  Kabbala  already 
established,  and  applied  to  the  demonstration  of  the  highest 
truths  in  exactly  the  same  manner  as  these  principles  wore 
used  by  the  heresiarch,  Marcus,  in  the  third  century.  And 
here  it  may  be  remarked  parenthetically,  that  no  one  really 
acquainted  with  the  history  of  religious  opinions,  can  for  a 
moment  imagine  that  Marcus  (a  born  Jew,  be  it  remembered) 
was  the  first  inventor  of  the  wondrous  machinery  which  he  used 
in  the  development  of  his  system,  and  the  '  Manifestation  of 
Truth,' — he  did  but  apply  to  a  new  purpose  the  rules  that  he 
found  already  established  as  authoritative  in  the  Rabbinical 


schools.  For  in  Religion  there  is  no  "  new  thing  "  ;  the  same 
ideas  are  worked  up  over  and  over  again ;  the  gold  in  the 
sovereign  of  to-day  may  first  have  circulated  in  the  new-coined 
stater  of  Croesus. 

Last,  in  point  of  time,  but  equally  valuable  with  any  of 
the  fresh  sources  that  have  served  me  for  the  completion  of 
this  work,  must  I  gratefully  acknowledge  the  oral  teachings 
of  Eabbi  Dr.  Schiller-Szinessy — that  unchanged  representative 
of  the  Gamaliels  of  old — at  whose  feet  I  have  sat  for  many 
years,  listening  to  his  exposition  of  the  "  Holy  Zohar."  What 
ever  may  be  the  date  of  the  present  form  of  that  transcendental 
development  of  the  Torah — no  one  but  an  inverted  Jew,  totally 
unread  in  the  Greek  historians  of  the  Gnosis,  can  fail  to 
perceive  that  its  principles  and  traditions  are  the  veiy  same 
as  those  taught  in  the  schools  of  Babylon  and  Tiberias  at  the 
time  when  Simon  Magus  and  Justinus  studied  there. 

During  the  many  years  that  have  slipped  by  since  its  first 
publication,  I  have  irom  time  to  time  re-cast  and  re- written  the 
entire  Treatise,  incorporating  with  the  former  contents  what 
ever  fresh  information,  reading,  or  chance,  might  throw  in  my 
way.  In  the  same  interval,  two  other  works  upon  this  subject 
have  made  their  appearance.  Dean  Mansel's  l  Gnostics '  is  a 
well- written  and  accurate  summary  of  all  that  the  Greek  Fathers 
have  left  us  upon  the  doctrines  of  the  various  sects ;  but,  as  the 
book  is  evidently  intended  for  the  use  of  theological  students 
alone,  the  author  has  regarded  his  subject  from  a  strictly  pro 
fessional  point  of  view ;  totally  ignoring  the  archaeological  side 
of  the  question  (with  which  I  am  chiefly  concerned),  as  being 
altogether  foreign  to  the  purpose  for  which  he  wrote. 

On  the  other  hand,  Dr.  Ginsburg's  '  The  Kabbala :  its 
Doctrines,  Development,  and  Literature,'  possesses  not  only  the 
merit  of  a  lucid  exposition  of  the  most  abstruse  of  all  Theo- 
sophies,  as  contemplated  in  the  shape  to  which  it  has  been 
brought  by  the  refining  subtlety  of  successive  generations  of 
Bobbins — but  will  be  found  an  invaluable  guide  to  all  who 
attempt  the  interpretation  of  talismanic  inscriptions.  For 
example,  the  Hebrew  radicals,  which  express  the  Names  of 
the  Sephiroth,  are  ta  be  discovered  in  the  strings  of  Greek 


consonants,    now    dumb    for    want    of    vowels,    which    have 
hitherto  baffled  the  ingenuity  of  every  reader. 

There  seems  reason  for  suspecting  that  the  Sibyl  of  Esoteric 
Buddhism  drew  the  first  notions  of  her  new  religion  from  the 
analysis  of  the  Inner  Man,  as  set  forth  in  my  first  edition.  I 
may  therefore  promise  to  myself  the  gratitude  of  those  "  clear 
spirits  "  (the  Miltonian  phrase)  who  are  busying  themselves  "  by 
searching  to  find  out  God,"  for  now  making  known  to  them  a 
still  more  profound  theosophy,  whose  revelations  definitely 
settle  hardest  problems  relating  to  our  mental  nature,  and  the 
world  beyond  the  grave.  Investigators  of  the  same  order  as  the 
Esoteric  Buddhists  will  find  here  a  Gospel  ready  made  to  their 
hand — so  full  of  great  truths,  so  original  in  its  conceptions, 
that  it  would  seem  to  flow  from  no  human  source ;  and  must 
carry  conviction  of  its  divine  origin  to  every  mind  that  shall 
be  adapted  by  its  nature  for  the  reception  of  the  good  seed. 

In  conclusion,  I  must  express  my  grateful  acknowledgments 
of  the  services  of  my  indefatigable  friend,  Mr.  S.  S.  Lewis, 
Fellow  of  Corpus  Christi  College;  but  for  whose  persuasion, 
and  negotiations  with  the  publishers,  these  pages  would  never 
have  seen  the  light.  Not  merely  this,  but  he  has  enabled  me  to 
overcome  an  apparently  insurmountable  difficulty  in  the  way  of 
the  publication — the  failure  of  my  sight,  which  totally  prevented 
my  conducting  the  work  through  the  press — by  taking  upon 
himself  the  correction  of  the  proofs  :  a  laborious  and  irksome 
task  to  any  one  besides  the  author  ;  and  demanding  a  sacrifice 
of  time  that  can  only  be  appreciated  by  those,  who,  like  myself, 
know  the  multifarious  nature  of  the  engagements  by  which 
every  hour  of  his  life  is  so  completely  absorbed. 

Mr.  Joseph  Jacobs  has  furnished  a  carefully  compiled  list  of 
authors  quoted  in  this  work,  and  of  the  references  made  to  them, 
which  will  be  found  of  use  to  those  who  wish  to  pursue  the 
subject  still  further. 

C.  W.  KING. 

August  26,  1887. 




Introduction   . 



Introduction— Gnosticism  and  its  origin— Pistis-Sophia— Book  of 
Enoch— Gnosticism    in    its   beginning— Influence    of  Judaism 
on  the  Ancients— The  Zendavesta— The  Kabbala  and  the  T 
mud— Indian  Sources  of  Gnosticism,  Manes— Buddhism— Simon- 
ianism— Basilides— The  Ophites— Machinery  of  the  Gnosis 



Origin  of  Mithraicism— The  Mithraic  Sacraments— A  Roman  Mithas 
°in    his    Cave— Mithraic    Talismans— Gnostic    Sacraments  and 
Initiations,  as  Connected  with  the  Mithraic— St.  Augustine   on 
Gnosticism— The  Worship  of  Serapis— The  Figured  Representa 
tions   of  Serapis— Probable  Origin   of  Serapis— Monuments 
the  Serapis-worship— The  Caduceus  and  its  Symbolism— Death, 
as  Represented  in  Ancient  Art— Tomb-treasures— Gnostic  con 
nection  with  Superstitious  Practices,  the  Evil  Eye— Cerauma 
Jade  converted  into  a  Gnostic  Talisman 


A^athodacmon  Worship— The   Chnuphis    Serpent— The    Abraxas 
—Abraxaster,   or  Borrowed  Types— Abraxoids,   or  Gems  con 
founded  with  the  true  Gnostic— The   True   Abraxas    < 
The  god  Abraxas,   as   described  by  the  Christian  Fathers- 
«  Abraxas,"  Etymology  of-"  Abraxas,"  its  numerical  Vain 
The    Abraxas    Religion-The    Ineffable    name  m   its   Hindoo 
Form-Abraxas-gerns,    their    Materials,    Workmanship, 
Nature— Legends  and  Formulas    . 



Gnostic  Siglxj  Symbols,  Legends  Explained — The  Name  IAQ — 
Abraxas,  a  New  Type  of — Original  Purpose  of  these  Formula — 
The  Gnostic  Theogony — The  Schema  of  the  Ophites — The 
Cause  of  Sin — State  after  death  of  the  Uninitiated — Future 
Punishments,  and  the  Infernal  Hierarchy — Talismanic  Leaden 
Scrolls  —  Leaden  Books  —  Numerals,  Their  Virtues  —  Magic 
Squares  ..........  303 



Preservation  of  Gnostic  Symbols  among  the  Freemasons — Masonic 
Pretences — " Constitutiones  Artis  Geometriae  " — Henry  VI.  and 
his  Masons — Hindoo  and  Chinese  Symbols — Masons'  Marks — 
Stonehenge — The  Carbonari — De  Quincey — The  Rosy  Cross — 
"Vultus  Triformis" — Hosea  Lux — Lodges  First  Established — 
Templars  Suppressed — "Mystery  of  Baphomet  Revealed" — 
Articles  of  Accusation  against  the  Templars — Orphic  Mysteries 
• — Clarkson  on  the  Temple  Church — "  Baphometic  Vases  " — 
Manicheism  in  France — The  Assassins  of  the  Lebanon — The 
Druses — The  Sufi  of  Persia — Lodges  first  Established — Spartacus 
Weishaupt — Wren — "  Scottish  Knights  "—Cypher  Writing — 
"  Book  of  Kells  " — Brand-marking,  National  and  Mystic  .  373 

DESCRIPTION  OF  WOODCUTS       .......  432 

DESCRIPTION  OF  PLATES  ........  435 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL  APPENDIX,  by  Joseph  Jacobs,  B.A.   .          .         .  449 

INDEX    ...........  457 

PLATES  A  to  0. 


THAT  nothing  upon  the  subject  of  Gnosticism  should  have 
hitherto  been  attempted  in  our  language  except  by  Dr.  Walsh 
in  his  very  meagre  sketch  (long  since  out  of  print),  seemed  to 
me  a  sufficient  excuse  for  my  undertaking  the  same  task  upon  a 
more  comprehensive  scale,  as  well  as  upon  different  principles. 
Dr.  Walsh's  performance,  entitled  « An  Essay  on  Coins,  Medals, 
and  Gems,  as  illustrating  the  progress  of  Christianity  in  the 
Early  Ages,'  is  little  more  than  an  abridgment  of  some  popular 
Church  History  for  the  period  comprehended  within  its  scope, 
illustrated  from  the  very  scanty  store  of  monuments  at  his 
command ;  whilst  his  explanations  are,  like  the  source  supply 
ing  them,  based  upon  grounds  altogether  fallacious,  and,  even  to 
the  beginner,  obviously  unsatisfactory. 

Taking  for  granted,  upon  the  bare  word  of  their  opponents, 
that  the  various  Teachers  of  the  Gnosis  were  mere  heretics,  that 
is,  perverters  of  the  regular  (!)  Christian  doctrine  which  they  had 
at  first  embraced  as  a  divine  revelation,  he,  like  his  guides,  did 
not  trouble  himself  any  further  to  investigate  the  true  origin  of 
their  systems,  but  was  content  with  roughly  sketching  their 
most  prominent  features ;  whilst  in  explaining  their  extant  pro 
ductions,  he  refers  all,  however  diverse  in  nature,  to  the  same 
school,  and  interprets  them  according  to  his  own  preconceived 
and  baseless  views  of  their  character. 

On  such  a  plan  as  this,  neither  the  doctrines  nor  the  monu 
ments  they  have  bequeathed  to  us  in  such  profusion  are 
susceptible  of  even  a  plausible  explanation,  much  less  of  one 
capable  of  satisfying  an  unprejudiced  and  inquiring  mind.  The 
method,  therefore,  of  treating  the  subject  which  I  have  followed 
in  the  present  work  is  to  begin  by  reviewing  the  great  religions 
systems  of  the  East,  flourishing  at  the  time  of  the  promulgation 


of  Christianity  in  those  regions,  with  the  influence  of  these 
systems  upon  the  modes  of  thought  and  expression  of  both  the 
missionaries  of  the  new  creed  and  their  opponents ;  and  lastly 
to  establish,  upon  the  testimony  of  the  Apostle  to  the  Gentiles 
himself,  the  previous  existence  of  the  germs  of  Gnosticism  in  the 
cities  that  were  the  scene  of  his  most  important  labours. 

In  my  sketch  of  these  older  systems  I  have  done  little  more 
than  condense  Matter's  admirable  introduction  to  his  *  Histoire 
Critique  du  Gnosticisme ' ;  but  from  that  point  forward  have 
carried  on  my  investigations  according  to  a  theory  to  which 
that  writer  once  alludes  approvingly,  although,  from  some  un 
accountable  reason,  he  has  neglected  to  follow  it  out  to  its 
legitimate  consequences.  Eestricting  himself  to  describing  in 
his  lucid  and  elegant  style  the  speculations  of  the  several  heresi- 
archs,  and  seeking  no  further  back  than  the  Zendavesta  and 
Kabbala  for  the  storehouses  whence  they  all  must  have  drawn 
their  first  principles,  he  falls  into  the  grave  error  of  represent 
ing  their  doctrines  as  novel,  and  the  pure  inventions  of  the 
persons  that  preached  them. 

That  the  seeds  of  the  Gnosis  were  originally  of  Indian  growth, 
carried  so  far  westward  by  the  influence  of  that  Buddhistic 
movement  which  had  previously  overspread  all  the  East,  from 
Thibet  to  Ceylon,  was  the  great  truth  faintly  discerned  by 
Matter,  but  which  became  evident  to  me  upon  acquiring  even 
a  slight  acquaintance  with  the  chief  doctrines  of  Indian 
theosophy.  To  display  this  in  the  most  incontrovertible  manner, 
the  two  systems,  each  in  its  highest  form  of  development — that 
of  Valentinus,  and  that,  of  the  Nepal ese  Buddhists — are  described 
and  confronted  for  the  sake  of  establishing  their  original 
identity:  and  throughout  these  pages  innumerable  other  points 
of  affinity  will  be  found  noticed  as  they  present  themselves. 
Actual  historical  proof  of  the  same  fact  will  also  be  adduced, 
establishing  the  important  circumstance  (but  hitherto  entirely 
unnoticed,  or  disregarded)  that  Buddhism  had  already  been 
planted  in  the  dominions  of  the  Seleucida3  and  the  Ptolemies  at 
least  as  early  as  the  times  of  the  generation  following  the 
establishment  of  those  dynasties,  and  was  provided  for  in 
treaties  made  between  those  Grecian  princes  and  the  great 


Hindoo  promoter  of  the  religion.  In  the  history  of  the  Church 
it  is  most  certain  that  almost  every  notion  that  was  subsequently 
denounced  as  heretical  can  bo  traced  up  to  Indian  speculative 
philosophy  as  its  genuine  fountain-head  :  how  much  that  was 
allowed  to  pass  current  for  orthodox  had  really  flowed  from  the 
same  source,  it  is  neither  expedient  nor  decorous  now  to 

In  order  to  obtain  a  clear  view  of  the  principal  forms  of 
Gnosticism,  as  well  as  to  escape  relying  upon  second-hand 
information  (in  this  case  more  than  elsewhere  untrustworthy),  j 
commenced  the  collecting  materials  for  the  present  work  by 
carefully  perusing  the  vast  '  Panarion  '  of  Epiphanius — a 
laborious  undertaking,  but  well  repaid  by  the  vivid  picture  he 
presents  of  the  inner  state  of  society  under  the  Lower  Empire, 
and  of  the  war  even  at  that  late  period  so  fiercely  waged 
between  Reason  and  Faith.  The  '  Panarion  '  is  a  connected 
history  of  the  Gnosis  in  all  its  developments  during  the  first 
three  centuries — the  author  quoting  Irenasus  for  the  earlier  ages  ; 
for  the  later  his  account  is  of  the  highest  value,  having  been 
derived  from  personal  experience,  Epiphanius  having  in  his 
youth  belonged  to  the  Marcosian  sect.  After  his  days  nothing 
new  sprung  up  in  the  field  of  Eeligious  philosophy,  before  so 
diversified  with  the  vigorous  and  more  curious  flowers  (or 
weeds)  of  the  Gnosis ;  the  civil  now  combining  with  the 
ecclesiastical  power  to  cut  down  and  root  out  all  such  daring 
and  irregular  growths  of  the  human  mind. 

Since  the  first  publication  of  this  treatise  I  have  become 
acquainted  with  and  minutely  studied  two  authorities  of  the 
greatest  importance  for  the  true  understanding  of  Gnosticism — 
the  one  for  its  philosophy ;  the  other  for  its  tangible  remains. 
*  The  Refutation  of  all  Heresies,'  of  Hippolytus,  written  two 
centuries  before  the  'Panarion,'  gives  a  view  of  the  chief 
schools  of  the  Gnosis,  drawn  up  with  the  utmost  intelligence 
united  with  the  most  charming  candour  ;  qualities  sadly  to  seek 
in  the  other  ecclesiastical  historians.  The  '  Pistis-Sophia,'  the 
only  Gnostic  Gospel  preserved,  throws  a  light  upon  the 
terminology  and  machinery  of  the  religion  that,  before  its 
discovery  and  publication  was  perfectly  unattainable.  Both 


these  treatises  are  of  recent  discovery,  and  consequently  their 
assistance  was  lost  to  the  previous  historians  of  Gnosticism.  I 
have  therefore  availed  myself  largely  of  these  invaluable 
resources,  which  will  be  found  doing  good  service  in  almost 
every  section  of  the  present  work. 

After  considering  the  class  of  speculations  that  owed  their 
birth  to  India,  next  in  importance  for  her  contributions  to  the 
opinions,  still  more  to  the  monuments  before  us,  conies  Egypt 
with  her  primeval  creed,  although  exhibited  in  its  Romanized 
and  latest  phase ;  and  whose  productions  are  too  often  confounded 
with  the  true  offspring  of  the  Gnosis.  These  remains  are  here 
discriminated ;  their  distinctive  characters  are  pointed  out ;  and 
they  are  arranged  under  several  heads,  according  as  their  object 
was  religious  or  medicinal.  In  the  consideration  of  these 
remains,  Bellermann's  classification  has  been  chiefly  followed ; 
according  to  which  the  truly  Gnostic  are  regarded  as  those 
only  that  exhibit  the  figure  of  the  Pantheus,  Abraxas,  the  actual 
invention  of  Basilides,  and  which  gives  its  name  to  the  class. 
The  second,  Abraxoids,  includes  the  types  borrowed  from  different 
religions  by  the  other  Gnostic  teachers.  The  third,  Abraxaster, 
consists  of  such  as  in  their  nature  are  purely  astrological,  and 
intended  for  talismans;  deriving  their  virtues  from  the  stars. 
In  the  first  of  these  classes  much  space  has  been  devoted  to 
the  ingenious  creation  of  the  Alexandrine  philosopher,  the 
pantheistic  image  of  the  supreme  Abraxas ;  whose  title  has 
hitherto  been  improperly  applied  to  monuments  some  of  which 
are  anterior  in  date  to  his  embodiment  in  a  visible  form; 
whilst  others  spring  from  nations  entirely  unconnected  with  his 
worship.  Of  this  eidolon  of  the  personage  thereby  typified,  of  the 
meaning  of  his  name  and  titles,  much  information  has  been 
collected,  and  presented  here  in  a  connected  form  for  the  benefit 
of  those  interested  in  learning  what  can  on  safe  grounds  be 
established  in  elucidation  of  these  abtruse  questions. 

Mithraicism,  under  whose  kindly  and  congenial  shelter  so  much 
of  Occidental  Christianity  grew  up  unmolested,  is  reviewed  in  its 
due  order,  and  the  causes  explained  of  an  alliance  at  first  sight 
BO  inexplicable.  With  this  subject  are  connected  the  singular 
resemblance  between  the  ceremonial  of  the  two,  and  the  transfer 


of  so  much  that  was  Mithraic  into  the  practice  of  the  orthodox  ; 
and  many  curious  memorials  will  be  found  described  bearing 
witness  to  the  reality  of  this  adaptation. 

After  the  Mithraic,  the  religion  of  Serapis  comes  to  be 
considered  ;  a  worship  which,  besides  being  the  last  of  the 
Heathen  forms  to  fall  before  the  power  of  Christianity,  had 
previously  contributed,  as  largely  as  the  Mithraic,  to  the  con 
stitution  of  the  later  Gnosticism.  It  is  in  truth  a  great  mis 
take,  the  confining  the  name  of  "Gnostic"(as  is  commonly  done) 
to  the  sectaries  who,  boasting  of  their  "  superior  lights,"  declared 
that  they  were  the  only  real  Christians  (as  did  the  Ophites),  and 
that  too  in  virtue  of  a  creed  professedly  of  their  own  devising. 
Such  Gnostics  indeed  were  Christians  by  their  own  showing, 
and  regarded  all  who  differed  from  them  as  heretics :  but  at  the 
same  time  they  based  their  arguments  upon  the  tenets  of  Pagan 
religions;  very  far  from  regarding  the  latter  as  the  empty 
fabrications  of  demons,  which  was  the  persuasion  of  the  ortho 
dox.  But  although  they  accepted  these  ancient  Ethnic  legends, 
it  was  only  because  through  the  help  of  their  "  knowledge  "  they 
were  enabled  to  discern  the  truth  enveloped  within  these 
seemingly  profane  traditions.  But  the  followers  of  Mithras  and 
of  Serapis  had  in  reality,  and  long  before  them,  a  Gnosis  of 
their  own,  communicated  in  their  Mysteries  to  the  initiated  few  ; 
and  they  opposed  to  the  predictions  of  orthodox  and  Gnostic 
alike  claims  and  pretensions  lofty  as  their  own.  The  Emperor 
Hadrian,  a  most  diligent  inquirer  into  things  above  man's 
nature,  got  himself  initiated  into  one  mystery  after  another; 
nevertheless  we  shall  find  him  writing  from  Alexandria  that  the 
worship  of  Christ  and  of  Serapis  was  in  that  city  one  and  the 
same,  and  moreover  the  sole  religion  of  that  immense  population. 
Consequently,  those  initiated  into  the  true  secrets  of  the  old 
religion  must  have  recognised  the  fact  that  their  deity,  whether 
the  Sun  or  the  Soul  of  the  Universe,  was  nothing  but  a  type  of 
the  One,  the  Saviour  recently  revealed  to  them  :  or  else  it  would 
appear  (which  tells  equally  for  our  argument)  that  the  new 
converts,  in  order  to  escape  persecution,  enjoyed  their  own  faith 
under  the  covert  of  the  national  worship,  which  was  susceptible 
of  a  spiritual  interpretation  quite  cognate  to  their  own  ideas, 



and  indeed  enshrouding  the  same.  As  for  the  worshippers  of 
Mithras,  their  whole  elaborate  system  of  sacraments  and  degrees 
of  initiation  had  no  other  object  than  the  securing  of  spiritual 
enlightenment  and  spiritual  blessings.  The  foundation  being 
the  pure  teaching  of  Zoroaster,  its  holders  were  prepared  gladly 
to  accept  any  higher  revelation,  and  to  discover  that  the  greater 
mystery  had  been  foreshadowed  in  the  types  and  ceremonies 
of  the  former  one.  In  this  way  a  man  might  continue  a 
Mithraicist  and  yet  accept  all  the  doctrines  of  Christianity,  as 
the  priests  of  that  religion  in  their  last  days  assured  the 
incredulous  Augustine. 

After  thus  pointing  out  the  various  elements  which  the 
Apostles  of  the  Gnosis  worked  up  so  ingeniously  into  one 
harmonious  whole,  incorporating  therewith  so  much  of  the 
Christian  scheme  as  fitted  to  the  rest,  we  come  prepared  to  the 
examination  of  the  Symbols  and  Terminology  by  which  these  ideas 
were  communicated  to  the  members  of  the  sect  who  had  attained 
to  the  Arcanum;  the  composite  images  or  sigils  "  having  a  voice 
for  the  intelligent,  which  the  vulgar  crowd  heareth  not." 

Astrology  justly  claims  for  her  own  a  large  share  of  the  relics 
popularly  called  Gnostic;  for  Gnosticism,  from  the  beginning, 
had  linked  its  own  speculations  to  those  of  the  Magians'  national 
science,  and  borrowed  as  a  vehicle  for  its  own  peculiar  ideas 
the  machinery  of  the  latter — its  Astral  Genii,  Decani,  and 
Myriageneses.  And  this  truth  was  seen  by  the  earliest  writers 
upon  Gnosticism,  for  Hippolytus  proves  conclusively,  at  much 
length,  that  the  system  of  the  Peratae  (a  branch  of  the  Ophites) 
was  nothing  more  than  a  barefaced  plagiarism  from  the  rules  of 
Astrology.  Under  this  head  I  have  endeavoured  to  separate  the 
purely  Astrological  talismans  from  those  to  which  the  illuminati, 
their  makers,  had  given  a  more  spiritual  sense.  "Astrology, 
not  Christ,  is  the  author  of  their  religion,"  says  Hippolytus  of 
the  sects  founded  by  Euphrates  and  Celbes ;  and  proceeds  to  give 
extracts  from  their  writings,  held  in  the  highest  esteem  at  the 
time,  which  amply  bear  out  his  assertion. 

Next  pour  in,  a  multitudinous  swarm,  the  stones  covered  over 
with  long  strings  of  bare  inscriptions,  genuine  offspring  of  the 
Kabbala,  that  betray  the  handiwork  of  the  idol-hating  Jewish 


dreamers  of  Alexandria — spoils  even  then  ascribed  to  Solomon, 
and  which  secured  the  favour 

"  Of  those  demons  that  are  found 
In  fire,  air,  flood,  or  under  ground; 
Whose  power  hath  a  true  consent 
With  planet  or  with  element." 

One  object  I  have  kept  steadily  in  view  throughout  the  whole 
of  this  investigation — to  show  how  the  productions  of  the 
different  schools  are  to  be  distinguished  from  each  other  ;  and  to 
this  particular  attention  has  been  given  in  describing  the 
numerous  remains  proceeding  from  the  several  sources  just 
enumerated,  that  are  collected  in  the  accompanying  plates, 
and  thus  in  some  degree  to  remedy  the  confusion  that  reigns 
at  present  in  the  whole  department.  My  predecessor,  Matter, 
busied  himself  only  with  the  doctrines,  making  use  of  the 
monuments  merely  in  illustration  of  his  remarks  ;  but  as  my  own 
labours  are  properly  designed  to  be  subsidiary  to  his  invaluable 
treatise,  I  refer  the  reader  to  him  for  the  more  complete 
elucidation  of  the  philosophy  of  Gnosticism,  and  give  my  full 
attention  to  its  archaeological  side,  which  he  has  too  cursorily 
glanced  at,  and  for  which  nothing  has  been  done  of  any 
importance  since  the  publications  of  Chiflet  and  Montfaucon. 

Last  to  be  considered  comes  the  Gnosis  in  its  final  and 
grandest  manifestation,  the  composite  religion  of  Manes :  with 
its  wonderful  revival  and  diffusion  over  Medieval  Europe  ;  and 
its  supposed  connexion  with  the  downfall  of  the  Templars,  of 
which  catastrophe  the  history  and  causes  are  here  briefly 
sketched ;  although  to  form  a  satisfactory  judgment  on  the  merits 
of  the  case  is  about  the  hardest  problem  history  can  offer.  With 
their  scandal  and  their  fate  is  coupled  the  most  singular  phe 
nomenon  of  modern  times — the  preservation  by  their  professed 
descendants,  the  Freemasons,  of  so  much  symbolism  that  appears 
to  be  indisputably  Gnostic  in  its  origin.  For  this,  however 
(unfortunately  for  the  lovers  of  mystery),  a  very  matter  of  fact 
but  doubtless  sufficient  cause  can  be  assigned,  and  by  valid 
arguments  established:  when  the  solution  of  the  enigma 
irresistibly  brings  to  mind  ^Esop's  apologue  of  the  "  Fox  and  the 
Mask,"  and  his  exclamation  of  disappointment  after  he  had  at 


last  mustered  up  sufficient  courage  to  examine  the  interior  of  the 
awe-inspiring  and  venerable  head.  This  section  is  illustrated 
by  all  the  information  I  have  been  able  to  glean  from  different 
sources  upon  the  curious  subject  of  Masons'  Marks — which, 
yet  existing  and  in  common  use  amongst  our  own  craftsmen 
and  equally  so  amongst  the  Hindoos  in  daily  religious 
observance,  can  be  traced  back  through  Gothic  retention,  and 
Gnostic  usage,  through  old  Greek  and  Etruscan  art,  to  their 
ultimate  source  ;  and  which  attest  more  convincingly  than  any 
thing  else  what  region  gave  birth  to  the  theosophy  making  such 
liberal  use  of  the  same  siylse  in  Roman  times.  To  assist 
inquirers  into  this  point  I  have  been  careful  to  give  references  to 
all  the  published  lists  of  these  Marks  that  have  come  to  my 
knowledge  ;  which  same  rule  I  have  observed  as  regards  other 
monographs  upon  the  several  various  questions  discussed  in  the 
following  pages.  In  this  way  the  shortcomings  of  myself  can  be 
supplied  by  those  desirous  of  fuller  information :  for  1  am  well 
aware  that  my  own  best  qualification  for  attempting  an  arduous 
investigation  like  the  present,  extending  over  so  many  and  un 
connected  branches  of  learning,  lies  in  a  larger  practical  ex 
perience  of  the  monuments  themselves,  tangible  and  literary, 
than  was  possessed  by  those  who  have  hitherto  attempted  it. 
And  as  it  is  a  most  true  adage,  "  Dans  le  pays  des  aveugles  le 
borgne  est  roi,"  there  is  some  probability  of  my  labours  proving 
both  novel  and  interesting  to  many,  who  desire  to  know 
something  authentic  upon  the  much-talked-of  but  little  under 
stood  subject  of  Gnosticism. 

Related  to  this  religion  by  their  nature  are  talismans  and 
amulets  in  general ;  for  Gnostic  symbols  and  Gnostic  formulae 
gave  their  virtue  to  many  of  the  class  :  being  borrowed  either 
directly  from  the  Gnosis,  or  from  the  older  creeds  out  of  which 
the  latter  was  constructed.  Their  employment,  and  the  notions 
generating  them,  have  been  here  described ;  showing  the  deriva 
tion  of  many  of  the  medieval  examples  from  the  Gnostic  class ; 
and  by  following  out  the  same  principle  it  has  been  attempted 
to  find  a  key  to  their  cabalistic  legends,  which  may  fit  them 
better  than  any  hitherto  offered  by  their  interpreters — symbols 
and  emblems  being  with  them  those  conveying  the  idea  of  death, 


which  last  indeed  has  of  all  others  furnished  the  richest  store 
of  such  imagery ;  for  thereby  the  human  mind  endeavoured  to 
familiarise  itself  with  the  thought  of  mortality,  and  by  em 
bellishing  the  idea  tried  to  reconcile  itself  to  the  inevitable. 
This  being  a  topic  of  universal  interest,  to  say  nothing  of 
its  very  important  relations  to  Art,  my  collections  connected 
therewith  have  been  somewhat  extensive,  and  embrace  many 
particulars  neglected  by  Lessing  in  his  curious  es^ay  entitled 
*  Wie  die  Alien  den  Tod  gebildet.' 

With  respect  to  the  illustrations  of  this  book,  many  doubtless 
will  be  surprised  as  well  as  disappointed  at  finding  them 
derived  entirely  from  monuments  of  such  small  apparent  im 
portance  as  engraved  stones ;  and,  thinking  this  part  incomplete 
on  that  account,  may  accuse  the  author  of  negligence  in  not 
having  had  recourse  to  other  evidences  of  a  more  public 
character.  But  the  limitation  is  in  truth  the  necessary  result 
of  the  nature  of  the  things  discussed  in  this  inquiry.  Secret 
Societies,  especially  the  one  whose  maxim  was  (as  Clemens 
records)  that  truly  wise  one — 

"  Learn  to  know  all,  but  keep  thyself  unknown ; " 
erect  no  monuments  to  attract  public  attention.  They  deal  but 
in  symbols,  to  be  privately  circulated  amongst  their  members  in 
passwords  known  only  to  the  illuminati ;  or  else  they  embody 
their  doctrines  in  mystic  drawings,  like  the  Ophite  "  Dia- 
gramma  "  ;  or  upon  papyri  long  since  committed  to  the  flames. 
The  man  of  taste,  but  not  an  antiquary,  will  certainly 
exclaim  against  the  rudeness  of  the  drawing  in  my  illustrations ; 
but  the  truth  is  that,  rude  as  they  look,  they  in  most  cases 
flatter  their  originals,  the  extreme  barbarism  of  which  it  was 
often  found  impossible  to  reproduce  with  any  hope  of  leaving 
the  meaning  recognisable.  Be  it  remembered  that 

"  Gratia  non  habitat,  non  hoc  Cyllenius  antro." 

Pallas  no  longer,  as  in  the  earlier  ages  of  the  art,  guided  the 
engraver's  hand,  but  Siva  and  Bhavani  (ill-disguised  as  Hermes 
and  Isis)  suggested  the  designs  ;  or  else  he  was  inspired  by  the 
Typhonian  monsters  which  imagined  the  Genii  of  Astrology. 
The  religion  of  Fear,  under  its  various  manifestations,  n  »w 


reigned  supreme,  having  banished  the  beauteous  sensuous 
machinery  of  the  old  Greek  Nature-worship,  into  which  nothing 
that  was  malignant  or  hideous  was  ever  suffered  to  intrude. 
The  virtue  of  the  talisman  lay  in  the  type  it  carried ;  and  in  its 
own  material  substance  the  manner  of  the  exhibition  of  the 
potent  sigil  was  altogether  unregarded.  One  of  the  most 
learned  men  this  University  has  ever  produced  once  re 
marked  to  me  that  the  Gnostic  theories  reminded  him  of  the 
visions  that  float  through  the  brain  of  a  madman — not  of  a  fool. 
Circumstances  following  gave  a  melancholy  force  to  this  acute 
and  accurate  distinction.  Let  any  imaginative  person  read  my 
extracts  from  the  "  Revelation "  of  Marcus,  with  all  its  crazy 
ingenuity  in  deducing  the  nature  of  the  Deity  from  the  pro 
perties  of  numerals ;  above  all,  his  exemplification  of  Infinity 
by  the  perpetual  multiplication  of  the  letters  contained  in  other 
letters  making  up  a  name — he  will  speedily  find  his  brain  begin 
to  whirl,  and  be  reminded  of  similar  phantoms  of  numerals 
recurring  in  endless  series,  and  the  equally  endless  attempts  to 
sum  them  up  in  order  to  obtain  repose,  that  fill  the  head  when 
suffering  from  the  first  approaches  of  fever  before  actual 
delirium  pushes  memory  from  her  seat.  Or,  again,  when  the 
febrile  disturbance  of  the  brain  is  yet  slighter,  one  will 
sometimes  awake  out  of  a  dream  with  a  fleeting  sensation  of 
inexpressible  happiness  arising  from  the  immediate  attainment 
of  Omniscience  in  virtue  of  something  that  has  just  been 
revealed  to  him ;  but  too  soon  he  finds  that  ineffable  something 
has  fled  for  ever,  all  that  is  left  of  it  being  the  faint  recollection 
that  it  was  contained  in  a  numeral.  And  one  of  the  most  striking 
points  in  the  revelation  of  the  *  Seherin  von  Prevorst,'  so 
religiously  recorded  by  Justinus  Kerner  (and  which  proves 
that  all  the  wondrous  narrative  was  not  imposture),  is  her 
declaration  that  she  could  see  the  entire  history  of  each  year  as  it 
closed,  with  every  event,  however  trifling,  clear  and  distinct 
before  her  mind,  all  comprehended  within  the  form  of  a  single 
numeral;  and  her  assertion  upon  these  grounds  that  at  the 
Judgment-Day  the  whole  past  life  of  every  man  will  thus  be 
pictured  in  a  single  moment  before  his  mind's  eye. 

About   half  the  number  of  the  drawings  for  these  illustra- 


tions  were  done  by  myself  from  the  most  interesting  specimens 
that  came  under  my  notice  in  the  course  of  several  years,  so 
that  I  am  able  to  vouch  for  their  scrupulous  fidelity.  After 
wards,  when  the  sudden  failure  of  my  sight  prevented  my 
carrying  on  the  drawings,  the  kindness  of  the  then  owner  of 
most  of  the  originals  came  to  my  assistance  and  furnished  the 
remainder.  Most  of  them  in  fact  were  taken  from  the  largo 
and  unpublished  set  contained  in  the  ancient  Praun  Cabinet 
(formed  three  centuries  ago),  now  unfortunately  broken  up. 
The  Gnostic  stones,  however — 73  in  number — have  been  since 
that  time  purchased  for  the  British  Museum,  where  they  will  be 
found  conveniently  arranged  for  consultation,  iri  the  Egyptian 
Room,  which  contains  the  works  in  terra-cotta.  This  my 
collection  of  drawings  was  in  truth  the  occasion  of  the  present 
work;  for  after  making  out  a  detailed  description  of  each 
specimen,  it  became  easy  to  put  the  mass  of  materials  I  had 
collected  for  their  elucidation  into  a  form  available  for  support 
ing  my  explanations  by  showing  the  grounds  on  which  they 
were  based :  and  in  this  way  the  work  has  grown  up  by  gradual 
accretion  to  its  present  dimensions.  The  theme  offers  so  bound 
less  a  variety  of  interesting  subjects  for  research,  one  suggesting 
another  in  endless  succession,  that  it  can  only  be  compared  to 
Marcus'  own  exposition  of  the  infinite  composition  of  the  In 
effable  Name  (quoted  above),  and  would  alone  supply  materials 
for  a  whole  library  of  distinct  treatises  upon  its  various  sub 

In  those  few  instances  where  the  better  style  of  the  original 
deserved  reproduction  by  a  more  artistic  hand,  I  have  had 
recourse  to  the  services  of  Mr.  E.  B.  Utting,  who  has  executed 
the  woodcuts  with  a  spirit  as  well  as  an  accuracy  that  leave 
nothing  to  be  desired. 


TOVTOV  pc  Xl'lPLV 

fj.v(TTr]pi(i  TrdvTa  Stavoi^co, 

/cai  ra  Kcupvpufva  rfs  ayias 
TNH2IN  KaXeo-as,  7rapa8a)O-co. 

ifc  J/2/WW,  (Hippolytus,  v.  10.) 

Nan  e  pulcggio  da  piccola  barca 

Quel  die  fendcndo  va  1'  ardita  prora, 

Nb  da  nocclner  ch'  a  sc  medesmo  parca." 

(Dante,  Farad,  xxiii.  68.) 



THE  general  name  "  Gnostics "  is  used  to  designate  several 
widely  differing  sects,  which  sprang  up  in  the  Eastern  provinces 
of  the  Roman  Empire  almost  simultaneou.-ly  with  the  first 
planting  of  Christianity.  That  is  to  say,  these  sects  then  for 
the  first  time  assumed  a  definite  form,  and  ranged  themselves 
under  different  teachers,  by  whose  names  they  became  known 
to  the  world,  although  in  all  probability  their  main  doctrines  had 
made  their  appearance  previously  in  many  of  the  cities  of  Asia 
Minor.  There,  it  is  probable,  these  sectaries  first  came  into 
definite  existence  under  the  title  of  "  Mystae,"  upon  the  estab 
lishment  of  a  direct  intercourse  with  India  and  her  Buddhist 
philosophers,  under  the  Seleuciclae  and  the  Ptolemies. 

The  term  "  Gnosticism  "  is  derived  from  the  Greek,  Gnosis, 
knowledge — a  word  specially  employed  from  the  first  dawn  of 
religious  inquiry  to  designate  the  science  of  things  divine. 
Thus  Pythagoras,  according  to  Diogenes  Laeitius,  called  the 
transcendental  portion  of  his  philosophy,  Pvwo-ts  TOJV  oi/ron/,  "  the 
knowledge  of  things  that  are."  And  in  later  times  Gnosis  was 
the  name  given  to  what  Porphyry  calls  the  Antique  or  Oriental 
philosophy,  to  distinguish  it  from  the  Grecian  systems.  But  the 
term  was  first  used  (as  Matter  on  good  grounds  conjectures)  in 
its  ultimate  sense  of  supernal  and  celestial  knowledge,  by  the 
Jewish  philosophers  belonging  to  the  celebrated  school  of  that 
nation,  flourishing  at  Alexandria.  These  teachers,  following 
the  example  of  a  noted  Rabbi,  Aristobulus,  surname  d  the 
Pcripatician,  endeavoured  to  make  out  that  all  the  wisdom 
•of  the  Greeks  was  derived  immediately  from  the  Hebrew 

B  2 


Scripture ;  and  by  means  of  their  well-known  mode  of  alle 
gorical  interpretation,  which  enabled  them  to  elicit  any  sense 
desired  out  of  any  given  passage  of  the  Old  Testament,  they 
sought,  and  often  succeeded,  in  establishing  their  theory.  In 
this  way  they  showed  that  Plato,  during  his  sojourn  in  Egypt, 
had  been  tlieir  own  scholar ;  and  still  further  to  support  these 
pretensions,  the  indefatigable  Aristobulus  produced  a  string  of 
poems  in  the  names  of  Linus,  Orpheus,  Homer,  and  Ilesiod — 
all  strongly  impregnated  with  the  spirit  of  Judaism.  But  his 
Judaism  was  a  very  different  thing  from  the  simplicity  of  the 
Pentateuch.  A  single,  but  very  characteristic,  production,  of  this 
Jewish  Gnosis  has  come  down  to  our  times.  This  is  the  "  Book 
of  Enoch  "  (v.  p.  18),  of  which  the  main  object  is  to  maJcc  Imown 
the  description  of  the  heavenly  bodies  and  the  true  names  of  tho 
same,  as  revealed  to  tho  Patriarch  by  the  angel  Uriel.  This 
profession  betrays,  of  itself,  the  Magian  source  whence  its 
inspiration  was  derived.  Many  Jews,  nevertheless,  accepted  it 
as  a  divine  revelation ;  even  the  Apostle  Jude  scruples  not  to 
quote  it  as  of  genuine  Scriptural  authority.  The  "  Pistis- 
Sophia,"  attributed  to  tho  Alexandrian  heresiarch  Valentinus 
(so  important  a  guide  in  the  following  inquiry),  perpetually 
refers  to  it  as :  Tho  highest  source  of  knowledge,  as  being 
dictated  by  Christ  Himself,  "speaking  out  of  the  Tree  of  Life 
unto  I  EOT,  the  Primal  Man."  Another  Jewish-Gnostic  Scripture 
of  even  greater  interest,  (inasmuch  as  it  is  the  "  Bible  "  of  the 
only  professed  Gnostic  sect  that  has  maintained  its  existence 
to  tho  present  day,  the  Mandaites  of  Bassora,)  is  their  text 
book,  the  "  Book  of  Adam."  Its  doctrines  and  singular 
application  of  Zoroastrism  to  Jewish  tenets,  present  frequent 
analogies  to  those  of  the  Pistis-Sophia,  in  its  continual  reference 
to  the  ideas  of  the  "  Religion  of  Light,"  of  which  full  particulars 
will  be  given  when  the  latter  remarkable  work  comes  to  be 
considered  (see  p.  14).  "  Gnosticism,"  therefore,  cannot  receive 
a  better  definition  than  in  that  dictum  of  the  sect  first  and 
specially  calling  itself  *'  Gnostics,"  the  Naaseni  (translated  by 
the  Greeks  into  "  Ophites  "),  viz.,  "  the  beginning  of  perfection 
is  the  knowledge  of  man,  but  absolute  perfection  is  the  know 
ledge  of  God."  And  to  give  a  general  view  of  the  nature  of 


the  entire  system,  nothing  that  I  can  do  will  serve  so  well  as 
to  transcribe  the  exact  words  of  a  learned  and  very  acute  writer 
upon  the  subject  of  Gnosticism  ("  Christian  Remembrancer," 
for  1866). 

"Starting,  then,  from  this  point  we  ask  what  Gnosticism 
is,  and  what  it  professes  to  teach.  What  is  the  peculiar  Gnosis 
that  it  claims  to  itself?  The  answer  is,  the  knowledge  of  God 
and  of  Man,  of  the  Being  and  Providence  of  the  former,  and  of 
the  creation  and  destiny  of  the  latter.  While  the  ignorant  and 
superstitious  wore  degrading  the  glory  of  the  incorruptible  God 
into  an  image  made  with  hands,  and  were  changing  « the  truth 
of  God  into  a  lie,  and  worshipped  and  served  the  creature  rather 
than  the  Creator/  the  ancient  Gnostics  held  purer  and  truer 
ideas.  And  when  these  corrupted  and  idolatrous  forms  of 
religion  and  worship  became  established,  and  were  popularly 
regarded  as  true  and  real  in  themselves,  the  "  Gnostics  "  held  and 
secretly  taught  an  esoteric  theology  of  which  the  popular  creed 
of  multitudes  of  deities,  with  its  whole  ritual  of  sacrifice  and 
worship,  was  but  the  exoteric  from.  Hence  all  the  mysteries 
which,  almost  if  not  all,  the  heathen  religions  possessed.  Those 
initiated  into  these  mysteries,  whilst  they  carefully  maintained 
and  encouraged  the  gorgeous  worship,  sacrifices  and  processions 
of  the  national  religion,  and  even  openly  taught  polytheism,  and 
the  efficacy  of  the  public  rites,  yet  secretly  held  something 
very  different — at  the  first,  probably,  a  purer  creed,  but  in 
course  of  time,  like  the  exoteric  form,  degenerating.  The 
progress  of  declination  differed  according  to  race  or  habit  of 
thought :  in  the  East  it  tended  to  superstition,  in  the  West  (as 
we  learn  from  the  writings  of  Cicero)  to  pure  atheism,  a  denial 
of  Providence.  This  system  was  adopted  likewise  by  the  Jews, 
but  with  this  great  difference,  that  it  was  superinduced  upon 
and  applied  to  a  pre-existent  religion;  whereas  in  the  other 
Oriental  .religions,  the  external  was  added  to  the  esoteric,  and 
developed  out  of  it.  In  the  Oriental  systems  the  external  was 
the  sensuous  expression  of  a  hidden  meaning ;  in  the  Jewish, 
the  hidden  meaning  was  drawn  out  of  pre-existing  external 
laws  and  ritual ;  in  the  former  the  esoteric  alone  was  claimed 
as  divine,  in  the  latter  it  was  the  exoteric  which  was  a  matter 


of  revelation.  To  repair  this  seeming  defect,  the  Kabbalists,  or 
teachers  of  the  *  Hidden  Doctrine,'  invented  the  existence  of  a 
secret  tradition,  orally  handed  down  from  the  time  of  Moses. 
We  may,  of  course,  reject  this  assertion,  and  affirm  that  the  Jews 
learnt  the  idea  of  a  Hidden  Wisdom,  underlying  the  Mosaic 
Law,  from  their  intercourse  with  the  Eastern  nations  during 
the  Babylonian  captivity ;  and  we  may  further  be  assured  that 
the  origin  of  this  Secret  Wisdom  is  Indian.  Perhaps  we  shall 
be  more  exact  if  we  say  that  the  Jews  learnt  from  their  inter- 
Bourse  with  Eastern  nations  to  investigate  the  external  Divine 
Law,  for  the  purpose  of  discovering  its  hidden  meaning. 
The  heathen  Gnostics,  in  fact,  collected  a  Gnosis  from  every 
quarter,  accepted  all  religious  systems  as  partly  true,  and 
extracted  from  each  what  harmonized  with  their  ideas.  The 
Gospel,  widely  preached,  accompanied  by  miracles,  having  new 
doctrines  and  enunciating  new  truths,  very  naturally  attracted 
their  attention.  The  Kabbalists,  or  Jewish  Gnostics,  like 
Simon  Magus,  found  a  large  portion  of  apostolic  teaching  in 
accordance  with  their  own,  and  easily  grafted  upon  it  so  much 
us  they  liked.  Again  the  Divine  power  of  working  miracles 
possessed  by  the  Apostles  and  their  successors  naturally 
attracted  the  interest  of  those  whose  chief  mystery  was  the 
practice  of  magic.  Simon  the  Magician  was  considered  by  the 
Samaritans  to  be  '  the  great  Power  of  God  ; '  he  was  attracted 
by  the  miracles  wrought  by  the  Apostles;  and  no  doubt  he 
sincerely  '  believed,'  that  is,  after  his  own  fashion.  His  notion 
of  Holy  Baptism  was  probably  an  initiation  into  a  new 
mystery  with  a  higher  Gnosis  than  he  possessed  before,  and  by 
which  he  hoped  to  be  endued  with  higher  powers;  and  so 
likewise  many  of  those  who  were  called  Gnostic  Heretics  by 
the  Christian  Fathers,  were  not  Christians  at  all,  only  they 
adopted  so  much  of  the  Christian  doctrine  as  accorded  with 
their  system." 

The  consideration  of  the  local  and  political  circumstances  of 
the  grand  foci  of  Gnosticism  will  serve  to  explain  much  that  is 
puzzling  in  the  origin  and  nature  of  the  system  itself.  Epliesus 
was,  after  Alexandria,  the  most  important  meeting-point  of 
Grecian  culture  and  Oriental  speculation.  In  regard  to 


commerce  and  riches,  although  she  yielded  to  the   Egyptian 
capital,  yet  she  rivalled  Corinth  in  both,  which  city  in  truth 
she  far  surpassed  in  her  treasures  of  reli-ion  and  science.     Her 
richness  in  theosophic  ideas  and  rites  had  from  time  immemorial 
been  manifested  in  her  possession  of  Diana,  "whom  all  Asia 
and  the  world,"  worshipped— that  pantheistic   figure  so  con 
formable  to  the  genius  of  the  furthest  East;  her  College  of 
"  Essenes  "  dedicated  to  the  service  of  that  goddess ;  and  her 
"  Megabyzae,"  whose  name  sufficiently  declares  their  Magian 
institution.     Hence,  also,  was  supplied  the  talisman  of  highest 
repute  in  the  antique  world,  the  far-famed  "  Ephesian  spell," 
those   mystic  words   graven  upon   the   zone   and   feet   of  the 
"image    that   fell   down   from    Jupiter;"   and   how  zealously 
magic  was    cultivated  by  her   citizens   is   apparent  from   St. 
Luke's  incidental  notice  of  the  cost  of  the  books  belonging  to 
those  that  used  "  curious  arts  "  (ra  irepUpya,  the  regular  names  for 
sorcery  and  divination)  destroyed  by  their  owners  in  the  first 
transports  of  conversion  to  a  new  faith.     Such  converts,  indeed, 
after  their  early  zeal  had  cooled  down,  were  not  likely  to  resist 
the  allurements  of  the  endeavour  to  reconcile   their  ancient, 
far-famed  wisdom,  with  the  new  revelation  ;  in  short,  to  follow 
the  plan  invented  not  long  before  by  the  Alexandrian  Jew,  in 
his  reconciliation  of  Plato  with  Moses  and  the  Prophets. 
Ephesus,"  says  Matter,  "  the  speculations  of  the  Jewish-Egyptian 
school,  and  the  Semi-Persian  speculations  of  the  Kabbala,  had 
then  recently  come  to  swell  the  vast  conflux  of  Grecian  and 
Asiatic  doctrines;  so  there  is  no  wonder  that  teachers  should 
have   sprung   up  there,  who  strove   to    combine   the   religion 
newly  preached  by  the  Apostle  with  the  ideas  so  long  estab 
lished  in  the  place.     As  early  as  the  year  A.D.  58,  St.  Paul,  in 
his  First  Epistle  to  Timothy,  enjoins  him  to  warn  certain  persons 
to  abstain  from  teaching  '  strange  doctrines,'  those  myths  and 
interminable  genealogies  that  only  breed  division.     These  same 
«  myths   and    genealogies '  apply,   without   any  doubt,  to   the 
theory  of  the  Emanation  of  the  ^ons-Sephiroth,  and  to  all  the 
relations  between  the  Good  and  Bad  Angels  that  the  Kabbalists 
had  borrowed  from  the  religion  of  Zoroaster." 

Again,  after    condemning   certain   doctrines   concerning   the 


obligation  to  complete  asceticism,  adopted  literally  from  the 
Essence,  the  Apostle  adds,  "  keep  safe  the  precious  charge 
entrusted  to  thee,  avoiding  profane  novelties  and  the  antitheses 
of  the  knowledge,  falsely  so-called,  of  which  some  making 
profession  have  gone  astray  from  the  faith  of  Christ."  It  was 
assuredly  not  the  mere  fables  by  which  the  new  converts 
sought  to  enrich  and  complete  the  Christian  doctrine  (such  as 
we  still  have  samples  of  in  the  childish,  though  pious  fictions 
of  the  Apocryphal  Gospels),  such  things  as  these  were  certainly 
not  the  "  false  knowledge,"  which  set  itself  up  against  the 
"  true  knowledge,"  that  is,  Eevelation  itself,  as  something 
superior  to  that  Revelation.  It  must,  on  the  contrary,  have 
been  a  doctrine  professing  to  make  a  science  out  of  the  Christian 
faith,  and  that,  too,  a  science  founding  its  principles  upon 
antitheses.  Now  what  are  these  "  antitheses  "  (or,  oppositions) 
but  the  teaching  of  the  Zendavesta,  concerning  the  two 
Empires  of  Light  and  Darkness ;  the  two  grand  classes  of 
Intelligences,  the  good  and  the  evil  spirits ;  and  the  perpetual 
combat  going  on  between  them  ?  Now  these  antitheses,  or  the 
principle  of  Dualism,  is  that  which  forms  the  most  conspicuous 
feature  of  the  Gnostic  scheme  ;  and  in  the  Apostle's  words  we 
trace  one  of  the  most  [obvious  ways  in  which  such  doctrines 
were  communicated,  and  how  they  insinuated  themselves  into 
the  infant  Church. 

In  fact  the  ancient  commentators,  Theodorot  and  Chrysostom, 
who  were  thoroughly  conversant  with  the  Gnosticism  of  their 
own  day,  apply  this  passage  of  St.  Paul  to  that  actual  pre 
cursor  of  Gnosticism,  his  indefatigable  rival  Simon  Magus 
himself,  whose  curious  tenets  had  by  that  time  been  widely 
diifused  throughout  Asia  Minor. 

So  deeply  rooted  were  such  speculations  in  the  minds  of 
many  of  the  Ephesians,  that  the  Apostle,  in  his  second  Epistle 
to  Timothy,  written  six  years  later,  returns  perpetually  to  the 
subject,  whilst  in  his  Epistle  to  the  Church  at  Ephesus,  he 
entreats  his  flock  not  to  be  seduced  by  "  vain  discourses,"  or 
"  new-coined  appellations,"  (as  one  reading  has  it,  and  which 
applies  forcibly  to  the  Gnostic  nomenclature),  nor  by  human 
doctrines  that  have  no  more  solidity  in  themselves  than  the 


wind,  whereof  no  one  knows  whence  it  oometh,  or  whither  it 
gooth.     Nay  more,  ho  oven  employs  the  very  terminology  of 
Gnosticism,  as  when  he  says,  "  Ye  were  dead  in  error  and  in 
sins :  ye  walked  according  to  the  2Eon  of  this  world,  according 
to  the  ArcJion  who  has  the  dominion  of  the  air,"  that  is,  the 
Demiurgus  Ildabaoth.     Hero   wo  have  the  Devs  of  Zoroaster, 
whose  hosts  fill  the  air,  deceive   mankind,  blind  their  under 
standings,  and  lead  them  into  temptation.      Again  when  ho 
adds,  "Wo  war  not  against  flesh  and  blood,  but  against  the 
Dominions,  the  Powers,  the  Lords  of  the  Darkness,  the  malevolence 
of  the  Spirits  in  the  upper  regions"— all  these  are  regular  Gnostic 
epithets,  having  also  their  place  in  the  Kabbali.stic  theology. 
The  later  Gnosticism  is,  in  fact,  as  Chiflet  has  well  expressed  it, 
"the  spirit  of  Asiatic  antiquity  seeking  to  assert  its  empire 
over  the  soul  of  Man  by  insinuating  itself  into  the  Christian 
Church."     The  Ophites,  even  in  the  early  times  of  Ilippolytus, 
boasted  that  they  of  all  men  were  the  only  real  Christians, 
because  they  alone  comprehended  the  real  nature  of  the  Saviour. 
At  the  same  time,  they  diligently  attended  the  celebration  of 
all   the   ancient   Mysteries,   notably   the   Eleusinian    and    the 
Phrygian,    declaring   that   through   their   Jcnoivledge   they   had 
gotten  the  key  to  the  hidden  meaning  of  the  whole  ceremonial, 
which  by  types  and  figures  foreshadowed  the  coming  of  the 
Christ.     But   indeed,   Gnosticism,  in   its   primitive  form,  had 
almost  supplanted,  by  spiritualizing  it,  the  beautiful  materialism 
of    the    early    Greek    and    Latin   mythologies.      Catholicism, 
through  its  unity  and  greater  simplicity,  in  the  end  tiiumphed 
over  the  conflicting  Gnostic  philosophies,  which  became  extinct 
as  a  professed  religion  in  the  sixth  century,  so  far  as  Europe  was 
concerned,  and  whose  relics  in  Asia  were  at  the  same  moment 
covered  over  with  impenetrable  obscurity  by  the  sudden  deluge 
of  the  Mahommedan  conquest.     Nevertheless,  even  in  the  first- 
named  scene  of  its  domination,  it  was  not  to  be  eradicated  with 
out  leaving  behind  it  deep  traces  in  the  writings  and  symbolisms 
of  the  magicians,  astrologers,  and  seekers  after  the  grand  arcanum 
throughout  the  whole  course  of  the  Middle  Ages.    Thus  there  is  a 
passage  in  Dante  (Paradiso,  xviii.)  replete  with  the  profoundest 
symbolism,  and  which,  of  course,  our  Freemasons  claim  for  their 


own,  and  that  with  all  possible  security,  because  the  very  nature 
of  the  assumption  exempts  them  from  being  called  upon  to  publish 
the  interpretation  of  the  mystery.  The  poet  here  tells  how  the 
five  times  seven  letters  making  up  the  five  words  "  Diligito 
justitiam  qui  judicatis  terrain  "  came  forth  in  the  star  Jupiter, 
when  the  beatified  spirits  of  just  princes  hovered  over  the  final 
M,  forming  their  hosts  into  the  figure  of  an  eagle.  Certainly 
the  importance  given  to  the  numerals  five  and  seven  in  this 
revelation  savours  much  of  Gnostic  phraseology,  and  reminds 
one  of  the  thiity  letters  which  make  up  the  quadrisyllable 
Name  of  God,  as  made  known  by  Truth  unto  the  heresiarch 
Marcus,  the  history  of  which  shall  be  given  in  the  fitting  place. 
Dante  had  before  (Canto  vi.)  spoken  of  the  "  awe  that  over 
comes  him  before  the  B  and  I  C  E,"  evidently  the  initials 
of  some  mighty  password,  although  his  commentators  most 
prosaically  interpret  them  as  the  mere  diminutive  of  the  name 
of  his  lost  love,  Beatrice.  It  was  to  its  connection  with  Gnosticism 
that  primitive  Christianity  owed  the  accusation  of  being  a 
Magical  system — a  superstition  not  only  nova  but  malefica. 
There  is  a  curious  passage  in  Dio  Cassius,  where,  mentioning 
how  the  Christian  Legion  in  M.  Aurelius' Quadian  War  obtained 
rain  from  Heaven  through  their  prayers,  he  remarks,  "  the 
Christians  can  bring  about  anything  they  desire  through 
prayer."  In  later  times  the  various  factions  within  the  Church 
were  fond  of  retorting  upon  each  other  this  ancient  aspersion  of 
the  pagans:  it  was  on  the  charge  of  magical  practices,  says 
Ammianus,  that  the  Arians  managed  to  depose  and  exile  the 
great  Athaiiasius  himself. 

The  history  of  Gnosticism,  written  by  its  contemporaries,  still 
forms  a  copious  library,  despite  the  losses  and  damages  it  has 
sustained  through  the  injuries  of  time.  In  the  carrying  out  of 
the  chief  object  of  the  present  work — the  elucidation  of  the 
tangible  remains  of  the  Gnosis — no  historical  record  has  yielded 
me  by  any  means  so  much  service  as  "  The  Eefutation  of  all 
Heresies,"  composed  by  Hippolytus,  bishop  of  Ostia  (Portus), 
early  in  the  third  century.  Many  points,  hitherto  seeming 
hopelessly  enveloped  in  darkness,  have  been  made  clear  by 
the  careful  perusal  of  his  judicious  summaries  of  the  systems 


of  the  different  gnostic  apostles.  His  views  of  their  doctrines 
are  evidently  drawn  up  with  equal  candour  and  intelligence, 
and  fully  bear  out  his  declaration,  "  that  his  design  was  not  to 
vilify  the  holders  of  such  doctrines,  but  merely  to  make  known 
the  sources  whence  they  had  really  derived  their  pretended 
revelation."  And  he  keeps  his  word  throughout,  never  once 
indulging,  like  the  later  controversialists,  in  invectives  against 
asserted  practices,  but  exhibiting  the  tenets  only  of  his  opponents, 
and,  with  much  ingenuity,  showing  up  their  gross  plagiarism 
from  Pagan  philosophy.  His  eagerness  for  discovering  the 
latter  source  in  the  fount  ©f  every  gnostic  stream,  sometimes 
leads  him  to  detect  relationship  that  does  not  actually  exist,  and 
still  oftener  to  pronounce  a  recent  copy  of  the  other  what  was  in 
reality  drawn  directly  from  the  same  Oriental  prototype — true 
origin  of  the  old  Greek  idea  with  which  he  identifies  it.  But 
this  invaluable,  as  well  as  most  interesting,  treatise  breathes 
all  through  that  spirit  of  charity  and  forbearance  that  made  a 
writer  belonging  to  a  still  persecuted  religion,  happy  to  be 
allowed  to  subsist  through  the  tolerance  of  its  neighbours. 
The  abuse  and  scurrilous  tales  in  which  the  later  Epiphanius 
revels  sufficiently  indicate  the  writer  belonging  to  an  established 
Church,  able  at  length  to  call  in  the  secular  power  to  assist  in 
convincing  all  adversaries  of  their  errors  by  the  unanswerable 
arguments  of  rack,  rope  and  faggot. 

Ircnacus,  a  Gaul  by  birth,  and  disciple  of  Poly  carp,  himself  a 
disciple  of  St.  John,  was  elected  Bishop  of  Lyon  in  the  year 
174.  In  that  city  he  composed  his  great  treatise  generally 
styled  "  Five  Books  against  Heresies,"  written  in  an  easy,  and 
indeed  elegant  style,  although  in  one  place  he  excuses  its  rude 
ness  by  the  fact  of  his  having  been  forced  during  so  many  years 
to  converse  "  in  a  barbarous  language  " — a  remark  of  interest 
as  showing  that  Celtic  still  remained  the  vulgar  tongue  in  his 
diocese.  He  is  supposed  to  have  died  soon  after  the  year  A.D.  200  ; 
and  therefore  is  somewhat  earlier  than  Hippolytus,  who  was 
put  to  death  in  A.D.  222,  and  whose  "  Eefut  ition  "  was  clearly 
written  after  the  death  of  Irenasus,  for  he  quotes  him  occasionally 
by  the  title  6  paKtipios,  "  the  deceased  "  ;  and  has  incorporated 
some  entire  chapters  respecting  Marcus  in  his  own  work. 


The  great  Origen,  another  contemporary,  has  given  some 
important  details  concerning  the  religious  systems  of  the 
Ophites  in  his  celebrated  "  Reply  to  Celsus."  Two  centuries 
after  him  comes  Theodoret,  Bishop  of  Cyrrhus,  in  Syria,  during 
the  second  quarter  of  the  fifth  century,  who  has  left  very  full 
particulars  respecting  the  great  Gnostic  school  flourishing  in 
that  region.  The  other  Christian  writers  who  have  treated 
upon  the  origin  and  nature  of  the  same  doctrines  were  nothing 
more  than  ignorant  churchmen,  able  to  discern  nothing  in  any 
religion  beyond  its  external  forms,  and  which  they  construed  in 
the  darkest  possible  sense,  ever  seeking  for  the  worst  interpre 
tation  of  which  these  external  appearances  were  susceptible. 
At  the  head  of  this  latter  class  stands  Epiphanius,  author  of  the 
most  detailed,  and,  from  its  furious  partisanship,  amusing  account 
of  the  Gnostic  sects  that  is  extant — his  vast  Panarion,  "  Bread 
basket,"  or  rather,  "  Scrap-basket,"  a  whimsical  title  intended  to 
express  the  motly  nature  of  its  contents,  picked  up  from  all 
quarters.  This  immense  folio  (admirably  translated  into  elegant 
Latin  by  the  learned  Petavius)  is  of  the  highest  interest,  full  of 
pictures  of  the  struggles  of  the  human  mind  to  devise  for  itself 
a  revelation  that  shall  plausibly  solve  all  the  problems  of  Man's 
other  nature.  Its  compiler  lived  as  Bishop  of  Salamis  in  Cyprus 
A.IV  367-403,  and  displays  great  zeal  in  raking  up  all  manner 
of  scandalous  stories  against  the  enemies  of  his  adoptive  Church. 
But  there  is  one  thing  that  gives  immense  value  to  his  labours, 
the  minute  account  given  of  Manichasism — that  latest  and 
grandest  development  of  the  gnosis,  which  had  come  into 
existence  in  the  interval  between  Epiphanius  and  Hippolytus. 

The  rule  observed  by  all  these  later  historians  of  Gnosticism  is 
to  represent  it  as  a  mere  spurious  offshoot  and  corruption  of 
Christianity;  invented,  usually  out  of  disappointed  ambition, 
by  apostates  from  the  true  faith  established  by  the  several 
apostles  in  the  Eastern  provinces  of  the  Empire — a  mode  of 
representing  the  system  than  which  nothing  can  be  more  un 
founded.  For  in  its  earliest  shape,  such  as  it  shows  itself  in 
the  doctrine  of  Simon  Magus,  or  of  Basilides,  the  heaven-sent 
knowledge  merely  added  upon  the  old  foundations  such  articles 
and  terms  of  the  Christian  faith  as  seemed  capable  of  being 



assimilated   to  and   combined  therewith,  whilst   on   the   other 
hand  she  availed  herself  of  the  machinery  of  the  older  paganism, 
to  elucidate  and  prove  the  mysteries  of  the  now  theosophy ;  and 
this  was  conspicuously  the  character  of  the  systems  of  Justinus, 
and  of  the  Poratae;    as  the  very   curious  extracts    given    by 
Ilippolytus  from  their  text-books  exhibit  to  the  astonishment  of 
the  modern  reader.     That  sagacious  controversialist  was  right 
in  calling  all  these  heresies  nothing  better  than  the  old  philo 
sophies  disguised  under  now  names  ;  his  only  error  lay  in  not 
going  back  far  enough  to  find  their  ultimate  source.     Basilides, 
for  example,  never  professed  Christianity  (in  fact,  Tortulliaii  calls 
him  a  Platonist),  but  ho  suporadded  upon  the  esoteric  doctrines 
of  the   Egyptian    priesthood   the   newly-imported   notions   of 
Buddhism— that  probable  source  of  so  much  that  is  strange  in 
the  Gnosis.     The  introduction  of  the  religion  of  Buddha  into 
Egypt  and  Palestine,  a  fact  only  recently  discovered,  yet  sub 
stantiated  by  strong  monumental  testimony,  affords   the   best 
solution  for  innumerable  difficulties  in  the  history  of  religion ; 
but  the  circumstances  relating  to  this  very  important  question 
must  bo  reserved  for  a  separate  chapter. 

As  for  the  actual  TEXT-BOOKS  of  the  Gnostics,  which  in  their 
day  formed  so  immense  a  library  (every  founder  of  a  sect  being, 
as  if  by  obligation,  a  most  prolific  writer,  as  Ilippolytus  shows 
by  the  number  of  works  ho  quotes),  hunted  up  aud  carefully 
destroyed  by  the  victorious  orthodox,  never  perpetuated  by 
transcripts  after  the  sectaries  became  extinct,  all  have  perished, 
leaving  one  sole  specimen  to  attest  their  nature.  But  this 
survivor  is  of  a  character  so  wild  and  wondrous,  that  had  fortune 
left  it  to  our  choice  we  could  not  have  preserved  a  more 
characteristic  representative  of  its  class.  This  is  the  Piatis- 
Sophia, "  Faith-Wisdom,"  a  work  to  be  perpetually  quoted  in 
the  following  pages,  as  it  throws  more  light  {upon  the  actual 
monuments  of  Gnosticism  than  could  hitherto  be  collected  from 
all  the  other  writers  ou  the  subject  put  together.  On  this 
account  a  brief  summary  of  its  contents  will  be  the  best 
introduction  to  our  inquiry  into  the  nature  of  the  system. 



This  treatise,  ascribed  to  Valentinus  (I  know  not  on  what 
authority)  was  discovered  by  Schwartze  in  a  Coptic  MS. 
preserved  in  the  British  Museum.  He  transcribed  the  Coptic 
text  and  translated  it  into  Latin  ;  both  texts  and  version  were 
published  by  Petermann  in  the  year  1853.  The  original  is 
copiously  interspersed  with  Greek  words  and  phrases  ;  in  fact, 
the  Coptic  was  evidently  so  poor  a  language  as  to  have  no  terms 
of  its  own  to  express  any  but  the  most  materialistic  ideas.  The 
matter  of  its  professed  revelation  is  set  forth  also  with  endless 
repetitions,  bespeaking  a  language  destitute  of  relative  pronouns, 
of  conjunctions,  and  of  all  the  other  grammatical  refinements 
necessary  for  the  clear  and  concise  expression  of  thought.* 

The  authorship  of  this  record  is  assigned  by  itself  in  several 
places  to  Philip  the  Apostle,  whom  the  Saviour  bids  to  sit  down 
and  write  these  things !  This  circumstance  made  me  at  first 
conclude  it  to  be  the  lost  Gospel  of  Philip  quoted  by  Epiphanius, 
but  the  particular  anecdote  adduced  by  him  from  that  gospel  is 
not  to  be  discovered  anywhere  in  this.  But  as  the  original  is 
full  of  wide  lacunae,  which  often  fall  in  very  interesting  places, 
as  if  purposely  defaced  to  escape  the  eyes  of  the  profane,  such 
an  omission  is  not  altogether  conclusive  against  the  identity  of 
the  two. 

The  nature  of  the  book  may  be  briefly  sketched  as  follows. 
It  professes  to  be  a  record  of  the  higher  teaching  of  the  Saviour 
communicated  to  his  disciples  during  the  eleven  years  he  passed 
with  them  on  earth  after  his  crucifixion,  and  when  he  had 
returned  from  his  ascension  into  Heaven.  This  ascension  had 
been  made  from  the  Mount  of  Olives,  where  he  received  from  on 
high  two  shining  vestures  inscribed  with  five  mystic  words  (§  16), 
and  the  names  of  all  the  powers  whose  domains  he  had  to 
traverse.  He  thus  (as  he  relates  to  the  disciples)  passes  through 
the  gate  of  the  Firmament,  the  Sphere  of  Fate,  and  the  regions 

*  It  is  intended  to  issue  an  English  translation  as  a  supplement  to  the 
present  work. 


of  the  Twelve  Great  TEons,  all  of  whom  in  succession  are  terror- 
smitten,  and  fall  down  before  him  and  sing  hymns  of  praise. 
On  arriving  at  the  thirteenth  aeon,  he  finds  seated  below  and 
weeping  the  excluded  Power  Pistis-Sophia,*  who  gives  her  name 
to  the  revelation.  She,  having  once  caught  a  glimpse  of  the 
Supreme  Light,  was  seized  with  a  desire  to  fly  upwards  into  it : 
but  Adamas,  the  ruler  of  her  proper  place,  being  enraged  at  this 
act  of  rebellion  against  himself,  caused  a  false  light,  a  veritable 
ignis  fatuus,  to  shine  upon  the  waters  of  the  subjacent  chaos 
which  lured  down  the  hapless  aspirant,  and  she  was  inextricably 
immersed  in  the  abyss,  and  beset  by  the  spirits  thereof,  all 
eager  to  deprive  her  of  her  native  light.  This  doctrine  of  the 
admixture  of  light,  derived  from  the  Treasure  of  Light,  with 
matter,  its  imprisonment  therein,  and  its  extraction  and  recovery 
by  the  appointed  "  Receivers  of  the  Light "  is  the  pervading  idea 
of  this  revelation,  to  a  greater  extent  even  than  in  the  Ophite 
scheme.  As  part  of  the  same  notion  comes  the  frequent  allusion  to 
the  Kepcur/Aos  or  chaotic  commixture  of  Light  and  Matter,  to 
reorganise  which  is  the  special  object  of  the  Saviour's  descent 
from  above. 

At  least  one  half  of  the  book  is  taken  up  with  the  account 
of  the  successive  steps  by  which  she  ascends  through  all  the 
Twelve  .ZEons  by  the  Saviour's  aid,  and  the  confession  she  sings 
at  each  stage  of  her  deliverance  out  of  chaos.  Each  confession 
is  proposed  by  Jesus  to  a  disciple  for  explanation,  and  is 
referred  to  some  psalm  or  other  prophecy  containing  parallel 
sentiments;  this  concordance  being  occasionally  made  out  with 
considerable  ingenuity.  A  remarkable  peculiarity  is  that  all 
throughout  Mary  Magdalene  is  the  chief  speaker,  and  the  most 
highly  commended  for  her  spiritual  knowledge,  though  once 
she  is  sharply  rebuked  by  Peter  for  her  presumption  in  thus 
perpetually  putting  herself  forward  unbidden— and  not  giving 
the  men  a  chance  to  speak.  After  Pistis-Sophia  has  thus 
regained  her  lost  position,  the  most  valuable  portion  of  the 

*  This  banishment  of  Sophia  from  assigns  a  different    reason    for  her 

the  society  of  the  other  ^Eons  is  the  degradation,   as    in    the    system    of 

grand  turning-point  of  the  principal  Valentinus,  and  also  that  of  the  later 

Gnostic     schemes,    although     each  Ophites. 


exposition  of  doctrines  commences.  The  Magdalene  asks  the 
great  question  as  to  the  final  cause  of  Sin  (§  281),  to  which  Jesus 
returns  a  long  and  minute  description  of  the  composition  of  the 
soul  of  man,  which  is  fourfold,  the  divine  spark  therein  (a 
particle  of  the  Light  yet  entangled  in  the  Kepaoyxos)  being 
encased  in  a  three-fold  envelope  formed  out  of  the  effluvia  of  the 
rebellious  ^Eons,  the  tendency  of  which  is  to  keep  it  in  subjection 
to  the  passions,  and  to  themselves,  so  that  when  separated  from 
the  body  it  may  not  bo  able  to  escape  out  of  their  domains,  "  the 
regions  of  mid-space  "  here  represented  as  places  of  pain.  These 
.ZEons  are  elsewhere  identified  with  the  signs  of  the  Zodiac.  Next 
comes  a  detailed  account  of  the  Kulers  of  the  regions  of  torment 
(§  320),  of  their  authentic  forms,  a  crocodile,  a  bear,  a  cat,  a  dog,  a 
serpent,  a  black  bull,  &c.,  and  of  their  authentic  names  ;  these  last 
are  not  Semitic,  but  either  Coptic  or  belong,  judging  from  their 
terminations,  to  the  mystic  language  generally  used  upon  the 
Gnostic  stones.  After  this  wo  have  the  several  punishments 
appointed  for  the  various  sins  of  mankind,  and  the  exact  number 
of  years  and  even  of  days  required  for  the  expiation  of  each  in 
its  proper  dungeon  (ra/xetov).  These  places  of  torment  are  all 
enclosed  within  the  Dragon  of  Outward  Darkness.  It  is  worthy 
of  remark  that  the  serpent,  whenever  introduced,  is  a  thing 
of  evil — a  sure  indication  that  the  book  is  under  the 
influence  of  the  Kabbala.  The  same  conclusion  is  doducible 
from  the  malignity  pervading  the  entire  dispensation  which  it 
pictures;  and  the  evident  delight  it  takes  in  creating  and 
parcelling  out  the  various  punishments,  of  which  heretics 
naturally  get  the  largest  share.  The  philosophic  Gnostic 
schemes  have  no  severer  penalty  for  those  who  do  not  listen  to 
them  than  the  want  of  Knowledge,  and  the  subjection  to  Matter. 
After  purgation  in  these  prisons  the  souls  are  put  into  new 
bodies,  and  begin  a  new  probation  upon  earth. 

The  judge  of  souls  is  the  Virgin  of  Light,  attended  by  her 
seven  hand-maids.  Certain  sins,  but  few  in  number,  are 
punished  by  annihilation,  and  admit  of  neither  expiation  nor 
atonement.  But  for  all  the  rest  instant  remission  is  procurable, 
it'  the  friends  of  the  deceased  celebrate  on  his  behalf  the 
"  Mystery  (or,  Sacrament)  of  the  Ineffable  One."  This  must  be 


the  very  earliest  notice  extant  of  the  belief  in  the  efficacy  of 
the  offering  up  of  a  sacrament  for  the  redemption  of  souls, 
There  is  a  singular  provision  made  for  the  salvation  of  a  per 
fectly  righteous  man,  but  who  in  his  life-time  has  not  enjoyed 
the  opportunity  of  being  converted.  The  angels  take  his 
departed  soul,  and  carry  it  through  all  the  realms  of  punishment 
with  the  utmost  rapidity,  and  then  conduct  him  before  the 
Virgin  of  Light,  who  clothes  it  in  a  new  body  to  recommence 
its  earthly  career,  to  obtain  there  the  advantage  of  the  mysteries 
and  so  become  an  heir  of  Light.  The  nature  of  the  particular 
Mystery,  so  perpetually  alluded  to  in  this  work,  is  in  no  place 
explained ;  it  is,  however,  the  highest  of  the  Four  and  Twenty  : 
for  such  is  the  number  of  the  Mysteries  here  mentioned,  one  for 
each  of  the  grades  in  its  celestial  hierarchy,  for  the  Five  Marks, 
for  the  Seven  Vowels,  for  the  Five  Trees  and  for  the  Seven  Amcns. 
Throughout  are  interspersed  frequent  allusions  to  the  seals, 
and  the  numbers  of  the  Mysteries,  courses,  and  divine  personages, 
borrowed  partly  from  the  usages  of  the  Temple,  partly  from  those 
of  the  old  Egyptian  worship.  They  are  repeated  and  involved 
in  a  multitudinous,  inextricable  sequence,  that  to  one  not  having 
the  key  thereto  belonging,  strongly  calls  to  mind  the  numerical 
vagaries  that  flit  before  the  mind  when  slightly  delirious  :  and 
which  even  the  plodding  German  editor  confesses,  in  his  preface, 
often  made  his  brain  whirl  as  he  attempted  to  transcribe  them. 
Lastly  comes  a  long  fragment  (§  358),  headed  "  a  Portion  of  the 
Prayers  of  Jesus,"  which  tells  more  directly  upon  the  subject  of 
these  researches  than  anything  that  has  fallen  in  my  way. 
The  Saviour,  attended  by  his  disciples,  standing  sometimes  on 
a  mountain,  sometimes  by  the  sea,  and  sometimes  in  mid-air, 
addresses  prayers  to  the  Father,  prefaced  with  long  formulae  of 
the  same  character,  and  often  in  the  same  words,  as  those 
covering  the  more  important  Gnostic  monuments.  Some  of 
these  opening  invocations  are  expounded,  and  seemingly 
paraphrased,  in  the  prayers  following  them,  though  not  in  a 
very  satisfactory  manner.  Also  Jesus  celebrates,  with  many 
singular  formalities,  a  sacrifice  of  wine  and  water,  which,  there 
is  reason  to  believe,  is  the  grand  Mystery  or  Sacrament  so  often 
lauded  in  the  foregoing  chapters.  The  whole  closes  with  a 



long  exposition  by  him  of  the  influence  of  the  ^ons  of  the 
Zodiac  upon  the  soul  of  the  infant  born  under  each,  and  of  the 
fortunate  or  malign  intervention  of  the  planets  in  such  cases. 
Of  the  latter  the  sacred  names  are  communicated  apparently  as 
used  by  the  Magi.  A  few  Egyptian  deities,  eg.  Bubastes  and 
Typhon,  are  named  here,  and  the  Syrian  Barbelo  is  frequently 
introduced,  as  a  personage  of  the  very  highest  importance,  being 
no  less  than  the  lieavenhj  mother  of  the  Saviour  himself.  His 
earthly  Mother  is  indeed  represented  as  attending  at  these 
revelations,  but  she  plays  a  very  secondary  part  therein  to  the 
Magdalene  and  even  to  Salome.  The  last  thing  to  be  noticed  in 
this  most  remarkable  fruit  of  a  crazy,  mystic  imagination — it  is 
bard  to  say  whether  more  Kabbalist,  or  Magian,  or  Christian — is 
the  opposed  dualism  of  many  of  the  Powers  introduced  as  agents 
in  the  economy  of  the  universe :  for  example,  there  is  an 
obedient  and  a  rebellious  Adamas  (that  highest  name  with  the 
earlier  Naaseni),  a  great  and  a  little  Sabaoth,  and  similar 
antitheses  to  be  met  with  also  in  the  later  Ophite  schemes. 


This  most  ancient  (as  it  professes)  of  the  Hebrew  Scriptures 
being  so  frequently  referred  to  as  the  highest  authority  by  the 
./Eon  Pistis-Sophia,  a  brief  summary  of  its  doctrine  seems  to 
form  the  necessary  complement  to  the  preceding  section.  The 
Book  of  Enoch,  though  often  quoted  by  the  Fathers,  had  been 
lost  ever  since  the  eighth  century  (with  the  exception  of  a  few 
chapters  of  a  Greek  version  preserved  by  Georgius  Syncellus), 
until  Bruce  brought  back  three  copies  of  it  from  Abyssinia.  In 
the  canon  of  that  Church  it  takes  its  place  in  the  Old  Testament 
immediately  before  the  Book  of  Job.* 

*  An     English     translation     was  The  best  German  translation  is  that 

made   by  Dr.   Lawrence,   Bishop  of  of    Dillmann,    1857.      Cf.    Schodtle 

Cashel,  of   which  the  third  edition,  7?oofc  of  Enoch,  1882. 
with   notes,  was  published  in  1837. 


This  book  is  divided  into  ninety  chapters,  and  begins  with 
the  preface :  "  In  the  Name  of  God,  the  merciful  and  gracious, 
slow  to  anger,  and  of  great  mercy,  and  holiness.     This  Book  is 
the  Book  of  Enoch  the  prophet.     May  blessing  and  help  bo 
with  him  who  loves  Him,  for  ever  and  ever.    Amen.    Chapter  I. 
This  word  is  the  blessing  of  Enoch  with  which  ho  blessed  the 
chosen  and  the  righteous  that  were  of  old.     And  Enoch  lifted 
up  his  voice  and  spoke,  a  holy  man  of  God,  while  his  eyes  wcro 
open,  and  he  saw  a  holy  vision  in  the  heavens,  which  the  angels 
revealed  to  him.     And  I  heard  from  them  everything,  and   I 
understood  what  I  saw."     After  this  follows  the  history  of  the 
angels,  of  their  having  descended  from  heaven,  and    produced 
giants  with  the  daughters  of  men ;  of  their  having  instructed 
them  in  the  arts  of  war,  and  peace,  and  luxury.     The  names  of 
the  leading  angels  are  mentioned,  which  appear  to  be  of  Hebrew 
origin,  but  corrupted  by  Greek  pronunciation.      The  resolution 
of  God  to  destroy  these  is  then  revealed    to  Enoch.      These 
topics  occupy  about  eighteen  chapters.     From  the  eighteenth 
to  the  fiftieth  chapter  Enoch  is  led  by  the  angels  Uriel  and 
Kaphael  through  a  series  of  visions  not  much  connected  with 
the   preceding.     He    saw   the    Burning   Valley   of  the   fallen 
angels,  the  Paradise  of  the  saints,  the  utmost  ends  of  the  earth, 
the  treasuries  of  the  thunder  and  lightning,  winds,  rain,  dew 
and  the  angels  who  presided  over  these.     He  was  led  into  the 
place  of  the  General  Judgment,  saw  the  Ancient  of  Days  on  his 
throne,  and  all  the  kings  of  the  earth  before  him.     At  the  fifty- 
second   chapter,  Noah   is   said   to   have   been   alarmed  at  the 
enormous  wickedness  of  mankind,  and,  fearing  vengeance,  to 
have  implored  the  advice  of  his  great-grandfather.     Enoch  told 
him  that  a  flood  of  water  should  destroy  the  whole  race  of  man, 
and  a  flood  of  fire  punish  the  angels  whom  the  deluge  could 
not  affect.     In  Chapter  L1X.  the   subject  of  the  angels  is  re 
sumed,  Semeiza,  Artukaru,  Arimeoii,  Kakabael,  Tusael,  Kamiel, 
Damdal,  and  others  to  the  number  of  twenty,  appear  at  the  head 
of  the  fallen  spirits,  and  give  fresh  instances  of  their  rebellious 
dispositions.    At  Chapter  LXII.  Enoch  gives  his  son  Methuselah 
a  long  account  of  the  sun,  moon,  stars,  the  year,  the  months, 
the  winds,  and   the  like  physical  phenomena.     This  takes  up 

c  2 



eight  chapters,  after  which  the  Patriarch  makes  a  recapitulation 
of  the  former  pages.  The  remaining  twenty  chapters  are 
employed  on  the  history  of  the  Deluge,  Noah's  preparations  for 
it,  and  the  success  which  attended  them.  The  destruction  of 
all  flesh  excepting  his  family,  and  the  execution  of  divine 
vengeance  on  the  angels,  conclude  the  work. 

Fio.  1. 



To  begin  with  the  received  account  of  the  RISE  AND  PROGRESS 
of  the  Gnostic  philosophy,  for  that  is  its  proper  appellation, 
heresy  being  properly  restricted  to  differences  of  opinion  between 
members  of  one  regularly  established  community,  we  find 
that  as  early  as  the  year  A.D.  35,  the  Samaritans  were  regarding 
Simon  Magus,  as  "  the  Great  Power  of  God,"  and  he  and  his 
disciple  Cerinthus,  are  represented  by  the  Christian  Fathers  as 
the  actual  founders  of  Gnosticism,  under  that  accepted  name. 

Of  the  former,  Hippolytus  gives  a  history  which  there  is  no 
reason  for  not  accepting  as  correct  in  the  main  particulars.  He 
was  a  native  of  Gitteh,  in  the  province  of  Samaria,  and  com 
menced  his  career,  and  soon  acquired  great  influence  amongst 
his  countrymen,  by  practising  magic  after  the  "  Thrasymedian 
method  "  (i.e.  jugglery,  as  previously  described  by  Hippolytus), 
nay  more,  by  working  miracles  "  through  the  agency  of  devils." 
Having  fallen  in  love  with  a  beautiful  courtezan  at  Tyre,  rue 
bought  her  from  her  owner,  and  always  carried  her  about  with 
him,  declaring  that  she  was  the  "  Intelligence  "  (vEi/vota)  that  of 
old  was  imprisoned  in  the  body  of  the  Grecian  Helen,  then  of  the 
Lost  Sheep,  but  now  was  restored  to  him  for  the  salvation  of  the 
world.  Even  before  the  preaching  of  Christianity  he  had  set 
up  for  a  teacher  of  a  new  religion,  plagiarised  from  Moses  and 
Heraclitus  the  "  Obscure,"  based  upon  the  axiom  that  Fire  was 
the  First  Principle  of  all  things,  subordinate  to  which  were  the 
"  Six  Radicals  "  :  a  curiously  compounded  mixture  of  Judaism 
and  Magism,  of  which  Hippolytus  gives  a  full  though  not  very 
intelligible  summary.  "  This  Simon,  after  he  had  ransomed 
Helen,  granted  salvation  unto  men  by  means  of  his  own  know 
ledge.  For  inasmuch  as  the  angels  had  governed  the  world  ill 
by  reason  of  their  own  ambitiousness,  he  pretended  that  he  was 
come  to  set  all  things  right ;  and  having  changed  his  form  and 
made  himself  like  to  the  Principalities,  the  Powers,  and  the 


Angels,  wherefore  it  was  that  he  showed  himself  in  the  form  of 
man  although  not  a  man  at  all,  and  had  suffered  the  Passion  in 
Juda3a,  although  he  had  not  really  suffered  it;  moreover,  that 
lie  had  manifested  himself  to  the  Jews  as  the  Son,  in  Samaria 
as  the  Father,  and  amongst  the  Gentiles  in  other  parts  as  the 
Holy  Ghost;  but  he  submitted  to  be  called  by  whatsoever 
name  they  pleased.  The  Prophets  were  inspired  by  the  Angels, 
creators  of  the  world,  when  they  delivered  their  prophecies ;  on 
which  account  they  that  believe  in  Simon  and  Helen  pay  no 
regard  to  them  (the  Prophets)  even  in  our  times  :  and  they  do 
whatever  they  please,  pretending  that  they  are  redeemed 
through  his  grace."  ..."  Now  this  same  Simon,  when  he  was 
by  his  magic  arts  deceiving  many  in  Samaria,  was  confuted  by 
the  Apo-stles,  and  having  been  cursed  by  them,  he  afterwards 
fell  from  his  reputation  and  invented  these  fables.  At  last, 
having  travelled  to  Rome,  ho  again  ran  against  the  Apostles, 
and  Peter  had  many  encounters  with  him  when  he  was  seducing 
'multitudes  through  his  magical  practices.  Finally,  having  gone 
into  the  land  of  Persia,  ho  took  up  his  abode  under  a  plane-tree, 
mid  there  preached  his  doctrine.  But  at  last,  when  he  was  on 
the  point  of  being  convicted  for  an  impostor,  in  consequence  of 
his  making  too  long  a  stay  in  the  same  place,  he  gave  out  that, 
if  he  were  buried  alive,  he  would  rise  again  on  the  third  day. 
And  iti  truth,  having  caused  a  pit  to  be  dug  by  his  disciples 
lie  commanded  himself  to  be  covered  over  with  earth.  They 
therefore  did  what  he  commanded  them,  but  he  never  came 
back  unto  this  day,  inasmuch  as  he  was  not  a  Christ.  Now  this 
is  the  story  told  concerning  Simon,  from  whom  Valentinus 
borrowed  his  first  ideas,  but  called  them  by  different  names. 
For  '  Mind,'  and  '  Truth,'  and  ' the  Word,'  and  *  Life,'  and  '  the 
(  'liurcli,'  and  *  Man,'  the  ^Eons  of  Valentinus,  are  confessedly 
the  Six  Radicals  of  Simon,  namely,  *  Mind,  Intelligence,  Voice, 
Name,  Eeason,  and  Thought.'  " 

But  to  go  on  with  the  series  of  teachers — this  counter- 
apostolical  succession — Simon  was  followed  by  Menander,  he  by 
Basilides  at  Alexandria,  who,  dying  about  A.D.  138,  was  replaced 
by  Valentinus,  born  of  Jewish  parentage  in  the  same  city.  This 
last  is  styled  by  Ireneeus  "  Chief  of  the  Gnostics,"  on  account 


of  the  importance  and  wide  diffusion  of  his  doctrines  even 
during  his  own  lifetime.  In  Syria  other  sects  were  being 
founded  contemporaneously  with  these,  taking  their  names 
from  Marcion  and  Bardesanes,  both  of  whom  tradition  represents 
as  Persians  by  origin,  and  consequently  Magians  by  religious 
training.  The  latter  is  by  some  called  a  native  of  Pontus,  a 
circumstance,  however,  making  no  difference  as  to  the  source 
of  his  opinions,  that  region  being  confessedly  the  seat  of 
Mithraicism,  and  ruled  over  by  a  line  claiming  descent  from 
the  first  Darius,  or  a  satrap  of  his.  It  is  needless  to  enumerate 
here  the  founders  of  less  important  sects,  until  we  come  to  the 
uprising  of  Manes,  author  of  the  most  daring  and  most 
permanent  theosophy  of  them  all,  which  fought  twice  over 
so  long  and  obstinate  a  battle  with  the  Catholic  faith.  This 
sect,  its  origin,  and  tenets,  on  account  of  the  curiosity  of  its 
doctrines,  and  the  immense  influence  that  they  exerted  over  the 
ancient  and  mediaeval  world,  will  be  considered  at  length  in 
another  chapter ;  as  will  also  the  Opliites  whose  name  figures 
so  conspicuously  in  the  history  of  the  primitive  Church. 

What  has  been  mentioned  above  with  respect  to  the  countries 
producing  the  founders  of  all  these  sects — Egypt,  Syria,  or 
Persia — leads  us  to  expect  to  find  one  common  principle 
pervading  the  systems  of  all,  and  such  is  most  probably  the 
case.  The  fundamental  doctrine  held  in  common  by  all  the 
chiefs  of  the  Gnosis  was,  that  the  whole  creation  was  not  the 
work  of  the  Supreme  Deity,  but  of  the  Demiurgus,  a  simple 
Emanation,  and  several  degrees  removed  from  the  highest  power. 
To  the  latter,  indeed,  styled  by  them  the  "  Unknown  Father  " 
(or  as  Simon  first  designated  him  "  The  Boundless  Power,"  and 
"  The  Root  of  all  Things"),  they  attributed  the  creation  of  the 
intellectual  world — that  is,  the  Intelligences,  the  ^Eons,  and  the 
Angels — whilst,  to  the  Demiurgus  they  referred  the  creation  of 
the  World  of  Matter,  subject  to  imperfection  from  its  very  nature. 
But  in  order  clearly  to  understand  the  grand  principles  under 
lying  these  doctrines,  it  is  absolutely  necessary  to  possess  the 
main  features  of  the  older  systems  from  which  these  same 
doctrines  were  principally  borrowed  ;  these  systems  being  that 
of  the  Zendavesta,  of  the  Kabbala  (which  is  little  more  than  a 


translation  of  the  same),  and  of  the  reformed  Brahminical 
religion  as  taught  by  the  Buddhist  missionaries  in  the 
dominions  of  the  Syro-Macedonians,  or  picked  up  in  India 
by  Alexandrian  merchants  visiting  the  emporia  of  Guzerat 
for  the  sake  of  trade. 

Although  to  express  their  ideas  visibly  upon  their  monuments 
(the  elucidation  of  which  is  the  special  object  of  this  treatise) 
the  Gnostics  largely  borrowed  the  images  and  symbols  of  the 
ancient  Egyptian  mythology  (especially  those  connected  with 
the  Agathodaemon,  the  Solar  god  lao,  and  the  guide  of  souls, 
the  jackal-headed  Anubis),  yet  these  figures  were  employed  in  a 
new  sense,  unless  indeed  we  suppose  (what  is  probable  enough) 
that  their  esoteric  meaning  had  been  from  the  very  beginning 
similar  to  that  published  by  the  teachers  of  the  new  faith. 
This  last  explanation  was  in  fact  the  perpetual  boast  of 
Valeiitinus,  and  runs  through  every  article  of  his  theosophy  as 
we  read  it  in  the  interesting  summary  given  by  Hippolytus ; 
and  again,  it  must  never  be  forgotten,  for  it  is  the  key  to  many 
of  the  seeming  contradictions  in  the  different  systems  about  to 
be  passed  in  review,  that  Greek  and  Jew  carried  with  them 
their  ancient  quarrel  into  the  new  field  of  the  Gnosis.  The 
former  exalts  the  Bacchic  Serpent,  whilst  he  makes  Sabaoth  little 
bettor  than  a  demon;  the  latter  continues  to  abominate  the 
Serpent  as  the  impersonation  of  Satan,  but  his  Sabaoth  is  the 
"  Great  and  Good  "  (as  Pistis-Sophia  perpetually  entitles  him), 
the  defender  of  the  believer's  soul  against  the  malignant  "  JEons 
of  the  Sphere,"  and  the  influence  of  Judaism  radiating  from  its 
second  focus,  the  school  of  Alexandria,  was  so  much  more 
powerful  than  ordinary  readers  of  history  have  ever  suspected, 
that  a  few  remarks  upon  this  very  curious  subject  will  form  a 
useful  introduction  to  our  consideration  of  its  later  philosophy. 


People  in  these  times  are  still  so  influenced  by  the  ideas 
engendered  by  the  fifteen  centuries  of  ecclesiastical  regime,  during 
which  hatred  and  contempt  for  the  Jewish  race  formed  an 


important   Christian   virtue,  that   they  entirely  overlook   the 
influence  exercised  by  Judaism  over  the  minds  of  the  heathen 
world  so  long  as  the  Temple  stood,  and  the  national  worship  was 
celebrated  there  in  all  its  glory.     When  the  Komans,  by  their 
conquest  of  Syria,  and  soon  after  of  Egypt,  came  into  direct 
contact  with  the  Jewish  nation,  although  they  disliked  them 
individually,  yet  they  conceived  an  intense  admiration  for  their 
ancient,  mysterious,  and  solemn  worship.     But,  in  fact,  every 
institution,  hallowed  by  the  stamp  of  antiquity,  immediately 
commanded    the   respect   of    the   genuine   old    Roman.      The 
Emperors  lost  no  time  in  gaining  a  new  patron,  of  mighty  and 
undefined  power,  in  Jehovali,  by  instituting  a  daily  sacrifice  to 
be  ever  offered  at  their  own  cost  on  behalf  of  themselves  and 
empire.     The  discontinuance  of  this  sacrifice,  by  the  faction  of 
the  Zealots  which  had  taken  possession  of  the  Temple,  is  noted 
by  Josephus  as  the  consummating  act  of  the  great  revolt  and 
attempt  to  re-establish  independence,  which  brought  down  final 
destruction  upon  Zion.     To  give  a  few  examples  of  the  hold 
Judaism  had  taken  upon  the  imaginations  of  the  highest  classes 
in  Rome,  whence  its  vastly  magnified  power  over  the  minds  of 
the  vulgar,  may  be  calculated  according  to  the  well-known  rule 
of  proportion  in  such  matters.     To  mark  Augustus'  freedom 
from   superstition,  Suetonius  quotes  the   circumstance   of  his 
highly  commending  the  conduct  of  his  grandson  Caius,  his  heir 
apparent,  because — during  his  visit  to  Egypt  and  Palestine — he 
had  forborne  to  visit  Apis  in  the  one  and  the  Temple  in  the 
other  country.     Putting  the  two  religions  in  this  way  upon  an 
equality,  of  itself  demonstrates  the  high  place  then  held   by 
the    Jewish    in    popular    estimation ;    for   by   that    time    the 
Egyptian,  as  the  chapter  upon  the  Serapis-worship  will  show, 
had  to  a  great  extent  superseded  the  worship  of  the  national 
deities  of  Koine.      Fuscus   Aristius,  a  friend  of  Horace's,  and 
therefore   to   be   supposed   a   person    of    consequence    and    of 
education,  makes  it  his  excuse  for  not  attending  to  a  business- 
matter,  that  the  day  happened  to  be  the  Sabbath,  and  that  "  ho 
was  a  little  superstitious,  like  many  others." 

The  influence  and  numbers  of  the  Jews  actually  residing  at 
Rome   under   the   Republic   is    strikingly   exhibited   by   some 


observations  of  Cicero  in  his  oration  in  defence  of  Flaccus. 
Flaccus,  when  commanding  in  Asia,  had  prohibited  the  sending 
of  money  to  Jerusalem.  This  money  can  only  mean  the  tribute 
paid  by  each  adult  Jew  to  the  Temple,  of  half  a  shekel,  or  two 
drachmas  a  head.  Flaccus  seized  the  money  that  had  been 
collected  for  the  purpose  in  defiance  of  his  edict,  amounting  at 
Apamea  to  nearly  one  hundred  pounds  weight  of  gold,  at 
Laodicea  to  twenty.  The  only  gold  piece  of  the  age  being  the 
stater,  current  for  twenty-five  drachma3,  and  of  the  weight  of  fifty 
to  the  pound,  these  collections  would  give  us  fifty  thousand 
tribute-payers  at  the  former  city,  and  ten  thousand  at  the  other. 
The  orator  considers  this  "  auri  Judaici  invidia  "  so  damaging 
to  his  cause,  that  he  explains  the  circumstances  in  a  whisper  to 
the  jurymen,  in  order  not  to  excite  the  indignation  of  the  Jews 
amongst  his  audience.  He  actually  declares  that  Flaccus's 
enemies  had  managed  that  his  cause  should  be  tried  in  that 
particular  court  in  order  to  have  the  aid  of  the  Jews  domiciled 
in  that  quarter  of  Koine,  to  intimidate  the  jury,  and  so  gain  a 
verdict  against  him.  "  Sequitur  auri  ilia  invidia  Judaici.  Hoc 
niinirum  est  illud,  quod  non  longe  a  gradibus  Aureliis  ha3C  causa 
dicitur.  Ob  hoc  crirnen  hie  locus  abs  te,  Laoli,  atque  ilia  turba 
quaisita  est.  Scis  quanta  sit  rnanus,  quanta  concordia,  quantum 
valeat  in  concionibus.  Submissa  voce  agani,  tantum  ut  judices 
audiant.  Neque  enim  desunt  qui  istos  in  me  atque  in  optimum 
quemque  inciteiit,  quos  ego  quo  id  facilius  faciant  non  adjuvabo." 
(Chapter  XXYIII.)  And  what  is  still  more  surprising  this 
influence  continued  to  work  even  after  the  fall  of  Jerusalem, 
and  the  extinction  of  the  people  as  a  nation.  Spartianus  mentions 
that  Severus  in  his  tour  of  investigation  throughout  Asia,  when 
he  forbade  people  to  turn  Christians,  extended  the  same  inter 
dict  to  the  Jewish  religion  also.  Again,  to  show  the  natural 
good-heartedness  of  Caracalla,  he  instances  his  indignation  on 
account  of  the  severe  flogging  which  a  boy,  his  playfellow,  had 
received  from  his  father,  with  the  emperor's  approbation,  on  the 
score  of  his  Judaising.  The  circumstances  of  the  friendship 
point  out  that  the  boy  thus  made  a  "  confessor  "  must  have 
belonged  to  one  of  the  best  families  of  Rome.  Such  a  position 
yet  retained  by  the  religion  of  Abraham  is  uluio»t  inconceivable 


at  that  late  period,  when  it  had,  besides  the  vigorous  and  ever- 
increasing  growth  of  Christianity,  to  contend  with  the  varieties 
of  the  Gnosis  which  suited  themselves  to  every  taste,  and  in  many 
instances  had  sprung  immediately  out  of  herself  (not  out  of  her 
hated  daughter  and  rival),  and  by  their  union  with  heathen 
philosophy,  were  naturally  more  attractive  to  the  Gentiles  than 
the  original  parent.     Even  at  the  time  when  one  would  have 
expected    the   prejudice   against    anything   belonging   to   that 
nation  to  have  been  the  most  violent  amongst  the  Romans,  we 
find  Vespasian,  the  actual  destroyer  of  their  national  existence, 
erecting  a  statue  in  the  most  honourable  of  all  situations,  to 
an  Alexandrian  Jew,   Tiberius,  who  had  assisted  him  in  his 
attempt  to  gain  the  empire,  in  some  manner  not  recorded,  but 
possibly  in  his  capacity  of  the   Rothschild  of  the  age  by  an 
opportune  loan.     It   is   true  that  Juvenal  cannot   repress  his 
indignation  of  all  this  prostitution  to  a  foreigner  of  an  honour 
before  confined  to  the  most  eminent  of  his  countrymen,  and 
hints  it  to  bo  the  duty  of  every  true  Roman  to  express  his  sense 
of  the  injury  by  committing  nuisances  under  the  very  nose  of 
the  statue. 

"  Atqiie  triumphales,  inter  quos  ausus  habere 
Nescio  quis  titulos  yEgyptius  atquc  Alabarchcs, 
Cujus  ad  effigicin  non  tantum  meicrc  fas  cst." — I.  130. 

In  the  third  century  we  find  the  model  emperor,  Severus 
Alexander,  setting  up  the  image  of  Abraham  by  the  side  of 
Christ  and  Orpheus,  all  considered  as  the  divinely-inspired 
founders  of  the  several  schools  of  mystery  (or  to  go  to  the 
probable  root  of  the  belief,  as  so  many  different  Buddlias),  in 
the  most  holy  recess  of  his  domestic  chapel.  A  little  research 
amongst  the  annals  of  the  later  emperors  would  no  doubt, 
furnish  many  other  examples  of  the  hold  taken  by  various 
particulars  of  the  Jewish  creed,  in  its  Babylonian  and 
Alexandrian  phases,  upon  the  religious  notions  of  the  Romans 
The  fact  is  easily  accounted  for,  when  men's  ideas  upon  the 
nature  of  the  soul,  of  God's  Government,  and  of  a  future  state, 
are  entirely  vague,  as  were  those  of  the  educated  heathen  of 
those  times,  when  (old  traditions  being  discarded  as  mere 
unsatisfying  poetical  fables)  they  attempted  to  build  up  systems 


that  should  explain  every  difficulty  by  the  help  of  reason  and 
philosophy  alone,  although  destitute  of  any  solid  grounds  upon 
which  to  lay  the  first  foundation  of  the  fabric.  Things  being 
in  this  state,  a  religion  venerable  by  its  antiquity  (itself  an 
impenetrable  shield  against  the  shafts  of  infidelity,  as  even 
Tacitus  concedes:  "Hi  ritus,  quoquo  modo  inducti,  antiquitate 
defenduntur  "  Hist.  v.  5),  possessing  a  complete  system  that  solved 
every  problem  by  a  professedly  divine  revelation,  totally  setting 
itself  above  reason  and  human  experience,  but  proclaiming  un 
questioning  credence  as  the  most  meritorious  of  virtues,  such  a 
religion  could  not  but  gain  the  victory  over  its  disorderly  and 
discordant  competitors,  which  had  nothing  but  arguments 
deduced  from  probabilities  and  analogies  wherewith  to  oppose 
it.  The  same  contest  we  behold  passing  under  our  own  eyes ; 
Roman  Catholicism  with  its  doctrines  overthrown,  exploded, 
rejected  by  reason,  learning,  and  philosophy,  for  the  space  of 
three  centuries,  is  again  rapidly  bringing  back  into  her  fold  her 
lost  sheep,  which,  having  wandered  through  the  tempting  ways 
of  Protestantism,  and  of  philosophy  or  infidelity,  however  people 
choose  to  call  it,  and  unable  to  discover  any  reason  that  will  bear 
the  test  for  standing  fast  at  any  ultimate  point  as  the  absolute 
truth,  at  last  return  weary  and  disappointed  to  whence  they 
started,  and  find  it  conducive  to  peace  of  mind  to  accept  assertion 
for  demonstration,  and  the  age  of  a  tenet  as  equivalent  to  its 

There  is  yet  another  consideration  that  is  of  great  importance 
in  the  present  inquiry,  which  is  the  close  affinity  between  the 
Judaism  of  this  period  and  Magism,  the  extent  of  which  will 
be  pointed  out  in  the  following  sections  when  we  come  to  speak 
of  the  Talmud.  Remembering  how  much  of  the  machinery  of 
the  one  was  borrowed  from  the  other,  there  is  little  cause  for 
astonishment  at  discovering  that  what  are  generally  considered 
peculiarly  Jewish  titles  of  Deity  upon  relics,  may  rather  be 
attributed  to  a  Magian  source. 

The  three  circumstances  thus  briefly  adduced — namely,  the 
direct  influence  of  the  religion  of  Zion  as  a  "  mystery  "  of  the 
most  venerable  antiquity,  vying  with  those  of  Egypt  and  of 
Babylon  ;  its  subsequent  indirect  influence  through  its  offshoots 


(which  left  its  visible  impress  upon  things  tangible) ;  the 
virtue  of  its  connection  with  the  creed  of  the  Magi,  the  secret 
priesthood,  or  rather,  freemasons  of  the  ancient  world;  these 
are  the  things  solving  the  difficulty  that  must  have  struck  any 
inquiring  mind  when  beginning  to  study  the  so-called  Gnostic 
remains.  From  the  foregoing  considerations,  at  least  a  plausible 
reason  may  bo  gathered  for  the  fact  of  the  Hebrew  names  of  the 
Deity,  and  of  his  angels,  and  of  the  patriarchs,  so  perpetually 
being  repeated  on  works  presenting  the  figures  of  genii  and 
of  astral  spirits— forms  of  idol-monsters  the  most  repugnant, 
one  would  have  thought,  to  the  feelings  of  the  worshippers  of 
those  sacred  names,  profaned  by  such  union ;  and  imagery,  from 
beholding  which  the  true  follower  of  Moses  must  certainly  have 
recoiled  in  horror. 


The  Zendavesta,  literally  "  text  and  comment,"  is  the  doctrine 
of  Zoroaster  (Zaratltmstra),  comprised  in  eight  parts,  written  at 
different  periods,  but  of  which  the  earliest  have  been  assigned  to 
the  date  of  B.C.  1200-1000.  In  its  present  form  it  was  collected 
by  Ardeshir,  the  founder  of  the  Sassanian  dynasty,  from  oral 
tradition,  at  the  time  when  he  re-established  the  ancient  religion 
of  Persia. 

In  this  revelation  the  Supreme  Being  is  called  "Boundless 
Time  "  (Zarvana  Akarana\  because  to  him  no  beginning  can  be 
assigned;  he  is  so  surrounded  by  his  own  glory,  and  so  far 
exalted  beyond  all  human  comprehension,  that  he  can  only  be 
the  object  of  silent  veneration.  The  beginning  of  creation  was 
made  by  means  of  Emanations.  The  first  emanation  of  the 
Eternal  One  was  Light,  whence  issued  Ormuzd  (Ahuramazda),  the 
King  of  Light.  Ormuzd  is  styled  the  Firstborn  of  Boundless 
Time ;  and  the  "  Fcrouer  "  of  him,  or  Pre-existing  Soul  (type 
or  idea  in  Platonic  phrase),  had  existed  from  all  eternity  within 
the  primitive  Light.  By  means  of  his  "Word,"  Ormuzd 
created  the  pure  world  of  which  he  is  the  preserver  and  the 


judge.  Next,  he  created  in  his  own  image  the  six  Amshaspands, 
who  stand  about  his  throne,  and  are  his  agents  with  the  lower 
spirits,  and  with  mankind,  whose  prayers  they  offer  up  to  him, 
and  to  whom  they  serve  for  models  of  perfection.  These  Am- 
shaspands,  of  whom  Ormuzd  is  the  first,  thus  making  up  the 
mystic  number  seven,  are  of  both  sexes,  and  the  Gnostics 
adopted  them,  as  we  shall  see  further  on,  into  their  own 
systems,  with  the  same  distinction  of  sex.  The  next  series  of 
emanations  were  the  Izeds,  twenty -eight  in  number,  of  whom 
Mithras  is  the  chief.  Like  the  superior  order,  they  watch  over 
the  purity  and  happiness  of  the  world,  of  which  they  are  the 
genii  and  guardians.  The  principal  names  amongst  them  are 
Vohu-mano,  Mazda,  Asha,  Vayu  (Ventus),  Geusurvi  (Soul  of  the 
Earth),  Sraosha  (who  exactly  answers,  in  point  of  duties,  to  the 
Grecian  Hermes  and  Jewish  Gabriel,  for  he  carries  the  mandates 
of  Ormuzd,  and  conveys  up  to  him  the  souls  of  the  righteous). 

The  third  series,  the  Fcrouers,  are  in  number  infinite.  These 
are  the  Thoughts  or  "  Ideas  "  conceived  in  the  mind  of  Ormuzd 
l>ofore  he  proceeded  to  tlig  creation  of  things.  They  are  the 
protectors  of  mankind  during  this  mortal  life,  and  will  purify 
their  souls  on  the  Day  of  the  Besurrection. 

The  creation  of  these  chiefs,  with  their  angelic  hosts,  had 
become  necessary.  Ahriman,  the  Second-born  of  the  Eternal 
One — like  Ormuzd,  an  emanation  from  the  Primal  Light,  and 
equally  pure,  but  ambitious  and  full  of  pride — had  become 
jealous  of  the  Firstborn.  On  this  account  the  Supreme  Being 
condemned  him  to  inhabit  for  twelve  thousand  years  the  space 
that  is  illumined  by  no  ray  of  light — the  black  empire  of 
Darkness.  This  interval  will  suffice  to  decide  the  struggle 
between  Light  and  Darkness,  between  Good  and  Evil.  Ahriman, 
in  order  to  oppose  his  rival,  created  in  his  turn  three  series  of 
evil  spirits,  corresponding  in  number,  and  antagonistic  in  office, 
to  each  one  of  the  good,  and,  like  them,  male  and  female.  The 
first  series  is  that  of  the  Arch-Dem,  chained  each  one  to  his 
respective  planet,  and  of  whom  the  chief  is  Astomogt,  "  the  two- 
footed  Serpent  of  lies."  These  Devs  are  the  authors  of  all  evil, 
both  physical  and  moral,  throughout  the  universe. 

Ormuzd,  after  a  reign  of  three  thousand  years,  then  created 


the  Animal  World  in  six  periods,  creating  first  light— a  faint 
image  of  the  Light  celestial — then  water,  earth,  plants,  beasts, 
and  lastly,  man.  Ahriman  had  concurred  in  the  creation  of 
earth  and  water,  for  Darkness  being  already  inherent  in  these 
two  elements,  Ormuzd  was  unable  to  exclude  its  nature  from 

Ormuzd  had  produced  by  his  Word  a  being  the  type  and 
source  of  universal  life  for  all  creation  ;  this  being  was  called 
Life,  or  the  Bull  (the  same  word  in  Zend  stands  for  both). 
This  creature  Ahriman  contrived  to  destroy,  but  out  of  its 
scattered  seed  Ormuzd,  through  the  agency  of  the  Amshaspand 
Saphandomad  (Wisdom),  formed  the  first  human  pair,  Meschia 
and  Meschiano.  This  couple  Ahriman,  by  a  bribe  of  fruits  and 
milk,  succeeded  in  corrupting,  having  gained  over  the  female 
first.  Then,  to  all  the  good  animals  made  by  Ormuzd,  ho 
opposed,  by  his  own  creation,  as  many  mischievous  and  venomous 
ones.  The  struggle  still  goes  on ;  the  Power  of  Darkness  often 
is  the  superior,  but  the  pure  souls  are  assisted  and  defended  by 
the  good  genii,  and  will  ultimate!^  triumph.  For  when  things 
shall  seem  at  their  worst,  and  Evil  all-powerful  in  the  creation, 
three  prophets  shall  appear  and  restore  the  lost  Light.  One  of 
these,  Sosioch,  shall  regenerate  the  world  and  restore  it  to  its 
pristine  excellence.  Then  comes  the  general  Resurrection, 
when  the  good  shall  immediately  enter  into  this  happy  abode— 
the  regenerated  earth,  and  Ahriman,  together  with  his  angels 
and  the  wicked,  be  purified  by  immersion  in  a  lake  of  molten 
metal,  so  as  to  render  them  fitting  members  of  the  new  kingdom. 
Thenceforth  all  will  enjoy  unchangeable  happiness,  and,  headed 
by  Sosioch,  ever  sing  the  praises  of  the  Eternal  One. 

The  religion  of  Zoroaster  was  a  reformed  version  of  the 
ancient  creed  held  by  the  inhabitants  of  Eritene  in  Bactria. 
For  it  is  probable  that  the  first  gods  of  the  Aryan  race  before 
it  split  into  Indian  and  Zend,  were  the  powers  of  Nature, 
Indra,  thunder,  Mithra,  sunlight,  Vayu,  wind,  Agni,  fire,  Armaiti, 
earth,  Soma,  intoxication.  The  worship  of  the  last  may  have 
been  the  source  of  the  Dionysia,  introduced  from  India,  as  the 
Greeks  themselves  always  asserted.  These  powers  were  called 
Almras  and  Devas  indifferently  ;  but  Zoroaster  reduced  all  these 


powers  to  the  secondary  rank  of  angels,  and  used  the  name  Dcvas 
in  a  bad  sense  only.  The  Zoroastrian  was  the  established  re 
ligion  of  the  Persians  at  the  time  when  they  conquered  Assyria ; 
and  to  a  great  extent  it  superseded  the  material  idolatry  of 
the  Babylonians,  whose  gods  Darius  and  Xerxes  melted  down 
without  any  scruple.  But  Matter  is  of  opinion  that  the  College 
of  Magi,  established  long  before  the  Persian  conquest  of  Babylon, 
accepted  the  new  religion  upon  the  change  of  masters,  retaining 
nothing  of  the  old  besides  Astrology  and  Divination. 

It  must  not  bo  forgotten  how  large  a  portion  of  the  Jewish 
captivity  remained  permanently  in  Assyria — only  two  tribes, 
Judah  and  Levi,  having  been  sent  back  to  Jerusalem  by  Cyrus ; 
and  Babylon  long  continued  the  seat  of  a  most  flourishing 
Kabbinical  school,  whilst  Judea  itself,  down  to  the  time  of  the 
Macedonian  conquest,  remained  a  province  of  the  Persian 
Empire.  How  important  a  part  of  the  Persian  population 
at  a  much  later  period  were  either  Jews,  or  under  Jewish 
influence,  appears  from  the  very  remarkable  assertion  of  Jose- 
phus,  "  that  his  nation  were  encouraged  to  brave  all  extremities 
in  their  final  struggle  against  the  power  of  Rome  by  the 
confident  expectation  of  aid  from  their  brethren  beyond  the 
Euphrates."  And  three  centuries  later  Ammianus  notices 
that  Julian's  invading  army  came  upon  a  city  entirely  in 
habited  by  Jews  in  the  very  centre  of  Persia.  After  the 
captivity,  the  principal  literary  establishments  of  the  Jews 
appear  to  have  been  seated  in  central  Asia.  The  schools  of 
Nahardea,  of  Sora,  of  Punbiditha,  were  at  least  as  famous  as  the 
schools  of  Palestine  (cf.  Jos.  Ant.  xviii.  12).  The  latter  even 
appear  to  have  paid  a  sort  of  filial  deference  to  these  foundations  : 
the  Chaldee  version  of  the  Pentateuch,  made  by  Onkelos  of 
Babylon,  was  accepted  as  the  authorised  version  by  all  the  Jews 
living  in  Palestine ;  and  the  Eabbi  Hillel,  coming  from  that 
capital  to  Jerusalem,  was  received  by  the  doctors  of  the  Holy 
City  as  an  ornament  of  the  same  national  school,  and  this  only 
a  few  years  before  the  birth  of  Christ.  From  all  these  circum 
stances  it  is  easy  to  perceive  how  much  of  the  Zoroastrian 
element  may  have  pervaded  the  Jewish  religion  at  the  time  of 
the  promulgation  of  Christianity,  when  its  principal  teachers 


were  the  Pharisees  or  "  separatists,"  if,  indeed,  their  doctors 
did  not  actually  get  their  appellation  from  the  word  Pharsi, 
"Persian" — an  etymology  that  has  something  to  recommend 
it.  These  doctrines,  as  then  taught,  are  set  forth  in  the 
Kabbala,  or  "  Traditions,"  so  called  from  Kalbal,  "  to  receive  " 
— the  main  features  of  which  shall  be  sketched  in  the  following 


The  origin  of  the  Kal/b.ala  is  placed  by  most  authors  much 
later  than  that  of  Christianity  ;  and,  indeed,  it  is  not  impossible 
that  its  doctrines  may  have  received  great  developments  after 
that  epoch ;  *  nevertheless,  the  elements  of  them  go  back  to  n 
much  more  remote  antiquity.  The  Book  of  Daniel  bears  the 
most  conspicuous  traces  of  this  antiquity,  and  to  the  attestation 
of  this  record  are  added  other  proofs  no  less  convincing.  The 
idea  of  Emanation  is,  so  to  speak,  the  soul,  the  essential  element 
of  the  Kabbala  ;  it  is  likewise,  as  we  have  already  seen,  the 
essential  character  of  Zoroastrism.  We  may  therefore  consider 

that  it  was  through  their  very  intimate  connection  with  Persia 

that  the  Jews  imbibed  that  idea. 

According  to  the  Kabbala,  as  according   to   the  Zendavesta, 

all  that  exists  has   emanated   from  the  source  of  the   Infinite 


Before  all  things  existed  the  Primal  Being,  the  "Ancient  of 

Days,"  the  eternal  King  of  Light.     This  King  of  Light  is  the 

All;  he  is  the  real  cause  of  all  existence ;   he  is  the  Infinite 

(En  Soph) ;  he  alone  is  He,  there  is  in  him  no  Thou  •  but  he 

cannot  be  known,  "  he  is  a  closed  Eye." 

The  universe  is  the  revelation  of  the  King  of  Light,  and  only 

subsists  in  Him.     His  qualities  are  manifested  in  it,  variously 

modified  and  in  different  degrees ;   it  is  therefore  his  "  Holy 

*  The  tradition  is  that  it  was  first       for  the  space   of  cloven  years,  the 
committed  to  writing  by  Simon  Ben       whole  of  which  he  devoted  to  tins 
Jochai,    who,    being   proscribed    by       work,  in  which, he  was  nan 
Titus,  concealed  himself  in  a  cavern       the  prophet  Elfau. 



Splendour  " — the  mantle,  as  it  were,  wherewith  he  must  be 
clothed  in  silence.  All  is  an  emanation  from  this  Being ;  the 
nearer  therefore  that  any  approaches  to  him,  the  more  perfect 
is  it?  and  the  less  so  does  it  become  as  it  recedes  from  him : 
this  idea  of  gradation  is  eminently  Persian.  Before  the  creation 
of  the  world,  the  Primal  Light  filled  all,  so  that  there  was  no 
void  at  all ;  but  when  the  Supreme  Being,  residing  within  this 
Light,  resolved  to  display  and  manifest  his  perfection,  he 
retired  within  himself,  and  formed  around  him  a  void  space. 
Into  this  void  he  let  fall  his  first  emanation — a  ray  of  the 
Light,  which  is  the  cause  and  principle  of  all  existence,  uniting 
in  itself  the  generative  and  conceptive  forces  ;  being  both  father 
and  mother  in  the  sublimest  sense,  pervading  all,  and  without 
which  nothing  can  for  an  instant  subsist. 

From  this  Double  Force,  designated  by  the  first  two  letters 
of  the  name  Jehovah  (Forf,  He  *),  emanated  the  First-born  of 
God,  the  Tiltkun,  or  "  Universal  Type "  (Platonic  Idea),  and 
the  general  container  of  all  beings,  united  within  himself  bv 
means  of  the  Primal  Ray.  lie  is  the  creator,  preserver,  and 
prime  animator  of  the  world.  He  is  the  "  Light  of  light," 
possessing  the  three  primitive  forces  of  the  Godhead :  the  light, 
the  spirit,  and  the  life.  Inasmuch  as  he  has  received  what  he 
gives,  the  light  and  the  life,  he  is  considered  as  equally  a 
generative  and  conceptive  principle  as  the  "  Primitive  Man," 
Adam-Kadmon  ;  and  as  man  himself  is  called  the  "  little  world," 
or  the  microcosm,  so  this  Being,  his  Type,  is  properly  designated 
the  "  great  world,"  or  Macrocosm.  In  this  their  Adam-Kadmon, 
the  principle  of  light  and  life,  the  Kabbalists  have  united  the 
attributes  of  the  same  principles  amongst  the  Persians. 

Adam-Kadmon  has  manifested  himself  in  ten  emanations, 
which  are  not  indeed  actual  beings,  but  sources  of  life,  vessels 
of  the  Almighty  Power,  types  of  all  the  creation.  Their  names 
are :  the  Crown,  Wisdom,  Prudence,  Magnificence,  Severity, 
Beauty,  Victory,  Glory,  Foundation,  Empire.  To  Wisdom  they 
gave  the  title  Jah ;  to  Prudence  Jehovah  ;  to  Magnificence  El ; 

*  The  I.  H.  so  conspicuously  placed  nearest  equivalents  the  Greek  alpha- 
on  some  Gnostic  stones  probably  ex-  bet  could  furnish  for  the  Hebrew 
presses  this  name;  as  being  the  letters. 


to  Severity  Elohim ;  to  Victory  and  Glory  Sabaotlt ;  to  Empire 

These  are  all  attributes  of  the  Supreme,  as  displayed  in  Ids 
works,  through  which  alone  it    is   possible  for  the  human  mind 
to  conceive  him.      To  the  same  emanations  the  Kabbalists  give 
other  titles,  which  constantly  present  themselves  in   Gnostic 
inscriptions.     For  example,  the  Croicn  (Parmenides  also  calls 
the  Godhead  Sre'^avos)  nas  tlie  synonym  of  Or,  "  Light,"  (possibly 
the  same  with  Our,  the  name  of  a  Sabean  genius).      Wisdom  is 
called  Nous  and  Logos,  and  is  equivalent  to  the  Sophia  of  Gnos 
ticism  ;  she  has  also  the  names  of  Fear,  Depth  of  thought,  Eden, 
according  to  the  several  passions  that  animate  her.    Prudence  is 
the  "  river  flowing  out  of  Paradise,  the  fountain  of  the  oil  of 
unction."     Magnificence  has  for  symbol  a  lion's  head  ;  Severity,  a 
red   and   black   fire ;   Beauty,    the  colours   green   and    yellow  ; 
the   symbol    of  Beauty  is   an   illuminating   mirror ;   Victory  is 
Jehovah  Sabaoth,  having  for  symbol  the   pillar  on   the  right 
hand,    called   Jachin ;   Glory   has    the    left   pillar   Boaz,    called 
likewise  the  "  Old  Serpent,"   and   sometimes  "  Cherubim  and 
Seraphim  ; "  this  principle  answers  to  the  genius  OpMs  of  the 
Gnostic   systems.     "Jachin"    and    "  Boaz "    signify   Strength 
and  Power  :  they  figure  conspicuously  in  the  symbolism  of  the 
secret  societies  of  modern  times  ;    and  naturally  so,  for  these 
illuminati  have  borrowed  (probably  without  understanding  it) 
all  the  terminology  of   the  Valentinians  and   the    Kabbalists. 
"  Foundation  "  becomes  the  Tree  of  the  knowledge  of  Good  and 
Evil:  also  Noah,  Solomon,  and  the  Messiah— all  which  titles 
merely   express    the    eternal    alliance    existing    between    the 
Supreme  and  all  that  emanates  from  him,  and  in  virtue  whereof 
he  brings  back  into  himself  all  the  souls  that  have  lost  their 
original  purity.     "Empire"  is  the  Consuming  Fire,  the  wife 
of  the    Church— all   three  titles  being   also   employed   in  thu 
Valentinian  system. 

The  relationship  of  the  "  Sephiroth,"  or  yEons,  to  one  another 
the  Kabbalists  represent  by  a  number  of  circles  intersecting  iu  a 
mysterious  manner  ad  infinitum ;  or  again,  by  the  figure  of  a 
Man,  orof  a  Tree,  made  up  of  such  circles.  The  figure  of  the  Man, 
Seir-Anpin,  consists -of  two  hundred  and  forty-three  numbers, 


"bers,  being  the  numerical  value  of  the  letters  in  the  name  Abram, 
and  signifying  the  different  orders  in  the  celestial  hierarchy. 
The  first  idea  of  this  type  was  possibly  borrowed  from  the 
Hindoo  figure  of  Brahma  and  the  several  types  typified  by  the 
different  parts  of  his  body,  to  which  mystical  values  are  still 
attached  by  the  Hindoos. 

The  ten  Sephiroth  served  as  types  or  models  for  the  visible 
Creation ;  and  from  them  emanated  the  Four  Worlds,  Aziluth, 
B'riah,  Jezirah,  and  Asiah  ;  each  world  successively  proceeding 
out  of  the  one  above  it,  and  each  in  succession  enveloping  its 
superior.  A  theory  this,  possibly  borrowed  from  Plato's  de 
scription  of  the  arrangement  of  the  seven  spheres,  as  given 
in  the  "  Vision  of  Er,"  at  the  end  of  his  "  Kepublic,"  where 
he  compares  them  to  a  set  of  the  hemispherical  bowls  used 
by  jugglers,  fitting  into,  and  moving  loosely  within,  each 
other  (lib.  x.  614B,  seq.~). 

These  Four  Worlds  become  less  pure  as  they  descend  in  the 
series ;  the  least  pure  of  all  being  the  material  world.  But 
nothing  is  entirely  material,  for  all  subsists  through  God,  the 
ray  of  his  light  penetrating  through  all  creation  being  the 
Life  of  the  life,  and  consequently  "  all  is  God."  This  universal 
All  is  divided  into  thirty-two  "  Gates,"  the  elements  or  energies 
out  of  which  all  beings  are  formed. 

The  world  Aziluth  is  inhabited  by  the  Parsuphaim,  the  purest 
emanations  of  the  Deity,  having  nothing  material  in  their 
composition.  B'riah  is  possessed  by  an  inferior  order,  who  are 
the  servants  of  Aziluth,  although  still  immaterial  creatures. 
Still  lower  are  the  inhabitants  of  Jezirah,  to  which  world  belong 
the  Cherubim  and  Seraphim,  the  Elohim  and  the  Bene-Elohim. 
But  Asiah  is  peopled  by  gross  material  existences  of  both  sexes, 
the  Klippoth  delighting  in  evil,  whose  chief  is  Belial.  These 
last  beings  are  full  of  ambition,  and  ever  at  war  with  the  pure 
spirits  of  the  superior  worlds,  whose  empire  they  unceasingly 
endeavour  to  usurp. 

The  three  superior  orders  just  described  answer  to  the 
Amshaspaiids,  Izeds,  and  Fravashis,  of  Zoroaster ;  as  do  the 
Klippoth,  in  their  vast  numbers  and  malicious  nature,  to  his 
Devs.  This  discord  did  not  exist  in  the  beginning,  it  was  the 


result  of  a  revolution  in  heaven,  called  the  "  Fall  of  the  Seven 
Kings,"  from  whom*  the  Creator,  as  a  punishment,  extracted  the 
principle  of  good  and  light,  and  bestowed  it  upon  the  inhabi 
tants  of  the  three  superior  spheres. 

This  last  notion  is  common  to  many  forms  of  Gnosticism. 
The  Ophites  make  Achamoth  extract  from  Ildabaoth  and  his 
six  sons  the  inherent  ray  of  Divine  Light,  in  order  to  bestow  it 
upon  Man.  Again,  the  Pistis-Sophia  represents  two  great 
angels,  Melchisedech  and  Zorocothora  (gatherer  of  light)  making 
their  annual  rounds  through  the  rebellious  "  ^Eons  of  the 
sphere  "  (zodiacal  signs),  and  squeezing  out  of  them  all  the  rays 
of  Divine  Light  that  are  still  left  in  their  composition,  which 
havino-  been  all  extracted,  the  fulness  of  time  and  the  kingdom 
of  heaven  are  come  ;  and  so,  according  to  the  Kabbala,  when 
the  contest  shall  have  endured  for  the  space  ordained  from  the 
beginning  of  the  world,  the  Supreme  shall  deliver  the  spirits  in 
Asiah  from  their  material  envelope,  shall  strengthen  the  feeble 
ray  of  his  light  that  is  within  them,  and  shall  establish  its 
pristine  harmony  throughout  all  Creation. 

The  Human  Soul  is  composed  of  all  parts  borrowed  from  each 
of  these  four  worlds.  From  Asiah  it  gets  the  Ncphesh,  or  seat  of 
the  physical  appetites  ;  from  Jezirah  the  Buach,  or  seat  of  the 
passions,  from  Briah  the  Neshamah  or  reason,  and  from  Aziluth 
it  obtains  the  Cliaiali,  or  principle  of  spiritual  life.  This  looks 
like  an  adaptation  of  the  Platonic  theory  of  the  soul's  obtaining 
its  respective  faculties  from  the  Planets  in  its  downward 
progress  through  their  spheres.  But  the  Pistis-Sophia,  with  its 
accustomed  boldness,  puts  this  theory  into  a  much  more  poetical 

*  The    author    of    the    Book    of  consummation  of  heaven  and   earth 

Enoch  alludes  to  the   same  legend :  will  be  the  prison  of  the  stars  and 

"Over   these   fountains   also   I   per-  the    host    of    heaven.       The     stars 

ceived  a  place  which  had  neither  the  which  roll  over  fire  arc  those  who 

firmament  of  heaven   above   it,  nor  transgressed   the  commandments  of 

the    solid    ground    underneath    it;  God   before   their   time  arrived,  for 

neither  was  there  water  above  it,  nor  they  came  not  in  their  proper  season, 

any  thing  on  wing,  but  the  spot  was  Therefore    was    he    offended    with 

desolate.0  And  then  I  beheld  seven  them,  and    bound    them  until   the 

stars  like  great  blazing  mountains,  consummation  of  their  crimes  in  the 

and  like  spirits  entreating  me.   Then  secret  year."— Chap,  xviii. 
the  Angel  said,  this  place  until  the 


shape  (§  282).  The  Inner  Man  is  similarly  made  up  of  four 
constituents,  but  these  are  supplied  by  the  rebellious  ^Eons  of 
the  Sphere,  being  the  Power  (a  particle  of  the  Divine  light 
("Divina3  particula  aurae")  yet  left  in  themselves);  the  Soul 
"  formed  out  of  the  tears  of  their  eyes,  and  the  sweat  of  their 
torments " ;  the  'Ai/Tifu/xov  IIi/ev/xaTos  Counterfeit  of  the  Spirit 
(seemingly  answering  to  our  Conscience)  ;  and  lastly  the  Motpa 
Fate,  whose  business  it  is  to  lead  the  man  to  the  end  appointed 
for  him ;  "  if  he  hath  to  die  by  the  fire,  to  lead  hi  in  into  the  fire  ; 
if  he  hath  to  die  by  a  wild  beast,  to  lead  him  unto  the  wild 
beast,  &c."  But  in  truth  the  entire  sy stem  of  this  most  wondrous 
Gospel  is  a  mixture  of  the  Kabbala  with  the  ideas  of  Magian 
astrology,  clouded  under  the  terminology  of  the  old  Egyptian 
creed,  to  which  belong  its  "  Triple  Powers,"  "  Invisible  Gods," 
and  "  the  Proper  Forms  "  assigned  by  it  to  the  different  ^Eons. 

All  the  human  race  having  sinned  in  the  First  Man,  that  is 
as  regards  their  souls,  all  which  were  necessarily  contained  within 
his  soul  at  the  time  of  the  Fall,  these  souls  are  exiled  hither 
into  prisons  of  Matter,  called  bodies,  in  order  to  expiate  their 
sin,  and  to  exercise  themselves  in  good  during  their  residence 
on  earth.  Such  as  upon  quitting  the  body  are  not  found 
sufficiently  purified  for  entrance  into  Aziluth,  have  to  recom 
mence  their  penance  in  this  world.  Hence  the  question  of  the 
Disciples  whether  a  man's  being  lorn  blind  were  the  punish 
ment  for  his  own  sins,  which  on  this  supposition  must  have 
been  committed  by  him  in  a  previous  life.  This  penitential 
transmigration  of  souls  forms  a  very  conspicuous  feature  in  the 
doctrine  set  forth  in  the  Pistis-Sophia.  The  wicked,  after  under 
going  torment  for  periods  nicely  apportioned  to  their  deserts,  in 
prisons  belonging  to  the  several  Infernal  Powers,  are  sent  into 
this  world  again  to  inhabit  human  bodies  afflicted  in  different 
ways — lame,  Mind,  or  sunk  in  abject  poverty.  Similarly  the 
righteous,  but  unreycncrate,  man  is  provided  with  a  fresh  body 
wherein  to  avail  himself  of  the  sacraments  of  the  new  religion  ; 
which  in  his  former  life  he  had  neglected  through  ignorance, 
and  not  wilfully. 

The  nature  of  God,  and  of  Man,  is  therefore  the  subject  of 
the  Kabbala ;  the  Government  of  the  Creation  is  set  forth  in  the 


Talmud,  the  doctrine  of  which  concerning  the  Nature  of  the  Aiujcls 
is  extremely  important  for  the  understanding  of  much  in 
Gnosticism.  The  whole  system  in  this  particular  is  borrowed 
from  the  Zendavesta ;  and  could  not  have  originated  before,  or 
indeed  without  the  Captivity,  so  opposite  is  the  spirit  pervading 
it  to  the  genius  of  the  Mosaic  Law.  According  to  it,  the 
government  of  all  things  is  entrusted  to  the  Angels,  of  whom 
there  are  seventy  Princes,  watching  over  each  element,  nation, 
and  language.  Thus,  Johuel  is  the  Prince  of  Fire,  and 
has  under  him  seven  subordinates :  Seraphiel,  Gabriel,  Uriel, 
Temanael,  Shimsael,  Hadranael,  and  Samiel.  Again,  Michael 
is  Prince  of  Water,  and  similarly  attended  by  seven  inferior 
spirits.  Moreover,  there  are  an  infinity  of  Angels  yet  lower  in 
degree,  guardians  of  ttie  various  animals,  plants,  heat,  winds, 
rains,  &c.  There  also  are  others  presiding  over  the  passions 
of  the  soul,  fear,  grace,  favour,  love,  and  so  on.  Hence  it  is  not 
to  be  wondered  at,  that  the  Angel  who  directs  the  course  of  the 
sun  should  have  under  him  no  less  than  two  hundred  and  ninety- 
six  hosts,  whose  sum  is  expressed  by  the  numerical  letters  in  the 
word  Haaretz  "  the  earth."  The  head  of  them  is  Metatron,  the 
"  number  of  his  name  "  being  three  hundred  and  fourteen,  and 
therefore  equivalent  to  that  of  Shaddai,  "the  Almighty." 
Metatron  is  the  Persian  Mithras;  the  names  of  the  others  are 
all  compounded  with  El  "  God,"  and  contain  his  titles,  or 
invocations  to  him.*  All  this  celestial  roll-call  fully  explains 
St.  Paul's  warning  to  his  flock  at  Colossae  against  being  reduced 
into  a  "  voluntary  (that  is,  an  uncalled  for)  humility,  and  the 
worshipping  of  Angels,"  whilst  the  copious  appearance  of  their 
names  upon  talismans  strongly  testifies  to  the  veneration  in 
which  their  power  was  held. 

This  last  circumstance  was  a  necessity  of  the  case,  for  all 
these  monuments  proceed  from  two  sources — the  two  great 
schools  of  Magi  mentioned  by  Pliny,  the  most  ancient,  the 

*  The  Book  of  Enoch  thus  states  luminaries  ;  Michael,   who    presides 

the  names  and  offices  of  the  "  Angels  over    human  virtue,   commands   the 

who  watch "  :    Uriel  presides    over  nations.     Sarakiel  over  the  spirits  of 

clamour   and   terror  ;  Raphael    over  the  children  of  men  who  transgress ; 

the   spirits  of  men  ;   Eagicl  inflicts  Gabriel   over  Ikisat,  over   Paradise, 

punishment   on   the   world    and  the  and  over  the  ClieruMm. 


Chaldean,  founded  by  Zoroaster  and  Orthancs,  the  modern  of  his 
own  day,  by  Moses  and  Jambres.     So  Juvenal,  after  bringing  J 
the  proud  and  pompous  Chaldean,  the  maker  of  emperors- 

«  Cujus  amicitia  conducendaque  tabella 
Magnus  civis  obit,  et  formidatus  Othoni,"   (vi.  55<-8.) 

makes  the  poor  trembling  Jewess  fortune-teller  steal  in  with 
whispers   for   the  lady's  private  ear-her  profession  going  no 
further    than   the   interpreting   or   the   vending  of    dreams- 
"Qualiacunquo  voles  Judaa  somnia  vendent."     Such  nocturnal 
revelations,   we    are   told,   were   to   bo    procured  by   sleeping 
with  the   proper  talisman   put  under  one's   pillow. 
writer  on  magie  quoted  by  Camillo  di  Leonardo,  lays  down  that 
-a   woman   with   her   hair   hanging  down   loose,  and  a   i 
approaching    her  making  a  gesture  of  love,  engraved  upon  a 
crystal,  or  jacinth,  being  placed  under  the  head  upon  goingj 
sleep  will  make  one  see  in  a  dream  whatsoever  one  desires. 

Such  being  the  nature  of  the  case,  the  existing  productions  c 
Gnosticism   will    be   most    appropriately   investigated   m  _the 
present    Treatise    by   considering   the   nature   of  the   various 
sources  from  which  they  emanated.     The  series  commences  with 
the  IKihraic,  as  being  the  most  ancient  in  origin,  and  in  whic. 
the  Magianandtho  Jewish  Kabbalistie  ideas  are  found  the  most 
frequently   united.     To    this   class   succeed   the   Abraxas-gems, 
properly  so-called,  in  which  the  Magian  ground-work  is  mod 
fied   by   the   refinements   of    Basilides,   introducing   a    strong 
tincture  of  the  primitive  Egyptian  theology.     To  Egypt  herself 
more  properly  belong  the  Agaikodxmo*  talismans  bearing  t 
figure  of  the  good  serpent,  Chnuphis-an  emblem  which  gave 
ite  name  to  that  very  wide-spreading  and  clearly  defined  sect, 
the   OpUtcs.     Last  of  all  come  the  innumerable  rel 

treasures,  and  of  the  right  manner  of      hghtful  visions. 
finding  them."     Also,  «  Cepheus,   a 



worship  of  Scrapis,  that  most  recent  of  all  the  gods  in  the 
Egyptian  Pantheon,  and  in  which  the  Brahminical  influence 
is  most  distinctly  to  be  traced.  This  last  subject,  so  curious 
in  itself,  shall  bo  the  subject  of  the  following  section,  where  the 
numerous  facts  brought  forward  may  perhaps  serve  to  remove 
some  of  the  incredulity  with  which  such  a  thesis  will  naturally 
at  first  be  regarded. 

FIG.  2. 



The  Persian  origin  of  so  considerable  a  portion  of  the  Gnosis 
Laving  been  set  forth  in  the  foregoing  pages,  it  remains  to 
show  what  portion  is  due  to  a  purely  Indian  source,  and  to 
indicate  the  channels  through  which  a  direct  intercourse  was 
carried  on  between  the  farthest  east  and  the  foci  of  Gnosticism, 
Alexandria  and'Ephesus.  For  the  Christian  Gnosis  was  indirectly 
the  daughter  of  the  Hindoo  Gnosis,  such  as  it  was  taught  in  the 
various  mysteries  ;  possibly  in  the  Eleusinian  and  the  Phrygian. 
For  universal  tradition  made  the  first  founder  of  mysteries, 
Bacchus,  bring  them  direct  from  India ;  and  Jove's  fi%)09,  the 
fabled  birth-place  of  the  god,  may  have  been  no  other  than 
Mount  Mem,  the  Olympus  of  the  Hindoo  Pantheon.* 

Certain  Gnostic  tenets  concerning  the  duality  of  the  Divine 
emanations,  absorption  into  the  god-head,  asceticism,  penance, 
and  self-collection,  are  identical  with  the  Buddhistic  teaching 
upon  the  same  points ;  of  which  agreement  several  remarkable 
examples  will  be  adduced  in  their  fitting  place.  But  we  are 
not  left  to  mere  conjecture  on  this  point,  for  the  actual  circum 
stances  of  their  importation  from  India  are  minutely  detailed, 
in  one  case  that  doubtless  had  many  parallels,  by  the  laborious 
Epiphanius  in  his  "  Life  of  Manes,"  (Hasres.  lxv.).f 

This  celebrated  heresiarch,  equally  abhorrent  to  Zoroastrian 
and  Christian  orthodoxy,  was  by  birth  a  Persian,  named 
Cubricus  ;  but  who  upon  commencing  his  mission  assumed  the 
title  of  Manes,  signifying  in  the  Babylonian  tongue  "  The 
Vessel,"  for  the  same  reason,  we  may  suppose,  that  Dante  gives 
to  St.  Paul  the  epithet  "  Vas  Electionis."  This  Cubricus  had 

*  The  bearer  of  the  phallus  (lin-  (drawn  upon  by  Epiphanius  also), 

gam)  in  the  grand  Dionysian  pro-  is  the  "Disputation  of  Archelaus 

cession  celebrated  by  Ptolemy  Phila-  and  Manes,"  held  at  Charrae  in 

delphus  was  blackened  all  over  with  A.D.  275-9.  This  book  was  written 

soot,  doubtless  to  indicate  the  native  in  Syriac,  but  is  only  extant  in  a 

country  of  that  very  equivocal  symbol.  Latin  version. 

f  The  earliest  authority,  however, 


been  slave,  and  subsequently  sole  heir,  to  a  certain  wealthy 
widow  who  had  inherited  all  the  effects  belonging  to  one 
Terminthus,  surnamed  in  Assyrian  "  Buddas."  This  Termin- 
thus  had  similarly  been  the  slave  of  a  rich  Saracen  merchant, 
Scythicus,  who  had  studied  the  Greek  language  and  literature 
in  some  place  on  the  borders  of  Palestine  (perhaps  the  school  of 
Palmyra),  and  who  "had  there  attained  to  eminence  in  the 
empty  learning  of  this  world."  By  constant  journeys  between 
his  home  and  India,  this  Scythicus  had  amassed  a  large  fortune. 
With  this  he  settled  down  in  Hypsele  in  the  Thebaid,  where 
ho  married  a  beautiful  courtezan,  whom  ho  had  bought  and 
emancipated.  "  Here,  out  of  sheer  idleness  and  licentiousness, 
he  set  up  to  preach  new  doctrines,  not  derived  from  Scripture 
but  from  mere  human  reason." 

These  doctrines,  from  the  nature  of  the  case,  can  hardly  have 
been  of  his  own  concoction,  but,  in  all  probability,  things  that 
he  had  picked  up  in  India,  where  all  the  ancient  emporia  lay 
on  the  Guzerat  Coast,  the  seat  of  the  powerful  Jaina  (Buddhist) 
monarchy.  A  mere  Eastern  trader,  a  common  Arab  merchant 
who,  after  making  his  fortune  by  long  and  dangerous  travels  in 
the  East,  who  could  afterwards  in  advanced  life  set  himself 
down  to  study,  nay  more,  to  attain  proficiency  in  the  Greek 
philosophy,  must  have  been  a  man  of  no  ordinary  intellect. 
Assuredly  it  was  not  the  mere  want  of  anything  better  to  do, 
(as  his  malicious  biographer  asserts),  that  made  him  turn 
preacher  of  a  new  religion.  His  marriage  with  the  enfranchised 
courtezan  looks  like  a  theological  addition,  added  to  the  portrait 
for  the  sake  of  so  completing  his  resemblance  to  Simon  Magus. 
The  nature  of  the  doctrines  he  was  likely  to  imbibe  in  the  great 
Indian  marts,  Baroche,  Barcellore,  Pultaneh,  or  in  the  semi- 
Grecian  cities  of  Bactria,  is  attested  to  this  day  by  the  innumer 
able  Buddhist  temples  and  topes,  with  their  deposit  of  relics  yet 
studding  the  provinces  this  side  of  the  Indus;  and  whose 
contents  declare  the  flourishing  state  of  that  religion  even 
when  the  country  had  passed  under  the  rule  of  the  Sassaniaii 
Kings  of  Persia. 

But  to  return  to  Scythicus  in  his  retirement :  "  Taking 
Pythagoras  for  guide,  he  composed  four  books,  namely,  *  The 


Mysteries,'  'The  Summary/  'The  Gospel,'  and  'The  Trea 
suries.'"  (Pythagoras  was  then  universally  believed  to  have 
visited  India,  and  there  to  have  obtained  the  elements  of  his 
philosophy,  which  has  a  certain  Brahminical  character.)  "  After 
this,  Scythicus  made  a  journey  to  Jerusalem  in  the  very  times  of 
the  Apostles,  and  held  conferences  with  the  elders  of  the  church 
upon  the  Origin  of  Evil,  and  such  like  points.  But  not  being 
satisfied  by  their  explanations,  he  took  to  preaching  magic,  the 
knowledge  of  which  he  had  gotten  along  with  his  other  wares 
from  the  Indians  and  Egyptians.  But  as  he  was  showing  off  a 
miracle  upon  the  roof  of  his  house,  he  fell  down  and  was  killed. 
Upon  this,  his  servant  and  sole  disciple,  Terminthus,  instead  of 
returning  to  his  mistress  at  Hypsele,  ran  off  with  his  money 
into  Persia,  where,  in  order  to  escape  detection,  he  assumed  the 
name  of  Buddas,  which  signifies  "Wise."  (This  last  fact 
proves  incontestably  the  nature  of  the  doctrines  he  and  his 
master  had  been  gathering  up  in  their  Indian  travels ;  and  the 
truth  lying  at  the  bottom  of  this  story  seems  to  be  that  he  gave 
himself  out  for  a  fresh  incarnation  of  Buddha,  of  which  there  had 
been  seven*  before  his  date.) 

"  This  Terminthus  was  himself  a  man  of  learning  and  con 
versant  with  his  master's  four  treatises.  He  lodged  in  the 
house  of  a  widow,  where  he  used  to  hold  conferences  with  the 
priests  of  Mithras,  especially  with  two,  Parcus  and  Labdacus, 
upon  the  Two  Principles,  and1  similar  subjects.  He,  too,  having 
been  killed  by  accident,  like  his  master,  his  landlady  kept 
possession  of  all  his  baggage,  religious  books  included  ;  and  in 
her  turn  bequeathed  them  to  her  servant  Cubricus,  the  after 
wards  so  celebrated  Manes." 

It  is  necessary  here  to  point  out  a  certain  violent  anachronism 
in  the  story  as  told  by  Epiphanius.  If  Scythicus  visited 
Jerusalem  at  all,  he  must  have  done  so  before  the  year  of  its 
destruction,  A.D.  70.  His  disciple,  Terminthus,  could  therefore 
not  have  survived  far  into  the  second  century.  The  landlady 
of  the  latter  could  for  this  reason  have  hardly  had  for  slave 
Manes,  who  flourished  about  two  hundred  years  later.  It  is, 

*  The  seventh  heaving  been  that  gakyal  who,  from  Benares,  diffused 
Buddhism  all  over  the  peninsula. 


however,  possible  that  the  works  plagiarised  by  Manes  had 
been  preserved  in  her  family  down  to  the  period  of  his  service 
in  it. 

In  this  history  of  Scythicus,  however  disguised  Toy  tradition, 
we  have  at  one  view  the  complete  history  of  the  rise  and 
progress  of  Gnosticism.  Wo  find  an  Arab  merchant  of  a 
subtle  and  inquiring  mind,  occupying  himself  during  his  long 
and  frequent  sojourns  at  the  Indian  marts  in  studying  the 
philosophy  of  these  prevailing  religionists,  the  speculations  of 
the  Buddhist  monks,  and  equally  investigating  the  secrets  of 
the  "  wisdom  of  Egypt,"  when  detained  at  the  other  head 
quarters  of  the  Eastern  trade.  Then  retiring  from  business, 
he  goes  to  Palmyra  for  the  purpose  of  studying  Grecian 
philosophy,  as  then  taught  in  its  school,  which  philosophy 
would  be  no  other  than  Neo-Flatonism ;  thence  returning  home, 
he  occupies  his  leisure  in  reducing  to  one  harmonious  system 
the  numerous  conflicting  theories  upon  subjects  too  high  for 
human  knowledge,  which  he  had  so  laboriously  collected  from 
the  three  great  fountains  of  philosophy — India,  Egypt,  and 

Finally  attracted  by  the  fame  of  a  new  religion  that  professed 
to  throw  the  clearest  light  upon  all  things  relating  to  God 
and  Man,  being  preached  at  Jerusalem,  he  immediately  starts 
for  the  focus  of  this  new  light,  leaving  behind  him  wife 
and  property,  only  accompanied  by  one  servant,  himself  an 
educated  man,  and  his  own  treasured  theological  speculations. 
On  his  arriving  at  the  Holy  City,  we  find  him  (as  might  be 
expected  from  his  previous  training)  grievously  disappointed 
in  his  hopes  of  at  last  obtaining  the  solution  of  all  the  problems 
that  had  so  long  occupied  his  thoughts — for  on  subjects  of  that 
kind  the  Christian  Presbyters  could  tell  no  more  than  what  he 
had  learnt  already  from  the  Rablis  of  Alexandria,  or  the  Jaina 
monks  of  Guzerat.  Thus  disappointed,  he  appears  to  have  set 
up  himself  for  a  teacher  of  a  new  and  higher  doctrine,  supporting 
his  pretensions  (after  the  customary  fashion  of  the  times)  by 
miracle-working ;  and  as  a  matter  of  course  getting  his  career 
speedily  cut  short,  for  Jerusalem  was  not  the  place  where  a  new 
religion  would  be  promulgated  with  impunity  by  a  single  indi- 


vidual,  and  that  too  an  Arabian.  His  disciple, 'Terminthus,  taking 
warning  by  his  fate,  resolves  to  try  another  school  of  profound 
wisdom,  formed  from  time  immemorial,  but  as  yet  unvisited  by 
his  master,  and  proceeds  to  hold  discussion  with  the  Wise  Men 
of  the  East  at  their  head  college  in  Babylon,  seeking  for  the 
final  solution  of  his  difficulties  in  the  doctrine  of  Zoroaster.  It 
is  very  probable  that  he,  as  the  result  of  this  study,  engrafted 
upon  the  system  of  Scythicus  whatever  features  of  the 
Zendavesta  appeared  to  him  the  most  satisfactory,  and  consistent 
best  with  his  preconceived  ideas  of  the  truth.  It  would  be 
interesting  to  know  whether  he  shaped  all  these  fresh  acquisi 
tions  into  conformity  with  the  original  Indian  groundwork  of 
his  master's  system.  As  already  observed,  such  appears  to 
have  been  his  course  from  the  title  that  he  assumed,  declaring 
himself  an  eighth  "  Buddha,"  successor  to  the  famous  Gua- 
tama,  founder  of  the  religion,  and  like  him  commissioned 
to  teach  a  new  way  of  salvation.  Terrain  thus,  like  his  master, 
came  to  an  untimely  end.  The  Magi  were  not  members  of  a 
powerful  establishment  who  would  suffer  themselves  to  be 
puzzled  and  confuted  by  an  over-wise  foreigner,  disputing  so 


"  Of  Providence,  foreknowledge,  will,  and  Fate, 
Fixed  Fate,  freewill,  foreknowledge  absolute," 

still  less  to  allow  him  to  go  off  exulting  in  his  victory,  as  his 
asserted  follower  Manes  likewise  found  to  his  cost. 

Manes  himself  appears  to  have  belonged  to  the  order  of 
Magi  (probably  being  admitted  after  gaining  his  freedom  and 
changing  his  name),  for  he  is  reported  to  have  been  famous  for 
his  skill  in  astrology,  medicine,  magic,  and  painting  !  This  last 
is  curious ;  it  shows  that  the  Magi,  like  the  media3val  monks, 
monopolised  the  arts  as  well  as  the  sciences  of  their  times. 
Whether  he  conceived  the  scheme  from  the  accidental  acquisi 
tion  of  the  writings  of  Scythicus  or  not  (M.  Matter  supposes  him 
to  have  got  his  first  inspiration  from  some  Egyptian  Basilidan 
who  had  found  his  way  into  Persia),  certain  it  is  that  he  first 
gave  to  these  notions  a  definite  shape,  and  constructed  his 
system  with  such  skill  that  it  spread  not  merely  all  over  the 
East  but  throughout  Europe.  In  the  latter  region  its  im- 


portanco  is  evinced  by  the  fact  (mentioned  incidentally  by 
Ammianus)  that  Constantino  himself,  before  finally  changing 
his  religion,  following  the  Apostolical  precept  "  Try  all  things, 
hold  fast  that  which  is  good,"  carefully  studied  the  Manicha3an 
system  under  the  guidance  of  the  learned  Musonianus,  whom 
we  must  suppose  to  have  been  a  great  doctor  of  the  sect.*  Nay 
more,  this  religion,  after  long  seeming  extinction  from  the 
pertinacious  persecution  of  the  Byzantine  emperors,  again 
blazed  forth  with  extraordinary  lustre  in  the  Paulicianism  of 
the  Middle  Ages. 

The  grand  purpose  of  the  scheme  of  Manes  was  the  reconcile 
ment  of  the  two  religions,  which  had  by  that  time  come  to 
dispute  the  empire  of  the  world — the  flourishing,  though  still 
unrecognised  Christianity  of  Rome,  and  the  equally  vigorous 
but  newly  revived  Zoroastrism  of  Sassanian  Persia.  Calling 
himself  the  "  Promised  Paraclete,"  Manes  accepted  the  gospel, 
but  only  after  purifying  it  from  all  taint  of  Judaism,  whilst  he 
utterly  rejected  the  Old  Testament.  But  whilst  Zoroaster 
makes  all  to  begin  in  the  harmony,  and  to  end  in  the  mutual 
reconciliation  of  the  Two  Principles,  Manes  declares  these  Two 
Principles  immutable  and  existent  from  all  eternity  as  they 
shall  continue  for  ever  to  exist.  His  Good  is  Zoroaster's  "  Lord 
of  Light " ;  but  his  Bad  is  Satan-Matter,  deliverance  from 
whose  bondage  is  to  bo  obtained  only  through  the  strictest 
asceticism.  From  the  Christian  Church  he  borrowed  its 
institution  of  presbyters  and  deacons,  being  sensible  how 
greatly  that  organisation  had  conduced  to  its  rapid  develop 
ment,  and  in  his  own  enterprise  it  met  with  almost  equal 
success.  Manes  was  a  genuine  Pantheist,  teaching  that  God 
pervaded  all  things,  even  plants  (of  which  tenet  I  subjoin  a 
singular  illustration  from  his  once  ardent  follower,  St.  Augus 
tine)  ;  he  also  adopted  the  entire  theory  of  Emanations,  exactly 

*  "  Constantinus  enim  cum  limatius  gium  dictitaturn."    Ammianus  xv.  G. 

superstitionum  qusoreret  sectas,  Ma-  The  sainted  Emperor's  eulogists  have 

nichsBorum  et  similium,  nee  interpres  carefully  hushed  up  this  trait  of  an 

inveniretur  idoneus,  hunc   sibi   com-  inquiring  spirit,  anxious  to  weigh  the 

meudatum    ut    sufficientem    elegit ;  relative  merits  of  the  existing  rivals 

quern  officio  functum  perite  Musoni-  of  Catholicism, 
auum  voluit  appellari  ante  Strate- 


as  it  was  defined  in  the  older  Gnostic  systems.  St.  Augustine's 
words  are  ('  Confessions '  iii.  10)  :  "  And  I,  not  understanding 
this,  used  to  mock  at  those  holy  servants  and  prophets  of  thine.  * 
And  what  was  I  doing  when  I  mocked  at  them,  except  that  I 
myself  was  mocked  at  by  thee,  being  seduced  gently  and  by 
degrees  into  such  absurdities  as  to  believe  that  the  fig  weeps 
when  it  is  plucked,  and  likewise  its  parent  tree,  with  tears  of 
milk  ?  Which  same  fig,  however,  should  any  holy  man  eat,  that 
is  to  say,  after  it  has  been  plucked  through  the  sin  of  another, 
not  by  his  own,  he  would  mingle  with  his  bowels,  and  breathe 
out  of  it  angels,  nay  more,  particles  of  God  himself,  in  his  sighs 
and  eructations  whilst  praying,  which  same  particles  of  the 
Supreme  and  True  God  would  have  been  bound  up  in  that  fruit, 
had  they  not  been  set  at  liberty  by  the  tooth  and  stomach  of  the 
chosen  saint ;  and  I,  like  a  wretch,  believed  that  greater  com 
passion  ought  to  be  shown  unto  the  fruits  of  the  earth  than  to 
man,  for  whose  sake  they  were  created.  For  if  any  one  not 
a  Manichtcan,  being  an  hungered,  should  ask  for  the  same,  it 
would  have  been  thought  a  crime,  worthy  of  capital  punish 
ment,  if  a  single  mouthful  thereof  were  given  to  him." 
Compare  the  following  rule  of  the  Buddhist  priesthood  :  "  They 
will  not  kill  any  animal,  neither  root  up  nor  cut  any  plant, 
because  they  think  it  has  life."  (*  Ayeen  Akbari,'  p.  435.) 

Manes  invented  a  theory  of  salvation,  so  very  whimsical 
that  it  ought  to  be  inserted  here,  to  recreate  the  wanderer  in  this 
dreary  and  dusky  theological  labyrinth.  "  When  the  Son  came 
into  the  world  to  effect  the  redemption  of  mankind,  he  contrived 
a  machine  containing  twelve  bowls  (cadi),f  which  being  made 
to  revolve  by  the  motion  of  the  spheres,  attracts  into  itself  the 
souls  of  the  dying.  These  the  Great  Luminary  (the  sun)  takes 
and  purifies  with  his  rays,  and  then  transfers  to  the  moon ;  and 
this  is  the  method  whereby  the  disk,  as  we  call  it,  of  the  moon 
is  replenished."  Epiphanius  triumphantly  refutes  this  theory 

*  Alluding  to  the  Manichsean  re-  of  Palmyra,  for  it  is  unmistakably 

jection  of  the  Old  Testament  as  a  borrowed  from  the  eight  concentric 

divine  revelation.  basins  set  in  motion,  one  inside  the 

t  In  the  notion  of  this  machine  other,  by  the  fingers  of  the  Fates,  so 

may  be  traced  the  influence  of  minutely  described  in  the  Vision  of 

die  study  of  Plato  in  the  school  Er  the  Pamphylian. 



by  asking  how  the  moon's  disk  was  replenished  during  the  nine 
hundred  years  that  elapsed  after  the  Creation  before  any  deaths 
took  place  ? 

But  the  career  of  this  inventive  heresiarch  was  speedily 
brought  to  a  close.  The  Persian  king,  Varanes  I.  (about  the  year 
275),  alarmed  by  the  rapid  spread  of  these  new  doctrines, 
convoked  a  General  Council  of  the  Magi  to  sit  in  judgment 
upon  them ;  by  whom  the  unlucky  apostle  was  pronounced  a 
heretic,  and  a  traitor  to  his  own  brethren,  and  sentenced  to  be 
flayed  alive. 


For  the  sake  of  comparison  with  the  above-described  systems, 
all  based  upon  the  doctrine  of  successive  Emanations  from  One 
First  Principle,  the  means  of  escaping  from  the  bondage  of 
Matter,  and  the  struggles  of  the  souls  towards  ultimate  absorption 
into  its  original  source,  I  shall  subjoin  a  very  brief  sketch  of  the 
principal  features  of  the  Buddhistic  theosophy.*  Here  also  we 
find  a  First  Buddha  in  his  proper  state  of  eternal  repose  (tho 
Indolentia  of  Epicurus)  corresponding  to  the  Zoroastrian 
"  Boundless  Time,"  and  the  Valentinian  "  Bythos."  AVhile  in 
this  state  termed  "  Nevriti,"  wishing  to  create  the  universe  he 
produced  the  Five  divine  Buddhas,  the  makers  of  the  Elements, 
who  in  their  turn  produced  the  Five  Buddhasativas,  and  by 
their  agency  created  the  material  world.  The  grand  aim  of 
this  religion  is  to  effect  the  release  of  the  soul  from  its  connection 
with  Matter.  All  things,  according  to  the  Buddhists,  exist  only 
in  illusion,  consequently  they  can  only  return  into  non-existence 
or  repose  by  means  of  True  Knowledge  (compare  the  Gnosis  we 

*  Buddhism  was  founded  in  the  years  old.     He  chose  Benares  for  the 

fifth  century  before  our  era,  by  Sakya  centre  of  his  mission,  whence  in  the 

Muni,   son   of  the  Raja  of  Kapila.  spaco  of  forty-five  years  his  doctrines 

At  the  a^e  of  twenty-nine  he  began  were  diffused  over  the  fairest  districts 

to   study0  religion,   and  by   force   of  of  the   Ganges    from    the   Delta  to 

prayer   became  the  embodiment  of  Agra  and  Cawnpore.     His  death  is 

the  Supreme  Deity  when  thirty-five  placed  by  some  writers  in  B.C.  477 


are  considering).*  "  Illusion  "  is  the  belief  in  the  reality  of  the 
eternal  world  ;  the  degradation  of  the  sonl  towards  Matter  is  the 
effect  of  a  succession  of  acts  ;  and  therefore  its  release  is  effected 
by  relinquishing  the  belief  in  the  reality  of  external  objects. 

The  Buddhists  of  Nepal,  who  have  preserved  the  original 
doctrines  of  the  religion  in  their  greatest  purity,  teach  the 
following  cosmogony  :  Padnapani,  one  of  the  original  Five 
Emanations,  created  Brahma,  Vishnu,  Siva,  or  the  Principles  of 
Creation,  Preservation,  and  Destruction.  Adi-Buddha  first 
created  thirteen  mansions  for  his  own  eternal  abode,  and  for 
the  dwelling-place  after  death  of  Buddha's  followers.  Below 
these  are  eighteen  mansions  made  by  Brahma;  lower  yet  are 
six  made  by  Vishnu  ;  and  lowest  of  all  —  three,  the  work  of  Siva. 
These  three  series  of  abodes  receive  the  souls  of  the  followers  of 
their  respective  creators. 

Below  all  these  lie  the  mansions  of  the  Planetary  gods, 
Indra  and  Chandra;  and  after  these  there  comes  the  Earth 
floating  upon  the  face  of  the  waters  like  a  boat.  Below 
these  waters  are  the  Seven  Patala,  or  regions  of  Hell,  the  abode 
of  evil  spirits  and  the  damned.  This  arrangement  presents  tho 
most  striking  resemblance  to  the  construction  of  the  Ophite 
Diagramma  (to  be  given  further  on),  which  Origen  has  described 
from  the  original,  and  which  M.  Matter  has  reconstructed  from 
Origen's  description  to  illustrate  his  treatise  in  his  Plate  X. 

The  promulgation  of  these  Indian  speculations  from  so  remote 
a  source—  a  difficulty  at  first  sight  insurmountable  —  may 
nevertheless  be  readily  explained.  The  spirit  of  this  religion 
was  the  spirit  of  proselytism  ;  the  Buddhists  from  the  very 
beginning  sent  out  their  missionaries  (some  of  whose  narratives, 
full  of  interest,  are  extant  and  have  been  translated  from  the 
Chinese)  with  all  the  zeal  of  the  old  Propaganda.  From  the 

*  The    Buddhist  "  Confession    of  causes  of  the  cessation  of  existence." 

Faith,"    regularly    set    up    in    the  The  essence  of  the  religion  therefore 

temples,  engraven  on  a  stone  tablet,  is  Perfect  Knowledge;  the  object  of 

runs  thus  :  "  Of  all  things  proceeding  Virgil's  aspiration  — 

"  F°tuit 

Sarinana  hath  likewise  explained  the 


mainland  they  converted  Ceylon,  Japan,  and  the  recesses  ofTar- 
tary ;  and  penetrated  into  regions  where  their  former  presence  and 
tolerated  existence  are  now  little  dreamed  of.*  That  Buddhism 
had  been  actually  planted  in  the  dominions  of  the  Seleucidoe 
and  the  Ptolemies  (Palestine  belonging  to  the  former)  before 
the  end  of  the  fourth  century,  at  least,  before  our  era  is  shown 
by  a  clause  in  the  Edicts  of  Asoka.  This  prince  was  grand 
son  to  Chandragupta  (the  Sandracottus  of  the  Greeks,  con 
temporary  and  friend  of  Seleucus  I.),  who,  at  the  head  of  an 
army  of  60,000  men,  had  conquered  all  India  within  the  Ganges. 
Asoka,  at  first  a  licentious  tyrant,  had  embraced  the  newly 
preached  doctrines  of  Buddhism,  a  Brahminical  Protestantism, 
and  propagated  them  by  persuasion  and  by  force  through  the 
length  and  breadth  of  his  immense  kingdom,  with  all  the  usual 
zeal  of  a  new  convert. 

The  Edicts  referred  to  are  graven  on  a  rock  tablet  at  Girnur 
in  Guzerat.  To  quote  the  words  of  the  Indian  Archaeologist 
Prinsep,  to  whom  the  discovery  is  due,  (article  xvii.  '  Indian 
Antiquities ' ).  "I  am  now  about  to  produce  evidence  that 
Asoka'sf  acquaintance  with"  geography  was  not  limited  to  Asia, 
and  that  his  expansive  benevolence  towards  living  creatures 
extended,  at  least  in  intention,  to  another  quarter  of  the  globe, 
that  his  religious  ambition  sought  to  apostolize  Egypt,  and  that 
we  must  look  hereafter  for  traces  of  the  introduction  of  Buddhism 
into  the  fertile  valley  of  the  Nile,  so  productive  of  metaphysical 
discussions  from  the  earliest  ages.  The  lino  which  I  allude  to 
is  the  fifth  from  the  bottom.  'And  the  Greek  King  (Yoni- 
raja)  {  besides,  by  whom  the  Chapta  (Egyptian)  Kings,  Ptole- 

*  Two  Chinese  pilgrims,  Fa  Hian  dence,  have  been  found  to  be  to  a  large 
and  Hiouen  Thsang,  visited  Benares  extent  singularly  correct.  See  *  Me 
at  the  beginning  of  the  fifth,  and  at  moires  de  Hiouen  Thsang,'  translated 
the  middle  of  the  seventh  centuries  from  the  Chinese  by  Stanislas  Julien. 
of  our  era.  These  keen  and  sagacious  f  Asoka's  zeal  was  so  ardent  that 
observers  have  left  records  of  their  he  sent  his  son  and  daughter,  Ma- 
travels  in  India  of  the  utmost  import-  hendra  and  Saugamitra,  as  missiou- 
anco  to  the  historian  and  antiquary.  aries  to  Ceylon ;  who  in  a  short  time 
Their  narratives  are,  for  the  most  effected  the  conversion  of  the  island 
part,  plain  matter-of-fact  productions,  to  their  new  religion, 
free  from  the  haze  and  uncertainty  of  %  The  Persian  envoy  in  Aristo- 
Hindoo  writings  ;  and  whenever  they  phanes'  Acharniana  used  the  same 
have  been  tested  by  extraneous  evi-  word,  'ia6vav.  for  the  Greek  nation. 

E  2 


maios,  and  Gonkakenos  (Antigonus  Gonatas)  have  "been  induced 
to  allow  that  both  here  and  in  foreign  countries  everywhere  the 
people  may  follow  the  doctrine  of  the  religion  of  Devanipya, 
wheresoever  it  reacheth.' "  The  "  Essenes,"  so  like  to 
Buddhist  Monks  in  many  particulars  (for  which  see  the  minute 
description  of  this  ascetic  rule  as  given  by  Josephus,  '  Antiq. 
Jud.'  xv.  10),  had  been  established  on  the  shores  of  the  Dead 
Sea  for  "  thousands  of  ages  "  before  Pliny's  time.  "  On  the 
West  its  shores,  so  far  as  they  are  unhealthy,  are  shunned  by 
the  Esseni,  a  solitary  race,  and  wonderful  beyond  all  others  on 
the  globe ;  without  woman,  renouncing  all  usual  enjoyment, 
without  money,  associates  of  the  palm-trees,  from  day  to  day 
they  are  recruited  by  the  flocks  of  new-comers :  all  those 
flocking  in  numerously  whom  the  world  drives  from  itself,  all 
tempest-tossed  by  the  waves  of  fortune.  In  this  way,  incredible 
to  tell,  the  race  wherein  no  birth  ever  takes  place,  has  endured 
for  thousands  of  years,  so  prolific  for  them  is  other  people's 
disgust  at  the  world  "  (Hist.  Nat.  v.  15).  The  great  Naturalist's 
"  thousands  of  years  "  must  be  allowed  as  one  of  his  favourite 
oratorical  tropes,  but  nevertheless  serves  for  testimony  to  the 
belief  in  the  great  antiquity  of  the  sect.  Perhaps  they  may 
have  been  a  continuation  of  those  early  ascetic  associations 
known  as  the  "  Schools  of  the  Prophets." 

The  influence  of  Jewish  Essenism  upon  primitive  Chris 
tianity  (as  to  rules  of  life  at  least)  is  a  thing  that  will  not  be 
disputed  by  any  who  have  read,  with  a  wish  to  learn  the 
truth,  not  to  evade  it,  the  account  of  it  given  by  Josephus. 
But  over  the  semi-Christian  Gnostics  of  Syria  such  long-esta 
blished  authority  must  have  had  a  still  stronger  influence.  It 
is  easy  to  discover  how  the  source  of  the  slavish  notions 
about  the  merits  of  asceticism,  penances,  and  self-torture  (of 
which  Simon  Stylites  is  the  most  conspicuous  illustration),  was 
the  same  one  whence  the  Indian  fakirs  drew  their  practice — 
for  even  in  their  methods  they  were  identical.  Simon's  cele 
brated  life-penance  (which  gives  him  his  title),  undergone  upon 
the  summit  of  a  lofty  pillar,  had  been  practised  in  the  same 
regions  many  generations  before  his  time.  The  pseudo-Lucian, 
in  his  amusing  description  of  the  famous  Temple  of  the  "  Syrian 


Goddess  "  at  Emesa  ('  De  Dea  Syria '),  particularly  notices  the 
phallus  or  obelisk,  300  feet  high,  planted  in  front  of  the 
edifice,  upon  the  apex  of  which  the  devotee  sat  without  bleep 
for  one  and  twenty  days  and  nights,  keeping  himself  awake  by 
constantly  ringing  a  handbell.  Ideas  like  these  pervade  the 
Christianity  of  the  Lower  Empire,  nay,  they  constitute  the 
very  essence  of  the  religion.  Neither  is  it  difficult  to  see  upon 
how  many  points  Manes,  with  his  rigid  Buddhistic  tenets,  came 
into  collision  with  the  humane  and  rational  law  of  Zu roaster 
(the  brightest  system  of  natural  religion  ever  promulgated), 
and  what  good  causes  Yaranes,  with  his  spiritual  advisers,  had 
for  condemning  his  heresy. 

In  our  investigation  of  this  particular  subject  it  must  never 
bo  forgotten  that  so  long  as  philosophy  was  cultivated  in  Greece, 
(even  from  the  times  of  the  Samian  sage,  inventor  of  the  naniej, 
India  was  often  regarded  as  the  ultimate  and  purest  source  of 
the  "  True  Wisdom,"  the  knowledge  of  things  divine.  Even 
so  late  as  Lucian's  time,  the  middle  of  the  second  century,  that 
author  concludes  his  evidently  true  history  of  Antiphilus  and 
Demetrius,  by  making  the  latter,  a  cynic  philosopher  by 
profession,  resign  all  his  property  to  his  friend,  and  depart  for 
India,  there  to  end  his  life  amongst  the  Brachmaiies,  ('  Toxaris,' 
34).  In  the  same  century  the  well-known  pilgrimage  of 
Apollonius  of  Tyana,  and  his  deep  conference  with  the  Indian 
philosophers,  as  recorded  by  his  companion  Damis,  go  to  prove 
the  same  thing ;  and  although  the  meagre  journal  of  the  sage's 
travelling  companion  may  have  been  largely  supplemented  and 
embellished  by  the  fancy  of  his  editor,  Philostratus,*  the  main 
features  of  the  narrative  are  doubtless  authentic.  The  great 
thaumaturgist's  proceedings,  as  there  detailed,  show  how  the 
apparent  difficulty  of  such  a  pilgrimage  vanishes  upon  a  better 
knowledge  of  the  circumstances.  Apollonius  presents  himself, 
first  of  all,  to  the  Parthian  King,  Bardaiies  (a  "  Hiilhelleiie  " 
as  he  yet  boasts  himself  upon  his  coinage),  and  as  warm  an 
admirer  of  Grecian  savants  as  any  of  his  Achaiinenian  pre- 

*  Who  composed  his  very  interest-       a    century    after    the   death   of    tho 
ing    'Life    of    Apollouius'    at    the       philosopher, 
request  of  the  EUJ press  Julia,  about 


decessors,  from  whom  he  obtains  a  firman  securing  to  him 
protection  and  entertainment,  everywhere  within  the  limits  of 
his  rule,  which  extended  then,  probably,  as  far  as  the  Indus. 
Thenceforward  his  letters  of  recommendation  from  the  *'  King  of 
Kings  "  to  the  various  native  princes  his  allies,  secure  to  the 
traveller  an  equally  favourable  reception.  A  safe  and  regular 
communication  between  the  extreme  points  of  the  Persian 
Empire  had  been  from  the  beginning  the  great  care  of  its 
mighty  rulers  (the  first  institutors  of  highways,  posting-stages, 
and  post-horses),  passing  through  what  was  not,  as  now,  a  series 
of  deserts  infested  by  robber-tribes,  but  a  populous  and  well- 
cultivated  country;  so  favoured,  with  a  passport  from  the 
sovereign,  the  pilgrim  would  find  his  journey  both  expeditious 
and  agreeable. 

The  same  facilities  were  necessarily  made  use  of  by  the  natives 
of  Hindustan.  It  is  curious  to  observe  how  the  occasional 
"  Brachman  "  who  found  his  way  into  Greece  was  received  as  a 
model  philosopher — like  that  Zarmanes  Chagan,  who,  coming 
from  Bargose  (Baroclie),  finally  burnt  himself  alive  upon  a 
pyre  at  Athens,  in  the  reign  of  Augustus  ;  of  which  edifying 
spectacle  Nicolaus  Damascenus  was  eye-witness  (Strabo  XV.). 
Before  him,  we  have  Calanas  the  *'  gymnosophist "  (a  happy 
Greek  expression  for  fakir)  in  high  repute  at  Alexander's 
court,  and  who  similarly  chose  to  leave  earth  in  a  "  chariot  of 
fire."  Their  example  was  followed  by  the  "Peregrinus 
Proteus,"  so  happily  ridiculed  by  Lucian  in  his  book  thus 
entitled ;  Proteus,  to  give  his  apotheosis  as  much  celebrity  as 
possible,  chose  for  its  scene  the  occasion  of  the  Olympic  games. 
This  last  worthy  had  been  a  philosopher,  then  a  Christian 
teacher,  and  lastly  had  started  a  new  religion  of  his  own 
invention.  That  the  sect  so  celebrated  by  the  ancients  under 
the  name  of  "  Brachrnanes  "  was  Buddhistic,  not  Brahminical, 
may  be  inferred  from  their  locality,  Bactria ;  and  yet  more 
from  a  circumstance  mentioned  by  Strabo  (Book  XV.).  He 
speaks  of  their  devoting  thirty  years  to  the  study  of  Theology, 
living  in  a  community  (a  vihar  or  monastery),  sequestered  from 
the  world  in  the  midst  of  forests  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
different  cities,  and  totally  abstaining  from  sexual  intercourse, 


and  all  animal  food ;  on  the  contrary,  the  Brahmins  hold  that 
to  leave  children  behind  them  is  a  most  sacred  duty,  and  one 
upon  which  their  admission  into  heaven  depends.  Whether 
the  Buddhists  be  the  true. representatives  of  the  primal  religion* 
of  their  country,  or  only  the  Reformers  of  the  more  ancient 
Brahminical  Church,  it  is  the  natural  weapon  of  all  dissenters 
from  an  established  creed,  to  ridicule  and  even  to  pronounce 
damnable,  the  favourite  tenets  of  their  adversaries.  Witness 
Martin  Luther  with  his  invectives  against  vows  of  virginity, 
and  his  well-known  motto 

"  Wer  nicht  liebt  Weib,  Wein  und  Gesang, 
Der  bleibt  ein  Narr  sein  Leben  lang." 

Similarly  wo  find  the  Essenes  running  counter  to  the  ancient 
prejudices  of  their  nation,  and  spontaneously  embracing  what 
the  Mosaic  Law  had  denounced  as  the  greatest  of  curses — the 
leaving  no  offspring  behind  to  keep  up  their  name  in  Israel. 

To  exemplify  the  severe  discipline  maintained  in  the  Brah 
man  communities,  Strabo  mentions  that  the  mere  act  of  blow 
ing  the  nose,  or  spitting,  caused  the  offender  to  bo  excluded  for 
that  day,  as  incontinent,  from  the  society  of  his  fellow-recluses. 
Similarly  Josephus  particularises,  amongst  other  Essenian  rules, 
the  obligation  of  abstaining  from  all  natural  evacuations  upon 
the  Sabbath  day.  But  even  their  rigour  is  surpassed,  and  in  our 
day  too,  by  a  certain  sect  of  Indian  Yogis,  who  profess  to  have 
completely  emancipated  themselves  from  all  such  defiling 
necessities  of  nature.  This  they  effect  by  living  entirely  upon 
milk,  which,  after  retaining  a  short  time  in  the  stomach,  they 
throw  up  again  by  swallowing  a  ball  fastened  to  a  string ;  and 
maintain  the  animal  expenditure  solely  through  the  nutriment 
imbibed  by  the  system  during  the  continuance  of  the  liquid  in 
the  stomach  ;  and  which  consequently  leaves  no  residuum  to 
descend  into  the  lower  bowels.  A  doctrine  this,  the  finest 

*  Which  of  course  their  theologians  for  the  most  part  are  worshippers  of 

claim  to  be,  ami  treat  the  Brahmins  Siva."     And   yet   he  candidly  owns 

as  corrupters  of  the  true  faith.     For  that  the  Buddhists  possessed  no  more 

example    Hionen    Thsang :    "They  than   thirty  monasteries,   numbering 

reckon  (in  the  kingdom  of  Benares)  only  three  thousand  members,  in  the 

a  hundred  temples  of  gods,  inhabited  same  place, 
by  about  tell  thousand  herdics,  who 


possible  redudio  ad  absurdam  of  the  notion  of  meritorious  con 
tinence,  and  exhibiting  on  the  ludicrous  side  the  mischief  of 
being  too  logical  in  matters  of  religion. 

As  for  the  profundity  of  the  philosophical  speculations  of  the 
Orientals,  even  at  a  very  late  period,  the  Byzantine  Agathias 
quotes  a  very  remarkable  example.  Chosroes  (better  known 
to  us  as  Nushirwan  the  Just),  besides  giving  an  asylum,  as  to 
his  brethren,  to  the  last  Athenian  philosophers,  when  expelled 
from  their  chairs  by  the  stupid  bigot  Justinian,  caused  all 
Plato's  works  to  be  translated  into  Persian,  and  professed  to  be 
himself  able  to  comprehend  even  the  mysteries  of  the  '  Tirnasus.' 
The  Greek  sophist  is  naturally  indignant  at  the  impudence  of 
the  foreigner  who  could  pretend  that  "  his  own  barbarous  and 
rustic  language  "  was  capable  of  expressing  the  divine  thoughts 
of  the  Athenian  sage ;  for  he  little  suspected  that  the  great 
King,  or  at  any  rate  the  Magi  and  "  Sufis  "  about  him,  were 
masters  of  the  sources  whence  Plato  may  have  ultimately  drawn 
his  inspiration  whilst  planning  that  inscrutable  composition. 
The  religious  instruction  of  the  Persian  princes  had  from  the 
beginning  been  carefully  attended  to,  and  proficiency  therein 
was  a  matter  of  pride :  thus  Cyrus  the  younger  puts  forward 
his  superior  knowledge  of  Theology  (in  his  manifesto  upon 
claiming  the  kingdom)  as  a  just  cause  why  he  should  be 
preferred  to  his^elder  brother. 

Leaving  out  of  the  question  the  now  received  theory  as  to 
the  immigration  of  the  "  Indo-Germanic  "  race  into  the  farthest 
recesses  of  Europe,  modern  history  furnishes  the  example  of  ex 
tensive  migration,  effected  under  infinitely  greater  difficulties,  by 
the  hordes  of  low-caste  Hindoos,  who,  flying  from  the  invasion 
of  Tamerlane,  spread  themselves  all  over  Europe  as  Gipsies,  still 
retaining  their  native  language  and  habits,  and  to  the  present 
day  claiming  "  Sind"  or  "  Siridha"  for  their  national  name. 

The  facts  adduced  in  the  foregoing  sketch  will  suffice  to 
indicate  the  manner  in  which  the  germs  of  the  various  Gnostic 
doctrines  were  impoited  from  the  East,  how  they  M  ve  engrafted 
upon  previously  existing  notions,  and  how  vigorously  they 
flourished  when  transplanted  into  the  kindly  soil  of  Alexandria 
and  Ephesus.  To  complete  the  general  view  of  the  subject, 



before  proceeding  to  consider  the  tangible  monuments  left  us 
by  these  ideas,  it  will  be  necessary  to  give  some  account  of  the 
forms  in  which  they  attained  to  their  fullest  development. 
For  this  purpose  I  shall  select  the  three  principal  systems,  re 
presented  by  historians  as  the  parents  of  all  the  rest,  those  of 
Simon  Magus,  Bcuilides,  and  the  Ojjltitcs ;  the  most  satisfactory 
manner  of  doing  which  will  bo  to  transcribe  the  exact  words 
of  the  well-informed  and  impartial  llippolytus. 

FIG.  3. 



"It  is  my  intention  hero  to  exhibit  the  system  of  Simon 
Magus,  a  native  of  Gitteh  in  Samaria,  and  I  will  prove  that 
from  him  all  those  that  come  after  have  derived  the  elements 
of  their  doctrines,  and  impudently  attempted  the  same  things 
under  different  appellations.  This  Simon  was  skilled  in  magic 
and  had  imposed  upon  great  numbers,  partly  by  practising  the 
art  of  Thrasymedes  after  the  manner  which  I  have  already 
exposed  (in  the  Book  upon '  Magicians  '),  and  partly  by  miracle- 
working  through  the  agency  of  demons.  He  attempted  to 
set  up  for  a  god,  being  a  thorough  impostor  and  altogether 
unscrupulous  and  daring ;  for  he  was  that  one  whom  the 
Apostles  confuted,  as  is  recorded  in  the  Acts. 

"  Much  more  wisely  therefore  and  sensibly  than  Simon  did 
that  Apscthus  act,  when  he  aimed  at  being  accounted  a  god, 
who  went  to  work  in  Libya ;  whose  story,  not  being  very 
dissimilar  to  the  scheme  of  our  foolish  Simon,  it  were  fitting 
here  to  quote,  inasmuch  as  it  is  quite  of  a  piece  with  the 
procedure  of  the  latter. 

"  Apsethus  the  Libyan  was  very  desirous  of  making  himself  a 
god,  but  when,  after  long  labouring,  he  had  failed  in  his 
endeavours,  he  wanted,  as  the  next  best  thing,  to  be  supposed  to 
have  made  himself  a  god ;  and  in  fact  for  a  considerable  time 
he  did  enjoy  such  a  reputation.  For  the  simple  Libyans  used 
to  sacrifice  to  him  as  to  a  Divine  Power,  in  the  belief  that  they 
were  obeying  a  voice  sent  forth  out  of  Heaven.  He  had  got 
together  and  confined  several  parrots  in  one  and  the  same  little 
room,  for  parrots  are  plentiful  all  over  Libya,  and  they  distinctly 
mimic  the  human  voice ;  and  having  kept  these  birds  for  some 
time,  he  taught  them  to  say  '  Apsethus  is  a  god.'  And  when 
the  birds  in  course  of  time  were  taught,  and  could  speak  that 
sentence  which  he  supposed,  when  spoken,  would  cause  him 
to  pass  for  a  god,  then  he  opened  their  place  of  confinement. 


and  allowed  the  parrots  to  escape  in  different  directions.  And 
as  the  birds  flew  about,  the  sound  was  carried  all  over  Libya, 
and  the  words  travelled  as  far  as  the  Greek  territory  (Gyrene)  ; 
and  thus  the  Libyans,  being  struck  with  amazement  at  the 
voice  of  the  birds,  and  not  suspecting  the  trick  played  them  by 
Apsethus,  accounted  him  a  god.  But  one  of  the  Greeks  having 
clearly  detected  the  contrivance  of  the  supposed  deity,  did,  by 
means  of  the  self- same  parrots,  not  merely  confute,  but  also 
extinguish  that  vain-glorious  and  impudent  fellow.  This  Greek 
caged  several  of  the  same  parrots,  and  taught  them  to  utter  a 
contrary  strain,  *  Apsethus  shut  us  up,  and  forced  us  to  say 
Apsethus  is  a  god.'  But  when  the  Libyans  heard  this  recan 
tation  of  the  parrots,  they  all  came  together  with  one  accord, 
and  burnt  Apsethus  alive, 

"  In  this  light  wo  ought  to  regard  the  magician  Simon, 
and  compare  him  to  this  Libyan,  a  man  who  made  him 
self  a  god  in  that  very  expeditious  manner ;  for  in  truth  the 
comparison  holds  good  in  all  particulars,  and  the  sorcerer  met 
with  a  fate  not  unlike  that  of  Apsethus.  I  will  therefore 
endeavour  to  un-tcach  Simon's  parrots  by  showing  that  Simon 
was  not  the  Christ  '  AVho  hath  stood,  standeth,  and  shall 
stand,'  but  a  man,  mortal,  generated  from  the  seed  of  woman, 
begotten  from  blood  and  carnal  concupiscence  like  the  rest  of 
mankind  :  and  that  such  was  the  fact  I  shall  clearly  demonstrate 
in  the  course  of  my  narrative.  For  Simon  speaks,  when  in 
terpreting  the  Law  of  Moses,  in  an  impudent  and  fraudulent 
fashion,  for  whenever  Moses  says  '  Our  God  is  a  burning  and 
a  consuming  fire,'  Simon,  taking  what  Moses  has  said  in  a  false 
sense,  maintains  that  Fire  is  the  Principle  of  all  things.  lie 
does  not  perceive  the  true  meaning  that  God  is  not  '  a  fire,' 
but  '  a  burning  and  a  consuming  fire,'  and  so  not  only  mutilates 
the  Law  of  Moses,  but  plagiarises  from  Heraclitus,  suriiamed 
*  the  Obscure.'  For  Simon  designates  the  Principle  of  all 
things  *  Boundless  Power '  in  the  following  words :  *  This  is 
the  Book  of  the  Declaration  of  the  Voice,  and  of  the  Name,  from 
the  inspiration  of  the  Great,  the  Boundless  Power.  Wherefore 
the  same  is  sealed,  hidden,  wrapped  up,  stored  in  the  dwelling 
wherein  the  lioot  of  all  things  is  established.'  This  dwelling 


he  says,  signifies  Man  here  below,  who  is  born  of  blood,  and 
also  signifies  that  there  dwells  within  him  that  '  Boundless 
Power'  which  he  asserts  is  the  Root  of  all  things.  But  this 
Boundless  Power  (or  Fire,  according  to  Simon)  is  not  a  simple 
substance,  in  the  same  way  as  most  people  who  call  the 
Elements  '  simple '  account  Fire  likewise  as  simple  :  on  the 
contrary,  he  maintains  that  the  nature  of  Fire  is,  as  it  were, 
double ;  and  of  this  double  number  he  terms  one  part  the 
Insensible,  the  other  the  Visible;  asserting  that  the  insensible 
are  contained  within  the  visible  parts  of  the  Fire,  and  that  the 
visible  parts  are  generated  by  the  invisible.  (This  is  the  same 
thing  that  Aristotle  expresses  by  his  '  Force  '  and  '  Energy ' ; 
and  Plato  by  his  '  Intelligible  '  and  *  Sensible.') 

"  Again  the  Visible  part  of  Fire  contains  within  itself  all  things 
whatsoever  one  can  perceive,  or  even  fail  to  perceive,  of  things 
visible.  The  Invisible,  on  the  other  hand,  is  whatsoever  one 
can  conceive  as  an  object  of  thought,  but  which  escapes  the 
sense,  or  even  what  one  fails  to  comprehend  by  the  thought. 
And  to  sum  up,  it  may  be  said  that  of  all  things  that  exist, 
whether  objects  of  sense  or  of  thought,  or,  as  Simon  terms  them, 
Visible  and  Invisible,  the  store-house  is  the  Great  Fire  that  is 
above  the  heavens :  '  As  it  were  a  great  Tree,  like  to  that  seen 
in  his  dream  by  Nabuchadonosor,  from  the  which  all  flesh  was 
fed.'  And  the  Visible  he  considers  to  be  the  trunk  of  the  Tree 
and  the  branches,  and  the  leaves,  and  the  bark  surrounding  the 
same  on  the  outside.  All  these  parts  of  the  great  Tree,  says 
he,  are  kindled  from  the  all-devouring  flame  of  the  Fire,  and 
are  destroyed.  But  the  Fruit  of  the  Tree,  if  it  takes  a  shape 
and  assumes  a  proper  form,  is  laid  up  in  a  storehouse,  and  not 
cast  into  the  fire.  For  the  fruit  is  made  in  order  that  it  may  be 
laid  up  in  the  storehouse,  but  the  husk  that  it  may  be  committed 
to  the  fire  ;  which  same  is  the  trunk,  ordained  not  for  the  sake 
of  the  husk  but  of  the  fruit. 

"And  this,  according  to  Simon,  is  what  is  written  in  the 
Scripture  :  '  The  vineyard  of  the  Lord  of  hosts  is  the  House  of 
Israel,  and  a  man  of  Judah  the  well-beloved  branch  thereof.' 
Now,  if  a  man  of  Judah  be  the  '  well-beloved  branch,'  it  is  a 
proof  that  the  wood  can  be  nothing  else  than  a  man.  But  as 


regards  the  excretion  and  the  dispersion  from  the  same,  the 
Scripture  hath  spoken  fully  and  sufficiently  for  the  instruction 
of  all  such  as  be  brought  to  their  perfect  form  :  according  to 
the  saying,  *  All  flesh  is  grass,  and  the  glory  thereof  as  the 
flower  of  the  grass;  the  grass  withereth,  the  flower  thereof 
fadeth,  but  the  Word  of  the  Lord  endureth  for  ever.'  Now 
this  Word  of  the  Lord,  says  Simon,  is  the  word  that  is  produced 
in  the  mouth,  that  is,  Speech ;  for  the  place  of  its  birth  is 
nowhere  else. 

"  To  be  brief  therefore  :  since,  according  to  Simon,  the  Fire  is 
of  the  aforesaid  nature,  and  all  things  that  be,  both  visible  and 
invisible,  and  vocal  and  voiceless,  and  numbered  and  un 
numbered,  are  this  Fire,  therefore  in  his  '  Great  Bevelation '  ho 
terms  this  the  Fountain-head  of  all,  the  Great  Intellectual,  as 
constituting  each  individual  of  all  things  in  their  infinite  order, 
which  are  capable  of  being  conceived  in  the  mind,  and  likewise 
of  speaking,  of  thinking,  and  of  acting.  As  Empedocles 
hath  it— 

" '  Through  Earth,  the  Earth  perceive,  through  Water,  Water ; 
Through.  Air  scan  Air;  through  Fire  the  hidden  Fire; 
Through  Love  view  Love;  through  Discord,  hateful  Discord.' 

"  For  Simon  held  that  all  the  members  of  this  Fire,  both  the 
Visible  and  the  Invisible,  possessed  intelligence  and  a  portion  of 
mind.  The  world  that  is  created,  consequently,  according  to 
him,  comes  from  the  uncreated  Fire.  The  commencement  of 
its  creation  was  in  this  wise  :  six  '  Eadicals '  (  lit.  Boots),  the 
First  Principles  of  the  beginning  of  Creation,  were  taken  by 
the  Begotten  One  out  of  the  Principle  of  that  Fire;  for  he 
asserts  that  these  Six  Eadicals  emanated  by  pairs  out  of  the 
Fire.  These  Six  Eadicals  he  names,  'Mind  and  Intelligence, 
Voice  and  Name,  Eeason  and  Thought.'  And  there  exists  in 
these  Eadicals  taken  together  the  whole  of  the  'Boundless 
Power,'  but  existing  in  potentiality,  not  in  activity.  And  this 
Boundless  Power  Simon  calls  '  He  who  standeth,  hath  stood, 
and  shall  stand  ; '  who,  if  ho  shall  be  figured  (invested  with 
form)  when  he  is  in  those  Six  Powers,  shall  be  in  reality,  force, 
power  and  perfection,  the  one  and  the  same  with  the  Un- 
begotten  Boundless  Power.  But  if  he  shall  abide  in  potentiality 


alone  in  those  Six  Powers,  and  not  assume  a/orwz,  he  vanishes 
and  perishes,  as  does  a  grammatical  or  a  geometrical  power 
in  a  man's  mind.  For  potentiality,  when  it  has  gotten  art, 
becomes  the  light  of  things  generated;  but  when  it  has  not 
gotten  art  (execution)  it  remains  in  inertness  and  darkness,  and 
exactly  as  when  it  did  not  exist  at  all,  and  dies  with  the  man 
upon  his  death. 

"  Now  of  these  Six  Powers,  and  of  the  Seventh  which  goes 
along  with  them,  the  First  Thought  Simon  terms  '  Mind  and 
Intellect,'  '  Heaven  and  Earth ' ;  teaching  that  the  one  of  the 
male  sex  looks  down  upon  and  takes  care  of  his  consort ;  whilst 
the  Earth  below  receives  from  Heaven  the  '  Intellect,'  and 
fruits  of  the  same  nature  with  the  Earth,  which  are  poured 
down  from  above.  For  this  cause,  says  Simon,  the  Word,  often 
looking  down  upon  the  things  that  spring  out  of  Mind  and 
Intellect,  says,  '  Hear,  0  Heavens,  and  receive  with  thine  ears, 
O  Earth !  for  the  Lord  hath  spoken :  I  have  begotten  and 
brought  up  sons,  but  they  have  despised  me.'  He  that  saith 
this  is  the  Seventh  Power,  '  He  who  standeth,  hath  stood,  and 
shall  stand  ; '  for  He  is  the  author  of  those  good  things  which 
Moses  commended,  saying  that  they  were  very  good. 

'  Voice  and  name  are  the  Sun  and  Moon ;  *  Reason  and 
Thought '  are  air  and  water.  But  with  all  of  these  is  mingled 
and  combined  that  Boundless  Power,  '  He  who  standeth,'  as  I 
have  already  mentioned. 

"  Therefore  when  Moses  says,  '  In  six  days  the  Lord  made 
heaven  and  earth,  and  on  the  seventh  day  he  rested  from  all  his 
works,'  Simon,  distorting  the  passage  after  the  aforesaid 
fashion,  makes  himself  out  to  be  God.  "When  therefore,  the 
Simonians  say  that  there  were  three  days  before  the  Sun  and 
the  Moon  were  made,  they  understand  by  it  Mind  and  Intelli 
gence,  or  Heaven  and  Earth,  and  also  that  '  Boundless  Power ' 
of  theirs.  For  these  three  Powers  were  made  before  all  the  rest. 
Again,  where  it  is  said :  '  Before  all  the  world  he  hath  begotten 
me,'  these  words,  as  they  pretend,  refer  to  the  Seventh  Power 
Now  this  Seventh  Power,  who  was  a  Power  existing  within  the 
Boundless  Power,  and  who  was  made  before  all  the  world,  this, 
as  Simon  teaches,  is  that  Seventh  Power  of  whom  Moses  spake : 


*  And  the  Spirit  of  God  moved  upon  tho  face  of  tho  waters,' 
that  is  to  say,  the  Spirit  containing  all  things  within  itself,  tho 
Image  of  tho  Boundless  Power,  concerning  which  Simon  saith, 

*  tho  image  is  tho  incorruptible  Power  governing  all  things  by 
himself ! ' 

"  Now  the'creation  of  the  world  having  been  after  this  or  a 
similar  fashion,  God,  says  he,  made  Man  out  of  clay  taken  from 
the  earth ;  and  he  made  them  not  single,  but  double,  both  as 
regards  the  image,  and  the  likeness.  For  the  image  is  the 
Spirit  moving  upon  the  face  of  the  waters,  who,  if  he  be  not 
clothed  with  form  will  perish  together  with  the  world,  inas 
much  as  ho  abode  merely  in  potentiality,  and  was  not  made 
concrete  by  activity.  For  this  is  the  meaning  of  the  Scripture : 

*  Lest  wo  be  condemned  together  with  the  world.'     But  if  it 
shall  take  a  form,  and  spring  out  of  an  indivisible  point,  it  is 
what  is  written  in  the  Eevelation :    '  The  little  shall   become 
great.'      This    '  Great '    shall    continue    to    all    eternity,    and 
unchangeable,  inasmuch  as  it  is  no  longer  to  le  made  (z'.e.,  no 
longer  abstract). 

"  In  what  way  therefore,  and  after  what  manner  did  God  form 
man  ?  In  Paradise — for  in  this  point  Simon  also  agreed.  But 
this  '  paradise '  must  be  the  womb  (according  to  him),  and  that 
such  is  the  true  explanation  is  proved  by  the  Scripture,  which 
saith,  '  I  am  he  that  formed  thee  in  thy  mother's  womb,'  for  so 
he  will  have  it  to  be  written.  The  womb  Moses  called  Paradise 
by  an  allegory,  if  we  choose  to  listen  to  the  word  of  God ;  for  if 
God  did  form  man  in  his  mother's  womb,  that  is,  in  paradise 
then  *  Paradise  '  must  needs  signify  the  womb.  *  Eden  '  is 
that  same  region,  and  the  river  going  forth  out  of  Eden  to 
water  the  garden,  is  the  navel.  This  navel  is  divided  into  four 
heads;  because  from  each  part  thereof  proceed  two  arteries 
running  side  by  side,  channels  for  the  breath ;  and  also  two 
veins,  channels  for  the  blood.  When,  therefore,  this  navel 
proceeding  out  of  the  region,  Eden,  is  attached  to  the  foetus  at 
the  lower  belly  which  we  commonly  term  the  navel.  .  .  [Here 
some  words  are  evidently  lost].  And  the  two  veins  through 
which  the  blood  flows,  and  is  carried  out  of  the  region  Eden, 
through  what  are  called  'the  gates  of  the  liver'  which  nourish 


the  embryo.  Again,  the  two  tubes  which  we  have  spoken  of  as 
the  channels  of  the  blood,  embrace  the  bladder  at  each  side  of 
the  pelvis,  and  touch  the  great  artery  which  runs  along  the 
same,  called  the  aorta ;  and  thus  the  breath,  passing  through 
the  veins  into  the  heart,  produces  the  motion  of  the  embryo. 
For  so  long  as  the  child  is  being  formed  in  '  paradise,'  it  neither 
takes  nourishment  through  the  mouth,  nor  breathes  through 
the  nostrils ;  for,  placed  as  it  is  in  the  midst  of  fluid,  it  would  be 
instant  death  for  it,  were  it  to  breathe,  inasmuch  as  it  would 
draw  a  fluid  and  be  destroyed.  Moreover,  the  child  is  conceived 
within  an  envelope,  which  is  called  the  aminium ;  but  it  receives 
nourishment  through  the  navel,  and  takes  in  the  essence  of  the 
breath  through  the  dorsal  artery  above  described.  The  Eiver, 
therefore,  going  forth  out  of  Eden,  is  divided  into  four  heads, 
namely,  Seeing,  Hearing,  Smelling,  Touching  and  Tasting,  for 
these  are  the  only  senses  that  the  infant  formed  in  Paradise  is 
possessed  of. 

"  This  then,  according  to  Simon,  is  the  law  which  Moses  gave 
and  his  Four  Books  are  written  in  accordance  with  that  law,  as 
their  own  titles  do  manifest.  For  the  first  book  is  Genesis;  the 
very  title,  he  affirms,  were  sufficient  for  the  understanding  of 
the  whole  matter.  For  this  '  Genesis  '  is  the  Sight,  into  which 
one  section  of  the  Eiver  branches  off",  because  the  whole  outer 
world  is  perceived  through  the  sight.  Again,  the  title  of  the 
second  book  is  Exodus,  which  signifies  that  it  was  necessary  for 
the  thing  born  to  pass  through  the  Eed  Sea  (meaning  by 
<Eed  Sea,'  the  blood),  and  to  enter  into  the  wilderness,  and  to 
drink  of  the  bitter  water  (Marah).  Now  this  *  bitter  water  ' 
which  lies  beyond  the  Eed  Sea,  is  the  path  of  knowledge  during 
life,  which  leads  through  places  toilsome  and  unpleasant.  But 
after  it  hath  been  changed  by  Moses,  that  is,  by  the  Word,  that 
same  bitter  water  becometh  sweet.  And  that  such  is  the  reality 
one  may  learn  from  everybody  who  exclaims  in  the  words  of 
the  poet  :— 

u « Black  is  the  root,  the  flower  as  white  as  milk, 
Named  Moly  by  the  gods,  full  hard  to  find 
By  mortals :"  but  the  gods  all  things  can  do.' 

"  Even  what  is  said  by  the  Gentiles  is  sufficient  for  the  under- 


standing  of  the  whole  matter  unto  him  that  hath  oars  to  hear. 
lie  that  tasted  of  tho  fruit  given  by  Circe*  was  not  only 
himself  not  changed  into  a  beast,  but  by  making  use  of  the 
virtue  of  tho  self-same  fruit,  remodelled,  reformed  and  re 
called  those  already  transformed  by  her  into  their  own  proper 
shape.  For  the  Faithful  Man,  and  the  beloved  by  that 
sorceress,  is  found  out  by  means  of  that  divine  and  milky 

"  In  the  like  manner  Leviticus  is  the  Third  Book  (or  River)  ; 
which  signifies  the  sense  of  smell,  or  the  respiration ;  for  the 
whole  of  that  Book  is  concerning  sacrifices  and  oblations.  But 
wheresoever  there  is  sacrifice,  there  also  dues  a  sweet  smell  of 
perfume  arise  up  from  the  sacrifice;  concerning  which  sweet 
odour  the  sense  of  smelling'  is  the  approver. 

"  '  Numbers,'  the  Fourth  of  the  Books,  signifies  the  Taste,  for 
then  the  speech  is  active,  inasmuch  as  it  is  through  the  Speech 
that  all  objects  are  designated  in  numerical  order. 

"  '  Deuteronomy,'  Simon  makes  out,  is  so  named  in  reference 
to  the  child  that  has  been  formed  for  Touching.  For  as  the 
Touch  doth  by  feeling  reciprocate  and  confirm  the  impressions 
received  by  tho  other  senses ;  proving  an  object  to  be  either 
hard,  or  hot,  or  slippery — in  the  like  manner  the  Fifth  Book  of 
the  Law  is  a  recapitulation  of  the  four  preceding  Books. 

"  All  things,  therefore  (continues  he),  that  are  not  created  exist 
within  us  in  potentiality,  not  in  activity  ;  like  the  science  of 
grammar,  or  of  geometry.  In  the  case,  therefore,  where  they 
shall  have  met  with  the  proper  training  and  instruction,  there 
4  shall  the  Bitter  be  turned  into  Sweet ' ;  that  is,  '  the  spears 
shall  be  turned  into  reaping-hooks,  and  the  swords  into  plough 
shares  ; '  they  shall  be  no  longer  chaff  and  sticks  born  for  the  fire, 
but  the  Perfect  Fruit,  like  and  equal,  as  already  said,  unto  the 
Unbegotten  and  Boundless  Power.  But  where  the  Tree  shall 
stand  alone,  not  bearing  fruit,  there,  because  it  hath  not  received 
form,  it  shall  be  destroyed.  '  For  now  (saith  he)  the  axe  is  nigh 
unto  the  root  of  tho  tree.  Every  tree  therefore  that  beareth  not 
good  fruit,  is  hewn  down  and  cast  into  tlie  fire.' 

*  Simon   has   here   forgotten  his  "  Odyssey  " ;  the  antidote  Moly  having 
been  given  to  Ulysses  hy  Hermes. 



"  According  to  Simon,  therefore,  that  blessed  and  inscrutable 
thing  lies  hidden,  and  within  every  man,  but  in  potentiality 
alone,  not  in  activity;  the  which  is  'He  who  standeth,  hath 
stood,  and  shall  stand ' ;  who  standeth  above  in  the  Unbegotten 
Power,  who  hath  stood  below  in  the  *  River  of  Waters  '  when  he 
was  begotten  in  the  image,  and  who  shall  stand  above  by  the  side 
of  the  Blessed  and  Boundless  Power,  provided  that  he  shall  have 
received  form.  For  there  are  three  that  stand,  and  unless  there 
be  the  three  ^Eons  that  stand, '  the  Begotten  One  is  not  adorned,' 
meaning  Him,  who,  according  to  Simon's  teaching,  moved  upon 
the  face  of  the  waters ;  who  hath  been  re-created  after  the 
image,  perfect  and  heavenly;  who  likewise  is  in  no  degree 
lower  than  the  Unbegotten  Power." 

"  This  is  a  saying  amongst  the  Simonians,  '  I  and  thou  are  one  ; 
thou  before  me,  I  after  thee.'  *  Tltis  is  the  One  Power,  divided 
into  Above  and  Below,  begetting  itself,  nourishing  itself, 
seeking  after  itself/finding  itself,  being  its  own  mother,  its  own 
father,  its  own  sifter,  its  own  consort,  its  own  daughter,  son 
mother,  father,  inasmuch  as  it  alone  is  the  Root  of  all  things.' 

"  That  Fire  is  the  origin  of  the  generation  of  all  things  gene 
rated,  Simon  demonstrates  after  this  fashion.  '  Of  all  things 
whatsoever  that  exist,  being  generated,  the  final  cause  of  the 
desire  for  their  generation  proceeds  out  of  Fire.  For  "  to  be  set 
on  fire  "  is  the  term  used  to  designate  the  desire  of  the  act  of 
generation  and  propagation.  Now  this  "Fire,"  which  is  one,  is 
changed  into  two.  For  in  the  male  the  blood  which  is  hot  and 
red,  like  Fire  in  a  visible  shape,  is  converted  into  seed ;  in  the 
female  this  same  blood  is  converted  into  milk.  And  this  change 
in  the  male  becomes  the  generation-faculty  itself;  whilst  the 
change  in  the  female  becomes  the  instrument  (efficient  cause), 
of  the  thing  begotten.  This  (according  to  Simon)  is  the 
"  Flaming  Sword,"  which  is  brandished  to  keep  the  way  unto  the 
Tree  of  Life.  For  the  blood  is  turned  into  seed  and  into  milk  ; 
and  this  Power  becomes  both  father  and  mother ;  the  father  of 
those  that  be  born,  and  the  nutriment  of  those  that  be  nourished  ; 
standing  in  need  of  none  other,  sufficient  unto  itself.  More 
over  the  Tree  of  Life,  which  is  guarded  by  the  brandished  naming 
sword  is,  as  we  have  said,  the  Seventh  Power,  the  self-begotten, 


which  comprehends  all  the  others,  and  which  is  deposited  within 
the  other  Six  Powers.  For  if  that  Flaming  Sword  should  not  be 
brandished,  then  would  that  beautiful  Tree  be  destroyed  and 
perish ;  but  when  it  is  changed  into  the  seed  and  the  milk,  then 
lie  that  is  stored  up  within  them  in  potentiality,  having  ob 
tained  the  necessary  Logos  {Reason)  and  the  fitting  place 
wherein  that  Logos  may  be  generated,  then,  beginning  as  it  were 
from  the  smallest  spark,  he  shall  wax  great  to  perfection,  and 
increase,  and  become  a  Power  without  end,  and  without  change, 
being  equal  and  like  unto  the  infinite  TEon,  being  no  more 
begotten  again  to  all  eternity.' 

"  Now,  on  the  strength  of  this  theory,  as  all  are  agreed,  Simon 
made  himself  out  a  god  unto  the  ignorant,  like  that  Libyan 
Apsethus  above  mentioned ;  '  being  begotten  and  subject  to 
passion  so  long  as  he  is  in  potentiality,  but  not  subject  to 
passion  after  he  shall  have  been  begotten,  and  have  received  the 
image,  and  having  been  made  perfect  shall  pass  out  of  the 
dominion  of  the  first  two  Powers,  that  is,  of  Heaven  and  Earth.' 
For  Simon  speaks  expressly  upon  this  point  in  his  '  Revelation,1 
in  the  following  manner.  '  Unto  you  therefore  I  say  what  I 
say,  and  write  what  I  write.  The  Writing  is  this.  There  are 
Two  stocks  of  all  the  /Eons  put  together,  having  neither  be 
ginning  nor  end,  springing  out  of  one  Root,  the  which  is  Silence, 
invisible,  inconceivable,  of  which  Stocks,  the  one  shows  itself 
from  above,  the  which  is  a  great  Power,  Mind  of  the  all,  per 
vading  all  things,  and  of  the  male  sex  :  the  other,  showing  itself 
from  below,  is  the  Great  Intelligence,  and  is  of  the  female  sex  ; 
generating  all  things.  From  thence  they  correspond  with  each 
other,  and  keep  up  a  partnership,  and  illuminate  the  Middle 
Space  lying  between  them  (which  is  the  air),  inconceivable, 
having  neither  beginning  nor  end.  In  this  Middle  Space  is  the 
Father,  who  bears  up  all  things  and  nourishes  the  things  that 
have  beginning  and  ending.  This  is  "  He  who  standeth,  hath 
stood,  and  shall  stand  ;  being  both  male  and  female,  a  Power 
after  the  image  of  the  pre-existing  infinite  Power,  that  hath 
neither  beginning  nor  ending,  existing  in  Unity."  For  the  In 
telligence  in  Unity  proceeded  out  of  this  last  and  became  Twain. 
Now  He  (the  Father)  is  One,  for  whilst  he  contained  that 

F  2 


Power  within  himself  he  was  single ;  nevertheless  he  was  not  the 
First,  although  he  was  pre-existent,  but  when  he  was  mani 
fested  to  himself  out  of  himself,  he  became  Second,  and  neither 
was  he  named  the  "  Father,"  before  that  Power  called  him 
Father.  In  the  like  manner  therefore  as  the  drawing- forth 
himself  out  of  himself  manifested  unto  himself  his-  own  Intelli 
gence,  so  did  this  Intelligence  also,  when  manifested,  not  create, 
but  contemplate  Him;  and  thereby  stood-up  the  Father  within 
herself,  that  is  to  say,  the  Power.  And  this  Intelligence  like 
wise  is  both  a  male  and  female  Power ;  on  which  account  they 
answer  to  one  another,  for  the  Power  differs  not  at  all  from  the 
Intelligence,  being  one  and  the  same.  From  that  which  is 
above,  indeed,  is  formed  the  Power ;  from  that  which  is  below, 
the  Intelligence.  Of  the  same  kind  therefore  is  the  Unity, 
which  is  manifested  out  of  them  both  ;  for  being  one  it  is  found 
to  be  Twain ;  both  male  and  female,  containing  within  itself 
the  female.  In  this  manner  the  Mind  exists  within  the  Intelli 
gence  ;  which,  when  severed  from  each  other,  although  they 
are  One,  are  found  to  be  Two.' 

"  Simon,  therefore,  by  publishing  these  notions,  did  not  merely 
distort  arid  wrest  to  his  own  purpose  the  sayings  of  Moses,  but 
equally  those  of  the  heathen  poets.  For  he  makes  an  allegory 
out  of  the  Trojan  Horse  of  wood,  and  the  story  of  Helen  with 
the  torch,  and  much  else,  which  he  applies  to  his  own  fables 
concerning  himself  and  his  '  Intelligence.'  *  Again  he  makes 
out  the  latter  to  be  the  Lost  Sheep,  which,  always  taking  up  her 
abode  in  the  persons  of  women,  doth  cause  trouble  amongst  all 
earthly  Powers  by  reason  of  her  incomparable  beauty  ;  where 
fore  the  Trojan  War  came  to  pass  because  of  her.  For  this 
'  Intelligence '  *  of  his  took  up  her  abode  in  Helen  who  was  born 
just  at  that  time ;  and  so,  when  the  Powers  laid  claim  to  her 
possession,  strife  and  discord  arose  amongst  all  the  nations  to 
whom  she  manifested  herself.  At  any  rate,  it  was  on  this 
account  that  Stesichorus,  for  having  reviled  her  in  his  verses, 
was  deprived  of  sight ;  but  afterwards,  when  he  had  repented, 

*  That  is  his  wife  Helena.  By  a  of  Novara  also  went  about  accom- 
remarkable,  though  doubtless  uii-  panied  by  a  similar  female  "  Intelli- 
designed  coincidence,  Fia  Dolcino  gence." 


and  written  his  *  Recantation,'  in  which  ho  sang  her  praises, 
he  recovered  the  use  of  his  eyes.  Then,  after  she  had  been 
placed  in  another  body  by  the  Angels  and  the  Powers  below 
(who  according  to  Simon  were  the  creators  of  the  world),  she 
was  standing  upon  a  housetop*  in  Tyre,  a  city  of  Pho3nicia,  where 
he  found  her  on  his  landing.  For  he  pretends  to  have  gono 
thither  expressly  in  quest  of  her,  to  deliver  her  out  of  bondage  ; 
and,  after  having  ransomed  her,  he  always  carried  her  about 
with  him,  pretending  that  this  was  the  Lost  Sheep,  and  ho 
himself  was  the  Power  that  is  over  all.  But  the  truth  is,  the 
impostor  had  become  enamoured  of  this  harlot,  whose  real 
name  was  Helena,  so  that  he  bought  and  kept  her  ;  but  out  ol 
shame  as  regards  his  disciples,  he  invented  the  aforesaid  fable. 
Furthermore,  nowadays  those  that  be  the  followers  of  this 
deceiver  and  magician,  Simon,  imitate  his  example,  asserting 
that  it  is  right  to  have'intercourse  with  all  women  promiscuously, 
for  they  say  *  All  land  is  land,  and  it  matters  not  where  one 
sows  his  seed  so  long  as  he  does  sow  it.'  Nay  more,  they  pride 
themselves  upon  this  promiscuous  intercourse,  affirming  that 
this  is  the  '  Perfect  Love,'  and  quote  the  text  '  The  Holy 
of  holies  shall  be  made  holy.'  For  they  hold  that  they  are 
bound  by  no  obligation  as  regards  anything  usually  accounted 
wicked,  inasmuch  as  they  have  been  redeemed.  In  this  way, 
Simon,  after  he  had  ransomed  Helena,  granted  salvation  unto  men 
by  means  of  his  own  Knowledge  (or  the  Gnosis).  For  inasmuch 
as  the  Angels  governed  the  world  badly  by  reason  of  their  own 
ambitiousness,  Simon  pretended  that  he  was  come  to  set  all 
things  right,  having  changed  his  form,  and  made  himself  like 
to  the  Principalities,  the  Powers,  and  the  Angels ;  wherefore  it 
was  that  he  appeared  in  man's  shape,  though  not  a  man  at  all, 
and  had  suffered  the  Passion  in  Judaea,  although  he  had  not 
suffered  it;  moreover  that  he  had  manifested  himself  to  the 
Jews  as  the  Son,  in  Samaria  as  the  Father,  and  amongst  the 
Gentiles  elsewhere  as  the  Holy  Ghost,  but  that  he  submitted  to 
be  called  by  whatever  name  men  pleased.  The  Prophets  were 
inspired  by  the  Angels,  creators  of  the  world,  when  they 

*  A  euphemism  for  "  living  in   a       which  these  ladies  advertised  them- 
brothel,"    such    being   the    mode  in       selves. 


delivered  their  prophecies ;  on  which  account  those  who  believe 
in  Simon  and  Helena  pay  no  regard  to  them,  even  in  our  times  ; 
and  they  do  whatever  they  please,  affirming  that  they  are  re 
deemed  through  Ms  grace.  For  nothing  is  the  cause  of  dam 
nation,  supposing  a  man  to  act  wickedly,  for  Evil  is  evil  not 
through  the  nature  of  things  but  by  convention.  For  the  Angels 
who  created  the  world  ordained  it  to  be  so  (as  they  assert), 
in  order  that  they  might  keep  in  subjection,  by  means  of  such 
fictions,  all  men  who  should  listen  to  them.  Furthermore  they 
explain  the  dissolution  of  the  world  as  referring  to  the  redemp 
tion  of  their  own  sect. 

"  The  disciples,  therefore,  of  this  Simon,  practise  magic  arts 
and  incantation,  and  make  philtres  and  seductive  spells ;  they 
likewise  send  the  so-called  'dream-bringing'  demons  to  trouble 
whomsoever  they  choose.  They  likewise  practise  the  rites  of 
the  gods  named  Paredroi  (the  Assessors) ;  they  have  also  an 
image  of  Simon  in  the  guise  of  Jupiter,  and  likewise  one  of 
Helena  in  the  figure  of  Minerva ;  and  these  they  worship, 
calling  one  the  *  Master,'  the  other  the  '  Mistress.'  "* 

So  much  for  the  system  of  the  renowned  Samaritan,  in  which, 
it  will  have  been  seen,  the  place  of  logical  reasoning  is  supplied 
by  quibbles  upon  words,  taken  absolutely  without  any  reference 
to  the  context— a  style  of  argument,  however,  for  which  it  must 
be  confessed  that  he  had  highly  respectable  authority.  In 
strong  contrast  to  this  stands  the  next  system,  which  displays 
much  of  the  refinement  and  sound  training  (amidst  its  extrava 
gance)  of  the  Grecian  mind. 


Hippolytus,  in  accordance  with  his  theses  that  all  these 
"  heresies "  were  mere  plagiarisms  from  the  more  ancient 
philosophical  systems,  declares  that  Basilides  stole  the  entire  of 
his  scheme  from  Aristotle,  and  proceeds  to  establish  his  charge 
by  the  following  comparative  analysis  of  the  two. 

"  Aristotle  divides  all  substance  into  the  Genus,  the  Species, 

*  Hero  follows  the  account  of  his  career  and  end,  already  extracted 
(pp.  21,  22). 



and  the  Individual     The  Genus  is,  as  it  were,  a  heap  composed 
of  many  and  different  seeds,  from  which  heap  all  the  Species 
are  taken ;  and  the  genus  is  the  sufficient  cause  to  all  things 
that   exist.      For   example,  'Animal'  is   used   absolutely,  not 
signifying  any  particular  animal.     '  Animal '  does  not  signify 
a  horse,  an  ox,  or   a   man,  but   simply  'animal.'      From   this 
abstract  '  animal '  all  the  species  of  animals  universally  derive 
their  origin,  and  this  '  animal '  without  species  is  the  origin  of 
all  animals  generated  according  to  their  species,  and  not  any 
one   thing   of   things   generated.      Thus,   Man   is   an   animal, 
deriving  his  origin  from  the  '  animal,'  and  Horse  is  an  animal 
in  the  same  manner.     Similarly  all  other  animals  are  derived 
from   that  'animal,'   who  yet  in   itself  is  none  of  them.      If 
therefore  that  'animal'  is  none  of  these,  then,  according   to 
Aristotle,  the  substance  of  all  things  that  are  proceeds  out  of 
things  that  are  non-existent,  inasmuch  as  the  '  animal,'  out  of 
which  they  all  proceed  individually,  is  not  one  thing  (or  '  is 
nothing  at  all ').     And  this,   being  Nothing,  is  the  origin  of 
all  that  le. 

"  Now  substance  being  divided  into  three  classes — the  genus, 
the  species,  and  the  individual— we  have  defined  the  genus  as 
'  animal,'  'man'  as  the  species  picked  out  of  the  heap  of 
animals,  but  as  yet  undiscriminated,  and  not  separated  into  the 
form  of  a  particular  being.  But  when  I  define  by  a  special 
name,  like  Socrates,  or  Diogenes,  a  man  taken  from  the  species 
the  genus,  then  that  being  is  termed  the  '  individual.'  Thus 
the  genus  is  divided  into  species,  the  species  into  individual ; 
but  the  individual  once  being  denned  by  name  cannot  be 
divided  any  further.  This  is  what  Aristotle  calls  justly  and 
properly  '  Substance,'  that  which  cannot  be  predicated  '  of  the 
subject,'  nor  'in  the  subject.'  By  the  term  'of  the  subject' 
he  means  such  an  idea  as  '  animal,'  which  can  be  predicated  of 
all  the  subject  animals  individually— as  a  horse,  an  ox,  a  man- 
all  being  called  by  the  same  name,  '  animal.'  Hence,  what  can 
be  predicated  '  of  the  subject '  is  that  which  applies  to  many 
and  different  species  indiscriminately.  '  In  the  subject '  means 
that  which  cannot  be  predicated  without  the  previous  existence 
of  something  else  wherein  it  may  exist,  as  'white,'  'black/ 


'  just,'  '  unjust ; '  which  are  the  '  accidents '  to  substance,  and 
therefore  called  '  qualities,'  because  expressing  what  sort  of  thing 
each  thing  is.  But  no  one  quality  can  exist  in  itself;  there  must 
be  something  else  for  it  to  exist  in.  If,  therefore,  neither  the 
genus  'animal,'  which  is  predicated  of  all  animals  existing 
individually,  nor  '  accident,'  which  is  only  to  be  found  in  things 
that  exist,  can  either  of  them  exist  by  themselves ;  and  if  indi 
viduals  are  made  up  of  these  two,  namely  genus  and  accident, 
then  it  follows  that  substance,  which  is  made  up  of  these  three, 
and  nothing  besides,  is  made  up  of  things  that  are  non-existent. 

"  If,  therefore,  what  is  properly  and  primarily  termed  *  sub 
stance'  (the  Individual)  is  made  up  of  these,  it  is,  according 
to  Aristotle,  made  up  of  things  non-existent. 

"  Besides  the  terms  Genus,  Species,  Individual,  Substance  is 
further  designated  as  '  Matter  '  and  '  Formation.'  Upon  this 
definition  rests  the  Basilidan  theory  of  the  Universe.  The 
Universe  Basilides  divides  into  several  parts  :  That  part  which 
extends  from  the  earth  up  to  the  moon  is  destitute  of  foresight 
and  of  conduct,  and  is  content  with  its  own  nature.  The  part 
beyond  the  moon  is  constituted  with  foresight,  reason,  and 
conduct,  up  to  the  surface  of  heaven.  This  '  surface '  is  a  fifth 
substance,  free  from  all  the  elements  out  of  which  the  world 
was  created  ;  this,  therefore,  is  the  *  fifth  and  supra-mundane 
subbtaucc.'  These  three  divisions  Aristotle  has  treated  of  in 
three  separate  works  :  his  '  Physics,'  '  Metaphysics,'  and  '  On 
the  Fifth  Substance.'  Not  merely  bis  ideas,  but  his  words  and 
terminology  have  been  borrowed  by  Basilides,  and  applied  to 
the  Scriptures.  How,  then,  can  his  disciples,  being  in  reality 
heathens,  expect  to  be  benefited  by  Christ  ? 

"  Basilides  and  his  true  son  and  disciple  Isidorus,  assert  that 
Matthew  (the  Evangelist)  revealed  to  them  certain  secret 
doctrines  which  had  been  specially  communicated  to  himself  by 
Christ.  '  There  was  a  time  when  there  was  Nothing  ;  nay,  not 
even  that  "  Nothing  "  was  anything  of  being,  but  barely  and 
without  reserve,  and  without  any  sophism,  there  was  altogether 
Nothing.  When  I  use  the  term  "  was,"  I  do  not  mean  to  imply 
that  this  Nothing  was,  but  in  order  to  explain  what  I  wish  to 
set  forth,  I  employ  the  expression  "  there  was  absolutely 


Nothing."  Now  that  which  is  called  "  Ineffable  "  is  not  abso 
lutely  ineffable,  for  we  ourselves  give  it  that  name  of  ineffable  ; 
whereaS'that  which  is  not  even  ineffable  is  not  "  ineffable,"  but 
infinitely  above  every  name  that  can  be  named.  Even  for  the 
Visible  world,  so  multifarious  are  its  divisions  that  wo  have 
not  names  enough  ;  but  we  are  reduced  to  conceive  many  of  its 
properties  from  the  names  of  the  properties  already  named, 
these  (other)  properties  being  ineffable.  For  an  identity  of 
names  occasions  a  disorder  and  confusion  of  ideas  in  the  mind  of 
the  learner.'  (This  is  a  direct  plagiarism  from  Aristotle's 
discussion  of  synonyms  in  his  book  '  On  the  Categories.') 

"  When  therefore  Nothing  was — no  substance,  no  non-sub 
stance,  no  simple,  no  compound,  no  incomprehensible,  no 
sensible,  no  man,  no  angel,  no  God — when  there  was  nothing 
whatever  of  what  is  called  by  name,  perceived  by  sense, 
conceived  by  the  mind,  but  all,  and  even  in  a  more  refined 
sense  than  this,  being  put  out  of  the  question — then  this  No- 
being  God  (Aristotle's  '  thought  of  a  thought,'  which  Basil  ides 
alters  into  his  '  No-being '),  without  thought,  without  purpose, 
without  counsel,  without  passion,  without  desire,  willed  to 
make  the  world.  I  use  the  word  'willed*  merely  to  express 
my  meaning,  it  being  without  thought,  without  sensation, 
without  will,  that  this  was  done ;  and  by  *  world '  I  do  not 
mean  that  world  created  afterwards  and  divided  by  latitude 
and  longitude,  but  I  understand  by  it  *  the  Seed  of  the  World.' 
This  *  Seed  of  the  World  '  contained  the  All  within  itself,  just 
as  the  germ  of  the  mustard-seed  contains  the  root,  the  stalk,  the 
leaves,  the  grain,  the  last  containing  again  the  rudiments  of 
others  innumerable.  Thus  the  No-being  God  created  the  No- 
being  world  out  of  No-being  things,  when  he  deposited  the 
seed  containing  within  itself  the  complete  seeds  of  the  universe. 
And  to  give  an  illustration  of  my  meaning :  the  egg  of  any 
bird  of  diversified  plumage—  the  peacock,  for  example — although 
itself  single,  yet  includes  within  itself  the  many-coloured, 
multifarious  forms  of  multifarious  substances;  so,  in  like 
manner,  did  this  seed  of  the  world  deposited  by  the  No-being 
God  include  within  itself  the  multiform,  multifarious  seeds  of 
the  universe. 


"  This  seed,  then,  contained  all  things  that  can  be  named  ;  nay 
more,  all  things  that  can  not  be  named,  as  yet  hidden  in 
futurity,  and  to  come  forth  after  their  kind  by  accretion,  and  by 
growth,  after  the  manner  in  which  we  see  the  new-born  infant 
acquire  his  teeth,  his  flesh,  his  father's  form,  and  all  his  under 
standing,  and  all  such  things  that  come  to  the  child  as  it  grows 
up,  not  apparent  in  him  at  the  beginning.  Now,  inasmuch  as 
it  is  impossible  to  use  the  term  '  projection '  of  the  No-being 
God  (in  fact,  Basilides  is  opposed  to  all  schemes  of  creation  by 
means  of  a  'projection'),  for  we  must  not  suppose  Matter 
necessary  to  his  operations  in  the  same  way  as  her  threads  are 
to  the  spider,  or  as  timber  and  metal  to  man  when  he  sets 
about  any  work  ;  but  '  He  spake  and  it  was  made ' ;  and  this  is 
what  Moses  means  by  his  '  Let  there  be  light,  and  there  was 
light.'  Whence,  then,  was  this  light  ?  Moses  saith  not  whence 
it  was,  but  that  it  was  from  the  word  of  the  speaker;  but 
neither  He  that  spoke  was,  neither  was  that  which  was  made. 
The  seed  of  the  world  was  this  word  that  was  spoken,  'Let 
there  bo  light.'  And  to  this  the  evangelist  refers  by  his  '  And 
that  was  the  true  Light  which  enlighteneth  every  man  coming 
into  the  world.'  For  man  draws  his  beginning  out  of  that 
seed,  and  is  illuminated  thereby."  (This  "  seed,"  therefore, 
divided  into  infinite  other  seeds,  is  nothing  else  than  Aristotle's 
"genus,"  which  is  divided  into  infinite  other  "species,"  as 
"animal,"  the  genus,  itself  non-existent,  is  divided  into 
"species,"  as  ox,  horse,  man,  &c.) 

"  Having,  therefore,  got  this  seed  for  his  starting-point, 
Basilides  goes  on  thus :  '  Whatever  I  speak  of  as  made  after 
this,  there  is  no  need  of  inquiring  out  of  what  it  was  made, 
seeing  that  this  seed  comprehended  within  itself  the  principles 
of  the  All.  Now  let  us  examine  what  came  out  of  this  seed  in 
the  first,  second,  and  third  place.  There  was  in  the  seed  a 
Sonship,  triple,  of  the  same  substance  with  the  No-being  God, 
and  generated  by  him.  In  this  triple  Sonship  one  part  was 
subtile,  another  gross,  the  third  needing  purification.*  Upon 
the  first  projecting  (emitting)  of  the  seed,  the  subtile  element 
disengaged  itself,  ascending  aloft  "  like  a  feather  or  a  thought," 

*  Corresponding  to  "  Immaterial,  Material,  and  Mixed." 


and  arrived  at  the  No-being   One.      For   Him  all  Nature  de- 
sircth,  by  reason   of  the   super-eminence    of   his    beauty  and 
perfection.     The  gross  part  endeavoured  to  imitate  its  example, 
but  was  weighed   down   by  its   coarser   nature,  and   detained 
within  the  seed.     To  assist  it,  therefore,  the  Sonship  equips  it 
with  a  wing,  such  as  Plato  in  his  "  Phaedrus  "  wings   the  soul 
withal.     Now  this  wing  is  the  Holy  Ghost,  which  the  grosser 
part  putting  on,  is  both  advantaged  itself,  and  advantages  the 
other.     For  the  wings  of  a  bird  are  not  able  to  fly  if  severed 
from  the  bird,  neither  can   the  soul  fly  if  separated  from  her 
wings.     Such,  then,  is  the  relationship  borne  by  the  Sonship  to 
the  Holy  Ghost,  and  also  by  the  Holy  Ghost  to  the  Sonship. 
Soaring  aloft,  therefore,  upon  its  wings — that  is,  upon  the  Holy 
Ghost,  this  Soul  Part  carried  its  wings,  the  Holy  Ghost,  along 
with  it  up  to  the  No-being  God,  and  the  Sensible  Sonship,  but 
was  unable  to  comprehend  the  latter,  because  its  own  nature  is 
not  constituted  of  the  same  substance  with  Him.     But  in  the 
same  way  as  dry  and  pure  air  is  repugnant  to  the  nature  of 
fishes,  so  the  place,  more  ineffable  than  the  Ineifable  One,  and 
more  lofty  than  all  names  that  can  be  named,  the  seat  of  the 
No-being   God  and  of  the  Subtile  Part,  was   contrary  to  the 
nature  of  the  Holy  Ghost.     On  this  account,  the  Sonship  left 
it  near  to  that  place  which  cannot  be  conceived  by  mind,  nor 
described    by   words,   though    not    altogether    abandoned    by 
himself,  but  retaining  something  of  his  power  (or  essence),  just 
as  a  vessel  once  filled  with  a  precious   perfume  ever   retains 
traces  of  that  perfume,  however  carefully  it  may  have  been 
emptied.     And  this  is  manifestly  like  the  ointment  upon  the 
head  "which  ran  down  to  Aaron's  beard" — that  is,  the  perfume 
of  the  Sonship,  brought  down  by  the  Holy  Ghost  even  into  the 
impurity  and  degradation  of  mortality,  out  of  which  itself  at 
the  beginning  had  soared  aloft,  raised  by  the  Sonship,  as  it 
were,  on  eagle's  wings,  being  itself  fastened  upon  his  back. 
For   all   things   struggle   upwards   from   that  which  is  below 
towards  that  which  is   above,  from   the  "worse   towards   the 
better,"  whereas   nothing  of  those  above  in  the  better   place 
seeks  to  descend  below.' 

"The   third   part   of    the    Sonship — namely,    that   requiring 


purification,  remained  included  within  the  infinite  head  (or  sum) 
of  infinite  seeds,  both  giving  and  receiving  benefit,  in  the 
manner  hereafter  to  be  explained.  After  the  first  and  second 
ascensions  of  the  Son  ship,  the  Holy  Ghost,  which  had  been  left 
above,  became  the  'firmament'  between  the  world  and  the 
upper  world.  For  Basilides  divides  all  things  that  are  into 
two  great  classes,  the  '  world '  and  the  '  upper  world ' ;  the 
Spirit,  therefore,  occupying  the  interval  between  the  two 
(namely,  the  Holy  Ghost,  which  retains  the  odour  of  the  Son- 
ship)  he  terms  the  *  Boundary  Spirit.'  Now  after  this 
firmament  above  the  world  had  been  constituted,  there  broke 
forth  out  of  the  Seed  of  the  World  the  'Great  Archon,'  the 
Head  of  the  World,  or  beauty,  strength,  magnitude  indissoluble. 
More  irieifable  is  he  than  the  Ineffable,  more  powerful  than  the 
Powerful,  wiser  than  the  Wise,  more  beautiful  than  any  beauty 
that  can  be  named.  As  soon  as  he  was  born  he  soared  upwards 
and  reached  the  firmament,  but  tliat  was  the  limit  of  his  flight  ; 
for  he  knew  not  of  the  existence  of  anything  beyond  the 
firmament,  and  therefore  he  remained  more  beautiful,  more 
powerful,  more  wise  than  any  of  the  things  subjacent,  always 
excepting  the  Sonship — that  is,  the  Third  impurified  Person — 
who  still  lay  enclosed  within  the  immense  universal  seed. 
Imagining  himself,  therefore,  to  be  Lord  and  Ruler  and  Intelli 
gent  Architect,  he  set  about  the  creation  of  the  world.  In  the 
first  place,  not  wishing  to  abide  alone,  he  generated  unto  him 
self  a  son  out  of  things  subjacent  (mundane  elements^),  far  wiser 
and  more  beautiful  than  himself,  for  this  son  was  in  truth  the 
Third  Person  yet  left  enclosed  within  the  seed.  This  thing  had 
been  predestinated  by  the  No-being  God  from  the  beginning ; 
as  soon  as  he  beheld  this  son  he  was  enamoured  of  his  perfect 
beauty,  and  bade  him  to  sit  down  on  his  right  hand.  This 
they  call  the  '  Ogdoad,'  the  abode  of  the  Great  Archon.  The 
great  and  wise  Demiurgus  then  made  the  entire  setherial  creation, 
being  inspired  and  empowered  thereto  by  his  own  son,  so  far 
above  himself  in  wisdom."  (This  idea  is  copied  from  Aristotle's 
"  Entelechia "  of  the  natural  organic  body ;  the  active  soul  in 
the  body  being  itself  wiser,  stronger,  and  better  than  the  body. 
The  theory,  therefore,  propounded  originally  by  Aristotle  con- 


corning  the  body  and  the  soul,  Basilides  thus  applies  to  the 
Great  Archon  and  the  Son  whom  he  had  created ;  for  as  the 
Archon  creates  the  Son,  so  does  Aristotle  make  the  soul  to  be 
the  work  and  effect  of  the  natural  organic  body.)  "  All  things, 
therefore,  are  ruled  by  the  providence  of  the  Great  Archon  "  (or 
rather,  by  the  "  Entelechia  "  of  himself  and  son) — "  all  things, 
that  is  to  say,  which  lie  below  the  moon,  and  within  the  aather — 
for  the  moon  is  the  division  between  the  gather  and  the  air. 

"  The  creation  being  finished,  there  arose  out  of  the  seed  a 
'  Second  Archon,'  but  greatly  inferior  to  the  first,  yet  similarly 
ineffable.  This  (Archon)  is  designated  the  '  Hebdomad.'  He 
proceeded  to  create  all  things  below  the  aether  of  which  he  is  the 
Demiurgus  ;  and  ho,  in  his  turn,  generated  a  son  infinitely 
superior  to  himself.  The  intermediate  space  between  the 
regions  Ogdoad  and  Hebdomad  is  occupied  by  the  universal 
seed,  the  heap  of  species,  the  particles  whereof  are  guided  by 
the  intelligence  implanted  in  them  by  the  First  Creator  as  to 
the  times,  the  natures,  and  the  changes  in  which  they  have  to 
come  forth,  and  possess  no  other  guide,  guardian,  or  creator. 

"  The  whole  creation  was  in  this  way  completed,  of  the  world 
and  of  the  things  above  the  world ;  but  there  was  yet  left 
within  the  seed  the  '  Third  Sonship,'  who,  in  his  turn,  had  to  be 
developed,  revealed,  and  to  ascend  beyond  the  Boundary  Spirit 
up  to  the  Subtile  Sonship  and  the  No-being  One.  This  is  the 
interpretation  (meaning)  of  the  Scripture  :  '  The  whole  creation 
groaneth  and  is  in  labour,  waiting  for  the  manifestation  of  the 
sons  of  God.'  These  '  sons '  are  the  Spiritual  Men  left  hero 
below  to  guide  and  to  perfect  the  souls  that  from  their  nature 
belong  to  this  place.  *  From  Adam  unto  Moses  sin  reigned ' 
—that  is  to  say,  the  Great  Archon,  who  had  dominion  up  to  the 
firmament,  and  imagined  that  he  alone  was  God,  and  that  there 
was  none  other  above  him — for  all  above  him  was  kept  in  the 
deepest  silence.  This  is  the  'mystery  not  revealed  unto  the 
Fathers  ' ;  the  Great  Archon,  the  Ogdoad,  was,  as  he  supposed, 
the  Lord  and  Ruler  of  the  universe.  But  of  the  '  interval,'  or 
middle  space,  the  Hebdomad  was  the  ruler ;  now  the  Ogdoad  is 
ineffable,  but  the  Hebomad  may  be  uttered  by  speech.  This 
ruler  of  the  Hebdomad  was  He  who  spake  unto  Moses,  saying, 


'  I  am  the  God  of  Abraham,  Isaac,  and  Jacob,  and  tho  Name  of 
God  I  have  not  revealed  unto  them ' — that  is,  He  did  not  reveal 
to  them  the  ineffable  ruler  of  the  Ogdoad.  All  the  prophets 
who  were  before  the  Saviour's  coming  spoke  through  the 
inspiration  of  the  Second  Archon. 

"  When  the  time  was  come  for  the  manifestation  of  the  Sons 
of  God,  the  Gospel  came,  penetrating  through  every  power, 
dominion,  and  name  that  can  be  named,  although  tho  Sonship 
did  not  come  down  from  his  place  upon  the  right  hand  of  the 
Incomprehensible  No-being  One.  But,  like  as  Indian  naphtha 
kindles  at  the  mere  sight  of  fire  a  long  way  off,  so  do  powers 
fly  up  out  of  the  seed  to  the  Sonship  that  is  beyond  the  firma 
ment.  The  son  of  the  Great  Archon  of  the  Ogdoad  thus 
receives,  like  as  naphtha  catches  the  distant  flame,  the  ema 
nations  of  the  Sonship  who  is  beyond  the  firmament ;  and  this 
last,  the  Boundary  Spirit,  serves  for  the  communication  of  the 
thoughts  fn>m  the  one  to  the  other. 

"  The  G  ospel  thus  came  to  the  Great  Archon  through  his 
own  son,  and  ho  was  converted,  and  troubled,  and  became  wise, 
learning  his  own  ignorance  (or  want  of  knowledge)  ;  and  this  is 
the  interpretation  of  '  The  fear  of  the  Lord  is  the  beginning  of 
wisdom.'  For  the  Christ,  sitting  by  him,  instructed  him  con 
cerning  the  Ineffable  No-being  One,  concerning  the  Son  who  is 
beyond  the  firmament,  and  concerning  the  creation  of  the 
universe.  The  Great  Archon  being  thus  instructed,  was  filled 
with  fear,  and  confessed  the  sin  he  had  committed  in  magnifying 
himself ;  and  this  is  the  meaning  of  '  I  acknowledge  my  trans 
gression  and  I  confess  my  sin.'  When,  therefore,  the  Great 
Archon  was  enlightened,  every  creature  of  the  Ogdoad  was 
likewise  enlightened,  and  then  came  the  time  for  the  enlighten 
ment  and  evangelising  of  the  ruler  of  the  Hebdomad.  For  this 
end  the  son  of  the  Great  Archon  communicated  to  the  son  of 
the  Second  Archon  the  light  which  he  himself  had  received 
from  above,  and  he  communicated  his  instruction  to  his  Father, 
who  in  like  manner  was  convinced  of,  and  confessed  his  sin. 
By  this  time  every  creature  of  the  Hebdomad  was  enlightened, 
and  had  the  Gospel  preached  unto  them.  For  in  this  division 
(the  region  below  the  aether)  also,  there  is  an  infinite  creation 


of  powers,  principalities,  and  dominions  (concerning  whom 
Basilides  has  a  lengthy  dissertation;  who  moreover  in  this 
region  places  the  365  heavens,  and  their  ruler  ABRASAX,  so 
called  because  his  name  contains  that  sum,  for  which  reason 
the  year  consists  also  of  that  number  of  days). 

"  After  all  this  it  was  necessary  that  the  Unformedncss  (d/^op^ta) 
existing  in  our  region— that  is,  the  Sonship  still  lying  enclosed 
in  the  mass  like  an  abortion— should  be  enlightened  in  the  same 
manner  with  those  aforementioned.  The  Light  therefore  passed 
through  the  Hebdomad  upon  the  son  of  the  Hebdomad — that  is, 
upon  Jesus,  the  son  of  Mary.  This  is  '  the  power  of  the  Most 
High  shall  overshadow  thee,'  namely,  the  power  of  unction, 
descending  from  the  Supreme  through  the  Demiurgus  upon 
the  Son. 

"The  present  constitution  of  things  will  last  until  every 
particle  of  the  Sonship  enveloped  in  the  unformed  mass  shall  be 
attracted  into  Jesus,  shall  be  disentangled  and  sublimated  by 
him,  and  rendered  capable  of  ascending  by  itself  to  the  first 
source  of  Light,  to  which  it  bears  a  natural  affinity. 

"In  this  way  the  Three  Persons  of  the  Sonship  being  all 
united  once  more  above  the  firmament,  then  mercy  shall  bo 
shown  unto  the  creation,  '  which  languishes  and  groans  waiting 
for  the  manifestation  of  the  sons  of  God ' ;  for  all  men  belonging 
to  the  Sonship  shall  ascend  up  unto  Him.  When  this  is 
accomplished,  He  will  bring  upon  the  world  a  deep  ignorance,  so 
that  all  things  here  below  shall  abide  in  their  nature,  and 
desire  nothing  contrary  to  their  nature.  By  this  means  the 
souls  appointed  to  abide  here  below  will  be  destitute  of  even 
the  slightest  notion  of  anything  existing  above  them,  lest  they 
should  be  tormented  by  the  fruitless  desire  of  ascending  up 
into  the  same ;  like  as  though  a  fish  should  desire  to  pasture 
with  the  flocks  upon  the  hills,  a  wish  which,  if  gratified,  would 
be  its  destruction.  For  all  things  are  eternal  so  long  as  they 
continue  in  their  natural  place,  but  become  mortal  when  they 
endeavour  to  escape  beyond  it.  The  same  ignorance  will  envelop 
the  ruler  of  the  Hebdomad,  in  order  that  sorrow  and  grief  and 
confusion  may  flee  away  from  him  ;  that  he  may  no  longer  be 
troubled  with  the  desire  of  things  above  him  and  contrary  to 


his  nature.  This  ignorance  shall  also  come  over  the  Great 
Archon  of  the  Ogdoad,  and  over  all  creatures  subject  unto  him, 
and  for  the  same  reason.  This  is  the  '  restoration  of  all  things  ; 
enclosed  from  the  beginning  within  the  seed,  and  disposed 
according  to  its  season.  This  is  the  Saviour's  meaning  in  '  My 
hour  is  not  yet  come ' ;  it  is  also  signified  by  the  Magi  be 
holding  the  star,  inasmuch  as  His  coming,  proclaimed  from  the 
beginning,  was  subject  to  the  disposition  of  the  stars.* 

"  The  Gospel  is  the  Declaration  of  supramundane  things,  which 
the  Great  Archon  knew  not  of.  But  when  it  was  told  him  of 
the  Sonship,  of  the  Boundary  Spirit,  and  of  the  No-being  God, 
he  rejoiced  with  an  exceeding  great  joy.  With  respect  to  the 
birth  of  Jesus,  all  things  came  to  pass  as  they  are  written  in 
the  Gospels.  For  He  was  the  firstfrttits  of  the  division  of  the 
classes,  previously  all  commingled  here  below.  Now,  as  the 
world  is  distributed  into  the  Ogdoad,  the  head  of  the  universe, 
whoso  chief  is  the  Great  Archon,  and  into  the  Hebdomad,  whose 
chief  is  the  Demiurgus,  chief  also  of  our  degree  where  Frailty 
(liability  to  error)  subsists,  it  was  necessary  that  this  Confusion 
should  be  distributed  and  set  in  order  by  Jesus.  That  part  of  him, 
therefore,  which  was  of  the  '  Unfonnedness,'  namely,  his  body 
suffered  what  it  did  suffer  and  returned  again  into  unformed- 
ness  ;  that  part  which  belonged  to  the  Hebdomad,  namely,  his 
soul,  returned  again  into  the  Hebdomad  after  his  resurrection  ; 
the  part  belonging  to  the  Ogdoad  remained  with  the  Great 
Archon,  and  the  part  belonging  to  the  Boundary  Spirit  was 
left  there  in  his  ascension.  But  the  third  Sonship,  thus  purified 
in  his  passage  upwards,  was  reunited  to  the  Blessed  Sonship 
who  is  supremo  above.  (In  short,  the  whole  theory  of  the 
religion  consists  in  the  Confusion  of  the  Seed-heap,  its  Redistri 
bution  into  classes,  and  the  Restoration  of  all  things  to  their 
natural  places.  This  division  of  the  classes  was  made  in  the 
first  instance  by  Jesus,  and  the  sole  object  of  his  passion  was 
the  restoration  of  the  classes,  which  were  mixed  up  together, 
into  their  proper  order.  And  for  this  reason  Jesus  himself  was 

*  This    may   allude  to   the   Eab-       the  conjunction  of  Saturn  and  Jupi- 
binical  explanation  of  the  "  sign  of       tcr  in  Pisces. 
the  coming  "  of  the  Messiah  as  being 



distributed  as  we  have  shown,  amongst  tho  several  classes. 
These  then  are  tho  things  that  Basilides  fables,  who  taught  in 
Egypt,  and,  having  learned  his  wisdom  from  the  Egyptians 
"brought  forth  such  fruits  as  these.)  " 

This  concluding   remark  of  Ilippolytus  deserves   particular 
notice ;  it  shows  that  he  regarded  the  Iksilidan  theory  as  the  mere 
adaptation  to  present  requirements  of  an  ancient  esoteric  doctrine 
belonging  to  the  Egyptian  priesthood.    That  it  was  nothing  more 
than  a  plagiarism  from  the  Aristotelian  philosophy,  as  the  learned 
Father  labours  to  demonstrate  with  so  much  ingenuity,  appears 
to  me  by  no  means  made  out.     But  the  Basilidan  theory  has  one 
striking  feature  that  distinguishes  it  from  every  other  form  of 
tho  Gnosis,  in  its  entirely  ignoring   the  existence  of  an  Ecil 
Principle,  or  of  malignity  and  rebellion  against  the  Supreme 
God.     His  two  rulers  of  the  upper  and  lower  worlds,  the  Great 
Archon  of  the  Ogdoad,  and  the  Demiurgus  of  the  Hebdomad, 
so    far   from    opposing   the    Gospel   receive    it   with  joy,    and 
humbly    acknowledge    their    inferiority   to   the   sender.      The 
Passion  of  Jesus  is  not  due  to  the  malice  of  either  of  them,  but 
is  voluntary,   and  undertaken  as  the  sole   means  of  restoring 
confused  elements  of  the  All  to  the  harmony  indispensable  for 
their  eternal  duration.      Even   the   final   withdrawing   of  the 
Divine  Light  from  the  Ogdoad  and  Hebdomad  is  done  for  the 
same  beneficent  purpose,   in   order  that   both   they   and   their 
greatness  may  rest  for  ever  in  blissful  ignorance,  each  holding 
himself  supreme  in  his  own  creation,  and  knowing  of  nothing 
above  it,  may  no  longer  be  tormented  by  vain  aspirations  after 
a  state  of  perfection  for  which  his  nature  is  not  adapted.     The 
benevolent   spirit    that   pervades   the   whole    theory   strongly 
supports  the  assertion  of  Hippolytus,    and   points  out   for  its 
source  the  Egyptian  mythology,   to  which  the  notion  of  two 
principles,   equal  in  power  but  antagonistic  in  nature,  would 
have  been  unutterably  shocking. 



The  Ophites  should  hold  by  right  the  first  place  amongst 
the  schools  we  are  considering,  for  that  impartial  and  acute 
historian  of  the  Gnosis,  Hippolytus,  styles  them,  "  The  Naaseni 
who  specially  call  themselves  *  Gnostics.'  But  inasmuch  as 
this  deception  of  theirs  is  multiform  and  has  many  heads  (a 
play  upon  their  name  of  serpent-followers),  like  the  Hydra  of 
fable,  if  I  smite  all  the  heads  at  once  with  the  wand  of  Truth, 
I  shall  destroy  the  whole  serpent,  for  all  the  other  sects  differ 
but  little  from  this  one  in  essentials."  He  therefore  commences 
his  history  of  the  Gnostic  heresies,  properly  so  called,  with  a 
minute  account  of  this  one,  illustrated  with  copious  extracts 
from  their  text-books  ;  on  account  of  their  antiquity  and  im 
portance  bestowing  much  more  of  his  space  upon  them  than 
upon  any  other  of  their  offshoots  or  competitors. 

Their  strange-sounding  title  "  Naaseni  " — "  Followers  of  the 
Naas "  (the  only  way  in  which  the  Greek,  from  its  want  of 
aspirate  letters,  could  write  the  Hebrew  Nachash,  "  Serpent  ") — 
was  literally  rendered  by  "  Ophites,"  the  name  which  has  ever 
since  served  to  designate  them.  They  first  assumed  a  definite 
existence  about  the  same  time  as  the  Basilidans,  in  the  middle 
of  the  second  century,  although  the  elements  of  the  doctrine 
are  derived  from  a  source  much  more  remote.  That  source 
was  the  secret  doctrines  taught  in  the  various  Pagan  Mysteries ; 
and  likewise  certain  philosophic  theories  of  the  Greeks, 
although  certainly  not  to  the  same  extent  as  the  learned 
Hippolytus  labours  so  ingeniously  to  demonstrate. 

In  support  of  this  statement  I  shall  proceed  to  quote  from 
the  same  Father  some  curious  examples  of  the  method  in  which 
the  Naaseni  pretended  to  recognise  their  own  "  knowledge  "  in 
the  esoteric  religions  of  antiquity.  After  quoting  a  long 
passage  from  Pindar  about  the  conflicting  theories  as  to  the 
creation  of  the  First  Man*  and  the  names  given  to  him  by 
different  nations,  the  Ophite  text-book  continues : 

*  "  But  the  Libyans  held  that  plains,  first  gathered  the  sweet  dates 
larbas  was  the  first-born  of  men ;  he  of  Jove.  And  even  in  our  day,  the 
who,  rising  up  out  of  their  droughty  Nile  fattening  the  mud  of  Egypt, 


"  This  was  the  Man  brought  forth  by  the  Earth  spontane 
ously  ;  but  ho  lay  without  breath,  without  motion,  without 
stirring,  like  a  statue ;  being  made  after  the  image  of  their 
Adamas  above,  the  subject  of  their  hymns,  through  the  agency 
of  several  Powers,  concerning  each  one  of  whom  they  narrate 
a  long  fable.  But  in  order  that  the  Man  above  might  be 
obtained,  '  from  whom  is  every  tribe  upon  the  Earth,  and 
likewise  in  the  Heavens,'  there  was  given  unto  him  a  soul,  that 
through  this  soul  the  image  of  the  Man  above  might  suffer  and 
be  chastened  in  bondage.  As  to  the  nature  and  source  of  this 
soul  sent  down  to  animate  this  image,  the  Ophite  theory  is 
derived  not  from  Scripture,  but  from  the  doctrine  of  the  Mysteries. 
'  The  Gospel  according  to  the  Egyptians  '  is  their  text-book  on 
this  point.  They  premise  that  the  nature  of  the  soul  is 
extremely  difficult  to  investigate  by  reason  of  its  inherent 
changeableness,  never  abiding  fixedly  in  the  same  place,  habits, 
or  passion  :  and  they  adopt  in  this  particular  the  notions  of  the 
Assyrian  mystics.  It  is  a  question  with  them  whether  the  soul 
comes  from  the  '  Pre-existing,'  or  from  the  '  Self-begotten  One,' 
or  from  the  'Effusion  of  Chaos.'  They  adopt  the  Assyrian 
division  of  the  soul  as  being  both  one  and  threefold  !  For  all 
Nature  longs  for  a  soul ;  the  soul  is  the  efficient  cause  of  all 
things  that  grow,  are  nourished  and  have  action.  For  without 
a  soul,  growth  and  nutrition  are  impossible  ;  even  stones  have 
a  soul,  for  they  possess  the  faculty  of  growth,  and  this  faculty 
cannot  exist  without  nutrition.  All  things  therefore  in 
Heaven  or  Earth,  and  in  the  Abyss,  are  eager  after  a  soul.  This 
soul  the  Assyrians  call  '  Adonis,'  '  Endymion,'  '  Attis ' ;  and 
hence  arose  the  fable  of  the  love  of  Venus  for  Adonis ;  Venus 
signifying  generation.  The  love  of  Proserpine  for  Adonis  means 
that  the  soul  is  mortal  if  separated  from  Venus;  that  is,  from 
generation.  When  the  Moon  is  enamoured  of  Endymion,  it  is 
Nature  herself  desiring  a  more  sublime  soul.  When  the  Mother 
of  the  gods  emasculates  her  lover,  Attis,  it  signifies  the  Power 

and   giving    life    to   things    clothed       arose  in   their  country,    Onnnf*,  the 
with   flesh,   through  his   moist  heat       eater  of  fish;  but  tne  ilmldeuns  say 
breeds    living    creatures.     The    As-       he  was  Arlam." 
Syrians  pretend  that  the   First  Man 

G   2 


above  recalling  into  itself  the  male  energy  of  the  soul.     For  the 
Man  that  is  above  is  of  both  sexes."     [On  this  account  they 
most  vehemently  denounce  all  intercourse  with  women.]    "  Attis 
was  deprived  of  his  virility,  that  is,  was  divested  of  his  lower, 
earthly,  part,  and  then  translated  to  the  Upper  World,  '  where 
is  neither  male  nor  female,  but  a  new  creature,'  the  Man  above, 
of  two   sexes.      And   to   this   truth   not   only   Ehea,   but   all 
creation,  beareth  testimony.     And  to  this  doth  Paul  refer  in 
Komans  (i.  20-27)  :   (where  they  strangely. pervert  his  expres 
sion  aa-x^/^oa-vvrj,  as  signifying  that  heavenly,  sublime,  felicity, 
that  absence  of  all  form  which  is  the  real  source  of  every  form). 
These  same  verses  of  Paul,  according  to  them,  contain  the  key 
to   their   whole   system,    and   to   their   '  Mystery  of  Celestial 
Pleasure.'     For  the  promise  of  *  Washing '  applies  to  none  save 
the  man  who  is  introduced  into  the  eternal  pleasure,  'being 
washed  with  the  True  Water,  and  anointed  with  the  Unction 
that  cannot  be  spoken.'     The  Phrygian  Mysteries,  equally  with 
the  Assyrian,  teach  the  same  great  truth,  when  they  teach  the 
blessed  nature  of  things  past,  present,  and  to  come,  hidden  and 
yet  manifested  ;  the  '  true  kingdom  that  is  within  you.'     To 
the  same  effect  they  bring  forward  the  Gospel  of  Thomas,  which 
has,   '  lie  that  seeketh  shall  find  me   amongst   children  from 
seven  years  downwards,  for  in  the  fourteenth  generation,  being 
hidden,  I  will  manifest  myself.'     [Although  in  reality  this  is 
not  a  maxim  of  Christ's,  but  a  maxim  of  Hippocrates.     '  The 
boy  at  seven  years  of  age  is  the  half  of  his  father,' — in  stature.] 
"The  Egyptians  were,  after  the  Phrygians,  the  most  ancient 
of  mankind,    and    the   first   establishers   of    mysteries.      The 
Ophites   explain   as  follows  the   esoteric   doctrine   concerning 
Isis,  and  the  genital  member  of  Osiris,  lost,  sought  after,  and 
enveloped   by   her    seven    times    in   a   black   (or  dark   blue)* 
vestment.     Osiris  is  the  element   Water;    Nature  seven  times 
enveloped   in   an  etherial   robe,  that  is,  the   seven   planetary 
spheres,  stands  for  Generation  and  Change,  or  Creation  trans 
formed  by  the  ineffable,  formless,  imageless,  incomprehensible 
Deity.     The  same  is  implied  in  the  words  of  Scripture,  '  The 
righteous  man  shall  fall  seven  times,  and  ^hall  rise  again  ' — his 

*  Me'Aas  has  both  these  meanii.'gs. 


all     signifying  tho  revolutions  of  the  planets  put  in  motion  by 
the  All-mover. 

"  They  likewise  discourse  concerning  the  essence  (or  existence) 
of  the  '  Seed,'*  the  final  cause  of  all  things  that  exist,  although 
itself  none  of  them,  and  yet  making  and  generating  all  things  ; 
or,  as  they  themselves  express  it,  '  I  become  what  I  will,  and 
am  what  I  am ;  therefore  I  say  that  moving  all,  I  am  myself 
immovable.'     For  it  continues  what  it  is,  making  all  things, 
although  itself  is  made  nothing  of   all   that  exist.     To   this 
doctrine  the  Saviour's  words  refer,  '  Why  callest  thou  me  good  ? 
One  only  is  good,  my  Father  which  is  in  Heaven,  who  maketh 
the  sun  to  shine  upon  the  just  and  upon  the  unjust,  and  sendeth 
His  rain  upon  the  sinners  and  upon  tho  righteous.'     And  this 
is  the  great  and  unknown  Mystery,  hidden  amongst  the  Egyptians 
and  yet  manifested,   for  Osiris  standeth  in  his  temple  before 
Isis,  having  his  secret  part  exposed  and  pointed  upwards,  and 
crowned  with    all   tho   fruits   of   the    creation.     And    for    this 
cause,  the  same  member  [the  Phallus]  holds   the  first  position. 
in  the  most  sacred  places,  being  shown  forth  unto  the  world, 
'like  a  light  set  upon  a  candlestick' :  it  is  sot  up  on  the  house 
tops,  and  in  the  streets,  and  for  landmarks.     Jt  is  a  blessing 
acknowledged    and    proclaimed    by    all,    for    they    call    it    the 
'  Bringer     of    Luck  '    (ayafty^opov),— not  understanding   what 
they  say.     This  mystery  the  Greeks  got  from  E<jm>t,  and  observe 
unto  this  day.     For  by  this   symbol  they  represent  Hermes  ; 
and  they  entitle  that  god  '  Logicos,'  for  he  is  the  interpreter 
and  Creator  of  things  made,  in  making,  and  to  be  made ;  and 
he  is  represented  by  this  his  proper  symbol.     And  that  this  is 
the   Hermes,   guide,  companion,  and   author  of  souls,  Homer 
hath  perceived,  for  he  saith  (Od.  xxiv.  1-2)  :— 

'  Cyilenian  Hermes  summoned  forth  the  souls  of  the  bold  suitors,' 
not  meaning  those  of  Penelope's  suitors,  but  of  us  the  awakened 
and  admonished. 

'  From  what  vast  happiness,  what  height  of  glory,' 
we  have   fallen,  namely,  from    the   Primal    Man,  the  Adamas 

*  Tho   "  Seed    of    the  World "    in    the    Basilidau    system,    as    already 
explained  (p.  73). 


that  is  above,  into  this  vessel  of  clay,  and  become  the  servants 
of  the  Demiurgus,  of  Ildabaoth,  the  God  of  Fire,  the  Fourth  in 
number  (for  by  this  name  they  call  the  creator  of  the  *  World 
of  Species,'  KOCT/XO?  tSucos). 

"  In  his  hand  his  wand  Beauteous,  all  golden,  by  whose 
potency  the  eyes  of  mortals  he  at  pleasure  lulls  to  sleep,  or 
rouses  others  from  their  slumber.  For  lie  is  the  sole  author  of 
life  and  death,  therefore  is  it  written,  '  Thou  shalt  rule  them 
with  a  rod  of  iron.'  But  Homer  wishing  to  embellish  the  in 
comprehensible  reality  of  the  nature  of  the  Logos,  has  given  to 
him  a  rod  of  gold,  not  of  iron.  Some  Ho  casts  into  slumber, 
others  he  awakens,  and  makes  them  aware  of  their  condition  : 
*  Awake  thou  that  sleepest,  and  rise  from  the  dead,  and  Christ 
shall  give  theo  light.'  For  this  is  the  Christ  that  is  figured 
within  all  the  sons  of  men  by  the  unfigured  Logos.  This  is 
the  great  and  profound  mystery  of  the  Eleusinian  rites,  the  cry, 
YE  KYE,  Rain  !  Conceive  !  All  things  are  subject  unto  Him,  for 
'  their  sound  is  gone  forth  unto  all  lands.'  And  again,  this  is 
the  hidden  sense  of  Homer's 

'  Ho  waved  his  waud,  they  followed  with  shrill  ery.' 

That  is,  the  souls  in  a  continuous  line,  as  the  poet  goes  on  to 
express  by  the  simile — 

'  As  in  the  furthest  depths  of  some  vast  cave, 
Shrill  cry  the  hats  when  one  drops  from  their  chain, 
Down  from  the  rock  where  fast  they  cling  together.' 

That  is,  the  souls  fallen  down  from  the  Kock  above,  namely 
from  the  Adamas.  This  is  the  Adamas,  the  chief  corner-stone, 
'  which  is  made  the  head  of  the  corner,'  because  in  the  head  is 
placed  the  formative  substance,  the  brain,  out  of  which  all 
generation  proceeds.  '  I  will  set  the  Adamant  in  the  founda 
tions  of  Zion  '  is  allegorical  for  setting  the  figure  of  the  Man 
(in  the  soul).  And  the  text,  '  This  Adamas  is  firmly  held  by 
teeth  in  the  wall,'  is  the  Inner  Man  that  is  signified,  the 
'stone  cut  without  hands,'  which  hath  fallen  down  from  the 
Adamas  above  into  this  earthly  potter's  vessel,  this  figure  of 

*  Meaning  the  Body,  in  which  the  Inner  Man   imprisoned   has  lost  all 
recollection  of  his  primal  source. 


"  The  souls  follow  Hermes,  or  the  Logos. 

'  So  moved  they,  crying,  through  the  darksome  paths ; 
Hermes  their  guide,  that  god  devoid  of  ill.' 

That  is,  ho  leads  them  to  the  everlasting  places  where  no  ill 
comes  ;  for  whither  were  they  going  ? 

4  They  passed  o'er  Ocean's  wave  and  Leucas'  rock, 
The  Sun's  bright  portals,  and  the  L»nd  of  dreams.' 

"  This  '  Ocean  '  signifies  the  generation  of  gods  and  the  gener 
ation  of  men,  ever  tossing  in  a  perpetual  flow  and  ebb.  When 
it  runs  downwards  it  is  the  generation  of  men  ;  when  it  tosses 
itself  upwards  against  its  boundary,*  the  rock  Leucas,  it  is  the 
generation  of  gods.  *  For  this  cause,'  saith  the  Wise  One,  '  I 
have  said  ye  are  gods  and  the  children  of  the  Most  Highest, 
when  ye  shall  make  haste  to  flee  out  of  Egypt,  and  shall  come 
beyond  the  Red  Sea  into  the  Wilderness ' ;  that  is,  out  of  this 
earthly  mixture  (or  confusion)  up  to  the  Jeiusalem  above, 
which  is  the  mother  of  the  living.  '  But  if  ye  return  into 
Egypt  (or»  into  this  earthly  nature)  ye  shall  die.'  'Egypt' 
being  the  prison  of  the  body.  This  is  the  mighty  Jordan 
which,  flowing  downwards,  hindered  the  flight  of  the  Children 
of  Israel;  but  which  Jesus  (i.e.  Joshua)  turned,  and  made  to 
flow  upwards." 

"  Following  guides  like  those  just  cited,  these  very  strange 
fellows  the  Gnostics  (observes  Hippolytus),  the  inventors  of  a 
new  art  of  grammar  (or,  criticism),  extol  beyond  all  expression 
their  prophet  Homer,  who  hath  foreshown  these  doctrines  unto 
them  :  and,  by  seducing  those  ignorant  of  the  Holy  Scriptures 
into  such-like  fancies,  they  make  fools  of  them  in  the  manner 

"Another  of  their  maxims  is  that  '  Whoso  saith  that  the  All 
cometh  from  One  is  grossly  deceived ;  but  he  that  saith  that 
the  All  cometh  from  Three,  hath  the  true  key  to  the  system  of 
the  universe.  For  there  is  one  nature  of  the  Man  that  is  above, 
Adamas ;  one  mortal  here  below ;  one  without  a  king,  the 
generation  existing  up  above,  where  is  Mariam  the  Sough  t- 
After,  and  Jothor  the  great  and  wise,  and  Sephora,  she  that 

*  The  Basilidan  "  Boundary  Spirit,"  or  Holy  Ghost  (p.  70). 


seoth,  and  Moses,  whose  offspring  is  not  in  Egypt,  for  his  sons 
were  born  unto  him  in  the  land  of  Midian.  Neither  hath  this 
truth  escaped  Homer,  for  he  sings— 

"All  things  are  parcelled  into  portions  three, 
And  to  each  portion  its  due  honour  falls." 

For  it  is  necessary  that  the  Great  Ones  (TO.  peytO-ri)  should  be  ex 
pressed  in  words,  but  in  such  wise  that  "hearing  men  may  not 
hear,  and  seeing  they  may  not  perceive."  For  if  the  Great  Ones 
were  not  uttered,  the  world  could  not  exist.  These  three  most 
sublime  names  are,  KAVLACAV,  SAVLAS  AV,  ZEESAE.  Kav- 
lacav  is  the  name  of  the  Adamas  who  is  above  ;  Savlasav  of  him 
who  is  below,  mortal  ;  Zeesar  of  the  Jordan  that  floweth  upwards. 
This  is  He  that  pervades  all  things,  being  at  once  male  and 
female,  named  by  the  Greeks  Geryon,  as  having  three  bodies 
and  flowing  out  of  the  Earth  :  whom  the  Greeks  also  call  "  The 
Moon's  celestial  horn,"  because  he  has  mixed  and  tempered  all 
things  [a  play  upon  the  similar  sounding  words  /cepa?  and 
Kpacris].  "  For  all  things  were  made  through  him,  and  without 
him  nothing  was  made,  and  what  was  made  in  him  is  Life." 
This  Life  is  the  life  unspeakable,  the  generation  of  the  Perfect 
Man,  unknown  to  former  ages.  The  "  Nothing  "  that  was  made 
without  him  is  the  World  of  Species,  for  that  world  was  made 
without  him  by  the  Third  and  by  the  Fourth  One.*  This  is  the 
Cup  (condy)  of  Joseph,  "  out  of  which  the  king  doth  drink  and 
use  divination."  Of  this  also  do  the  Greeks  (Anacreon)  sing 
in  Bacchic  frenzy, 

"  Bring  me,  boy,  the  draught  divine  ; 
Bring  me  water,  bring  me  wine  ; 
Make  me  drunk  with  quaffing  deep, 
Lull  my  charmed  soul  to  sleep  ; 
For  my  cup  predicts  to  me 
Of  what  country  I  shall  be." 

Here  Anacreon's  dumb  cup  utters  the  unspeakable  mysteiy,  for 
it  tells  him  to  what  country  he  shall  belong,  that  is,  whether  to 
the  Spiritual  or  to  the  Carnal  world.  This  also  is  the  "  Water 
changed  into  wine,"  at  the  famous  wedding  at  Cana,  when  Jesus 
manifested  the  kingdom  of  Heaven  —  that  kingdom  which  is 

*  Ildabaoth,  the  God  of  Fire. 


hidden  within  every  man,  like  the  leaven  sufficient  for  the 
three  measures.  Hero  likewise  is  the  unspeakable  secret  of  the 
Samoihracian  Mysteries,  which  none  but  we  the  "  Perfect "  are 
able  to  understand,  for  the  Samothracians  expressly  mention 
the  Adamas  who  is  above— the  Primal  Man.  For  in  the  Temple 
of  the  Samothracians  stand  two  naked  men,  having  their  hands 
and  their  genital  members  elevated  towards  heaven,*  like  the 
Hermes  of  Cyllene.  These  two  statues  represent  the  Primal 
Man,  and  the  Spiritual  Man  after  he  is  "  born  again,  and  made 
like  unto  Him  every  whit." ' 

"  This  is  the  true  sense  of  the  Saviour's  words,  '  Unless  ye  eat 
my  flesh  and  drink  my  blood,  ye  cannot  enter  into  the  Kingdom 
of  Heaven ' ;  and  « Though  ye  shall  drink  of  the  cup  that  I 
drink  of,  whither  I  go  ye  shall  not  be  able  to  enter.'  For  Ho 
knew  the  nature  of  His  disciples,  and  that  every  one  must  abide 
in  his  own  nature.  For  out  of  the  Twelve  Tribes  he  chose  the 
Twelve  Disciples;  for  which  cause  not  all  who  heard  their 
teaching  received  or  understood  the  same  ;  for  that  which  is  not 
according  to  Nature  is  contrary  to  Nature.  Him  (Adamas)  do 
the  Phrygians  name  '  Corybas,'  for  he  descends  from  the  Head 
(cory)  who  is  above,  the  Supernal  Brain ;  and  permeates  the  All 
in  a  manner  incomprehensible.  And,  as  the  Prophet  hath  it, 
'Ye  have  heard  his  voice,  but  ye  have  not  beheld  his  form'; 
that  is,  the  Image  coming  down  from  the  Formless  One  above 
no  one  knows,  for  it  is  hidden  within  an  earthen  vessel.  This 
is  as  the  Psalmist  hath  it:  'The  God  dwelling  in  the  great 

*  A  valuable  notice   of  the   type  DINDIA    MAGOLNIA    FIEA    DE- 

under  which  the  Cabiri  were  repre-  DIT   NOVIOS    PLAVTIOS    MED 

sented  in  this  the  most  venerated  of  RQMAI  FECID 
all  the  Grecian   sanctuaries.     It  is 

curiously  illustrated  by  Ficoroni's  where  it  will  be  seen  that  Dindia 
bronze  group,  figured  in  his  "Meinorie  uses  the  metronymic  after  the  Etrus- 
di  Labico,"  and  given  to  the  Kir-  can  fashion.  This  group,  six  inches 
cherian  Museum.  A  female,  half-  high,  served  for  handle  to  the  lid  of 
draped  in  a  star-span-led  robe,  rests  a  cylindrical  pyxis,  two  palms  deep, 
her  hands  on  the  shoulders  of  twin  resting  on  three  lion's  claws.  With 
youths,  similarly  arrecti,  with  the  it  twas  found  a  mirror,  the  back  oil- 
cars  and  standing-up  hair  of  fauns,  graved  with  the  combat  of  Pollux 
one  holds  a  horn,  the  other  the  handle  and  Amycus,  LOSN  A  with  her  cres- 
of  a  vase.  The  base  is  inscribed  in  cent  standing  in  the  middle,  the 
very  archaic  letters—  names  in  regular  Etruscan. 


flood,  and  crying  aloud  out  of  the  waters  of  the  eea ' ;  that  is, 
He  cries  aloud  out  of  the  multiform  confusion  (or,  medley)  of 
things  mortal  unto  the  Formless  One  who  is  above,  « Save  my 
First-born  from  the  lions.'  [And  in  the  same  sense  do  they 
interpret  all  the  similes  concerning  '  waterfloods,'  and  the 
promises  of  the  Deity's  never  forgetting  His  chosen  people.] 

"  The  Ascension  or  Regeneration,  that  is,  the  conversion  of  the 
Carnal  Man  into  the  Spiritual,  is  thus  explained  by  means  of  a 
curious  perversion  of  words  taken  from  different  Psalms : 
'Lift  up  your  heads,  ye  everlasting  gates,  that  the  King  of 
Glory  may  come  in.  Who  is  this  King  of  Glory?  The  very 
scorn  of  men,  and  the  outcast  of  the  people,  He  is  the  King  of 
Glory,  mighty  in  battle.'  Battle  signifies  the  war  in  your 
members  ever  being  waged  within  this  earthly  creature  made 
up  of  conflicting  elements.  This  is  the  gate  seen  by  Jacob  as  ho 
was  journeying  into  Mesopotamia  ;  that  is,  the  young  man 
growing  up  out  of  the  boy,  and  Mesopotamia  signifies  the  stream 
of  the  Great  Ocean  which  flows  out  of  the  middle  of  the  Perfect 
Man.  The  same  deity  is  called  by  the  Phrygians  PAPA,  be 
cause  He  appeased  the  confusion  and  chaotic  tumult  which  pre 
vailed  before  His  corning.  For  this  name  is  the  unanimous  cry 
Trave,  7ra£e,*  of  all  things  in  Heaven,  in  Earth,  and  under  the 
Earth,  calling  upon  Him  to  appease  the  discord,  and  to  '  send 
peace  to  men  that  were  afar  off ' — that  is,  to  the  earthly  and 
mortal — '  and  to  them  that  were  near '  that  is,  to  the  spiritual 
and  perfect.  He  is  likewise  called  '  dead '  by  the  Phrygians, 
inasmuch  as  he  is  buried  within  the  tomb  of  the  body ;  to  which 
circumstance  also  apply  the  words,  '  Ye  are  whited  sepulchres, 
full  of  dead  men's  bones  and  all  manner  of  uncleanness ;  because 
the  Living  Man  doth  not  dwell  within  you.' 

"  '  The  dead  shall  rise  from  their  graves '  signifies  that  the 
Earthly  Man  shall  be  born  again  spiritual.  Unless  they  pass 

*  A  subsequent  thousand  years'  Quidquid  liabent  alii  solus  vult  pap- 
experience  of  the  blessings  of  eccle-  pare : 

siastical  rule  has  furnished  Walter  Aut  &i  iiomen  Gallicuin  vis   apoco- 

de  Mapes  with   a    more    humorous  pare, 

etymology  for  this  title —  Payez,  payez  dit  le  mot,  si  vis  im- 

"Papa,    si    rem    tangimus    nomen  petrare." 

habet  a  re, 


through  this  *  Gate '  all  continue  dead,  but  him  that  hath 
passed  through  the  Phrygians  call  a  god,  for  he  becomes  a  god, 
having  passed  through  the  Gate  into  Heaven.  Paul  means  the 
same  by  his  '  being  caught  up  into  the  third  heaven,  and 
hearing  unutterable  things.'  Again, '  the  publicans  and  harlots 
shall  enter  into  the  Kingdo'ii  of  Heaven  before  you,'  where 
publicans  means  the  Gentiles  *  upon  whom  the  ends  of  the  world 
have  come ' ;  *  whore  *  ends '  are  the  seeds  of  the  universe  scat 
tered  about  by  the  Formless  One,  as  is  set  forth  by  the  Saviour, 
4  He  that  hath  ears  to  hear,  let  him  hear,'  declaring  that  none 
but  the  perfect  Gnostics  can  comprehend  this  mystery. 

"  Those  beloved  by  the  Formless  One  are  Pearls  in  this  vessel 
of  clay ;  and  to  them  refers  the  precept,  *  Cast  not  that  which 
is  holy  to  the  dogs ;  neither  throw  your  pearls  before  swine ; ' 
meaning  sexual  intercourse  with  women — an  act  fit  only  for 
dogs  and  swine.  He  is  also  called  AiVoAos  by  the  Phrygians, 
not  because  he  really  kept  flocks,  as  the  profane  fancy,  but 
because  he  is  o  cuet  7roA<Sj',  '  he  that  ever  turns '  the  universe 
in  its  due  revolutions,  whence  the  phrase,  the  *  poles '  of  heaven. 
And  Homer  (Od.  iv.  384-85)  says— 

'  Here  turns  about  the  truthful  sea-god  old, 
Immortal  Proteus  by  the  Egyptians  called.' 

"  He  is  likewise  styled  *  Fruitful,'  because  '  the  children  of 
the  widow  shall  be  more  than  those  of  her  that  hath  a  husband ; ' 
that  is,  the  spiritual  who  are  born  again,  being  immortal,  are 
in  number  more  (though  but  few  of  them  are  born  into  this 
life)  than  the  carnal,  who,  in  spite  of  their  present  multitude, 
do  all  perish  utterly  at  last. 

"  The  knowledge  of  the  Perfect  Man  is  very  deep,  and  hard  to 
be  attained  to.  '  The  beginning  of  perfection  is  the  knowledge 
of  man,  but  absolute  perfection  is  the  knowledge  of  God.'  He 
( Adamas)  is  designated  by  the  Phrygians  as, '  the  Green  Wheat- 
ear  cut  otf';  on  this  account,  at  the  Eleusinian  rites,  the 
initiated  hold  up  in  silence  to  the  Directors  the  wondrous 
mystery,  the  green  ear  of  wheat.  This  wheat-ear  is  the 
Perfect  Son  descended  from  the  Adamas  above,  the  Great  Giver 

*  A  play  upon  TeAwvcu  and  re'ATj. 


of  light,  like  the  Hierophant  himself.  This  latter  is  not 
actually  castrated  like  Attis,  but  emasculated  by  the  use  of 
hemlock,  so  that  he  despises  all  carnal  pleasure;  and  whilst 
celebrating  the  mysteries  amidst  blazing  torches,  he  cries  aloud, 
1  The  holy  Brimo  hath  borne  a  sacred  son,  Brimos  ' — alluding 
to  the  Spiritual  Birth.  The  rites  are  therefore  named  '  Eleu- 
sinian '  and  '  Anactorian,'  from  the  Greek  words  signifying 
Coming  and  Ascending.  This  is  what  the  initiated  themselves 
declare  concerning  the  mysteries  of  Proserpine ;  and  of  the 
road  leading  the  defunct  down  to  her  the  poet  (Amphis) 

'  But  underneath  her  lies  a  rugged  path. 
Hollow  and  muddy,  yet  the  best  to  lead 
Down  to  the  lovely  groves  of  precious  Venus.' 

"  These  are  the  Lesser  Mysteries,  of  earthly  origin,  '  in  which 
men  ought  to  rest  themselves  for  a  while,  and  then  proceed  to 
the  Greater  Mysteries,'  that  is,  to  heavenly  regeneration. 

"  The  Father  of  the  All  is  furthermore  called  by  the  Phrygians 
'  Amygdalus,'  the  Almond  Tree ;  not  meaning  the  natural  tree, 
but  the  Pre-existing  One,  who,  having  within  himself  the 
Perfect  Fruit  pulsating  and  moving  about  in  his  depths,  tore 
open  (8iTJyui;£e)  his  bosom,  and  brought  forth  the  Invisible. 
Ineffable  Son,  of  whom  we  are  treating.*  lie  is  moreover 
denominated  the  '  Piper,'  because  that  which  is  born  is  the 
harmonious  Spirit  [or,  breath,  the  Greek  affording  no  distinction 
between  the  twc  senses  of  the  word.]  The  Spirit  is  likewise 
called  the  Father,  and  the  Son  begotten  by  the  Father ;  for  the 
worship  of  the  Perfect  is  not  carnal,  but  spiritual :  therefore, 
*  Neither  in  Jerusalem  nor  in  this  mountain  shall  ye  worship 
any  more/ 

"  This  is  the  mystery  of  the  Incomprehensible  One,  furnished 
with  innumerable  eyes,  whom  all  Nature  longeth  after  in  different 
ways.  [Perhaps  an  allusion  to  the  Brahminical  figure  of  Indra, 
<>-od  of  the  heavens.]  This  is  the  '  Word  of  God,'  that  is,  the 

*  Some  lurking   tradition  of  this  ciation  constructed   by  Brunelleschi 

mystery    may    have    suggested    the  for  the   church  of  Sta.  Croce.      See 

machine  of  the  almond  (machina  della  Vasari's  detailed  account  of  this  re- 

mandola)  containing  the  Archangel  markable  example  of  a  miracle-play. 
Gabriel,  in  the  spectacle  of  the  Ann un- 


word  of  the  declaration  of  his  great  power :  '  Wherefore  it 
shall  be  sealed  up,  and  veiled,  and  hidden,  lying  in  the 
dwelling-place,  where  is  established  the  Eoot  of  all  the  TEons, 
Powers,  thoughts  [Platonic  Ideas],  gods,  angels,  spirit-mes 
sengers  that  are,  that  are  not,  begotten,  unbegotten,  compre 
hensible,  incomprehensible,  of  the  years,  months,  days,  hours, 
moments,  whence  Time  begins  to  grow  and  increase  by  particles. 
For  a  moment  (or  geometrical  point),  itself  being  nothing,  made 
of  nothing,  indivisible,  grows  by  accretion  into  a  magnitude 
incomprehensible.'  This  is  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven,  the  grain 
of  mustard  seed,  the  Indivisible  Point  existing  within  every 
one,  but  only  known  unto  the  Spiritual  Man. 

"  *  There  is  neither  speech  nor  language,  but  their  voices  are 
heard  amongst  them,'  signifies  that  whatever  men  say  or  do, 
has  all  a  spiritual  meaning  to  the  Perfect ;  even  the  actors  in  the 
theatre  utter  nothing  without  the  intervention  of  the  Deity. 
For  when  the  audience  are  seated,  and  the  actor  comes  upon  the 
stage,  clad  in  a  gorgeous  robe  and  twanging  his  lyre,  he  sings 
thus  a  great  mystery  without  knowing  what  he  says — 'Whether 
thou  be  the  offspring  of  Saturn,  or  of  blessed  Jove,  or  of  the 
mighty  TChea,  hail!  Thee  Assyrians  call  the  thrice-desired 
Adamas ;  whilst  Egypt  styles  Thee  Osiris ;  the  Greeks  in  their 
wisdom  (esoteric  knowledge)  the  Moon's  Holy  Horn  ;  the  Samo- 
thracians,  the  venerable  Adamnas ;  the  Hsemonians,  Corybas ;  the 
Phrygians,  at  one  time,  Papa,  the  Dead  One ;  at  another,  the 
God,  or  the  Barren  One,  or  the  Green  Wheat-car  cut  off ;  or  him 
whom  the  fruitful  Almond  Tree  poses  the  man  playing  on  the 
pipe.'  He  is  the  multiform  Attis,  whom  they  thus  describe  in 
their  hymns :  '  I  will  sing  of  Attis,  the  favourite  of  Ehea,  with 
the  clashing  of  cymbals,  the  bellowing  of  the  Idaean  pipe  of 
the  Curetes,  and  will  intermingle  the  sound  of  Phoebus'  lyre. 
Evoe !  Evau  !  Thou  that  art  like  unto  Pan,  unto  Bacchus,  thou 
Shepherd  of  the  white  stars  !  ' 

"  For  these  "  (adds  Hippolytus)  "  and  other  such  like  reasons, 
these  Ophites  frequent  the  Mysteries  of  the  Great  Mother, 
fancying  that  by  means  of  what  is  done  there  they  can  see 
through  the  whole  secret.  But  in  reality  they  have  not  the 
least  advantage  over  other  people,  except  that  they  are  not 


emasculated,  and  yet  they  act  as  though  they  were.  For  they 
most  strictly  forbid  all  intercourse  with  women,  and  in  every 
other  respect,  as  we  have  fully  described,  they  do  the  same 
things  as  the  eunuchs,  the  regular  priests  of  Rhea." 

After  giving  an  account  of  their  worship  and  glorification 
of  the  Serpent  (which  I  shall  extract  when  treating  of  the 
Agathodsemon  religion)  Hippolytus  thus  continues  : — "  The 
foregoing  is  a  sample  of  the  insane,  absurd,  and  interminable 
theories  of  the  sect.  But  to  show  up,  as  far  as  lies  in  cm- 
power,  their  unknowing  'knowledge,'  the  following  hymn*  is 
here  inserted,  as  containing  a  summary  of  the  whole  creed : — 

" '  The  generative  law  of  the  All  was  the  First  Mind ; 
But  the  Second  was  the  effused  chaos  of  the  First : 
In  the  third  place  the  Soul  received  a  law,  and  began  to  operate.! 
Whereupon  She  (the  Soul)  enveloped  in  the  figure  of  a  fawn, 
Struggles  with  Death,  suffering  a  probationary  penance. 
At  one  time,  invested  with  royalty,  she  beholds  the  Light ; 
At  another,  cast  down  into  misery,  she  weeps. 
Now  she  weeps  and  rejoices ; 
Now  she  weeps  and  is  judged; 
Now  she  is  judged  and  dies. 
When  shall  her  deliverance  be? 
The  wretched  one 

Hath  entered,  as  she  strayed,  into  an  evil  labyrinth. 
But  Jesus  said :  Father,  suffer  me ; 

She  in  quest  of  evil  (or,  the  chased  of  evil  ones)  upon  earth 
Wandercth  about,  destitute  of  Thy  Spirit : 
She  seeketh  to  escape  from  the  bitter  chaos, 
But  knoweth  not  how  to  pass  through. 
For  this  cause  send  me,  O  Father  ! 
I  will  go  down  holding  the  Seals, 
I  will  pass  through  all  the  ^ons ; 
I  will  reveal  all  the  mysteries; 
I  will  manifest  the  forms  of  the  gods ;  I 
And  the  hidden  secrets  of  the  holy  way 
I  will  teach,  giving  unto  them  the  name  of  GNOSIS.' 

"  This,  therefore,  is  the  system  (or  pretension)  of  the 
Naaseni,  who  designate  themselves  'the  Gnostics.'  But  this 

*  This  hymn  is  written  in  ana-  mental    doctrine    "  All    is    Three," 

psestic  verses;  its  text  is  in  many  already  stated  by  Hippolytus. 

places  hopelessly   corrupted   by  the  J  That    is,    will    disclose    to    the 

transcriber.     I  have  therefore  often  faithful  the  different  figures  of  the 

been  obliged  to  conjecture  the  original  Archons    of    the    lower    spheres,    a 

sense.  promise  fulfilled  at  much  length  by 

t  An  er.:mciation  of    the  funda-  the  author  of  the  Pistis-Sophia. 


deception  of  theirs  being  multiform,  and  having  many  heads 
like  the  Hydra  of  fable,  if  I  smite  all  the  heads  at  a  single 
blow  with  the  wand  of  Truth,  I  shall  destroy  the  whole 
serpent,  for  all  the  other  sects  differ  but  little  from  this  in 

Hippolytus  has  not  given  a  connected  analysis  of  the  Ophite 
system ;  ho  probably  deemed  it  superfluous  labour,  as  having 
been  already  done  with  much  exactness  by  Ireneeus  in  his  great 
work,  to  which  the  former  occasionally  refers  as  being  then  in 
everybody's  hands.  To  the  Bishop  of  Lugdunum,  therefore,  we 
must  apply  for  this  information,  which  will  be  found  given  at 
much  length  in  Chapters  xxxi.-xxxiii.  of  the  First  Book  of  his 
History.  Pie  states  that  the  Ophites,  like  other  Gnostics,  rejected 
tlie  Old  Testament  altogether  as  the  work  of  a  subordinate 
divinity,  and  containing  nothing  of  the  revelations  of  their  Sophia, 
or  Divine  Wisdom  ;  whilst  they  held  that  the  New,  although 
originally  of  higher  authority,  had  been  so  corrupted  by  the 
interpolations  of  the  Apostles  as  to  have  lost  all  value  as  a 
revelation  of  Divine  truth.  They  drew  the  chief  supports  of 
their  tenets  out  of  the  various  "  Testaments  "  and  similar  books 
then  current,  and  ascribed  to  the  Patriarchs  and  the  most 
ancient  Prophets,  for  example,  the  book  of  Enoch. 

The  primary  article  of  this  doctrine  was  the  Emanation  of  all 
things  from  the  One  Supreme,  long  utterly  unknown  to  man 
kind,  and  at  last  only  revealed  to  a  very  small  number  capable 
of  receiving  such  enlightenment.  Hence  he  is  named  Bythos, 
"  Profundity,"  to  express  his  unfathomable,  inscrutable  nature. 
Following  the  Zoroastrian  and  the  Kabbalistic  nomenclature  they 
also  designated  Him  as  the  "  Fountain  of  Light,"  and  "  The 
Primal  Man,"  giving  for  reason  of  the  latter  title  that  "  Man 
was  created  after  the  image  of  God,"  which  proved  the  nature  of 
the  prototype. 

The  Beginning  of  Creation,  that  is,  the  Primal  Idea,  or  Emana 
tion,  was  the  "  thought,"  Ennoia,  of  Bythos,  who  bears  also  the 
significant  name  of  Sige,  "  Silence."  This  Idea  being  the  first 
act  of  creation  of  the  Primal  Man,  is  therefore  properly 
denominated  the  "  Second  Man."  Ennoia  is  the  consort  (compare 
the  Hindoo  Darga)  of  Bythos,  and  she  produced  Pneuma,  "  the 


Spirit,"  who,  being  the  source  of  all  created  things,  is  entitled 
"the  Mother  of  all  living,"  and  likewise  Sophia,  the  wisdom 
from  on  high.  As  the  mother  of  all  living,  Sophia  is  the 
medium  between  the  intellectual  and  material  worlds.  In 
consequence  of  this,  when  Bythos  and  Ennoia,  charmed  with 
her  beauty,  furnished  her  with  the  divine  Light,  Sophia  pro 
duced  two  new  Emanations — the  one  perfect,  Christos,  the  other 
imperfect,  Sophia- Achamoth.  (This  scheme  resembles  the  Bud 
dhistic  ;  Bythos  answering  to  the  First  Buddha ;  Sige,  Sophia, 
Christos,  Achamoth,  Ildabaoth,  to  the  successive  other  Five.) 

Of  these  emanations  Christos  was  designed  for  the  guide  of 
all  who  proceed  from  God  ;  Achamoth,  for  the  guide  of  all 
proceeding  out  of  matter ;  nevertheless,  the  Perfect  One  was 
intended  to  assist  and  lead  upwards  his  imperfect  sister. 

Furthermore,  the  Spirit  rests  upon  Chaos,  or  the  waters  of 
Creation,  which  are  Matter,  Water,  Darkness,  the  Abyss.  This 
Chaos  was  devoid  of  all  life,  for  life  proceeds  ultimately  from 
the  Supreme,  who  has  no  connection  whatever  with  Matter. 
Neither  could  his  purely  intellectual  daughter,  Sophia,  act 
directly  upon  it;  she  therefore  employed  for  agent  her  own 
emanation,  Achamoth,  whose  mixed  imperfect  nature  fitted  her 
for  that  office. 

This  First  Tetrad,  Bythos,  Ennoia,  Sige,  Sophia,  were  in  the 
meantime  creating  Ecdesia,  the  Idea  of  the  Holy  Church.  But 
the  imperfect  Achamoth  upon  descending  into  Chaos,  lost  her 
way  there,  and  became  ambitious  of  creating  a  world  entirely 
for  herself.  She  floated  about  in  the  Abyss,  delighted  at 
imparting  life  and  motion  to  the  inert  elements,  until  she 
became  so  hopelessly  entangled  in  Matter  as  to  be  unable  to 
extricate  herself  from  its  trammels.  In  this  condition  she 
produced  the  creator  of  the  material  world,  the  Demiurgus, 

But  after  this  event,  Achamoth  feeling  the  intolerable  burden 
of  her  material  part,  after  long  and  repeated  efforts,  at  length 
struggled  forth  out  of  Chaos.  She  had  never  belonged  to  the 
Pleroma,  but  she  attained  to  the  "  Middle  Space  " ;  where  she 
entirely  shook  off  her  material  part,  and  determined  to  erect  a 
barrier  between  the  World  of  Intelligence  and  the  World  of 


Matter.  Ildabaoth,  "  Son  of  Darkness,"  creator  and  tyrant  of 
the  Lower  World,  followed  the  example  of  Bythos  in  producing 
subordinate  Emanations.  First  of  all  ho  generated  an  Angel 
in  his  own  likeness  ;  this  Angel  a  second  ;  and  so  on  up  to  the 
number  of  six.  These  are  all  reflexions  one  of  the  other ;  but 
they  inhabit,  with  their  father,  Ildabaoth,  seven  different 
regions ;  to  which  the  Middle  Space,  dominion  of  their  origin 
Acharnoth,  forms  the  eighth.  Their  names  are  lao,  Sabaoth, 
Adonai,  Eloi,  Ouraios,  Astaphaios.  They  became  the  Genii  of 
the  seven  worlds,  or  planetary  spheres.  The  first  four  names 
are  the  mystic  titles  of  the  God  of  the  Jews — degraded  thus  by 
the  Ophites  into  appellations  of  the  subordinates  of  the  Creator ; 
the  two  last  signify  the  forces  of  Fire  and  Water. 

In  this  degradation  of  the  names  most  sacred  in  the  Jewish 
theology,  is  clearly  to  be  recognised,  the  very  teaching  of  those 
"  dreamers"  reprobated  by  Jude,  v.  8  for  despising  "Dominion," 
and  speaking  evil  of  "  Dignities."  For  "  Dominion "  is  the 
"Empire"  in  the  Sephiroth  (see  page  35)  to  which  the  Kabbala 
assigned  the  title  Adonai.  Now  we  find  here  the  Ophites 
making  Adonai  the  third  son  of  Ildabaoth,  a  malevolent  Genius, 
and  like  his  father  and  brethren,  the  eternal  adversary  of  the 
Christ.  The  "  Dignities  "  mean  the  other  personages  of  the 
Sephiroth,  similarly  dishonoured  by  the  new  doctrine.  Judo 
shows  plainly  whom  he  had  in  view  by  contrasting  in  the  next 
verse  the  audacity  of  these  "blasphemers"  with  the  respect 
shown  by  the  Archanged  Michael  towards  his  opponent  on 
account  of  his  angelic  nature,  however  fallen  from  his  high 
estate.  By  a  most  singular  coincidence  (much  too  close  to 
have  been  merely  accidental),  Jude's  censure,  nay,  his  very 
expressions  are  repeated  by  Peter  in  his  second  Epistle  (ii.  10). 
If  either  of  these  Epistles  were  really  written  by  the  Apostles 
whose  names  they  bear,  these  passages  bring  to  light  the  very 
early  existence  of  this  school  of  Gnosticism,  which  indeed  may 
have  been  founded  before  the  promulgation  of  Christianity. 
But  to  return  to  the  operations  of  Ildabaoth.  Besides  the 
Spirits  above  mentioned,  he  generated  Archangels,  Angels, 
Virtues,  and  Powers  presiding  over  all  the  details  of  the 
creation.  Ildabaoth  was  far  from  being  a  pure  spirit ;  ambition 


and  pride  dominated  in  his  composition.  He  therefore  re 
solved  to  break  off  all  connection  with  his  mother,  Achamoth, 
and  to  create  a  world  entirely  for  himself.  Aided  by  his  own 
Six  Spirits,  he  created  Man,  intending  him  for  the  image  of  his 
power ;  but  he  failed  utterly  in  his  work,  his  Man  proving  a 
vast,  soulless  monster,  crawling  upon  the  earth.  The  Six 
Spirits  were  obliged  to  bring  their  work  again  before  their 
father,  to  be  animated :  he  did  so  by  communicating  the  ray  of 
Divine  Light  which  he  himself  had  inherited  from  Achamoth, 
who  by  this  loss  punished  him  for  his  pride  and  self- 

Man,  thus  favoured  by  Achamoth  at  the  expense  of  her  own 
son,  followed  the  impulse  of  the  Divine  Light  that  she  had 
transferred  to  him,  collected  a  further  supply  out  of  the 
creation  with  which  it  was  intermingled,  and  began  to  present 
not  the  image  of  his  creator  Ildabaoth,  but  rather  that  of  the 
Supreme  Being,  the  "  Primal  Man."  At  this  spectacle  the 
Demiurgus  was  filled  with  rage  and  envy  at  having  produced 
a  being  so  superior  to  himself.  His  looks,  inspired  by  his 
passions,  were  reflected  in  the  Abyss,  as  in  a  mirror,  the  image 
became  instinct  with  life,  and  forth  arose  "Satan  Serpent- 
formed,"  Ophiomorplios,  the  embodiment  of  envy  and  cunning. 
He  is  the  combination  of  all  that  is  most  base  in  matter  with 
the  hate,  envy  and  craft  of  Spiritual  Intelligence.  Out  of 
their  normal  hatred  for  Judaism,  the  Ophites  gave  this  being 
the  name  of  Michael,  the  guardian  angel  of  the  Jewish  nation 
according  to  Daniel  (v.  21).  But  they  also  called  him  Samiel, 
the  Hebrew  name  of  the  Prince  of  the  Devils. 

In  consequence  of  his  spite  at  the  creation  of  Man,  Ildabaoth 
set  to  work  to  create  the  three  kingdoms  of  Nature,  the 
Animal,  the  Vegetable,  and  the  Mineral ;  with  all  the  defects 
and  evils  they  now  exhibit.  Next,  in  order  to  regain  possession 
of  the  best  of  things,  he  resolved  to  confine  Man  within  his  own 
exclusive  domain.  In  order  to  detach  him  from  his  protectress 
Achamoth,  and  from  the  celestial  region,  he  forbade  him  to  eat 
of  the  Tree  of  Knowledge,  which  could  reveal  the  mysteries 
and  confer  on  him  the  graces  from  above.  But  Achamoth,  in  order 
to  defeat  his  scheme,  sent  her  own  Genius,  Ophis,  in  the  form 


of  a  serpent  to  induce  him  to  transgress  the  commandment,  and 
so  to  break  the  Law  of  Jealousy.  Though  not  so  stated,  it 
would  appear  that  the  serpent-form  was  put  on  by  Achamoth's 
minister  in  order  to  escape  the  vigilance  of  Ildabaoth,  under 
the  disguise  of  his  offspring  Satan,  Ophiomorphos. 

Enlightened  by  eating  the  forbidden  fruit,  Man  became 
capable  of  comprehending  heavenly  things.  Nevertheless 
Ildabaoth  was  sufficiently  powerful  to  revenge  himself,  which 
he  did  by  shutting  up  the  First  Pair  in  the  prison-house  of 
Matter,  that  is,  in  the  body,  so  unworthy  of  his  nature,  wherein 
Man  is  still  enthralled.  Achamoth,  however,  continued  to 
protect  him :  she  had  extracted  from  his  composition  and 
absorbed  into  herself  the  divine  Spark  of  Light;  and  ceased 
not  to  supply  him  therewith,  and  defend  him  in  all  his 

And  of  this  there  was  full  need.  A  new  enemy  had  come 
into  the  field  against  Man,  the  Genius  Ophis  whom  Ildabaoth  had 
seized,  and  punished  for  his  share  in  the  affair  of  the  Tree  of 
Knowledge,  by  casting  him  down  into  the  Abyss ;  and  who, 
contaminated  by  his  immersion  in  Matter,  became  converted 
into  the  exact  image  of  his  fellow-prisoner,  Ophiomorphos. 
The  former  was  the  type,  the  latter  the  antitype,  and  the  two 
are  often  confounded  together.  Thus  we  get  a  third  dualism  into 
the  scheme.  Sophia  and  Sophia-Achatnoth,  Adam-Kadmon  and 
Adam,  Ophis  and  Ophiomorphos.  Ophis,  at  first  Man's  friend, 
now  began  to  hate  him  as  the  cause  (though  innocent)  of  his  own 
degradation.  With  Ildabaoth,  and  his  Sons,  he  continually  seeks 
to  chain  him  to  the  body,  by  inspiring  him  with  all  manner  of 
corrupt  desires,  more  especially  earthly  love  and  the  appetites. 
But  Achamoth  supplies  Man  with  the  divine  Light,  through 
which  he  became  sensible  of  his  Nakedness,  that  is,  of  the  misery 
of  his  condition  of  imprisonment  in  this  body  of  death,  where 
his  only  consolation  is  the  hope  of  ultimate  release. 

But  the  seductions  of  Ildabaoth  and  his  crew  gained  over  all 
the  offspring  of  Adam,  except  Seth,  the  true  type  of  the 
Spiritual  Man:  and  his  posterity  kept  alive  the  seed  of 
Light  and  the  knowledge  of  divine  Truth  throughout  all  the 
generations  following.  When  they  in  the  Wilderness  received 

H  2 


the  commandments  and  institutions  of  Ildabaoth  and  his  Sons, 
the  Planetary  Genii,  and  afterwards  the  teaching  of  the 
Prophets,  inspired  from  the  same  source,  Achamoth  infused  into 
their  predictions  something  higher,  comprehended  not  even  by 
their  Lord,  and  made  them  preach  the  advent  of  the  Primal 
Man,  the  eternal  2Eon,  the  heavenly  Christ.  [The  same  notion 
was  a  favourite  one  with  the  Medieval  CatJiari.'] 

Achamoth  was  so  afflicted  at  the  condition  of  Man  that  she 
never  rested  until  she  had  prevailed  on  her  mother,  the 
celestial  Sophia,  to  move  Bythos  into  sending  down  the  Christ 
to  the  aid  of  the  Spiritual  Sons  of  Seth.  Ildabaoth  himself  had 
been  caused  to  make  ready  the  way  for  his  coming  through 
his  own  minister,  John  the  Baptist ;  in  the  belief  that  the 
kingdom  Christ  came  to  establish  was  merely  a  temporal  one :  a 
supposition  fostered  in  him  by  the  contrivance  of  Achamoth. 
Besides  inducing  him  to  send  the  Precursor,  she  made  him 
cause  the  birth  of  the  Man  Jesus  by  the  Virgin  Mary ;  because 
the  creation  of  a  material  person  could  only  be  the  work  of  the 
Demiurgus ;  not  falling  within  the  province  of  a  higher  power. 
As  soon  as  the  Man  Jesus  was  born,  the  Christ,  uniting  himself 
with  Sophia,  descended  through  the  seven  planetary  regions, 
assuming  in  each  an  analogous  form,  thus  concealing  his  true 
nature  from  their  presiding  Genii,  whilst  he  attracted  into 
himself  the  sparks  of  the  divine  Light  they  still  retained  in 
their  essence.  [These  "  analogous  forms  "  are  explained  by  the 
fact  that  the  Ophite  Diagramma  figured  Michael  as  a  lion, 
S uriel  as  a  lull,  Eaphael  as  a  serpent,  Gabriel  as  an  eagle, 
Sabaoth  as  a  bear,  Erataoth  as  a  dog,  Ouriel  as  an  ass.']  In  this 
manner  the  Christ  entered  into  the  man  Jesus  at  the  moment  of 
his  baptism  in  the  Jordan.  From  this  time  forth  Jesus  began  to 
work  miracles ;  before  that  He  had  been  entirely  ignorant  of  his 
own  mission.  But  Ildabaoth  at  last  discovering  that  he  was 
subverting  his  own  kingdom  upon  earth,  stirred  up  the  Jews 
against  him,  and  caused  him  to  be  put  to  death.  When  he  was 
on  the  cross,  the  Christ  and  Sophia  left  his  body,  and  returned 
to  their  own  place.  Upon  his  death  the  Two  took  the  Man 
Jesus,  abandoned  his  Material  body  to  the  earth,  and  gave  him  a 
new  one  made  out  of  the  JEther.  Thenceforth  he  consisted 


merely  of  soul  and  spirit,  which  was  the  cause  why  the 
Disciples  did  not  recognise  him  after  his  resurrection.  During 
his  sojourn  upon  earth  of  eighteen  months  after  he  had  risen,  he 
received  from  Sophia  that  perfect  knowledge,  the  true  Gnosis, 
which  he  communicated  to  the  small  portion  of  the  Apostles 
who  were  capable  of  receiving  the  same.  Thence,  ascending 
up  into  the  Middle  Space,  he  sat  down  upon  the  right  hand  of 
Ildabaoth  although  unperceived  by  him,  and  there  he  is 
collecting  all  souls  that  have  been  purified  through  the 
knowledge  of  Christ.  When  he  shall  have  collected  all  the 
Spiritual,  all  the  Light,  out  of  Ildalaoth's  empire,  Redemption 
is  accomplished  and  the  end  of  the  world  arrived  :  which  means 
nothing  else  than  the  reabsorption  of  all  Light  into  the  Pleroina 
from  which  it  had  originally  descended. 

The  sect  were  divided  in  their  opinions  as  to  the  nature 
of  Ophis.  Although  agreed  that  this  genius  was  in  the 
beginning  the  minister  of  Achamoth,  the  Ophites  of  Theodoret's 
time  held  that  he  had  been  converted  into  the  enemy  of  Man ; 
although  by  inducing  him  to  break  the  commandment  of 
Ildabaoth  he  had  proved  the  final  cause  of  Man's  deliverance 
from  his  power.  But  all  these  nice  distinctions,  and  compli 
cated  machinery  of  Redemption  were  the  invention  of  the  later 
schools  :  unknown  to  the  sect  described  by  Hippolytus.  For 
the  primitive  Ophites,  retaining  the  Egyptian  veneration  for 
the  Agathodgernon,  regarded  their  serpent,  The  Naas,  as  identical 
with  either  Sophia,  or  the  Christ.  That  writer  says  positively 
**  the  Naas  (Hebrew,  NacJiasJi)  is  the  only  thing  they  worship, 
whence  they  are  denominated  Naaseni.  Even  two  centuries 
later  when  Epiphanius  wrote,  they  employed  a  living  tame 
serpent  to  encircle  and  consecrate  the  loaves  that  were  to  be 
eaten  at  the  Eucharistic  supper.  Again  Tertullian  has  (In 
Prescript.)  "  Serpentem  magnificant  in  tantum  ut  etiam 
Christo  preeferant  " — a  passage  that  suggests  that  their  opliig 
was  connected  with  the  antique  Solar  Genius  of  the  Pharaonio 
religion.  It  was  a  peculiarity  of  the  Egyptians  that,  like 
the  present  Hindoos,  they  were  divided,  as  it  were,  into  sects, 
each  of  which  adopted  some  one  deity  out  of  the  Pantheon 
for  the  exclusive  object  of  worship,  paying  no  regard  to  all  the 


rest.  As  in  modern  Hindooism  Vishnu  and  Siva  have 
engrossed  the  religion  of  the  country,  so  in  the  Egypt  of  the 
first  Christian  century  Anubis  and  Cnuph  had  become  the  sole 
objects  of  Egyptian  veneration,  as  the  monuments  hereafter  to 
be  reviewed  will  abundantly  evince. 

To  establish  the  identity  of  their  Ophis  with  the  Saviour,  his 
followers  adduced  the  words  of  St.  John,  "  For  as  Moses  lifted 
up  the  serpent  in  the  wilderness,  even  so  must  the  Son  of  Man 
be  lifted  up."  All  this  proves  that  the  section  of  the  Ophites 
which  regarded  the  serpent  as  evil  by  its  nature,  had  been  led 
astray  from  the  primitive  doctrine  of  their  sect  by  the  prevailing 
Zoroastrian  and  Jewish  notions  upon  that  subject.  The  creed 
of  the  original  Gnostics,  the  Naaseni,  gave  a  very  different  view 
of  the  nature  of  the  serpent  considered  merely  as  a  type  ;  a  fact 
which  shall  be  established  in  the  section  on  the  Agathodeemon 

Epiphanius  gives  the  following  abstract  of  their  doctrine  to 
explain  their  reverence  for  the  serpent  as  the  true  author  of 
divine  knoivlcdgc.  "  The  Supreme  ^Eon  having  produced  other 
yEons,  one  of  these,  a  female,  named  Prunicos  (i.e.  Concupiscence), 
descended  into  the  waters  of  the  abyss :  whence,  not  being 
able  to  extricate  herself,  she  remained  suspended  in  the 
Middle  Space,  being  too  much  clogged  by  matter  to  return 
above,  and  yet  not  sinking  lower  where  there  was  nothing 
cognate  to  her  nature.  In  this  condition  she  produced  Ildabaoth, 
the  God  of  the  Jews ;  and  he  in  his  turn  seven  JEons  or  Angels, 
who  created  the  seven  heavens.  From  these  seven  ^Eons 
Ildabaoth  shut  up  all  that  was  above,  lest  they  should  know  of 
anything  superior  to  himself.  The  seven  ^Eons  then  created 
Man  in  the  image  of  their  Father,  but  prone,  and  crawling 
upon  earth  like  a  worm.  But  the  Heavenly  Mother,  Prunicos, 
wishing  to  deprive  Ildabaoth  of  the  power  wherewith  she  had 
unadvisedly  invested  him,  infused  into  Man  a  celestial  spark — 
the  soul.  Straightway  man  rose  up  on  his  feet,  soared  in  mind 
beyond  the  limits  of  the  eight  spheres,  and  glorified  the 
Supreme  Father,  Him  who  is  above  Ildabaoth.  Hence  Ilda 
baoth,  full  of  jealousy,  cast  down  his  eyes  upon  the  lower  layer 
of  Matter,  and  begat  a  Virtue,  whom  they  call  his  Son.  Eve, 



listening  to  him  as  the  Son  of  God,  was  easily  persuaded  to  eat 
of  the  Tree  of  Knowledge."  Such  is  the  brief  summary  of 
Ophite  tenets,  as  given  by  Epiphanius.  The  details  of  the 
elaborate  system  given  in  the  preceding  pages  are  extracted 
from  Theodoret  who  flourished  half  a  century  later. 

FIG.  4. 



The  doctrines  of  the  chief  schools  of  Gnosticism  having  been 
fully  described  in  the  preceding  sections,  the  next  step  in  the 
natural  order  of  things  will  be  to  consider  the  MACHINERY 
employed  by  its  teachers  to  set  forth  these  new  doctrines. 

The  deities  of  the  ancient  mythology  continued  to  hold  their 
place  in  the  productions  of  the  great  sect  whose  birth-place 
was  Alexandria,  and  consequently  some  insight  into  the  sense 
in  which  the  novel  theosophy  adopted  them  may  be  obtained 
by  learning  what  were  the  powers  and  attributes  of  these  same 
gods,  when  their  worship  held  undisputed  possession  of  the 
country.  On  this  account,  the  chief  deities  of  Egypt,  and  the 
figures  under  which  they  are  recognised,  must  now  be  briefly 
described — together  with  their  Coptic  titles,  so  often  found  on 
these  monuments  in  strange  companionship  with  the  holy 
names  of  the  Jewish  creed,  with  the  Magian  Genii,  even  with 
the  appellatives  of  Hindoo  gods — the  very  terminology  of  the 
religion  plainly  indicating  its  remote  and  multifarious  sources. 

1.  The  great  god  of  Lower  Egypt,  Phthas  (phonetic,  Ptah),  is 
represented  in  a  close-fitting  robe,  with  his  feet  joined  together, 
and  standing  upon  a  base  of  four  steps,  called  the  "  Four 
Foundations,"  and  which  typified  the  Four  Elements,  of  which 
ho  was  the  grand  artificer — an  emblem  long  afterwards  taken 
in  the  same  acceptation  by  the  Kosicrucians,  sometimes  he 
appears  as  a  dwarf  and  Priapean;  sometimes  as  Phtha-Tore 
with  a  beetle  forehead.  His  proper  attribute  is  the  Cyno- 
cephalus  baboon.  His  four  sons,  the  Cabiri,  are  painted  as  little 
ugly  dwarfs,  bearing  for  badges  of  office,  a  sword,  a  crocodile, 
a  serpent,  a  human  head  stuck  on  a  hook.  They  become  in  the 
hierarchy  of  the  Pistis-Sophia  the  "  Collectors  unto  Wrath " 
(epivcuoi),  whose  office  is  to  accuse  souls  in  the  Judgment. 
The  many-armed  Genius  brandishing  similar  weapons,  often 
found  on  Gnostic  talismans,  probably  expresses  the  same  idea 
in  a  condensed  form. 


2.  Ammon  (phonetically,  Amen)  has  a  human,  and  occasionally 
a  ram's,  head,  from  which  rises  a  parti-coloured  plume.     lie  is 
modified    into   "  Pan-Mendes,"    Priapean,  and    brandishing    a 
whip.     In  the  character  of  "  Ammon-Chnubis  "  he  has  his  feet 
bound  together,  and  wears  the  horns  of  a  goat.     He  is  often 
figured  as  the  serpent,  called  by  the  Greeks  the  "  Agathodsemon." 
His  symbol  is  the  vase  "  Canopus,"  for  so  the  Greeks  pronounce 
the    name    of    Chnubis.     United   with   the   sun,   ho   becomes 
"  Animon-Ea." 

3.  The  Sun-god,  Phre,  or  Ea,  depicted  with  the  head  of  a 
hawk,  supporting  the  solar   disc   entwined  with   the   serpent 

4.  Thoth  or  Thoyt,  ibis-headed,  is  the  "  Scribe  of  the  gods." 
Sometimes  he   takes   the   head   of  a   hawk,    and  becomes   tho 
famous  "  Hermes  Trismegistus."     His  symbol  is  the  winged  orb, 
Tat,  answering  to  the  Mir  of  the  Persians.     (He  is  the  prophet 
Enoch's  fourth  rebellious  angel,  Penumuc,  "  who  discovered  unto 
tho  children  of  men  bitterness  and  sweetness,  and  pointed  out 
to  them  every  unit  of  their  wisdom.     He  taught  men  to  under 
stand   writing,   and   tho    use    of  ink   and   paper.      Therefore 
numerous  have  been  those  who  have  gone  astray,  from  every 
period  of  the  world  even  to  this  day.     For  men  were  not  born 
for  this,  thus  with  pen  and  with  ink  to  confirm  their  faith." 
[Ixviii.  10.  13.]) 

5.  Sochos  is  depicted  with  the  head  of  a  crocodile,  and  is  also 
symbolised  by  a  crocodile  with  the  tail  bent. 

6.  The   Moon-god,   Pa-Ioh,    (Pa,   being   the    Coptic  definite 
article)  is  represented  having  his  feet  close  together ;  upon  his 
head  is  a  single  lock  of  hair  and  the  crescent.     At  other  times, 
this  deity  is  figured  bi-sexual,  and  casting  gold  dust  over  the 
heavens,  that  is,  bespangling  them  with  the  stars. 

7.  Osiris  is  a  human  figure  distinguished  by  his  lofty  conical 
helmet,  and   holding   a   crook   and   a  whip.     The   eye   is   his 

8.  Aroeres  (Aroi),  the  Horus  of  the  Greeks,  has  a  single  lock 
of  hair  upon  his  head.     He  is  figured  as  being  suckled  by  I  sis 
and  again,  as  seated  upon  the  lotus  ;  ho  also  occasionally  wears 
the  head  of  a  hawk,  as  being  one  character  of  the  Solar  god. 


His  symbol,  the  hawk,  appears  upon  the  breast  of  Isis  in  a  torso 
in  the  Borgia  Collection. 

9.  Anubis  (Anbo)  is  always  jackal-headed,  and  sometimes  has 
also  a  human  one  head,  springing  from  a  separate  neck.     His 
Coptic  name,  ANBO,  may  often  be  observed  in  Gnostic  legends. 

10.  Bebon,  or  Bebys,  has  the  head  of  a  hippopotamus,  or  a 
crocodile,   and   carries   a   sword :    a   figure   which   used   to   be 
taken  for  Typhon.     He  stands  for  the  constellation  Ursa  Major 
in  the  Zodiac  of  Denderah. 

Of  goddesses  the  principal  are — 

1.  Neith :  expressed  by  the  Vulture,  or  else  by  a  female  with 
head  of  a  vulture,  or  lion.     In  the  last  case  she  takes  the  name 
of  Taf-net.     She  symbolizes  the  vault  of  Heaven. 

2.  Athor :  with  the  head  of  a  cow,  or  else  of  a  woman  covered 
with  the  skin  of  the  Eoyal  Vulture.     She  is  denoted   hiero- 
glyphically  by  a  hawk  placed  within  a  square. 

3.  Isis  :  a  female  with  horns  of  a  cow,  between  which  rests  a 
disk,  the  lunar  circle. 

4.  Sate :  the  Grecian  Hera,  wearing  tall  plumes  on  her  head, 
and   sometimes   personified  with    a  feather  in  place  of  head, 
stands    for    "Truth,"    in   which    latter    quality   she    appears 
regularly  at  the  Judgment  of  the  Soul. 

The  Four  Genii  of  the  Amenthes,  or  Hades,  are  represented 
with  the  heads  of  a  man,  jackal,  baboon,  and  hawk,  respectively ; 
and  are  often  placed  together  like  mummy-shaped  figures, 
forming  the  Canopic  Vases. 

The  symbols  of  the  same  worship  have  been  to  some  extent 
explained  by  persons  writing  at  a  time  when  they  were  still  a 
living,  though  fast  expiring,  language.  Of  such  writers  the 
most  valuable  is  Plutarch,  who  in  his  curious  treatise  '  De  Iside 
et  Osiride,'  has  given  the  meaning  of  several  of  these  symbols, 
and,  as  it  would  appear,  upon  very  good  authority.  According 
to  him,  Isis  sometimes  signifies  the  Moon,  in  which  sense  she  is 
denoted  by  a  Crescent ;  sometimes  the  Earth  as  fecundated  by 
the  waters  of  the  Nile.  For  this  reason  water,  as  the  seed  of 
Osiris,  was  carried  in  a  vase  in  the  processions  in  honour  of  this 

Of  iris  is  denoted  by  the  picture  of  an  Eye  and  Sceptre;  his 


name  being  compounded  of  Os  "  many,"  and  iris  "  eye."  Upon 
this  point  Macrobius  states  (Sat.  I.  21),  "  The  Egyptians,  in 
order  to  denote  that  Osiris  means  the  Sun,  whenever  they  want 
to  express  his  name  in  hieroglyphic  writing,  engrave  a  Sceptre 
and  on  top  thereof  the  figure  of  an  Eye ;  and  by  this  symbol 
they  express  '  Osiris,'  signifying  this  god  to  be  the  Sun,  riding 
on  high  in  regal  power,  and  looking  down  upon  all  things, 
because  antiquity  hath  surnamed  the  Sun  the  '  Eye  of  Jupiter.' " 

The  Fig-leaf  stands  for  "  King"  ;  and  also  for  the  "  South." 

The  Lizard,  which  was  believed  to  conceive  through  the  ear, 
and  to  bring  forth  through  the  mouth,  is  the  typo  of  the 
generation  of  the  Word,  that  is,  the  Logos,  or  Divine  Wisdom. 
(This  belief  explains  the  appearance  of  a  lizard  upon  the  breast 
of  certain  figures  of  Minerva.)  * 

The  Scarabeus,  in  its  making  spherical  receptacles  for  its 
eggs,  and  by  its  retrograde  motion,  imitates  the  action  and 
movement  of  the  Sun.  This  insect  had  no  female,  according  to 
the  popular  belief  of  the  Egyptians. 

The  Asp  expresses  a  planet,  for  like  that  luminary,  it  moves 
rapidly,  though  without  any  visible  organ  of  locomotion. 

The  Ibis  stands  for  the  Moon :  the  legs  of  the  bird,  when 
extended,  making  an  equilateral  triangle.  (It  is  hard  to  discern 
any  analogy  between  the  Moon  and  this  figure  of  geometry,  but 
,  yet  the  Pythagoreans  denoted  Athene  by  the  same  sign.  But 
that  Plutarch  is  here  correct  is  proved  by  many  gems  which 
show  a  triangle  set  upon  an  altar  and  adored  by  the  baboon, 
Luna's  favourite  beast.)  How  the  later  Egyptians  symbolised 
the  Sun  and  Moon  is  well  expressed  upon  a  jasper  (Waterton) 
where  Horus,  seated  on  the  lotus,  is  adored  by  the  baboon  ;  in 
the  field  are  the  sun-star  and  the  crescent  attached  to  their 
respective  figures,  and  also  the  Triangle  very  conspicuously  placed. 

Horus — Plutarch  remarks — wears  a  crown  of  the  branches  of 
the  Persea,  because  its  fruit  resembles  in  shape  the  heart ;  its 
leaves,  the  tongue.  The  legend  goes  that  the  tree  (Cordia  myxa, 
or  Sebestene  plum)  was  first  planted  at  Memphis  by  the  hero 
Perseus,  whence  its  name.  In  memory  of  his  mythic  ancestor, 

*  Of  which  a  fine  example,  an  intaglio,  is  figured  in  the  Museum  (Mescal  - 


Alexander  ordered  that  a  garland  of  Persea  leaves  should  form 
the  prize  at  the  games  he  instituted  at  his  new  Capital.  The  tree 
never  wants  a  succession  of  flowers  and  fruit ;  the  latter  Pliny 
compares  to  a  red  plum,  adding  that  it  will  not  grow  in  Europe. 

We  next  come  to  a  professed  treatise  upon  this  recondite 
subject,  Horapollo's  *  Interpretation  of  the  Sacred  Animals.' 
Unfortunately,  this  work  bears  upon  its  face  clear  evidence  of 
having  been  excogitated  by  some  pragmatical  Alexandrian 
Greek,  totally  ignorant  of  what  he  was  writing  about,  but 
impudently  passing  off  his  own  stupid  conjectures  as  to  the 
meaning  of  the  figures  on  the  ancient  works  surrounding  him, 
as  though  they  were  interpretations  handed  down  to  him  by 
antique  authority.  He  must  have  written  under  the  Lower 
Empire,  when  the  art  of  reading  hieroglyphics  was  entirely  lost, 
for  we  know  that  it  still  existed  in  the  first  century ;  Tacitus 
particularly  notes  that  an  aged  priest  read  to  Germanicus  upon 
his  visit  to  Thebes  the  contents  of  the  historical  tablets  on  the 
edifices  of  that  city.  "  Mox  visit  veterum  Thebaruin  magna 
vestigia ;  et  manebant  structis  molibus  literae  ^Egyptia3  priscam 
opulentiam  complexa3,  jussusque  e  senioribus  sacerdotum  patrium 
sermonem  interpretari  "  (Ann.  II.  60).  This  happened  A.D.  19. 
It  would  appear  that  the  knowledge  of  hieroglyphics  was  fast 
dying  out,  and  only  preserved  by  members  of  the  previous 

It  is  only  in  a  few  instances  that  Horapollo  has  preserved 
some  genuine  tradition  of  the  meaning  of  those  symbols  which 
were  the  most  generally  used,  and  therefore  the  last  to  be 
forgotten.  Of  these  explanations  the  most  important  are  what 

"The  Cynocephalus  baboon  denotes  the  Moon,  because  that 
beast  has  a  certain  sympathy  with  the  luminary,  and  during 
her  dark  quarter  sits  without  eating,  his  eyes  fixed  upon  the 

*  But  the  Demotic  writing  must  edifice  (moles)  an  epitaph  in  Greek, 

have  lingered   much   longer   in  use,  Latin,  Persian,  Jewish,  and  Egyptian 

for  Capitolinus,  cap.  34,  mentions  the  letters,  so  that  it  might  be  read  by 

"  Egyptian  "  as  one  of  the  current  everybody.     "  Divo  Gordiano,  victori 

alphabets     of     the     third     century.  Persarum,  victori  Gothorum,  victori 

"The    soldiers    raised    a    tomb    to  Sarmatarum,  depulsori   Eonianarum 

Gordian  at  Circeium  Castrum,  on  the  seditionum,  victori  Germanorum,  sed 

confines  of  Persia;  placing  upon  this  non  victori  Philipporum." 


ground  as  though  mourning  for  her  loss.  He  moreover  denotes 
the  priestly  order,  because  he  is  naturally  circumcised,  and  abhors 
fish  and  fishermen.  Erect  and  with  uplifted  paws  and  a 
basilisk  (asp)  upon  his  head,  he  symbolises  the  New  Moon, 
whose  first  appearance  he  hails  after  this  fashion.  By  his 
voiding  his  urine  at  fixed  and  regular  intervals,  he  first  sug 
gested  to  observers  the  regular  division  of  the  day  into  hours, 
and  furnished  the  first  idea  of  the  invention  of  the  Clepsydra,  or 

"  The  Dog  (Jackal)  represents  the  sacred  scribe :  because  that 
functionary  ought  to  be  always  studying,  and  likewise  should 
bark  at,  and  make  himself  disagreeable  to,  everybody.  In 
another  sense  he  expresses  a  Prophet,  from  his  habit  of  staring 
fixedly  at  the  statues  of  the  gods. 

"  The  Hawk  means  '  God,'  or  «  Sun.' 

"  The  Lion,  from  the  resemblance  of  his  round  face  to  the  solar 
orb,  is  placed  beneath  the  throne  of  Horus,  the  Egyptian  title  of 
the  Sun. 

"  The  Eising  of  the  Nile,  called  in  Coptic  Nov  or  Nev,  is  denoted 
by  three  large  vases ;  and  also  by  a  lion,  because  it  attains  its 
full  height  when  the  Sun  is  in  that  sign  of  the  Zodiac ;  for 
which  same  cause  the  spouts  of  the  sacred  lavers  are  made  in  the 
shape  of  lions'  heads. 

"  By  the  Ibis  is  signified  the  heart,  because  the  bird  belongs  to 
Hermes,  who  presides  over  the  heart  and  all  reason.  The  Ibis 
also,  by  its  own  shape,  resembles  the  form  of  the  heart ;  con 
cerning  which  matter  there  is  a  very  long  legend  current 
amongst  the  Egyptians." 

But  the  most  graphic  account  of  the  symbols  and  ceremonies 
employed  in  the  worship  of  Isis,  whilst  yet  in  its  full  glory 
(the  middle  of  the  second  century),  is  to  be  obtained  from  the 
description  of  her  Procession  which  Apuleius  (himself  one  of 
the  initiated)  has  penned  in  the  eleventh  Book  of  his  "  Golden 
Ass."  "  Next  flow  on  the  crowds  of  people  initiated  into  the 
divine  mysteries ;  men  and  women  of  every  rank,  and  all  ages, 
shining  in  the  pure  whiteness  of  linen  robes ;  the  latter  having 
their  dripping  hair  enveloped  in  a  transparent  covering  :  the 
former  with  their  heads  shaven  clean,  and  the  crowns  thereof 


shining  white — these  earthly  stars  of  the  nocturnal  ceremony, 
raising  as  they  went  a  shrill  tinkling  with  sistra  of  bronze, 
silver,  and  even  of  gold.  But  the  chief  performers  in  the  rites 
were  those  nobles,  who,  clad  in  a  tight-fitting  robe  of  linen 
descending  from  the  waist  down  to  the  heels,  carried  in  the 
procession  the  glorious  symbols  of  the  most  potent  deities. 

"  The  first  held  out  at  arm's  length  a  lamp,  diffusing  before 
him  a  brilliant  light;  not  by  any  means  resembling  in  form 
the  lamps  in  common  use  for  illuminating  our  evening  meals, 
but  a  golden  bowl  supporting  a  more  ample  blaze  in  the  midst  of 
its  broad  expanse.  The  second,  similarly  robed,  held  up  with 
both  hands  the  Altar  that  derives  its  name  from  the  beneficent 
Providence  of  the  supreme  goddess.  The  third  marched  along 
bearing  aloft  a  palm  branch  with  leaves  formed  of  thin  gold,  and 
also  the  Caduceus  of  Hermes.  The  fourth  displayed  the  symbol 
of  Justice,  the  figure  of  the  left  liand  with  the  palm  open, 
which,  on  account  of  its  natural  inactivity,  and  its  being 
endowed  with  neither  skill  nor  cunning,  has  been  deemed  a 
more  fitting  emblem  of  Justice  than  the  right  hand.  The  same 
minister  likewise  carried  a  small  golden  vestibule  made  in  a 
round  form  like  an  udder,  out  of  which  he  poured  libations  of 
milk.  The  fifth  carried  a  winnowing  fan  piled  up  with  golden 
sprigs.  The  last  of  all  bore  a  huge  wine  jar. 

"  Immediately  after  these  came  the  Deities,  condescending  to 
walk  upon  human  feet,  the  foremost  among  them  rearing 
terrifically  on  high  his  dog's  head  and  neck — that  messenger 
between  heaven  and  hell  displaying  alternately  a  face  black  as 
night,  and  golden  as  the  day ;  in  his  left  the  caduceus,  in  his 
right  waving  aloft  the  green  palm  branch.  His  steps  were 
closely  followed  by  a  cow,  raised  into  an  upright  posture — the 
cow  being  the  fruitful  emblem  of  the  Universal  Parent,  the 
goddess  herself,  which  one  of  the  happy  train  carried  with 
majestic  steps,  supported  on  his  shoulders.  By  another  was 
borne  the  coffin  containing  the  sacred  things,  and  closely  con 
cealing  the  deep  secrets  of  the  holy  religion.  Another  carried 
in  his  happy  bosom  the  awful  figure  of  the  Supreme  Deity,  not 
represented  in  the  image  of  a  beast  either  tame  or  wild,  nor  of  a 
bird,  nor  even  in  that  of  man,  but  ingeniously  devised  and 


inspiring  awo  by  its  very  strangeness,  that  ineffable  symbol  of 
the  deepest  mystery,  and  ever  to  be  shrouded  in  the  profoundest 
silence.  But  next  came,  carried  precisely  in  the  same  manner, 
a  small  vessel  made  of  burnished  gold,  and  most  skilfully 
wrought  out  into  a  hemispherical  bottom,  embossed  externally 
with  strange  Egyptian  figures.  Its  mouth,  but  slightly  raised, 
was  extended  into  a  spout,  and  projected  considerably  beyond 
the  body  of  the  bowl,  whilst  on  the  opposite  side,  widening  as 
it  receded  into  a  capacious  opening,  it  was  affixed  to  the  handle, 
upon  which  was  seated  an  asp  wreathed  into  a  knot,  and 
rearing  up  on  high  its  streaked,  swollen  and  scaly  neck." 

These  images  and  symbols  require  a  few  remarks  in  elucida 
tion  :  suggested  by  the  notices  of  ancient  writers,  or  by  the 
representations  of  these  very  objects  upon  extant  monuments  of 
the  same  religion.  The  "  udder-shaped  "  vessel  exactly  describes 
the  one  so  frequently  placed  upon  the  Gnostic  gems,  and  which 
Matter  so  strangely  interprets  as  the  "  Vase  of  Sins  "  of  the 
deceased— an  unlikely  subject  to  be  selected  for  a  talisman 
intended  to  secure  the  benevolence  of  heaven.  Much  more  to  the 
purpose  is  Kohler's  conjecture  that  it  is  one  of  the  earthen  pots 
used  to  be  tied  round  the  circumference  of  the  irrigating  wheel, 
still  employed  for  raising  the  water  of  the  Kile  to  fertilise  the 
adjacent  fields;  "fecundating  Isis  with  the  seed  of  Osiris"  in 
ancient  phrase,  and  certainly  the  string  fastened  about  its  top 
favours  such  an  explanation ;  in  fact,  we  have  an  example  of 
similar  veneration  for  a  vessel  in  the  case  of  the  Canopns,  the 
pot  that  held  the  same  water  when  purified  for  drinking.  The 
"winnow-fan"  is  also  often  represented,  placed  ov&er  this 
hemispherical  vase ;  the  same  instrument  played  an  important 
part  in  the  marriage  ceremony  of  the  Greeks.  When  piled 
with  fruit  of  all  kinds,  it  was  placed  on  the  head  of  the  bride ; 
the  same  significant  article,  a  broad,  shallow  basket,  was  the 
cradle  of  the  infant  Bacchus— the  "  mystica  vannus  lacchi." 
The  golden  » Bowl,"  serving  for  lamp,  often  figures  amongst 
the  various  emblems  adorning  our  talismans.  The  "  Sistrum  " 
got  its  peculiar  outline  from  the  Indian  Yoni  (emblem  of  the 
female  sex),  and  it  was  on  account  of  its  similar  shape  the 
almond,  luz,  was  also  held  sacred  in  Egypt,  which  seems  the 


true  origin  of  the  "  vesica  piscis,"  serving  as  the  inclosure  for 
divine  figures.  The  British  Museum  possesses  a  Hindoo  altar 
in  hardstone,  neatly  polished,  having  its  flat  top  formed  into 
the  shape  of  the  lingam-yoni ;  at  each  corner  of  the  square  a 
little  idol  is  squatted.  This  Indian  figure,  signifying  the 
Active  and  Passive  Powers  of  Nature  in  conjunction  for  the 
work  of  Creation,  is  sculptured  like  a  round  shallow  basin,  with 
long  projecting  lips  tapering  to  a  twist,  with  an  obtuse  cone 
rising  out  of  its  middle.  Now  this  is  the  exact  shape  of  a  large 
brown  lamp  from  Herculaneum  (Caylus,  vii.  pi.  33),  only  that 
from  its  centre,  instead  of  a  cone,  springs  a  bent  fore-finger, 
digitus  obsccenus  (with  the  same  meaning  as  the  lingarn)  serving 
for  handle  to  carry  it  by,  whilst  from  the  sides  project  the  three 
arms  of  the  Egyptian  Tau.  This  vessel  must  have  belonged  to 
the  Isis-worship  in  that  town,  no  doubt  as  popular  there  as 
it  is  known  to  have  been  at  the  neighbouring  Pompeii.  As  for 
the  office  of  "  Anubis-bearer,"  it  is  related  that  when  Commodus 
discharged  that  duty  in  the  procession,  he  gratified  the  insane 
cruelty  of  his  nature  by  cracking  the  shaven  skulls  of  all  within 
reach  with  the  weighty  head  of  the  idol ;  and  it  seems  to  follow 
as  a  matter  of  course  that  the  Anubis  of  Apuleius,  in  order  to 
display  alternately  an  ebon  and  a  golden  visage,  must  have 
possessed  a  pair  of  heads,  human  and  canine,  just  as  he  is 
figured,  holding  the  caduceus  and  palm  upon  certain  Basilidan 
gems.  Lastly,  the  mysterious  image,  too  awful  to  be  described, 
but  whose  nature  is  darkly  hinted  at  as  neither  of  bird,  beast,  nor 
man.  These  very  expressions  would  tempt  me  to  believe  a 
compound  of  all  three ;  in  a  word,  the  veritable  figure  of  the 
Abraxas  god.  And  be  it  remembered  that  this  image  was  the 
"Supreme  God,"  and  he,  we  know,  was  the  IAO  of  Egypt. 
This  idol  must  have  been  of  small  dimensions,  for  it  was  carried 
in  the  bosom  of  the  devotee's  robe,  and  my  suspicion  is  strongly 
confirmed  by  the  existence  in  the  late  Mertens-Schaffhausen 
Collection  of  a  bronze  statuette,  five  inches  in  height,  found  in 
the  south  of  France,  and  thus  described  in  the  Catalogue.  "No 
2002.  Statuette  of  lao  standing,  armed  with  cuirass,  shield  and 
whip ;  his  head  in  the  form  of  a  cock's,  his  legs  terminating  in 


"  0  voi  ch'  avctc  gl'  intelletti  sani, 
Mirate  la  dottrina  die  s'asconde 
Sotto  il  velame  degli  vcrsi  straui." 

"  Salve  vera  Deum  facies,  vultusque  paterne, 
Octo  et  Jiexcentis  numeris  cui  litera  trina 
Conformat  sacrum  nomen,  cognomen  et 
Omen.     (Mart.  Capella.  Hymn,  ad  Sol.) 

<1>PH  =  THC  =  X  =  h^Lj- 



THE  innumerable  monuments  of  every  kind  bequeathed  to  us 
by  the  widely-spread  worship  of  the  deity  styled  Mithras,  serve, 
at  the  same  time,  copiously  to  illustrate  the  important  contribu 
tions  of  Zoroastrian  doctrine  towards  the  composition  of  Gnosti 
cism.  The  Mithraic  religion,  according  to  Plutarch,  first  made 
its  appearance  in  Italy  upon  Pompey's  reduction  of  the  Cilician 
Pirates,  of  whom  it  was  the  national  worship ;  *  and  who,  when 
broken  up  into  colonists  and  slaves  all  over  Italy,  propagated 
it  amongst  their  conquerors.  In  the  new  soil  the  novel  religion 
flourished  so  rapidly  as,  in  the  space  of  two  centuries,  to 
supersede  (coupled  with  the  earlier  introduced  Serapis  worship) 
the  primitive  Hellenic  and  Etruscan  deities.  In  fact,  long 
before  this  final  triumph  over  the  sceptical,  Pliny  appears 
disposed  to  accept  Mithraicism,  in  its  essential  principle,  as  the 
only  religion  capable  of  satisfying  a  rational  inquirer ;  as  may 
be  deduced  from  this  noble  passage  (ii.  4) :  "  Eorum  medius  Sol 
fervidus,  amplissima  magnitudine,  nee  temporum  modo  terra- 
rumque  sed  siderum  etiam  ipsorum  ccelique  Rector.  Hanc  osse 
mundi  totius  animam  ac  planius  mentem,  nunc  principale 
Naturae  regimen  ac  Numen  credere  decet,  opera  ejus  restiniantes. 
Hie  lumen  rebus  ministrat,  aufertque  tenebras,  hie  reliqua 

*  This  deity,  under  other  titles,  most    ancient   of  Grecian   colonies, 

had  ever  been  the  great  god  of  Pon-  For  destroying  his  statue,  the  fanatic 

tus.    As  patron  of  Sinope  he  appears  Eugenius,  justly  punished  by  Dio- 

under  the  form  of  Helios-Dionysos,  cletian,  was  adopted,  in  the  succeed- 

upon  the  medallion  of  Pharnaces  II.  ing  times   of   superstition,    for    the 

In  his  proper  name  lie  was  the  patron  tutelary  saint  of  the  Byzantine  Empire 

of  Trebizond,  being  worshipped   on  of  Trebizond. 
the  Mount  Mithras  overhanging  that 

I   '2 


sidera  occultat,  illustrat ;  hie  vices  temporum  annumque 
semper  renascentem  ex  usu  Naturae  temperat,  hie  coeli  tristi- 
tiam  discutit,  atque  etiam  humani  nubila  animi  serenat :  hie 
suum  lumen  ceeteris  quoque  sideribus  foenerat ;  prseclarus, 
eximius,  omnia  intuens,  omnia  etiam  exaudiens ;  at  principi 
literarum  Homero  placuisse  in  uno  eo  video.  Quapropter 
effigiem  Dei  formamque  quserere  imbecillitatis  humanee  rear. 
Quisquis  est  Deus,  si  modo  cst  alius,  et  qnacuiique  in  parte,  totus 
est  sensus,  totus  visus,  totus  auditus,  totus,  animrc,  totus  animi, 
totus  sui."  Thus,  during  the  second  and  third  centuries  of  the 
lioman  Empire,  Mithras  and  Serapis  had  come  almost  to  engross 
the  popular  worship,  even  to  the  remotest  limits  of  the  known 
world.  For  Mithraicism  was  originally  the  religion  taught  by 
Zoroaster,  although  somewhat  changed  and  materialized  so 
as  better  to  assimilate  itself  to  the  previously  established  Nature 
Worship  of  the  West.  Under  this  grosser  form  it  took  its  name 
from  Mithras,  who  in  the  Zendavesta  is  not  the  Supreme  Being 
(Ormuzd),  but  the  Chief  of  the  subordinate  Powers,  the  Seven 
Amshaspands.  Mithra  is  the  Zend  name  for  the  sun,  the 
proper  mansion  of  this  Spirit,  but  not  the  Spirit  himself.  Hence 
the  great  oath  of  Artaxerxes  Mnemon  was,  "  By  the  light  of 
Mithras,"  a  counterpart  of  the  tremendous  adjuration  of  our 
William  the  Conqueror,  "  By  the  Splendour  of  God  !"  But  the 
materialistic  Greeks  at  once  identified  the  Persian  Spirit  with 
their  own  substantial  Phoebus  and  Hyperion.  Thus  Ovid  has, 

"Placat  cquo  Persis  radiis  Hypcriona  cinctum."  (Fasti  I.  335.) 

In  this  view  of  his  nature  Mithras  was  identified  with  other 
types  of  the  Sun-god,  such  as  the  "  Phanaces  "  of  Asia  Minor, 
and  the  "  Dionysos  "  of  Greece  ;  and  thereby  soon  usurped  the 
place  of  the  latter  in  the  long  established  Mysteries,  the  ancient 
Dionysia.  The  importance  into  which  the  Mithraica  had  grown 
by  the  middle  of  the  second  century  may  be  estimated  from  a  fact 
mentioned  by  Lampridius,  that  the  emperor  himself  (Commodus) 
condescended  to  be  initiated  into  them.  Nay  more,  with  their 
penances,  and  tests  of  the  courage  of  the  neophyte,  they  may  be 
said  to  have  been  maintained  by  unbroken  tradition  through 
the  secret  societies  of  the  Middle  Ages,  then  by  the  Eosicrucians, 


down  to  that  faint  reflex  of  the  latter,  the  Freemasonry  of  our 
own  times.  But  this  curious  point  must  be  reserved  for  the 
last  Section  of  this  Treatise  investigating  the  nature  of  the  last 
named  societies.  My  present  object  is  to  point  out  the  grada 
tions  by  which  the  Mithraic  principle  passed  into  the  Egyptian 
and  semi-Christian  forms  of  Gnosticism. 

The  mystic  name  Abraxas  (asserted  to  have  been  the  coinage 
of  the  Alexandrian  Basilides)  is  said  to  mean  either  in  actual 
Coptic  "  Holy  Name "  (as  Bellermann  will  have  it) ;  or,  as 
seems  equally  probable,  is  merely  the  Hebrew  Ha-Brachah 
"Blessing,"  Grecised,  in  the  same  sense.  That  the  symbolic 
figure  embodying  the  idea  of  the  Abraxas  god  has  a  reference 
to  the  sun  in  all  its  components  is  yet  more  evident,  as  shall 
be  shown  hereafter;  similarly,  the  Brahmins  apply  their 
Ineffable  Name  Aum  to  the  "  fierce  and  all-pervading  Sun  " ; 
and  Macrobius  devotes  much  curious  learning  to  prove  that 
all  the  great  gods  of  antiquity,  whatever  their  names  and 
figures,  were  no  more  than  various  attempts  at  personifying  the 
One  Deity,  whose  residence  is  the  sun.  It  must  here  be  re 
membered  that  Basilides  was  by  no  means  a  Christian  heretic,  as 
the  later  Fathers  found  it  expedient  to  represent  him,  but 
rather  as  his  contemporary  Clemens,  relates,  a  philosopher  de 
voted  to  the  study  of  divine  things ;  and  thus  possibly  imbued 
with  such  Buddhistic  notions  as  the  intercourse  between 
Alexandria  and  the  cities  of  Guzerat  (then  ruled  over  by 
the  Jaina  kings)  may  have  naturalized  both  in  Egypt  and 
in  Palestine.  This  metropolis,  as  the  grand  emporium  for 
foreign  doctrines  as  well  as  foreign  wares,  supplies  the  reason 
for  the  frequent  union  of  Mithras  with  Abraxas  in  the  same 
stone,  proceeding  from  the  Alexandrian  talisman-factory.  A 
curious  exemplification  is  a  green  jasper  (Maiiborough),  bearing 
on  one  side  the  normal  Zoroastrian  device,  Mithras  slaughtering 
the  Bull ;  on  the  other,  the  well-known  Gnostic  Pantheus.  A 
truly  Indian  syncretism,  which  converts  all  deities  from  separate 
beings  into  mere  deified  attributes  of  one  and  the  same  God, 
and  (for  the  initiated  few,  that  is)  reduces  that  seemingly 
unlimited  polytheism  into  the  acknowledgment  of  the  existence 
of  the  Supremo  Creator. 


That  model  of  a  perfect  prince,  Severus  Alexander,  must  have 
imbibed  a  strong  tinge  of  the  Gnosis  (as  indeed  might  have 
been  expected  from  his  birthplace  and  style  of  education),  for 
although  upon  every  seventh  day  he  went  up  to  worship  in  the 
Capitol,  and  also  regularly  visited  the  temples  of  the  other 
Roman  gods,  he  nevertheless  "  was  intending  to  build  a  temple 
unto  Christ,  and  to  rank  Him  in  the  number  of  the  gods. 
Which  thing  Hadrian  also  is  said  to  have  thought  of,  and 
actually  to  have  ordered  temples  without  images  to  be  built  in  all 
the  chief  cities  of  the  Empire  :  which  same  temples,  because 
they  contain  no  gods,  are  now  called  temples  raised  to  Hadrian 
himself,  although  in  reality  ho  is  reported  to  have  prepared 
them  for  the  purpose  above-named.  But  ho  was  prevented 
from  carrying  out  his  design  by  those  who  consulted  the  oracles 
(sacra),  and  discovered  that,  if  it  should  be  carried  out,  everybody 
would  turn  Christian,  and  thereby  the  other  temples  would  bo 
all  deserted  "  (Lampridius  i.  43).  Indeed,  there  is  every  reason 
to  believe  that,  as  in  the  East,  the  worship  of  Serapis  was  at  first 
combined  with  Christianity,  and  gradually  merged  into  it  with 
an  entire  change  of  name,  though  not  of  substance,  carrying 
along  with  it  many  of  its  proper  ideas  and  rites,  so  in  the  West 
the  Mithras- worship  produced  a  similar  effect  upon  the  character 
of  the  religion  that  took  its  place.  Seel,  in  his  admirable 
treatise  upon  Mithraicism  ('  Mithra,'  p.  287)  is  of  opinion  that 
"  as  long  as  the  Roman  dominion  lasted  in  Germany,  we  find 
traces  there  of  the  Mosaic  law  :  and  in  the  same  way  as  there 
were  single  Jewish  families,  so  were  there  single  Christians 
existing  amongst  the  heathen.  The  latter,  however,  for  the 
most  part,  ostensibly  paid  worship  to  the  Roman  gods  in  order 
to  escape  persecution,  holding  secretly  in  their  hearts  the 
religion  of  Christ.  It  is  by  no  means  improbable  that,  under 
the  permitted  symbols  of  Mithras,  they  worshipped  the  Son  of 
God,  and  the  mysteries  of  Christianity.  In  this  point  of  view, 
the  Mithraic  monuments,  so  frequent  in  Germany,  are  evidences 
to  the  faith  of  the  early  Christian  Romans."  This  same 
supremacy  of  the  Mithras- worship  in  his  own  times  makes  the 
grand  scheme  of  Heliogabalus  prove  less  insane  than  it  strikes 
the  modern  reader  at  the  first  impression.  He  was  intending 


(according  to  report)  to  permit  no  other  worship  at  Eomo  than 
that  of  his  own  god  and  namesake,  the  Emesene  aerolite,  apt 
emblem  of  the  Sun  ;  "  bringing  together  in  his  temple  the  Fire 
of  Vesta,  the  Palladium,  the  Ancilia,  and  all  the  other  most 
venerated  relics ;  and  moreover  the  religion  of  the  Jews  and 
Samaritans,  and  the  devotion*  of  the  Christians."  (Lampridius 
3).  To  such  a  heterogeneous  union  that  numerous  section  of 
the  Eoman  public  who  shared  Macrobius'  sentiments  on  the 
nature  of  all  ancient  gods,  could  have  found  no  possible  objection 
so  far  as  the  principle  was  concerned. 

That  such  a  relationship  to  Christianity  was  actually  alleged 
by  the  partisans  of  Mithraicism  (when  in  its  decline)  is  proved 
by  the  remarkable  declaration  of  Augustine  himself  (John  I. 
Dis.  7).  "I  remember  that  the  priests  of  the  fellow  in  the  cap 
(illius  pileati)  used  at  one  time  to  say,  '  Our  Capped  One  is 
himself  a  Christian.'  "  In  this  asserted  affinity  probably  lay  the 
motive  that  induced  Constaiitine  to  adopt  for  the  commonest 
type  of  his  coinage  (the  sole  currency  of  the  Western  provinces), 
and  retain  long  after  his  conversion,  the  figure  of  Sol  himself, 
with  the  legend  "  To  the  Invincible  Sun,  my  companion  (or 
guardian)."  A  type  capable  of  a  double  interpretation,  meaning 
equally  the  ancient  Phoebus  and  the  new  Sun  of  Righteousness, 
and  thereby  unobjectionable  to  Gentile  and  Christian  alike  of 
the  equally  divided  population  amongst  whom  it  circulated. 
Nay  more,  this  Emperor  when  avowedly  Christian,  selected  for 
the  grandest  ornament  of  his  new  Capital,  a  colossal  Apollo, 
mounted  upon  a  lofty  column,  which  retained  its  place  until 
cast  down  by  an  earthquake  in  the  reign  of  Alexius  Comnenus. 

Through  a  similar  interchange,  the  old  festival  held  on  the 
25th  day  of  December  in  honour  of  the  "  Birth-day  of  the 
Invincible  One,"  and  celebrated  by  the  Great  Games  of  the 
Circus  (as  marked  in  the  Kalendar  "  viii  KAL.IAN.  N.  IN VICTI. 
C.  M.  xxivj)  was  afterwards  transferred  to  the  commemoration 
of  the  Birth  of  Christ,  of  which  the  real  day  was,  as  the  Fathers 

*  This  curious  distinction  between  public  sanction. 

"  religio  "  and  "  devotio,"  is  meant  f  Signifying  that  twenty-four  con- 
to  mark  the  difference  between  a  secutive  races  of  chariots  were  ex- 
national  and  established  creed  and  hibited  on  that  occasion  in  the  Circus 
one  held  by  individuals,  without  any  Maxinms. 


confess,  totally  unknown:  Chrysostom,  for  example,  declares 
(Horn,  xxx i.)  that  the  Birthday  of  Christ  had  then  lately  been 
fixed  at  Rome  upon  that  day,  in  order  that  whilst  the  heathen 
were  busied  with  their  own  profane  ceremonies,  the  Christians 
might  perform  their  holy  rites  without  molestation. 

And  Mithras  was  the  more  readily  admitted  as  the  type  of 
Christ,  Creator  and  Maintainer  of  the  Universe,  inasmuch  as  the 
Zendavesta  declares  him  to  be  the  First  Emanation  of  Ormuzd, 
the  Good  Principle,  and  the  Manifestation  of  Himself  unto  the 
world.  Now  it  was  from  this  very  creed  that  the  Jews,  during 
their  long  captivity  in  the  Persian  Empire  (of  which  when 
restored  to  Palestine  they  formed  but  a  province),  derived  all 
the  angelology  of  their  religion,  even  to  its  minutest  details, 
such  as  we  find  it  flourishing  in  the  times  of  the  Second 
Kingdom.  Not  until  then  are  they  discovered  to  possess  the 
Belief  in  a  future  state  ;  of  rewards  and  punishments,  the  latter 
carried  on  in  a  fiery  lake  ;  the  existence  of  a  complete  hierarchy 
of  good  and  evil  angels,  taken  almost  verbatim  from  the  lists 
given  by  the  Zendavesta ;  the  soul's  immortality,  and  the  Last 
Judgment — all  of  them  essential  parts  of  the  Zoroastrian  scheme, 
and  recognised  by  Josephus  as  the  fundamental  doctrines  of  the 
Judaism  of  his  own  times. 

To  all  these  ideas  Moses  in  the  Law  makes  not  the  slightest 
allusion ;  his  promises  and  threatenings  are  all  of  the  earth, 
earthy  ;  he  preaches  a  religion  of  Secularists,  and  such  a  religion 
was,  down  to  the  latest  days  of  Jerusalem,  still  maintained  by 
the  Sadducees.  Now  these  Sadducees  were  the  most  ancient 
and  respectable  families  of  the  nation,  who  boasted  of  keeping 
the  law  of  Moses  pure,  and  uncontaminated  from  the  admixture 
of  foreign  notions  imbibed  by  the  commonalty  during  their  long 
sojourn  amongst  the  Gentiles.  Nay  more,  there  is  some  reason 
to  accept  Matter's  etymology  of  the  name  of  their  opponents, 
the  Pharisees,  as  actually  signifying  "  Persians,"  being  a  term 
of  contempt  for  the  holders  of  the  new-fangled  doctrines  picked 
up  from  their  conquerors.  And  this  etymology  is  a  Jrnuch  more 
rational  one,  and  more  consistent  with  the  actual  elements  of  the 
word,  than  the  common  one  making  it  to  mean  "  Separatists  " 
— an  epithet  by  no  means  applicable  to  a  party  constituting 


the  immense  majority  of  the  race.  It  is  only  necessary  now  to 
allude  to  the  ingenious  theory  of  Bishop  Wai-burton,  set  forth 
in  his  *  Divine  Legation  of  Moses,'  who  converts  the  absence 
of  all  spiritualism  from  his  teaching  into  the  strongest  argument 
for  its  being  directly  inspired  from  Heaven. 

But  from  whatever  source  derived,  how  closely  does  the 
Zoroastrian  idea  of  the  nature  and  office  of  Mithras  coincide  with 
the  definition  of  those  of  Christ  as  given  by  the  author  of  the 
Epistle  to  the  Hebrews,  that  profound  Jewish  theologian,  who 
styles  Him  the  "  Brightness  (or  reflection)  of  his  glory,  the 
express  image*  of  his  person,  upholding  all  things  by  the  word 
of  his  power  ;  "  and  again,  "  being  made  so  much  better  than  the 
angels  as  he  hath  by  inheritance  obtained  a  more  excellent 
Name  than  they,"  and  here  it  may  be  observed  that  the  Reflection 
of  the  Invisible  Supreme  in  his  First  Emanation  is  a  distinguishing 
feature  in  most  of  the  Gnostic  systems.  Mithras  used  to  be* 
invoked  together  with  the  Sun,  and  thus,  being  confounded  with 
that  luminary,  became  the  object  of  a  separate  worship,  which 
ultimately  superseded  that  of  Ormuzd  himself  :  and  this  was 
the  only  one  propagated  by  the  Pontic  colonists  and  their 
converts  amongst  the  nations  of  the  West.  Secondary  deities 
often  usurp  the  places  of  those  of  the  first  rank  ;  so  Vishnu 
and  Siva  have  entirely  eclipsed  Brahma.  Serapishad  played  the 
same  part  with  the  Pharaonic  gods  of  Egypt,  and  yet  more 
striking  analogies  from  modern  creeds  are  too  obvious  to  re 
quire  quotation.  Through  this  relationship  of  ideas  Mithraic 
symbolism  found  its  way  into  early  Christian  art  in  many  of  its 
particulars.  The  bas-relief  over  the  portal  of  the  Baptistery 
at  Parma  (a  work  of  the  12th  century),  has  all  the  aspect  of  a 
Mithraic  monument,  and  certainly  its  design  would  be  very 
difficult  to  understand  from  a  Scriptural  point  of  view. 

*  'ATravya.(TiJ.a  —  xapaKT-fip,  the  latter       title,  "  Tikkan,"  the  Primal  Emanu- 
\vord  literally  "impression  ot  a  seal,"      tion. 
is  the  exact  counterpart  of  the  Hebrew 



The  principal  rites  of  the  worship  of  Mithras  bore  a  very 
curious  resemblance  to  those  subsequently  established  in  the 
Catholic  church;  they  likewise  furnished  a  model  for  the 
initiatory  ceremonies  observed  by  the  secret  societies  of  the 
Middle  Ages,  and  by  their  professed  descendants  in  modern 
times.  The  Neophytes  were  admitted  by  the  rite  of  Baptism  ; 
the  initiated  at  their  assemblies  solemnly  celebrated  a  species  of 
Eucharist:  whilst  the  courage  and  endurance  of  the  candidate 
for  admission  into  the  sect  were  tested  by  twelve  consecutive 
trials,  called  "  The  Tortures,"  undergone  within  a  cave  con 
structed  for  the  purpose ;  all  which  "  tortures "  had  to  bo 
completely  passed  through  before  participation  in  the  Mysteries 
was  granted  to  the  aspirant. 

The  two  distinguishing  Eites,  or  "  Sacraments  "  (to  use  the 
technical  term)  are  thus  alluded  to  by  Justin  Martyr  ( Apol.  II)  in 
the  earliest  description  which  has  been  left  us  of  their  character. 
"  The  Apostles  in  the  Commentaries  written  by  themselves, 
which  we  call  Gospels,  have  delivered  down  to  us  that  Jesus 
thus  commanded  them :  He  having  taken  bread,  after  that 
He  had  given  thanks,*  said  :  Do  this  in  commemoration  of  me  ; 
this  is  my  body.  Also  having  taken  a  cup  and  returned  thanks, 
He  said  :  This  is  my  blood,  and  delivered  it  unto  them  alone. 
Which  things  indeed  the  evil  spirits  have  taught  to  be  done, 
out  of  memory,  in  the  Mysteries  and  Initiations  of  Mithras. 
For  in  these  likewise  a  cup  of  water,  and  bread,  are  set  out, 
with  the  addition  of  certain  words,  in  the  sacrifice  or  act  of 
worship  of  the  person  about  to  be  initiated  :  a  thing  which  Ye 
either  know  by  personal  experience  or  may  learn  by  inquiry." 
Again,  Tertullian,  writing  in  the  following  century,  has  in 
the  same  connection :  "  The  Devil,  whoso  business  it  is  to  per 
vert  the  truth,  mimicks  the  exact  circumstances  of  the  Divine 
Sacraments,  in  the  Mysteries  of  idols.  He  himself  baptises  some 
that  is  to  say,  his  believers  and  followers ;  he  promises  forgive- 

*  This  expression  seems  to  prove      (the  second   century)  crept  into  the 
that  the  notion  of  llesshiri,  or  con-       Christian  practice. 
,  the  elements,  had  not  then 


ness  of  sins  from  tho  Sacred  Fount,  and  thereby  initiates  them 
into  tho  religion  of  Mithras  :  thus  he  marks  on  the  forehead  his 
own  soldiers  :  there  he  celebrates  the  oblation  of  bread :  he  brings 
in  tho  symbol  of  tho  Besurrection,  and  wins  the  crown  with 
the  sword."  By  tho  "  symbol  of  tho  Kesurrection  "  Tertullian 
clearly  means  that  "  simulation  of  death  "  mentioned  by  Lam- 
pridius  (of  which  more  hereafter),  and  which  is  typified  on  so 
many  talismans  by  the  corpse  bestridden  by  the  Solar  Lion. 
The  final  ceremony  he  has  himself  explained  in  another  passage  : 
"  Blush,  my  Kornan  fellow-soldiers,  even  though  yo  be  not  to 
be  judged  by  Christ,  but  by  any  '  Soldier  of  Mithras/  who 
when  he  is  undergoing  initiation  in  the  Cave,  in  the  very  Camp 
of  the  Powers  of  Darkness,  when  the  crown  (garland,  rather)  is 
offered  to  him  (a  sword  being  placed  between,  as  though  in 
semblance  of  martyrdom),  and  about  to  be  set  upon  his  head,  is 
instructed  to  put  forth  his  hand,  and  push  the  crown  away, 
transferring  it  perchance,  to  his  shoulder,  saying  at  the  same 
time :  My  crown  is  Mithras.  And  from  that  time  forth  he 
never  wears  a  crown  (garland),  and  this  he  has  for  the  badge 
of  his  initiation,  for  he  is  immediately  known  to  be  a  '  soldier 
of  Mithras,'  if  he  rejects  a  garland  when  offered  to  him,  saying 
that  his  crown  is  his  god.  Let  us  therefore  acknowledge  tho 
craftiness  of  the  Devil ;  who  copies  certain  things  of  those 
that  be  Divine,  in  order  that  he  may  confound  and  judge  us  by 
the  faithfulness  of  his  'own  followers."  As  to  the  ceremony 
here  mentioned,  unimportant  as  it  may  seem  to  the  modern 
reader,  it  may  be  remarked  that  as  the  wearing  a  garland  was 
indispensable  among  the  ancients  on  all  festive  occasions,  the 
refusal  of  one  upon  such  occasions  would  be  a  most  conspicuous 
mark  of  singularity,  and  of  unflinching  profession  of  faith.  But 
every  dispassionate  observer  will  perceive  that  these  over-zealous 
Fathers  proceed  to  beg  the  question  when  they  assume  that  the 
Mithraic  rites  were  devised  as  counterfeits  of  the  Christian 
Sacraments :  inasmuch  as  the  former  were  in  existence  long 
before  the  first  promulgation  of  Christianity  ;  unless  indeed  to 
imitate  by  anticipation  be  considered  as  merely  another  proof 
of  the  mischievous  sagacity  of  its  diabolical  opponent.  On  the 
other  hand,  there  is  good  reason  to  suspect  that  the  simple 


commemorative,  or  distinctive,  ceremonies,  instituted  by  the 
first  founder  of  Christianity,  were  gradually  invested  with 
those  mystic  and  supernatural  virtues  which  later  ages  insisted 
upon  as  articles  of  faith,  by  the  teaching  of  unscrupulous  mis 
sionaries,  anxious  to  outbid  the  attractions  of  long-established 
rites  of  an  apparently  cognate  character.  By  this  assimilation 
they  offered  to  their  converts  through  the  performance  of,  as  it 
were,  certain  magical  practices,  all  those  spiritual  blessings  of 
which  the  rites  themselves  were,  at  their  institution,  the  symbols 
only,  not  the  instruments.  A  very  instructive  illustration 
of  such  union  of  Mithraicism  and  Christianity,  in  the  cele 
bration  of  the  Eucharist,  is  afforded  by  the  Pistis-Sophia's 
description  of  the  great  one  celebrated  by  the  Saviour  himself 
upon  the  shore  of  the  Sea  of  Galilee,  which  will  be  found  given 
at  length  in  its  proper  place.  And  lastly,  it  deserves  to  bo 
mentioned  that  "  eating  the  flesh  and  drinking  the  blood  "  of  a 
human  sacrifice  was  far  from  being  a  mere  figure  of  speech  in 
certain  of  these  mystic  celebrations.  Pliny  gives  high  praise 
to  Claudius  for  having  suppressed  the  worship  of  the  Druids 
(whom  he  considers  as  identical  in  their  religion  with  the 
Magi),  in  whose  rites  "it  was  esteemed  the  highest  act  of 
religion  to  slaughter  a  man,  and  the  most  salutary  of  proceedings 
to  eat  the  flesh  of  the  same."  And  in  this  notion,  which  neces 
sarily  became  attached  by  suspicion  to  the  proceedings  of  all 
secret  societies,  lay  most  probably  the  root  of  the  belief  so 
widely  diffused  amongst  the  Eoman  vulgar,  that  the  real 
Eucharist  of  the  first  Christians  at  their  nocturnal  meetings  was 
the  sacrifice,  and  the  feasting  upon,  a  new-born  child,  concealed 
within  a  vessel  of  flour,  into  which  the  catechumen  was  directed 
by  his  sponsors  to  plunge  a  knife. 

In  the  particulars  preserved  to  us  of  the  Mithraic  Sacrament, 
certain  very  curious  analogies  to  those  of  the  Christian  rite 
cannot  fail  to  arrest  our  attention.  The  *'  Bread  therein  used 
was  a  round  cake,"  emblem  of  the  solar  disk,  and  called  Mizd. 
In  this  name  Seel  discovers  the  origin  of  Missa,  as  designating 
the  Bloodless  Sacrifice  of  the  Mass,  assuming  that  this  Mizd 
was  the  prototype  of  the  Host  (host la),  which  is  of  precisely  the 
same  form  and  dimensions. 


It  is  not  out  of  place  to  notice  here  the  various  etymologies 
which  have  been  proposed  for  the  word  Missa.  The  most 
popular  one,  which  moreover  has  the  sanction  of  Ducange, 
derives  it  from  the  words  "Ite,  missa  est,"  with  which  the 
priest  dismissed  the  non-communicant  part  of  the  congregation, 
"before  proceeding  to  the  actual  consecration  of  the  Eucharist. 
The  translation  of  the  phrase  by  the  vulgar  into  "  Depart,  it  is 
the  Missa,"  would  certainly  bo  obvious  enough.  But,  according 
to  the  rule  in  all  such  cases,  the  object  sacrificed  gives  its  name 
to  the  ceremony,  rather  than  a  phrase  from  the  ceremonial  itself, 
and  this  object  had  from  time  immemorial  gone  by  the  name  of 
hostia,  or  "  victim."  The  early  Christians  were  quite  as  partial 
as  the  Gnostics  to  the  naturalizing  of  the  Hebrew  terms  belong 
ing  to  the  Mosaic  ordinances,  and  applying  the  same  to  their 
own  practices.  Thus  the  old  Covenant  went  amongst  them  by 
the  name  of  Phase,  for  example  : — 

"  In  hoc  festo  novi  Kegis, 
Novum  Pascha  nova3  legis 
Vetus  Phase  terminal." 

The  Eabbins  have  possibly  preserved  a  tradition  that  ex 
plains  the  true  origin  of  the  wafer.  Alphonsns  de  Spira,  in 
his  "  Fortalitium  Fidei "  (II.  2),  asserts  that  its  circular  form 
is  a  symbol  of  the  sun,  and  that  it  is  in  reality  offered  in 
sacrifice,  at  the  celebration  of  the  Mass,  to  the  genius  of  that 
luminary !  For  the  Kabbalists  hold  that  Moses  and  the 
prophets  were  inspired  by  the  genius  of  Saturn,  a  good  and 
pure  spirit,  whereas  Jesus  was  by  that  of  Mercury,  a  malevolent 
one  ;  and  the  Christian  religion  was  the  work  of  Mercury, 
Jupiter  and  the  Sun,  all  combining  together  for  that  purpose. 
There  is  yet  another  curious  analogy  to  be  noticed,  when  it  is 
remembered  that  the  Mass  symbolises  the  death  of  its  first 
institutor.  A  round  cake  (the  chupatty  of  such  evil  notoriety  at 
the  commencement  of  the  Sepoy  Mutiny)  is,  amongst  the 
Hindoos,  the  established  offering  to  the  Manes  of  their  ancestors. 
The  Christian  "breaking  of  bread,"  besides  symbolising  the 
great  sacrifice  once  offered,  seems,  from  the  account  of  the 
Manifestation  at  Emmaus,  to  have  been  done  in  some  peculiar 



way  which  should  serve  for  a  masonic  token,  or  means  of  mutual 
recognition  amongst  the  brethren. 

The  sacramental  Cup,  or  chalice,  is  often  represented  as  set 
upon  the  Mithraic  altar,  or  rather,  table ;  and  a  curious  piece 
of  Jugglery  connected  with  its  employment  (though  not  amongst 
the  Mithraicists),  is  described  by  Epiphanius  (Hseres.  xxxiv.). 
The  followers  of  Marcus,  in  their  celebrating  the  Eucharist, 
employed  three  vases  made  of  the  clearest  glass.  These  were 
filled  with  wine  which,  during  the  progress  of  the  ceremony, 
changed  into  a  blood-red,  purple,  and  blue  colour,  respectively. 
"  Thereupon  the  officiating  minister,  or  more  properly  speaking, 
magician,  hands  one  of  these  vessels  to  some  lady  of  the  congre 
gation,  and  requests  her  to  bless  it.  Which  done,  he  pours  this 
into  another  vase  of  much  greater  capacity,  with  the  prayer, 
"May  the  grace  of  God,  which  is  above  all,  inconceivable, 
inexplicable,  fill  thine  inner  man,  and  increase  the  knowledge 
of  Himself  within  thee,  sowing  the  grain  of  mustard-seed  in 
good  ground  ! "  Whereupon  the  liquid  in  the  larger  vase 
swells  and  swells  until  it  runs  over  the  brim. 

The  worship  of  Mithras  long  kept  its  ground  under  the 
Christian  emperors  in  the  capital  itself,  and  doubtless  survived 
its  overthrow  there  for  many  generations  longer  in  the  remote 
and  then  semi-independent  provinces.  At  the  very  close  of  the 
fourth  century,  Jerome,  writing  to  Leeta,  says,  "  A  few  years 
ago,  did  not  your  kinsman  Gracchus,  a  name  the  very  echo  of 
patrician  nobility,  when  holding  the  office  of  Prefect  of  the 
City,  break  down  and  burn  the  Cave  of  Mithras,  with  all  the 
monstrous  images  which  pervade  the  initiatory  rites,  as  Corax, 
Niphus,  the  Soldier,  the  Lion,  the  Persian,  Helios,  and  Father 
Bromius  ?  " 

In  the  imagery  here  alluded  to,  it  is  easy  to  recognise  figures 
that  perpetually  occur  upon  the  still  extant  representations  of 
the  Mithras  worship.  In  Corax,  the  Eaven ;  in  Niphus,  Cneph 
the  serpent;  the  armed  man;  the  Lion  bestriding  the  human 
victim ;  the  youth  in  Persian  garb ;  the  Sun,  expressed  either 
by  Phoebus  in  his  car,  or  by  the  star  with  eight  rays ;  and 
Bromius  "  the  lioarer,"  appropriate  title  of  the  Grecian  Dionysos ; 
who  also  appears  as  the  Asiatic  Plianaces,  a  youth  holding  a 


torch  in  each  hand,  one  elevated  and  one  depressed  to  signify 
his  rising  and  setting.  Chiflet's  gem  (Fig.  62)  may  on  good 
grounds  be  taken  for  a  picture  of  the  Mithraic  ritual,  and 
upon  it  all  the  foremen  tioned  figures  and  symbols  are  easily 
to  be  discovered.  Two  erect  serpents  form  a  kind  of  frame 
to  the  whole  tableau ;  at  the  top  of  which  are  seen  the  heads 
of  Sol  and  Luna  confronted;  between  them  stands  an  eagle 
with  outspread  wings;  at  the  back  of  each,  a  raven.  In 
the  field  are  two  naked,  crowned  men  on  horseback,  tram 
pling  upon  as  many  dead  bodies;  between  them  a  kneeling 
figure  in  supplicatory  attitude,  over  whose  head  are  two 
stars.  Behind  each  horseman  stand  two  soldiers.  In  the 
exergue  is  set  out  a  table  supporting  a  loaf,  a  fawn  (sacred  to 
Bacchus),  a  chalice,  and  something  indistinct,  but  probably 
meant  for  the  crown  Tertullian  speaks  of.  The  reverse  presents 
a  more  simple  design  :  two  crested  serpents  (dracones^),  twined 
about  wands,  and  looking  into  a  cup ;  two  stars  over  a  table 
resting  upon  a  larger  vase ;  and  on  each  side  a  bow,  the  ends  of 
which  finish  in  serpents'  heads. 

In  this  composition  we  probably  see  portrayed  certain 
amongst  the  tests  of  the  neophyte's  courage,  which,  according 
to  Suidas,  were  termed  the  "  Twelve  Degrees  "  or  "  Tortures." 
These  corresponded  in  nature,  although  of  vastly  more  severe 
reality,  with  those  trials  of  courage  to  which  our  Masonic 
Lodges  subject  the  "  apprentice  "  who  seeks  admission  amongst 
them.  During  the  Mithraic  probation,  which  lasted  forty  days,* 
the  candidate  was  tested  by  the  Four  Elements,  he  lay  naked  a 
certain  number  of  nights  upon  the  snow,  and  afterwards  was 
scourged  for  the  space  of  two  days.  These  Twelve  Tortures 
are  sculptured  upon  the  border  of  the  famous  Mithraic  tablets 
preserved  in  the  Innsbruck  Museum,  and  a  brief  account  of  their 
several  stages  will  serve  to  elucidate  much  of  what  remains  to 
be  discussed.  I.  Man  standing  and  about  to  plunge  a  dagger 
into  the  throat  of  a  kneeling  figure,  who  holds  up  his  hands  in 
supplication.  (This  scene  appears  analogous  to  the  one  in  the 
modern  ceremonial,  when  the  candidate,  ordered  to  remove  the 
bandage  from  his  eyes,  beholds  many  swords  pointed  in  the 
*  Perhaps  the  origin  of  the  Lenten  term  of  self-inflicted  punishment. 


most  threatening  manner  at  his  naked  breast.)  II.  Naked 
man  lying  on  the  earth,  his  head  resting  on  his  hand,  in  the 
posture  of  repose.  (Probably  the  penance  of  the  bed  of  snow.) 
III.  The  same  figure,  standing  with  hands  uplifted  in  a  huge 
crescent  (perhaps  an  arJc,  and  representing  the  trial  by  water. 
To  this  last,  Plato  is  reported  to  have  been  subjected  during  his 
initiation  in  Egypt,  and  to  have  but  narrowly  escaped  drown 
ing).  IV.  The  same,  but  now  with  the  pileus,  cap  of  liberty, 
upon  his  head,  rushing  boldly  into  a  great  fire  (the  trial  by 
fire).  V.  He  is  now  seen  struggling  through  a  deep  stream, 
and  endeavouring  to  grasp  a  rock.  VI.  Bull  walking  to  the 

On  the  other  side  conie  the  remaining  stages.  VII.  Four 
guests  reclining  at  a  horseshoe  table  (sigma),  upon  which  is  set 
a  boar  roasted  whole.  VIII.  Youth  guided  up  a  flight  of 
interminable  steps  by  an  aged  man.  IX.  Youth  kneeling  before 
a  man  in  a  long  robe,  whose  hand  he  grasps  in  prayer.  X.  The 
same  figures,  but  their  positions  are  interchanged.  XI.  Seated 
man,  before  whom  kneels  a  naked,  crowned,  youth,  escorted  by 
one  in  a  long  robe.  XII.  Naked  man  holding  up  the  hind  legs 
of  a  cow,  so  as  to  receive  in  his  face  the  stream  still  regarded 
by  the  Hindoos  as  the  most  efficient  laver  of  regeneration, 
and  consequently  always  administered  to  persons  at  their 
last  gasp.  The  same  sacred  fluid  (as  I  am  informed  by  a 
Parsee)  is  used  in  the  sacramental  cups  drunk  by  every  male 
upon  his  first  admission  into  that  religion,  which  takes  place  on 
his  completing  his  seventh  year.  Nay  more,  such  is  the  belief 
in  its  cleansing  virtue,  that  scrupulous  Parseos  always  carry  a 
bottle  thereof  in  their  pocket,  wherewith  to  purify  their  hands 
after  any  unavoidable  contact  with  unbelievers  ! 

Very  similar  ceremonies  to  these  were  practised  in  the  secret 
societies  of  the  Middle  Ages,  if  we  choose  to  accept  Von 
Hammer's  interpretation  of  certain  mysterious  sculptures,  still 
to  be  seen  in  the  Templar-churches  of  Germany ;  and  which 
he  has  copiously  illustrated  in  his  '  Mysterium  Baphometis 
revelatum.'  In  the  intaglio  already  described,  the  kneeling 
neophyte  is  encompassed  by  all  the  terrific  and  mysterious  host 
of  Mithras,  so  remorselessly  destroyed  by  the  zealous  Gracchus. 


And  again,  the  corpses  trample;!  on  by  the  crowned  horsemen 
clearly  refer  to  that  recorded  test  of  the  candidate's  fortitude— 
the  apparent  'approach  of  death— for  Lampridius  puts  down 
amongst  the  other  mad  freaks  of  Comrnodiis,  that  during  the 
Mithraic  ceremonies,  "when  a  certain  thing  had  to  be  done  for 
the  purpose  of  inspiring  terror,  he  polluted  the  rites  by  a  real 
murder;"  m  expression  clearly  showing  that  a  scenic  repre 
sentation  of  such  an  act  did  really  form  a  part  of  the  proceedings. 
The  Haven  properly  takes  its  place  here,  as  being  the  attribute 
of  the  Solar  god  in  the  Hellenic  creed,  on  which  account  it  is 
often  depicted  standing  upon  Apollo's  lyre. 

Many  other  gems  express  the  spiritual  benefits  conferred  by 
the  Mithraic  initiation  upon  believer*.     A  frequent  device  of 
the  kind,  is  a  man,  with  hands  bound  behind  his  back,  seated  at 
the  foot  of  a  pillar  supporting  a  gryphon  with  paw  on  wheel, 
that  special  emblem  of  the  solar  god ;  often  accompanied  with 
the  legend  AIKAIQ2,  "  I  have  deserved  it."     Another  (Blacas) 
displays  an  unusual  richness  of  symbolism  :  the  same  gryphon's 
tail  ends  in  a  scorpion,  whilst  the  wheel  squeezes  out  of  its 
chrysalis  a  tiny  human  soul  that  stretches  forth  its  hands  in 
jubilation ;    in  front  stands   Thoth's  ibis,  holding  in  its   beak 
the    balance,    perhaps   the    horoscope   of    the   patient.      This 
talisman    too,    unites   the   Egyptian   with    the    Magian    creed, 
for  the  benefit  of  the    carrier;    for  the  reverse  displays  Isis, 
but  in  the  character  of  llygieia,  standing  upon  her  crocodile ; 
the  field  being  occupied  by  strangely  complicated  monograms, 
of  sense  intelligible  to  the  initiated  alone,  and  doubtless  com 
municated  to  the  recipient  of  the  talisman,  who  found  in  them 
"a   New  Name  written,  that  no    man  knoweth,  save  he  that 
receiveth  the   same."      But  both  doctrines  and  ceremonial  of 
this  religion  are  best  understood  through  the  examination  of 
extant  representations  displaying  them  either  directly  or  alle- 
gorically;  which  in  their  turn  are  illustrated  by  the  practice 
of  the  faithful  few  who  still  keep  alive  the  Sacred  Fire,  namely 
the   Parsees  of  Guzerat.      The   series  therefore  will  be   most 
fittingly  opened  by  the  following  curious  description  of  a  cave 
of  Mithras,  as  discovered  in  its  original  and  unprofaned  condition, 
written  by  that  eminent  antiquary,  Flaminius  Vacca.  (No.  117.) 



"  I  remember  there  was  found  in  the  vineyard  of  Sig.  Orazio 
Muti  (where  the  treasure  was  discovered),  opposite  S,  Yitale,  an 
idol  in  marble  about  5  palms  high  (3J  ft.),  standing  erect  upon 
a  pedestal  in  an  empty  chamber,  which  had  the  door  walled  up. 
This  idol  had  the  head  of  a  lion,  but  the  body  that  of  a  man. 
Under  the  feet  was  a  globe,  whence  sprung  a  serpent  which 
encompassed  all  the  idol,  and  its  head  entered  into  the  lion's 
mouth.  He  had  his  hands  crossed  upon  the  breast,  with  a  key 
in  each ;  four  wings  fastened  upon  the  shoulders,  two  pointing 
upwards,  two  downwards.  I  do  not  consider  it  a  very  antique 
work,  being  done  in  a  rude  manner,  or  else  indeed  it  was  so 
ancient  that  at  the  time  when  it  was  made  the  good  style  was 
not  yet  known.  Sig.  Orazio,  however,  told  me  that  a  theologian, 
a  Jesuit  Father,  explained  its  meaning  by  saying  it  signified 
the  Devil,  who.  in  the  times  of  heathenism,  ruled  over  the 
world  :  hence  the  globe  under  his  feet,  the  serpent  which  begirt 
his  body  and  entered  into  his  mouth,  signified  his  foretelling  the 
future  with  ambiguous  responses ;  the  keys  in  his  hands,  his 
sovereignty  over  the  world  ;  the  lion's  head,  his  being  the  ruler 
of  all  beasts ;  the  wings,  his  presence  everywhere.  Such  was 
the  interpretation  given  by  the  Father  aforesaid.  I  have  done 
everything  to  see  the  idol,  but  Sig.  Orazio  being  now  dead,  his 
heirs  do  not  know  what  has  become  of  it.  It  is  not,  however, 
unlikely  that  by  the  advice  of  the  same  theologian,  Sig.  Orazio 
may  have  sent  it  to  some  limekiln  to  cure  its  dampness,  for  it  had 
been  buried  many  and  many  a  year."  Tims  was  this  most 
interesting  monument  destroyed  through  the  conceited  ignorance 
of  a  wretched  ecclesiastic,  himself  more  truly  a  worshipper  of  the 
Evil  Principle,  than  was  the  ancient  votary  of  the  beneficent 
Lord  of  Light  who  carved  that  wondrous  image.  Yacca  adds, 
"  I  remember,  there  was  found  in  the  same  place,  after  the 
above-mentioned  idol,  another,  only  in  bas-relief,  also  having  a 
lion's  head,  but  the  rest  of  the  body  human :  with  the  arms 
extended,  in  each  hand  a  torch ;  with  two  wings  pointing  up 
wards,  two  downwards,  from  between  which  issued  a  serpen  t. 


At  his  right  stood  an  altar  with  fire;  from  the  idol's  mouth 
proceeded  a  ribbon  or  scroll  extending  over  the  fire." 

This  Zzow-headed  deity  can  be  no  other  than  Jerome's  "  Pater 
Bromius,"  a  Grecian  title  of  Bacchus ;  and  he,  we  are  told, 
distinguished  himself  under  that  disguise  in  the  famous  war  of 
the  giants — 

"  Tu  cum  Parentis  regna  per  arduum 
Cohors  Gigantum  scanderet  impia, 
Rha3tum  retorsisti  leonis 

Unguibus  horribilique  mala." 

(Horace,  Od.  IT.  xix.  21-24.) 

And,  tracing  back  this  composite  figure  to  the  real  source  of 
such  iconology,  it  is  found  to  be  the  very  one  under  which 
"  Nri-singha-avatar  "  is  depicted.  It  was  assumed  by  the  deity 
in  order  to  destroy  the  tyrant  Hiransyakagipu,  who  had  obtained 
the  gift  of  invulnerability  against  all  known  beasts,  either  by  day 
or  night. 

A  Mithraic  cave,  with  the  contiguous  buildings,  was  dis 
covered  at  Spoleto  in  1878.  In  the  end  wall  were  the  usual 
three  niches  for  the  god  and  his  torch-bearers.  In  front  of 
them  an  altar  inscribed  "  Soli  invicto  Mithras  sacrum."  Close 
to  the  altar,  a  tall  phallic  stone,  perforated  with  a  square  hole 
near  the  top— perhaps  the  "stone  symbolizing  the  Birth  of 
Mithras  "  mentioned  by  Firmicus.  The  cave,  with  the  ground 
plan  of  the  whole  edifice  is  given  in  the  '  Archa3ologia,'  vol.  47, 
p.  205. 


Mithraic  gems  are,  for  the  most  part,  earlier  in  date  than  those 
emanating  from  the  Gnosticism  of  Alexandria,  with  whose 
doctrines  they  had  no  connection  whatever  in  their  first  orioin. 
Little  difficulty  will  be  found  on  inspection  in  separating  the 
two  classes,  the  former  being  pointed  out  by  the  superiority  of 
their  style,  and  yet  more  so  by  the  absence  of  the  Egyptian 
symbols,  and  long  Coptic  legends  that  generally  accompany  the 
latter.  Indeed  many  of  them  belong  to  the  best  period  of 
Roman  art — the  age  of  Hadrian  ;  and  it  is  easy  to  perceive  how 
the  worship  of  Apollo  gradually  merged  into  that  of  his  more 

K  2 


spiritual  oriental  representative,  in  the  times  when  religious 
ideas  of  Indian  origin  began  to  get  the  upper  hand  throughout 
the  Eoman  world — a  religion  essentially  speculative,  and  dealing 
with  matters  pertaining  to  another  life  and  the  Invisible, 
utterly  different  in  nature  from  the  old  Grecian  creed,  so 
materialistic,  so  active,  so  entirely-  busying  itself  with  the 
Present  and  the  Visible. 

In  accordance  with  the  rule  that  prescribed  the  proper 
material  for  talismans,  the  Jasper  (Pliny's  Malachites),  green, 
mottled,  or  yellow,  is  almost  exclusively  employed  for  intagli 
embodying  Mithraic  ideas,  and  which  take  the  place  of  Phoebus 
and  his  attributes  amongst  the  glyptic  remains  of  the  second 
and  third  centuries.  To  judge  from  their  fine  execution,  certain 
examples  of  the  class  may  even  date  from  the  age  of  the  first 
Cgesars,  and  thus  form  as  it  were  the  advanced  guard  of  that 
countless  host  of  regular  Gnostic  works,  amidst  whose  terrific 
barbarism  ancient  art  ultimately  expires.  In  their  beginning 
these  Mithraic  works  were  the  fruit  of  the  modified  Zoroastrian 
doctrines  so  widely  disseminated  over  the  Empire  after  the 
conquest  of  Pontus — doctrines  whose  grand  feature  was  the 
exclusive  worship  of  the  Solar  god,  as  the  fountain  of  all  life — a 
notion  philosophically  true,  if  indeed  the  vital  principle  be,  as 
some  scientists  assert,  nothing  more  than  electricity.  As  will  be 
shown  hereafter  ("  Serapis  "),  the  later  Platonists,  like  Macrobius, 
laboured  hard  to  demonstrate  that  the  multitudinous  divinities 
of  the  old  faiths,  wheresoever  established,  were  no  other  than 
various  epithets  and  expressions  for  the  same  god  in  his  different 
phases.  The  aim  of  all  the  school  was  to  accommodate  the 
old  faith  to  the  influence  of  the  Buddhistic  theosophy,  the 
very  essence  of  which  was  that  the  innumerable  gods  of  the 
Hindoo  mythology  were  but  names  for  the  Energies  of  the  First 
Triad  in  its  successive  Avatars,  or  manifestations  unto  man. 

To  come  now  to  the  actual  types  setting  forth  these  ideas  ; 
prominent  amongst  them  is  the  figure  of  the  Lion  (he  being  in 
astrological  parlance  the  "House  of  the  Sun"),  usually  sur 
rounded  with  stars,  and  carrying  in  his  jaws  a  bull's  head, 
emblem  of  earth  subjected  to  his  power.  Sometimes  he  tramples 
on  the  serpent,  which  in  this  connection  no  longer  typifies  wisdom, 


but  the  Principle  of  Evil.  For  in  all  religions  emanating  from 
the  East,  where  deadly  poisonousness  is  the  most  conspicuous 
character  of  the  snake-tribe,  the  reptile  has  been  adopted  as 
the  most  speaking  type  of  the  Destroyer.  In  the  West,  on 
the  other  hand,  where  the  same  species  is  for  the  most  part 
innocuous,  and  a  mere  object  of  wonder,  it  has  always  symbolized 
wisdom,  and  likewise  eternity,  from  the  popular  belief  in  the 
yearly  removal  of  its  youth  through  casting  the  slough ;  on  this 
account  the  serpent  was  made  the  companion  of  Apollo  and 
Aesculapius;  and  furthermore  plays  so  important  a  part  in 
Scandinavian  mythology,  holding  the  whole  universe  together 
in  its  perpetual  embrace. 

Mithras  himself  often  makes  his  appearance,  figured  as  a 
youthful  Persian,  plunging  the  national  weapon,  "  Modus 
acinaces,"  into  the  throat  of  a  prostrate  bull  (which  expresses 
the  same  doctrine  as  the  type  last  mentioned),  whilst  overhead 
are  the  sun  and  moon,  the  group  standing  in  the  centre  of  the 
Zodiac.  But  the  completest  assembly  of  Mithraic  figures  and 
symbols  that  has  come  under  my  notice,  is  the  intaglio  published 
by  Caylus  ('  Recueil  d'Aiitiquites,'  vi.  pi.  84).  It  is  engraved 
upon  a  very  fine  agate,  2xlJ  inches  in  measurement.  In  the 
centre  is  the  usual  type  of  Mithras  slaughtering  the  Bull,  the 
tail  of  which  terminates  in  three  wheat-ears,  and  between  the 
hind  legs  hangs  a  huge  scorpion ;  below  is  the  Lion  strangling 
the  Serpent — emblem  of  darkness  and  of  death.  On  each  side 
stands  a  fir-tree,  admitted  into  this  system  because  its  spiry 
form  imitates  a  flame,  for  which  same  reason  its  cone  was  taken 
for  the  symbol  of  the  element  fire,  and  therefore  borne  in  the 
hands  of  deities  in  the  most  ancient  Syrian  sculptures. 
Against  these  fir-trees  are  affixed  torches,  one  pointing  upwards, 
the  other  downwards,  which  clearly  stand  for  the  rising  and 
setting  of  the  Sun.  At  the  side  of  one  is  a  scorpion,  of  the 
other,  a  bull's  head.  Above  each  tree  again  is  a  torch,  each 
pointing  in  an  opposite  direction.  The  principal  group  is 
flanked  by  Phoebus  in  his  four-horse,  Luna  in  her  two-horse  car 
Above  the  whole  stand  two  winged  figures  entwined  with 
serpents  and  leaning  upon  long  sceptres,  between  whom  rise  up 
three  flames,  besides  four  more  at  the  side  of  the  right-hand 


figure,  making  up  the  mystic  number  seven — perhaps  repre 
senting   the    seven    Amshaspands   or    Archangels.      A   naked 
female,  surrounded  with  stars,  kneels  before  the  angel  on  the 
left — doubtless  the  soul  for   whose  benefit  the   talisman   was 
composed — soliciting  his  patronage. 

Could  this  elaborate  composition  be  interpreted,  it  would 
certainly  be  found  to  contain  a  summary  of  the  Mithraic  creed 
as  it  was  received  by  the  nations  of  the  West.  As  it  is,  how 
ever,  some  portions  of  the  tableau  are  explained  by  certain 
legends  to  be  found  in  the  Parsee  sacred  books ;  whilst  others 
derive  light  from  comparison  with  the  larger  monuments  of  the 
same  worship.  Thus,  the  termination  of  the  bull's  tail  in  ears 
of  wheat  allude  to  the  fifty  life-giving  plants  which  sprang 
from  the  tail  of  the  Primaeval  Bull  (or  Life,  the  same  word  in 
Zend)  after  he  had  been  slain  b}r  Ahriman.  Of  the  same  animal 
the  seed  was  carried  up  by  the  Izeds  (genii)  to  the  Moon,  wheiv, 
purified  in  her  beams,  it  was  moulded  by  Ormuzd  into  a  new 
pair,  the  parents  of  all  that  exists  in  earth,  air  and  water.  The 
scorpion  is  appended  to  the  part  of  the  body,  properly  under 
the  influence  of  the  sign  so  called,  for  as  Manilius  teaches, 
"  The  fiery  scorpion  in  the  groin  delights."  In  this  particular 
situation  it  expresses  Autumn,  as  the  serpent  underneath  does 
Winter ;  and  with  good  reason  takes  the  place  of  the  bull's 
genitals,  for,  as  the  same  poet  sings  (iv.  217.) 

"  With  fiery  tail  when  Scorpio  threatens  war, 
As  through  the  stars  he  drives  the  solar  car, 
He  searches  earth  with  penetrating  rays 
And  the  mixed  seed  deep  in  her  furrows  lays." 

The  torches  raised  and  lowered  signify  the  East  and  West. 
In  the  circular  altar  of  the  Villa  Borghese  (Wiiickelmann  Men. 
Ined.  No.  21)  the  bust  of  Luna  appears  resting  on  a  crescent  over 
an  aged  head  in  front  face  with  crabs'  claws  springing  out  of  his 
forehead — a  speaking  type  of  Oceanus.  The  bust  of  the  rising 
sun,  with  his  customary  badge,  the  eight-rayed  star,  in  point, 
rests  upon  an  erect  flambeau,  whilst  that  of  the  setting  luminary 
looking  downwards,  is  placed  upon  another  lowered  towards 
earth.  Again,  the  serpent  winding  four  times  about  the  figures 
may  signify  the  sun's  annual  revolution ;  an  explanation 


rendered  the  more  plausible  by  the  torso  of  Mithras  at  Aries, 
in  which  the  Zodiacal  Signs  occupy  the  intervals  between  the 
coils  of  the  same  serpent.  The  lion  and  raven  stand  for  the 
attendant  priests;  for  in  these  mysteries  the  higher  officials 
were  denominated  Lions,  the  lower  Ravens  :  whence  the  rites 
themselves  got  the  name  of  "  Leontica,"  and  "  Coracica." 

The  fires,  the  planets  and  the  genii  presiding  over  them  are 
in  number  seven — a  numeral  the  most  sacred  of  all  amongst  the 
Persians.  But  of  these  seven  Fires,  three  are  ever  depicted  in  a 
special  manner  as  those  most  worthy  to  be  held  in  reverence. 
These  three  are  the  "  Eire  of  the  IS  tars,"  that  is,  of  the  planet 
Venus,  named  Anahid;  the  "Fire  of  the  Sun,"  or  the  Fire  Mihr ; 
and  the  "  Fire  of  Lightning,"  or  the  Fire  Bcrsiov,  that  is,  the 
planet  Jupiter.  The  Mihr  is  the  winged  orb,  so  common  in  all 
Assyrian  sculpture — an  emblem  which  serves  to  explain  the 
Prophet's  simile,  "  the  Sun  of  Kighteousness  with  healing  in  his 

The  worship  of  the  Fire  Gushtasp  (or  that  of  Anahid)  figures 
011  the  Zend  sculptures  as  a  very  ancient  worship,  and  also  in 
the  "  Shah  Nameh ;  "  just  as  that  of  the  goddess  Anaitis  does  in 
many  Greek  authors  from  Herodotus  downwards.  This  his 
torian  observes  (I.  131)  that  at  first  the  Persians  worshipped 
only  the  sun,  moon,  and  elements,  until  they  learnt  from  the 
Assyrians  the  worship  of  Venus  Urania,  whom  they  called 
Mitra,  the  same  being  the  Mylitta  of  the  Babylonians,  the 
Alata  or  Alilat  of  the  Arabians.  Now  Mitra  (feminine  of 
Mithras)  and  Anahid,  are  one  and  the  same  goddess,  that  is  to 
say,  the  Morning  Star,  a  female  Genius,  presiding  over  love, 
giving  light,  and  directing  the  harmonious  movement  of  the 
other  planets  by  the  sound  of  her  lyre,  the  strings  whereof  are 
the  solar  rays — "  Apollo's  lyre  strung  with  his  golden  hair  " 
(Creuzer,  Kal.  de  1'Antiq.  ii.  731).  In  this  doctrine  we  discover 
the  reason  for  the  separation  of  the  Fires  upon  Caylus'  gem  into 
two  groups ;  the  principal  group  consisting  of  the  three  most 
anciently  adored  ;  the  subsidiary  one  of  the  remaining  four. 

Other  Mithraic  symbols  are  of  a  very  speaking  character,  and 
almost  explain  their  own  meaning  at  first  sight.  Thus  Mithras 
piercing  the  bull's  throat  with  his  dagger  signifies  the  penetration 


of  the  solar  ray  into  tlie  bosom  of  the  earth,  by  whose  action  all 
Nature  is  nourished ;  as  is  further  expressed  by  the  Dog's  licking 
up  the  blood  that  pours  from  the  wound.  The  sign  Capricorn 
frequently  introduced  into  the  same  group,  declares  the 
necessity  of  moisture  to  co-operate  with  the  Sun's  influence  in 
bringing  about  the  germination  of  the  seed  sown ;  whilst  the 
scorpion,  in  the  significant  position  above  noticed,  expresses  the 
generative  heat.  The  union  of  two  diverse  religions,  already 
mentioned,  is  curiously  exemplified  by  those  stones  that  sho\v 
the  Mithraic  group  surrounded  by  sets  of  the  sacred  animals  of 
Eyypt,  arranged  by  threes — crocodiles,  goats,  calves,  vultures, 
hawks,  ibises — standing  around  in  attitudes  of  adoration,  and 
gazing  upon  the  great  work  of  their  supreme  lord,  Mithras  (see 
page  41,  fig.  2). 

Mithraic  bas-beliefs  cut  upon  the  smoothed  faces  of  rocks,  or 
upon  tablets  of  stone,  still  abound  throughout  the  former  western 
provinces  of  the  Roman  Empire;  many  exist  in  Germany  ;  still 
more  in  France;  others  in  this  island,  along  the  line  of  the  Picts' 
Wall,  and  a  remarkably  fine  example  at  York,  the  station  of  the 
Sixth  Legion.  The  famous  "  Arthur's  Oon  "  (destroyed  in  the 
last  century)  upon  the  Carron,  a  hemispherical  vaulted  building 
of  immense  blocks  of  stone,  was  unmistakably  a  Specus  Mitft- 
raicum—thG  same  in  design  as  Chosroes'  magnificent  Fire 
temple  at  Gazaca.  Inasmuch  as  the  sun-god  was  the  chief 
deity*  of  the  Druids,  it  is  easy  to  imagine  what  ready  ac 
ceptance  the  worship  of  his  more  refined  Persian  equivalent 
would  find  amongst  the  Celtic  Aborigines,  when  once  introduced 
by  the  Roman  troops  and  colonists,  many  of  whom  were 
Orientals.  To  the  last  circumstance  a  curious  testimony  is 
incidentally  borne  by  Lampridius,  when  he  remarks  that  the 
entire  military  force  employed  by  Maximinus  in  his  great  in- 

*  As  "Belenus"  ho  continued  to  prove  that  Belenus  was  held  to  bo 
the  last  the  patron-god  of  Aquileia,  another  name  for  Apollo.  A  shoe  of 
lhat  (Gallic  metropolis  of  Cisalpine  the  giant  emperor,  a  convincing  testi- 
(Jaul,  and  to  his  power  was  ascribed  niony,  literally  an  "ex  pede  Hercu- 
the  death  of  Maximin  when  besieging  lem,"  to  his  incredible  stature,  was 
that  city.  The  acclamations  of  the  \et  to  be  seen  in  the  days  of  Lam- 
senate  on  the  receipt  of  the  news  pridius,  nailed  to  a  tree  in  the  mcrcd 
of  their  deliverance  from  the  tyrant,  yrnve  at  the  place  of  his  fall. 


vasion  of  Germany, was  the  same  that  had  been  raised  by  Severus 
Alexander,  and  which  had  accompanied  him  to  the  scene  of  his 
murder,  "  either  the  North  of  Gaul  or  Britain,"  which  same 
army  the  historian  describes  as  "  potentissimus  quidem  per 
Armenios  et  Osrhocnos,  et  Partlws,  et  onmis  generis  homiimm." 
For  this  sagacious  emperor  had  appointed  to  subordinate 
commands  in  his  own  army  all  the  prisoners  of  royal  or  noble 
birth  whom  he  had  taken  in  his  preceding  Persian  campaign. 

Although  the  modern  Parsees,  like  their  Achseinenian  ancestry 
in  the  days  of  Herodotus,  abominate  idols  and  all  visible 
representations  of  things  divine,  yet  do  they  still  piously 
cherish  the  ideas  embodied  on  the  sculptures  just  passed  under 
review.  Amongst  these,  most  conspicuous  is  their  veneration 
for  the  Dog  which  they  yet  esteem  the  most  holy  of  animals. 
Tavernier  (I.  493)  was  on  this  account  greatly  scandalised  by 
the  Guebres  of  Surat ;  "  they  have  another  strange  custom— 
when  a  person  is  on  the  point  of  death,  to  take  a  little  dog,  and 
place  it  upon  his  breast.  When  they  perceive  that  he  is  at  his 
last  gasp,  they  apply  the  dog's  muzzle  to  the  dying  man's 
mouth,  and  make  it  bark  twice  when  in  this  position,  as  if  they 
meant  to  make  the  person's  soul  enter  into  the  dog,*  which  they 
pretend  will  deliver  it  unto  the  angel  appointed  to  receive  the 
same.  Moreover,  if  a  dog  happens  to  die,  they  carry  it  out  of 
the  town,  and  pray  to  God  in  behalf  of  that  piece  of  carrion,  as 
though  the  brute's  soul  could  derive  any  advantage  from  their 
prayers  after  its  death."  Following  up  this  analogy,  the 
sculptured  dog  licking  up  the  bull's  blood  may  actually  be 
intended  for  such  a  vehicle  of  departing  life.  In  these  times 
the  Parsees  expose  their  dead,  upon  gratings  laid  on  the  summit 
of  the  "  Tower  of  silence,"  to  be  consumed  by  the  birds  alone  ; 
but  under  the  Sassanian  monarchy  it  was  the  inviolable  rule  to 
lay  out  all  corpses  in  the  open  fields  to  be  devoured  by  the  dogs. 
This  was  no  more  than  carrying  out  to  the  full  a  very  ancient 
principle  of  the  Zoroastriaii  religion.  Herodotus  (I.  140)  states 
from  his  own  knowledge  that  the  corpse  of  a  Magus  was  not 
allowed  to  be  buried  before  it  had  been  attacked  by  a  bird  or 

*  My  Parsee  informant  assures  mo       the  merely  brin^in^  a  tloi,  iuto  l]ic 
this  ceremony  is  now  modiiiod   into       dying  man's  chamber. 


dog ;  adding  that  the  same  was  reported  of  the  other  Persians. 
The  Magi  regarded  the  killing  of  a  dog  equally  criminal  with 
that  of  a  human  being  This  primitive  style  of  obsequies  the 
Sassanians  strove  hard  to  enforce  upon  all  nations  subjected  to 
their  sway,  viewing  as  a  LI  eat  sacrilege  the  placing  of  dead 
bodies  in  the  bosom  of  the  earth ;  a  still  greater,  the  consuming 
them  by  the  sacred  element,  Fire.  This  practice  above  all 
others  scandalised  the  narrcw-minded  Byzantines;  the  historian 
Agathias  expressing  his  horror  at  the  casting  the  dead  to  the 
dogs,  wlntever  their  rank  or  dignity  in  life;  as  in  the  case  of 
the  great  Satrap  Mermeroes,  whom  he  saw  thus  exposed  naked 
in  the  fields  to  be  so  devoured.  When  the  last  seven  sages  of 
Greece,  expelled  from  their  professional  chairs  at  Athens  by  the 
stupid  bigotry  of  Justinian,  sought  refuge  in  the  ostentatious 
hospitality  of  Nushirwan  the  Just,  even  they  (despite  their 
philosophy)  found  themselves  obliged,  by  their  disgust  at  the 
sight  of  this  practice,*  to  return  home  with  >ad  loss  of  dignity, 
and  submit  to  the  spirit  of  the  times.  If  the  dogs  refused  to 
touch  the  carcase,  this  was  looked  on  by  the  friends  of  the 
deceased  as  the  very  worst  of  indications  as  to  the  ultimate 
destination  of  his  soul.  The  Parsees,  who,  with  more  decency, 
constitute  the  raveiif  (or  equally  sacred  creature)  sexton  and 
sepulchre  in.  one,  deiivo  a  similar  augury  from  observing 
which  eye  is  first  attacked  by  the  bird,  the  preference  for  the 
right  one  being  the  token  of  salvation;  for  the  left,  of  ti.c 

A  very  curious  portion   of  the  initiatory   ceremony  in  the 

*  To  which  they  \\  ould  have  been  into  the  heavens,  a  portion  of  the 

forced  to  conform  had  they  continued  spirit  of  the  deceased  is  taken  up 

under  the  protection  of  the  Sassanian  into  heaven.  In  the  case  of  rich 

king.  people  Lamas  are  employed  to  divide 

f  The  same  practice  prevails  in  the  body  into  small  pieces  and  carry 

Thibet  with  the  motive  thus  assigned.  it  up  to  the  top  of  a  hill,  where  the 

"Several  bodies  exposed  on  the  vulture  and  buzzard  soon  dispose  of 

banks  of  the  stream  were  being  de-  it.  Interment  of  the  dead  is  als,o 

voured  by  crows  and  buzzards,  which  practised,  but  only  among  the  poorer 

soon  leave  nothing  but  the  skeletons,  people,  \vho  cannot  afford  to  pay 

which  are  washed  away  by  the  sum-  Lamas  to  perform  the  ceremony  of 

raer  rise  of  the  stream.  The  Tibe-  exposing  the  body." — Cooper's  'Tra- 

tians  believe  that  as  each  buzzard,  vels  of  a  Pioneer  of  Commerce,' 

gorged  with  its  foul  repast,  soars  p.  270. 


ancient  Mysteries  was  the  giving  of  the  "  Mark  of  Mithras." 
After  successfully  undergoing  each  stage  of  the  ordeal,  the 
accepted  candidate  was  marked  in  a  certain  indelible  manner, 
but  the  exact  nature  of  this  marking  cannot  now  be  ascertained 
The  expressions  used  by  St.  Augustine  (in  Johan.  i.  dis.  7)  lead 
us  to  conclude  two  things  :  firstly,  that  the  engraved  stones,  the 
object  of  our  consideration,  were  given  to  the  candidate  at  the 
end  of  his  probation,  for  a  token  of  admission  into  the  fra 
ternity,  and  for  a  medium  of  recognition  between  members : 
and  secondly,  that  every  one,  upon  admission,  was  stamped  with 
a  secret  Mark,  indelibly  imprinted  in  his  flesh.  "  Something  of 
the  sort  has  been  copied  by  a  certain  Spirit,  in  that  he  will 
have  his  own  image  to  be  purchased  with  blood,  forasmuch  as  he 
was  aware  that  mankind  were  some  day  or  another  to  be 
redeemed  by  the  shedding  of  blood."  This  last  expression 
shows  that  this  Mark  was  not  burnt  in,  but  incised  or  tattooed  ; 
and  the  same  conclusion  may  be  deduced  from  St.  John's  using 
the  term  ^apay/xa,  engraving,  not  crT/y/^,  branding,  for  that  badge 
of  servitude  which  all  the  subjects  of  the  Second  Beast,  "  having 
horns  like  a  lamb's,  and  speaking  like  a  dragon,"  were  forced  to 
receive,  either  in  their  right  hands  (i.e.,  upon  the  palm)  or  upon 
their  foreheads,  and  he  caused  all,  both  small  and  great,  rich 
and  poor,  free  and  bond,  to  receive  a  Mark  in  their  right  hand, 
or  in  their  foreheads  :  "  and  that  no  man  might  buy  or  sell,  save 
he  that  had  the  Mark,  or  the  Name  of  the  Beast,  or  the  Number 
of  his  Name"  (Eev.  xiii.  17).  These  words  contain  a  com 
pendious  account  of  the  different  kinds  of  "  Stigmata  "  then  in 
use  to  distinguish  those  devoting  themselves  to  any  particular 
deity.  The  Mark  was  the  figure  of  the  special  symbol  or 
attribute  of  that  deity  (exactly  answering  to  the  caste-marks  of 
the  modern  Hindoos)  :  the  Name  was  his  own,  written  at  full 
length  in  some  sacred  language  :  the  Number  was  the  more 
recondite  way  of  expressing  that  name,  either  by  a  single 
numeral  in  the  primitive  Chalda3an  fashion,  or  by  other  letters 
taken  numerically,  and  yielding  the  same  sum.  The  author  of 
the  Apocalypse  very  probably  had  the  Mithraicists  in  view 
when  penning  this  allegory  ;  yet  we  may  be  certain  that  the 
members  of  a  secret  society  did  not  receive  the  mark  of  member- 


ship  upon  any  conspicuous  part  of  their  persons.  The  same 
necessity  meets  us  here,  as  in  every  other  branch  of  this  inquiry, 
for  placing  the  origin  of  all  such  sectarian  bodily  Marks  in 
India— the  true  fountainhead,  directly  or  indirectly,  of  so  many 
Gnostic  practices.  There,  the  votaries  of  the  several  deities  are 
still  distinguished,  each  by  the  proper  symbol  of  his  patron- 
god  impressed  upon  his  forehead,  but  by  a  milder  process  than 
of  old,  being  traced,  not  in  his  own  blood,  but  with  the  ashes  of 
cow-dung,  the  powder  of  sandal-wood,  or  coloured- earths,  daily 
renewed.  Inasmuch  as  amongst  them  the  symbol  of  Fire 
(Bramah)  is  an  equilateral  Triangle,  with  the  apex  pointing 
upwards,  it  may  be  conjectured  that  the  Mithraic  ^apay/xa  was 
the  same  simple  figure,  by  which  indeed  Horapollo  informs 
us  the  Egyptians  symbolised  the  Moon,  and  Plutarch  that 
Pythagoras  expressed  the  goddess  Athene.*  Clarkson,  how 
ever,  asserts  positively  that  the  Mark  of  Mithras  was  the  "  Tau 
mysticum,"  but  whence  he  derived  this  knowledge  I  have  never 
been  able  to  ascertain. f 

The  Seven  Stars,  so  conspicuous  upon  these  talismans,  doubt 
less  stand  for  something  higher  than  the  mere  planets ;  in  all 
likelihood  they  denote  the  Seven  Amshaspands,  the  First  Order 
of  Angels  in  the  Zoroastrian  hierarchy ;  and  who  became  the 
"  Seven  Spirits  of  God  "  to  the  later  Jews,  and  thenco  by 
gradual  transition  gave  the  epithet  "  Septiformis  munere  "  to 
the  Spiritus  Sanctus  of  Christianity.  Of  these  Amshaspands 
the  names  and  offices  are :  Ormu/d,  source  of  life  and  creation  ; 
Bahman,  king  of  the  world  ;  Ardibehest,  giver  of  fire  ;  Shahrivar, 
of  the  metals  ;  Qpandarmat  (the  Gnostic  Sophia),  queen  of  the 
earth  ;  Khordad,  presiding  over  time  and  the  seasons  ;  Amerdad, 
over  trees  and  plants.  Of  these  the  highest  in  place  are  (after 
Ormuzd)  the  four  named  next  in  gradation.  Below  this 
order  stand  the  Ixeds,  twenty-seven  in  number,  ruled  over  by 
Mithras ;  they  govern  the  heavenly  bodies  and  the  elements. 

*  Herself  the  lunar  deity,  at-ford-  Crescents,  the  regular  badge  of  tlio 

ing  to  an  old  tradition  preserved  by  kings  of  Pontus,  and  as  such  put 

Aristotle.  upon  the  states  of  Athens  bearing 

t  There  is  very  good  reason  to  the  names  of  Mithridutes  and  Aris- 

discover  a  Mithraie  mark  in  the  tion.  (In  the  Due  de  Luyues  Coi- 

"  Phanaces"  or,  Sun  between  two  lection.) 


Against  each  Amshaspand  and  Ized  is  arrayed  a  corresponding 
Angel  of  Darkness,  to  thwart  all  his  operations,  namely,  the 
Seven  Arch-Devs,  and  the  Twenty-Seven  Devs. 


In  my  account  of  Mithraicism  notice  has  been  taken  of  the 
very  prominent  part  that  sacraments  for  the  remission  of  sin 
play  in  the  ceremonial  of  that  religion;  the  following  extracts 
from  the  grand  Gnostic  text-book  will  serve  to  show  how  the 
same  notions  (and  probably,  forms)  were  transferred  to  the 
service  of  Gnosticism. 

Baptism,  Remitting  Sins. — (Pistis-Sophia)  (298).  Then  came 
forth  Mary  and  said  :  Lord,  under  what  form  do  Baptisms  remit 
sins  ?  I  have  heard  thee  saying  that  the  Ministers  of 
Contentions  (e/atSatot)*  follow  after  the  soul,  bearing  witness 
against  it  of  all  the  sins  that  it  hath  committed,  so  that  they 
may  convict  it  in  the  judgments.  Now,  therefore,  Lord,  do  the 
mysteries  of  Baptism  blot  out  the  sins  that  be  in  the  hands  of 
the  Receivers  of  Contention,  so  that  they  shall  utterly  forget 
the  same?  Now,  therefore,  Lord,  tell  us  in  what  form  they 
remit  sins  ;  for  we  desire  to  know  them  thoroughly.  Then  the 
Saviour  answered  and  said :  Thou  hast  well  spoken  :  of  truth 
those  Ministers  are  they  that  testify  against  all  sins,  for  they 
abide  constantly  in  the  places  of  judgment,  laying  hold  upon 
the  souls,  convicting  all  the  souls  of  sinners  who  have  not 
received  the  mystery,  and  they  keep  them  fast  in  chaos 
tormenting  them.  But  these  contentious  ones  cannot  pass  over 
chaos  so  as  to  enter  into  the  courses  that  be  above  chaos;  in 
order  to  convict  the  souls  therefore  receiving  the  mysteries,  it  is 
not  lawful  for  them  to  force  so  as  to  drag  them  down  into  chaos, 
where  the  Contentious  Receivers  may  convict  them.  But  the 
souls  of  such  as  have  not  received  the  mysteries,  these  do  they 
desire  and  hail  into  chaos  :  whereas  the  souls  that  have  received 

*  The  Cabiri,  "  pimishers,"  of  the  former  duties  under  the  new  dispen- 
ancieiit  mythology,  performing  their  sation. 


the  mysteries,  they  have  no  means  of  convicting,  seeing  that  they 
cannot  get  out  of  their  own  place  ;  and  even  if  they  did  come 
forth,  they  could  not  stop  those  souls,  neither  shut  them  up  in 
their  chaos.  Hearken,  therefore,  I  will  declare  to  you  in  truth 
in  what  form  the  mystery  of  Baptism  remitteth  sins.  If  the 
souls  when  yet  living  in  the  world  have  been  sinful,  the  Con 
tentious  Receivers  verily  do  come,  that  they  may  bear  witness  of 
all  the  sins  they  have  committed,  but  they  can  by  no  means  come 
forth  out  of  the  regions  of  chaos,  so  as  to  convict  the  soul  in  the 
places  of  judgment  that  be  beyond  chaos.  But  the  counterfeit 
of  the  spirit*  testifies  against  all  the  sins  of  the  soul,  in  order 
to  convict  it  in  the  places  of  judgment  that  be  beyond  chaos  ; 
not  only  doth  it  testify,  but  also  sets  a  seal  upon  all  the  sins  of 
the  soul,  so  as  to  print  them  firmly  upon  the  soul,  that  all  the 
Kulers  of  the  judgment  place  of  the  sinners  may  know  that  it 
is  the  soul  of  a  sinner,  and  likewise  know  the  number  of  sins 
which  it  hath  committed  from  the  seals  that  the  counterfeit  of 
the  spirit  hath  imprinted  upon  it,  so  that  they  may  punish  the 
soul  according  to  the  number  of  its  sins  :  this  is  the  manner 
in  which  they  treat  the  soul  of  a  sinner.  (300).  Now  there 
fore  if  any  one  hath  received  the  mysteries  of  Baptism,  those 
mysteries  become  a  great  fire,  j  exceeding  strong,  and  wise,  so  as  to 
burn  up  all  the  sins  :  and  the  Fire  entereth  into  the  soul 
secretly,  so  that  it  may  consume  within  it  all  the  sins  which  the 
counterfeit  of  the  spirit  hath  printed  there.  Likewise  it  entereth 
into  the  body  secretly,  that  it  may  pursue  all  its  pursuers,  and 
divide  them  into  parts  —  for  it  pursueth  within  the  body,  the 
counterfeit  of  the  spirit,  and  Fate  —  so  that  it  may  divide  them 
apart  from  the  Power  and  the  Soul,  and  place  them  in  one  part 
of  the  body  —  so  that  the  fire  separates  the  counterfeit  of  the 
spirit,  Fate,  and  the  Body  into  one  portion,  and  the  Soul  and 
the  Power  {  into  another  portion.  The  mystery  of  Baptism 
remaineth  in  the  middle  of  them,  so  that  it  may  perpetually 
separate  them,  so  that  it  may  purge  and  cleanse  them  in  order 

s,  one  of  tl.e  t  -A-  clear  allusion  to  the  Mithraic 

four   component   parts  of    the  soul;       "  torture  of  the  fire." 
equivalent  apparently  to  our  "  Cyon-  I  The   particle    of    the   Godhead 

science."  mixed  up  in  the  quadruple  compo&i- 

of  the  Inner  Man. 

xxiii    GX03TICS    AND    THEIR    REMAINS 

that  they  may  not  be  polluteil  by  Matter.  Now  therefore, 
Mary,  this  is  the  manner  whereby  the  mystery  of  Baptism 
remitteth  sins  and  all  transgressions. 

(301)  And  when  the  Saviour  ha<)  Urns  spoken,  he  said  to  his 
disciples  :  Do  ye  understand  in  what  manner  I  speak  with  you  ? 
Then  came  forth  Mary,  saying  :  Of  a  truth,  Lord,  I  perceive  in 
reality  all  the  things  that  thou  hast  said.  Touching  this  matter 
of  the  Remission  of  Sins,  thou  speaketh  aforetime  to  us  in  a 
parable,  saying :  I  am  come  to  bring  fire  upon  the  earth ;  nay, 
more,  let  it  burn  as  much  as  I  please.  And,  again  thou  hast  set 
it  forth  openly,  saying :  I  have  a  baptism  wherewith  I  will 
baptise  and  how  shall  I  endure  until  it  be  accomplished?  Ye 
think  that  I  am  come  to  bring  peace  upon  the  earth  ?  By  no 
means  so,  but  dissension,  which  I  am  come  to  bring.  For  from 
this  time  forth  there  shall  be  five  in  one  house  ;  three  shall  be 
divided  against  t\vo,  and  two  against  three.  This,  Lord,  is  the 
word  that  thou  speakest  openly.  But  concerning  the  word  that 
thou  spakest :  I  am  come  to  bring  fire  upon  the  earth,  and  let  it 
burn  so  much  as  I  please :  in  this  thou  hast  spoken  of  the 
mystery  of  Baptism  in  the  world,  and  let  it  burn  as  much  as 
thou  pleasest  for  to  consume  all  the  sins  of  the  soul,  that  it  may 
purge  them  away.  And  again  thou  hast  shewn  the  same  forth 
openly,  saying  :  I  have  a  baptism  wherewith  I  will  baptise,  and 
how  shall  I  endure  until  it  be  accomplished?  The  which  is 
this  ;  Thou  wilt  not  tarry  in  the  world  until  the  baptisms  be 
accomplished  to  purify  all  the  perfect  souls.  And  again  what 
thou  spakest  unto  us  aforetime :  "  Do  ye  suppose  I  am  come  to 
bring  peace  upon  earth,"  &c.  (302).  This  signifieth  the  mystery 
of  Baptism  which  thou  hast  brought  into  the  world,  because  it 
hath  brought  about  dissension  in  the  body  of  the  world,  because 
it  hath  divided  the  Counterfeit  of  the  spirit,  the  Body,  and  the 
Fate  thereof,  into  one  party,  and  the  Soul  and  the  Power  into  the 
other  party.  The  same  is,  "  There  shall  be  three  against  two,  and 
two  against  three."  And  when  Mary  had  spoken  these  things 
the  Saviour  said  :  Well  done,  thou  Spiritual  One  in  the  pure 
light,  this  is  the  interpretation  of  my  saying. 

Then  Mary  went  on  and  said  :  Bear  with  me,  Lord,  whilst  I 
yet  inquire  of  thee.  Lo !  we  know  now  fully  after  what  form 



Baptism  remitteth  sin.  Now  therefore  declare  unto  us  the 
mystery  of  the  Three  Courts,  and  the  mystery  of  the  First 
Mystery,  and  likewise  the  mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One;  in 
what  form  do  these  also  remit  sin  ?  Do  they  remit  sin  in  the 
form  of  baptism  or  not  ?  (3^3)  The  Saviour  answered  again  : 
By  no  means ;  but  all  the  mysteries  of  the  Three  Courts  remit 
in  the  soul,  and  in  all  the  regions  of  the  Rulers,  all  the  sins 
that  the  soul  hath  committed  even  from  the  beginning.  They 
remit  also  the  sins  that  the  soul  shall  have  committed  after 
wards  up  to  the  time  that  each  one  of  the  mysteries  taketh  unto 
itself,  the  time  whereof  I  will  declare  unto  you  hereafter. 
Moreover  the  mystery  of  the  First  Mystery,  and  the  mysterv  of 
the  Ineffable  One,  remit  unto  the  soul  in  all  the  regions  of  the 
Rulers  all  the  sins  and  transgressions  that  it  hath  committed. 
And  not  only  do  they  remit,  but  they  do  not  impute  sin*  to  the 
soul,  from  henceforth  for  ever  by  reason  of  the  free- grace  of 
the  mystery  and  the  exceeding  glory  of  the  same.  Then  said 
the  Saviour  :  Do  ye  understand  all  that  I  have  said  unto  you  ? 
Then  Mary  answered:  Lord,  I  have  caught  up  all  the  words 
thou  hast  spoken.  Now  therefore  as  to  the  saying  that  all  the 
mysteries  of  the  Three  Courts  remit  sins,  and  blot  out  iniquities. 
Concerning  this  same  matter  hath  David  the  prophet  spoken, 
saying :  "  Blessed  are  they  whose  sins  they  have  remitted,  and 
whoso  iniquities  they  have  covered,"  and  as  to  thy  saying  that 
the  mystery  of  the  First  Mystery,  and  the  mystery  of  the 
Ineffable  One,  do  not  only  remit  all  sin  unto  the  soul  for  ever, 
but  also  do  not  suffer  sin  to  be  imputed  unto  the  same  for  ever 
and  ever,  by  reason  of  the  free-gift  of  the  great  mystery,  and 
the  exceeding  glory  thereof;  concerning  this  same  matter  David 
the  prophet  foretold,  saying  :  "  Blessed  are  they  unto  whom  the 
Lord  will  not  impute  sin,"  which  signifieth  they  will  not  impute 
sin  from  henceforth  unto  those  that  receive  the  mystery  of  the 
First  Mystery  and  the  mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One.  Then 
answered  the  Saviour :  Well  done,  thou  Spiritual  One,  this  is 
the  interpretation  of  my  word. 

(305)  Then  Mary  continued,  saying  :   Lord,  if  a  man  shall 

*  This  is  the  doctrine  that  "knowledge"   renders  all  actions  free  from 
infulness— as  held  by  the  Simonians. 


have  received  the  mystery  in  the  mystery  of  the  First  Mystery, 
and  afterwards  shall  turn  back  and  sin,  and  again  shall  repent 
and  pray  in  his  own  mystery,  shall  his  sin  be  remitted  to  him  or 
not  ?  Then  answered  the  Saviour  ;  Whosoever  after  receiving 
the  mystery  shall  again  sin  twelve  times,  and  again  repent 
twelve  times,  and  then  shall  pray  in  his  own  mystery,  his  sin 
shall  be  remitted  unto  him.  But  and  if,  after  these  twelve 
times,  he  shall  turn  again  and  transgress,  then  of  a  truth  his 
sin  shall  never  more  be  remitted,  so  that  he  may  turn  again 
unto  his  own  mystery  whatsoever  it  be.  For  such  an  one  there 
is  no  repentance,  unless  indeed  ho  hath  received  the  mystery  of 
the  Ineifablo  One  that  remitteth  all  sins,  and  shall  remit  them 
at  every  time. 

Then  said  Mary  :  Lord,  those  who  have  received  the  mystery 
of  the  First  Mystery,  and  then  have  turned  back  and  sinned,  if 
such  without  having  repented  shall  depart  out  of  the  body, 
shall  they  inherit  the  kingdom  or  not,  forasmuch  as  they  have 
received  the  free  gift  of  that  mystery  ?  (306)  The  Saviour 
answered  :  Of  such  the  judgment  shall  be  the  most  merciful 
amongst  all  the  judgments,  for  their  dwelling  is  in  the  Middle 
Gate*  of  the  Dragon  of  Outer  Darkness,  and  at  the  end|  of  all 
those  that  be  in  torment :  because  such  an  one  hath  received 
the  free  gift  of  the  mystery,  and  hath  not  remained  stead 
fast  therein.  Then  said  Mary :  Such  as  have  received  the 
mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One  and  then  shall  turn  back  and  sin, 
but  afterwards  shall  repent  in  their  lifetime,  how  many  times 
shall  their  sin  be  remitted  unto  them?  Then  answered  the 
Saviour :  To  such  an  one,  not  only  if  he  turn  back  and  sin  once, 
and  then  repent,  shall  his  sin  be  remitted,  but  even  if  he  doth 
so  continually,  so  long  as  he  shall  repent  whilst  yet  alive,  not 
being  in  hypocrisy,  and  shall  pray  according  to  his  own  mystery, 
because  those  mysteries  are  merciful  and  remit  sin  at  every 
time  (307).  Then  asked  Mary  :  But  if  such  an  one  shall 
depart  out  of  the  body  before  he  hath  repented,  what  then  shall 
happen  unto  him?  (307)  Then  answered  the  Saviour:  Of 
such  an  one  the  judgment  shall  be  worse  than  of  any  other,  and 

*  This  term  is  borrowed  from  the          f  The  lost  place,  answering  to  the 
ancient  Gates  of  the  Ainenti.  Limbo  of  the  medifcval  Hell. 


exceeding  great;  for  even  if  those  souls  be  new  ones*  they 
shall  not  return  unto  the  changes  of  the  earthly  bodies,  neither 
shall  they  do  any  work,  but  they  shall  be  cast  out  into  the 
uttermost  parts  of  the  Outer  Darkness,  and  shall  be  consumed  so 
that  they  shall  not  exist  for  ever  and  ever. 

(308)  To  this  declaration  Mary  refers  the  saying :  "  Salt  is 
good,  but  if  the  salt  hath  lost  its  savour,"  &c. 

The  following  extracts,  from  the  same  high  authority,  will 
much  elucidate  the  pass-words  communicated  to  the  dying 
believer,  which  form  so  important  a  feature  of  the  Gnostic 

Benefits  of  Initiation.— I  will  declare  unto  you  that  mystery, 
which  is  this :  Whosoever  shall  have  received  that  One  Word, 
when  he  shall  depart  out  of  the  body  of  the  Matter  of  the  Kulers, 
there  shall  come  the  Contentious  Eeceivers  to  loosen  him  out  of 
that  body,  which  same  Receivers  loosen  every  one  departing  out 
of  the  body.     And  when  they  shall  have  loosened  the  soul  that 
hath  received  that  mystery  which  I  have  declared  unto  you,  in 
that  very  moment  wherein  he  is  set  loose,  he  becometh  a  great 
Hood  of  light  in  the  midst  of  them.     And  the  Eeceivers  shall  fear 
the  light  of  that  soul,  and  shall  tremble,  and  shall  cease  through 
their  fear  of  the  great  light  which  they  behold.     And  that  soul 
shall  fly  up  aloft,  and  the  Eeceivers  shall  not  lay  hold  upon 
him,  neither  shall  they  discern  by  what  way  he  is   gone,  inas 
much  as  he  is  become  a  great  Ray  of  Light,  and  flieth  up  aloft, 
neither  is  there  any  Power  that  can  overtake  him,  nor  ever  come 
nigh  unto  him  at  all  (228).      But  he  passes  through  all  the 
regions  of  the  Eulers,  and  also  the  regions  of  the  offspring  of 
the  Light,  neither  doth  he  give-in  a  declaration  in  any  region, 
nor  yet  a  defence  of  himself,t  nor  yet  the  pass-word  (or  symbol). 
Neither  can  any  Power  of  them  all  draw  near  him,  but  all  the 
regions  of  the  Eulers  and  of  the  offspring  of  the  Light  shall 

*  That  is,  have  occupied  the  body  Egyptian  "  Kitual  of  the  Dead," 
for  the  first  time ;  not  souls  that  concerning  the  soul's  passage  on  its 
after  punishment  for  their  sins  in  way  to  the  palace  of  Osiris  Socharis, 
this  life,  have  been  placed  again  in  "  the  Occidental,"  through  the  One- 
bodies  to  undergo  a  second  probation  and-twenty  Gates,  each  guarded  by 
upon  earth.  its  own  ^enius>  and  eacn  requiring  a 

f  All  this   is  borrowed  from  the  separate  address. 


sing  hymns,  each  one  in  his  own  place,  fearing  the  flood  of  light 
that  clotheth  that  soul,  until  he  shall  come  into  the  place  of  the 
heirs  of  the  mystery  that  he  hath  received,  and  become  con 
joined  with  the  members  of  the  same.  Verily,  I  say  unto  you, 
lie  shall  be  in  all  the  regions  in  the  time  that  a  man  can  shoot 
an  arrow.  Again  I  say  unto  you,  whosoever  shall  receive  that 
mystery  and  make  himself  perfect  in  all  the  types  and  figures 
thereof,  that  man  is  in  the  world,  but  he  is  more  excellent  than 
the  angels,  and  shall  be  before  them  all ;  he  is  a  man  in  the 
world,  but  he  is  better  than  the  archangels  and  shall  be  before 
them  all  (229)  ;  he  is  higher  than  all  the  tyrants,  and  all  the 
lords,  and  all  the  gods,  and  all  the  luminaries,  and  all  the  pure 
ones,  and  all  the  triple  powers,  and  all  the  Primal  Fathers, 
and  all  the  Unseen  Ones;  he  is  a  man  in  the  world,  but  he  is 
more  excellent  than  the  great  unseen  Primal  Father,  and  shall 
be  more  exalted  than  he,  and  above  all  those  pertaining  to  the 
Middle-space,  and  above  all  the  emanations  of  the  Treasury  of 
Light,  and  above  all  the  confusion,*  and  above  every  region  of 
the  Treasure  of  Light ;  he  is  a  man  in  the  world,  but  he  shall 
reign  with  me  (230)  in  my  kingdom  ;  he  is  a  man  in  the  world, 
but  he  shall  be  a  king  in  the  Light ;  he  is  a  man  in  the  world, 
but  he  is  not  of  the  world  ;  and  verily  I  say  unto  you,  that  man 
is  I,  and  I  am  that  man  ;  and  in  the  dissolution  of  the  world,  when 
the  universe  shall  be  raised  up,  and  all  the  number  of  perfect 
souls  shall  be  raised  up,  and  I  am  made  king  over  all  the  off 
spring  of  the  Light,  and  when  I  am  made  king  over  the  seven 
AMHN,f  and  the  Five  Trees,  and  the  Three  AMHN,  and  the 
Nine  Keepers  ;  and  when  I  am  king  over  the  Boy  of  the  boy 
which  be  the  Twin  Saviours,  and  over  the  Twelve  Saviours,  and 
over  all  the  number  of  perfect  souls  which  have  received  the 
mystery  of  Light,  then  whosoever  shall  have  received  the 
mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One,  they  shall  be  joint  kings  with  mo 
and  shall  sit  upon  my  right  hand  and  upon  my  left  hand  in  my 
kingdom.  Verily  I  say  unto  you,  those  men  are  I,  and  I  am 

*  The  Creation  of  the  Demiurgus,  f  Title    probably   borrowed    from 

in  which  the  Particle  of  the  Godhead  the  former  Amentt,  the  four  sons  of 

is  mixed  up  and  lost  in  the  heap  of  Osiris,  and  keepers  of  Elysium 

L   2 


those  men.     For  this  cause  have  I  said   to  you   formerly,  ye 
shall  sit  upon  your  thrones  on  my  right  hand  and  on  my  left 
in  my  kingdom,  and   ye  shall  reign  together  with  me  (231). 
Therefore  I  did  not  refrain,  neither  was  I  abashed  to  call  you 
my  brethren  and  my  fellows,  inasmuch  as   ye  shall   be  joint 
kings  with  me  in  my  kingdom.     These  things  therefore  I  Baid 
unto  you,  knowing   that  I  was  about  to   give  unto   you  the 
mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One,  because  that  mystery  is  I,  and  I 
am  that  mystery.     Now  therefore  not  only  ye  shall  reign  with 
me,  but  also  whatsoever  men  shall  have  received  that  mystery 
they  shall  be  joint  kings  with  me   in    my  kingdom ;    and  1 
am   they,   and   they   are   I.      But  my   throne   shall   be  more 
exalted  than  theirs ;  and  inasmuch  as  ye  shall  receive  sorrows 
in  this  world  beyond  all  other  men  whilst  ye  are  preaching  the 
words  that  I  declare  unto  you,  therefore  your  thrones  shall  bo 
next  to  my  throne  in  my  kingdom.     For  this  cause  I  said  of  old 
time,  in  the  place  where  I  shall  be,  my  twelve  ministers  shall 
be  also  ;  but  Mary  Magdalene,  and  John  the  Virgin,  shall  be  the 
most  excellent  amongst  my  disciples.     And  all  men  that  shall 
have  received  the  mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One  shall  be  upon 
my  right  hand  and  upon  my  left,  for  I  am  they  and  they  are  I, 
and  they  shall  be  equal  with  you  in  every  thing ;  but   your 
thrones  shall  be  more  exalted  than  theirs,  and  my  throne  shall 
be  more   exalted   than  yours  (232).     And  all  men  that  shall 
find  out  the  Word  of  the  Ineffable  One,  verily  I  say  unto  you 
all  the  men  that  shall  know  that  Word,  the  same  shall  under 
stand  also  the  knowledge  of  all  the  words  that  I  have  spoken 
unto   you,  both   in  their  depth  and  in  their  height,  in  their 
length  and  in  their  breadth.      And  what  things  I  have  not  told 
you  those  I  will  tell  you  in  their  place  and  in  their  order  in  the 
emanation  of  the  universe.     Verily  I  say  unto  you,  they  shall 
know  how  the  world  is  established,  and  after  what  form  those 
that  pertain  unto  the  height  (highest  place)  be  made,  and  for 
what  end  the  universe  was  created. 

And  when  the  Saviour  had  said  these  things,  Mary  Magdalene 
came  forward  and  said  :  Lord,  be  not  wroth  with  me  if  I 
seek  out  everything  with  diligence.  Whether  is  the  Word  of 
the  mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One,  one  thing,  and  the  Word  of 


the  Knowledge  of  All,  another?  Then  the  Saviour  answered, 
and  said:  The  Word  of  the  mystery  of  the  Ineffable  is  one 
thing,  and  the  Word  of  the  Knowledge  of  All  is  another.  Then 
said  Mary :  Suffer  me,  Lord,  to  ask  thee  yet  again  one  thing. 
Unless  when  we  are  living  we  understand  the  knowledge  of  the 
whole  Word  of  the  Ineffable  One,  we  shall  not  inherit  the  king 
dom  of  Light?  (233).  Then  the  Saviour  answered,  and  said  : 
Of  a  truth,  whosoever  shall  have  received  the  mystery  of  the 
kingdom  of  Light,  the  same  shall  go  to  inherit  it  into  that 
place  the  mystery  whereof  he  hath  received.  But  he  shall  not 
obtain  the  knowledge  of  the  All,  wherefore  all  things  were  made, 
except  he  shall  have  known  that  One  Word  of  the  Ineffable,  the 
which  is  the  knowledge  of  all.  And  again,  there  is  no  way  of 
knowing  that  One  Word  of  knowledge,  except  a  man  shall  have 
first  received  the  mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One ;  but  every  man 
shall  go  to  inherit  that  place  the  mystery  whereof  he  hath 
received.  For  which  cause  I  said  to  you  formerly  :  "  He  that 
believeth  a  prophet  shall  receive  a  prophet's  reward,  and  he 
that  believeth  a  righteous  man  shall  receive  a  righteous  man's 
reward,"  which  is  this  :  of  whatsoever  place  each  hath  received 
the  mystery,  into  that  same  place  shall  he  go.  He  that  hath 
received  a  humble  mystery,  the  same  shall  inherit  a  humble 
place.  He  that  hath  received  an  excellent  mystery,  the  same 
shall  inherit  an  exalted  place ;  and  every  one  shall  abide  in  his 
own  place  in  the  light  of  my  kingdom,  and  every  one  shall 
have  authority  over  the  Course  that  is  below  him,  but  over  that 
which  is  above  himself  he  shall  not  have  authority,  but  shall 
abide  in  his  inheritance  of  the  light  of  my  kingdom,  dwelling 
in  a  great  light  unto  which  there  is  no  measure,  next  to  the 
gods  and  to  the  Unseen  Ones,  and  he  shall  be  in  great  joy  and 
gladness  (234). 

Now  therefore  I  will  speak  with  you  touching  the  glory  of 
those  also  that  shall  receive  the  mystery  of  the  Fiist  Mystery. 
He  that  hath  received  the  same,  at  the  time  when  he  shall 
depart  out  of  this  body  of  Matter,  the-  Contentious  Eeceiver  shall 
come  that  they  may  take  his  soul  out  ol  the  body,  and  that  soul 
shall  become  a  great  Kay  of  light  and  shall  fly  aloft  through  the 
midst  of  them,  and  shall  pass  through  all  the  regions  and  ahull 


not  give-in  any  declaration,  or  defence,  or  symbol,  token  (pass 
word),  but  shall  pass  through  all,  that  he  may  come  and  reign 
over  all  the  places  belonging  to  the  First  Saviour.  In  the  like 
manner  he  that  hath  received  the  Second  Mystery  and  the  Third 
and  Fourth  up  to  the  Twelfth*  (235),  that  soul  likewise  shall  pass 
through  all  the  regions  without  giving  in  his  defence,  or  token, 
and  shall  come  and  reign  over  all  the  places  belonging  to  the 
Twelve  Saviours.  And  in  like  manner  those  receiving  the  second 
mystery  shall  reign  over  the  places  of  the  Second  Saviour 
amongst  the  heirs  of  light.  In  like  manner  those  receiving  the 
third  and  the  fourth  up  to  the  twelfth,  shall  reign  over  the 
regions  of  that  Saviour  whose  mystery  each  hath  received.  But 
they  shall  not  be  equal  with  those  that  have  received  the 
mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One,  but  shall  abide  in  the  Courses  of 
the  Twelve  Saviours. 

Then  Mary  answered,  saying :  Lord,  suffer  me  yet  again. 
How  is  it  that  the  First  Mystery  hath  twelve  mysteries,  whereas 
the  Ineffable  hath  but  one  ?  Jesus  answered :  Of  a  truth  He 
hath  but  One,  but  that  mystery  maketh  three  others ;  the  mys 
tery  is  indeed  one,  but  to  each  of  them  there  is  a  different 
form,  and  moreover  it  maketh  five  mysteries. 

As  for  the  First  Mystery,  when  thou  hast  performed  it  well 
in  all  the  forms  thereof,  when  thou  departest  out  of  thy  body 
thou  shalt  forthwith  become  a  great  Bay  of  light,  and  it  shall 
traverse  all  the  regions  of  the  Eulers  and  all  the  regions  of 
Light,  all  being  afraid  of  that  light  of  the  soul,  until  it  shall 
come  into  its  own  kingdom.  As  for  the  Second  Mystery,  he  that 
shall  perform  the  same  rightly  in  all  the  forms  thereof,  if  he  speak 
it  over  the  head  of  a  man  departing  out  of  the  body,  and  into 
Ms  two  ears,  that  man  departing  out  of  the  body  when  he  hath 
received  the  mystery  a  second  time,  and  been  made  partaker  of 
the  Word  of  Trutli^  that  man's  soul  shall  become,  when  it  leaveth 
the  body,  a  great  flood  of  light,  so  as  to  traverse  all  the  regions 
until  it  cometh  into  the  kingdom  of  that  mystery.  But  and  if 

*  This  gradation  seems  borrowed  of  the  practice  of  the  Heracleonites 

from  the  twelve  degrees  in  the  of  communicating  the  pass- word  to 

Mithraic  initiation.  the  ear  of  the  dying  man. 

t  This  is  what  Epiphanlns  relates 


that  man  hath  not  received  that  mystery,  neither  hath  been 
made  partaker  of  the  words  of  truth,  if  he  that  hath  performed 
that  mystery  shall  speak  the  same  into  the  ears  of  him  who  is 
departing  out  of  the  body,  verily  I  say  unto  you,  the  soul  of 
that  man,  although  he  hath  not  received  the  mystery  of  Light 
nor  partaken  of  the  words  of  truth,  shall  not  be  judged  in  the 
places  of  the  Rulers,  neither  shall  it  be  punished  in  any  place, 
neither  shall  the  fire  touch  it,  by  reason  of  the  mystery  of  the 
Ineffable  which  goeth  along  with  it.  And  they  shall  hasten  to 
deliver  that  soul  one  to  the  other,  and  shall  guide  it  Course  after 
Course,  and  place  (239)  after  place,  until  they  bring  it  before  the 
Virgin  of  Light :  for  all  the  regions  shall  fear  the  mystery  and 
the  Mark*  of  the  kingdom  of  the  Ineffable  One  that  is  with  it. 

And  when  they  have  brought  the  soul  unto  the  Virgin  of 
Light,  she  shall  see  the  Mark  of  the  mystery  of  the  kingdom  of 
the  Ineffable  One  which  is  with  it.  And  the  Virgin  of  Light 
marvelleth  thereat,  and  she  judgeth  that  soul,  but  suffereth  him 
not  to  be  brought  unto  the  light  until  he  hath  accomplished  the 
ministry  of  the  light  of  that  mystery,  which  be  these  :  the 
purification  of  the  renouncing  of  the  world  and  of  all  the  Matter 
that  therein  is.  And  the  Virgin  of  Light  sealeth  him  with  a 
special  seal,  which  is  this :  in  the  same  month  in  which  he  hath 
departed  out  of  the  body,  she  will  cause  him  to  be  placed  in 
another  body  that  shall  be  righteous,  and  shall  obtain  the 
divinity  of  truth  and  the  high  mystery,  so  that  he  may  inherit 
the  same,  and  also  inherit  the  Light  for  ever  and  ever.  This  is 
the  grace  of  the  Second  Mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One. 

As  touching  the  Third  Mystery  :  the  man  that  hath  performed 
the  same  duly  in  all  the  forms  thereof  and  shall  name  that 
mystery  over  the  head  of  one  departing  out  of  the  body  whether 
ho  be  living  or  dead,  or  abiding  in  the  midst  of  the  torments  of  the 
Rulers,-\  and  their  different  fires,  they  shall  make  haste  to  release 

*  It  has  the  impression  of  the  royal  usage  alluded  to  by  Dante  in  his 

seal  stamped  upon  it.  '  Vendetta  di  Dio  non  Teme  Suppe,' 

t  Here  we  have  the  first  hint  of  refers  to  something  of  the  sort  done 

masses  performed  for  the  dead.  A  to  appease  the  manes.  A  homicide 

similar  idea  is  involved  in  the  who  had  eaten  sops  in  wine  upon 

practice  mentioned  by  St.  Paul  of  the  grave  of  the  slain  man  was 

being  "  baptized  for  the  sake  of  de-  thereby  freed  from  the  vendetta  of 

ceased  persons."  A  singular  Italian  the  family.— (Purgat.  xxxiii.  35.) 


that  man  out  of  them  all,  and  shall  bring  him  before  the  Virgin 
of  Light,  who  shall  place  him  in  a  righteous  body  that  shall 
inherit  the  light. 

(243)  Moreover  in   the  dissolution  of  the  Universe,  that  is, 
when  the  number  of  perfect  souls  is  made  up,  and  the  mystery 
is  accomplished  on   account  of  which  the   Universe  has  been 
created,  then  I  will  spend  a  thousand  years,  according  to  the 
years  of  light,  ruling  over  the  offspring  of  the  light,  and  over 
the  number  of  the  perfect  souls  which  have  received  all  the 
mysteries.      Then  Mary  said,  Lord,  how  many  years   in   the 
years  of  this  world  is  one  year  of  light?      Jesus  answered, 
One  day  of  light  is  one  thousand  years  of  this  world,  where 
fore  thirty  and  six  myriads  and  a  half  of  the  years  of  the  world 
make  one  year  of  light.     I  shall   therefore  reign  a  thousand 
years  of  light,  being  king  in  the  middle  of  the  last  Parastates,* 
being  king  over  all  the  offspring  of  light,  and   over  all  the 
number   of  perfect  souls  that  have  received  the  mysteries  of 
light.     And  ye,  my  disciples,  and  each  one  that  hath  received 
the  mysteries  of  the  Ineffable  One,  shall  be  upon  ray  right  hand 
and  upon  my  left,  being  kings  together  with  me  in  my  kingdom. 
And  those  likewise  that  receive  the  three  mysteries  of  the  five 
mysteries  of  the  Ineffable  shall  be  kings  together  with  you  in 
the  kingdom  of  light.     But  they  shall  not  be  equal  with  you, 
and  with  those  receiving  the  mystery  of  the  Ineffable  One,  for 
they  shall  continue  kings  behind  you.     And  those  receiving 
the  five  mysteries  of  the    Ineffable   shall  remain   behind  the 
three  mysteries  being  kings  also.     Likewise  those  receiving  the 
twelve  mysteries  of  the  First  Mystery,  they  too  shall  abide  as 
kings  behind  the  five  mysteries  of  the  Ineffable  One.     And  they 
also  are  kings  each  one  of  them  according  to  his  course,  and  all 
receiving  in  the  mysteries  in  all  the  places  of  the  Court  of  the 
Ineffable  One,  so  that  they  shall  be  kings  also*  but  come  after- 
such  as  have  received  the  mystery  of  the  First  Mystery:  being 
sent  forth  according  to  the  glory  of  each,  so  that  those  receiving 
high  mysteries  shall  dwell  in  high  places,  but  those  receiving 
humble  mysteries  shall  abide  in  humble  places. 

*  The  deity  whose  place  is  next  to  the  Supreme  Light;  to  judge  from  the 
primary  sense  of  the  word.   . 


These  are  the  Three  Lots  of  the  Kingdom  of  Light,  and  the 
mysteries  of  these  Three  Lots  of  Light  are  exceeding  great.  Ye 
will  find  them  in  the  great  Second  Book  of  I EV ;  but  I  will  give 
unto  you  and  declare  unto  you  the  mysteries  of  each  lot,  which 
be  more  exalted  than  any  other  place  (246),  and  are  chief  both 
as  to  place  and  as  to  order  :  the  which  also  lead  all  mankind 
within,  into  lofty  places ;  according  to  the  court  belonging  to 
their  inheritance,  so  that  ye  have  no  need  of  any  of  the  lower 
mysteries,  but  ye  will  find  them  in  the  Second  Book  of  I  EV  which 
Enoch  wrote  when  I  spoke  with  him  out  of  the  Tree  of  Know 
ledge  and  out  of  the  Tree  of  Life  in  the  Paradise  of  Adam. 

Now  therefore  after  I  shall,  have  declared  unto  you  all 
Emanation,  I  will  give  and  I  will  tell  unto  you  the  Three  Lots 
of  my  Kingdom  which  be  the  chief  of  all. 

Inasmuch  as  Ordeals  and  Meritorious  Penances  held  so  important 
a  place  in  the  Mithraic  ceremonial,  it  will  not  be  irrelevant  here 
to  adduce  for  comparison  a  series  of  the  kind  as  excogitated  by 
the  extravagant  imagination  of  the  Brahmins.  The  penances 
of  the  demon  Taraka,  the  Tapa-asura,  by  means  whereof  he 
constrained  Brahma  to  grant  him  whatever  he  chose  to  demand, 
are  thus  enumerated,  each  stage  being  of  one  century's  dura 
tion.  1.  He  stood  on  one  foot,  holding  up  the  other  with  both 
hands  towards  heaven,  his  eyes  fixed  immovably  upon  the  sun. 
2.  He  stood  on  one  great  toe.  3.  He  took  for  sustenance 
nothing  but  water.  4.  He  lived  similarly  upon  air.  5.  He 
remained  immersed  in  the  water.  6.  He  was  buried  in  the 
earth,  continuing,  as  during  the  last  penance,  in  continued 
adoration.  7.  He  performed  the  same  act  in  the  fire.  8.  He 
stood  on  his  head  with  his  feet  upwards.  9.  He  stood  resting 
on  one  hand.  10.  He  hung  by  his  hands  from  a  tree.  11.  He 
hung  on  a  tree  by  his  feet,  with  his  head  downwards.  (The 
twelfth  degree  Moor  has,  for  some  reason,  omitted.) 

By  means  like  these,  termed  the  Yoy,  the  ascetic  Yogi  is 
enabled  to  obtain  nine  seveial  gifts,  that  set  him  above  all  the 
laws  of  Nature.  For  example,  he  may  expand  or  contract  his 
body  to  any  size  he  pleases  ;  he  may  float  in  the  air  upon  a 
sunbeam ;  he  may  exert  all  his  sense  at  an  infinite  distance 
from  the  objects  of  them  ;  with  other  capabilities  of  like  kind. 


And  with  respect  to  the  sixth  penance  of  Taraka,  this,  incredible 
as  it  appears,  is  still  performed.  To  be  buried  alive  in  a  small 
vault  covered  deep  with  earth  until  a  crop  of  grain,  sown  over 
him  at  the  time  of  inhumation,  shall  be  ripe  for  cutting,  is  yet 
esteemed  the  most  efficacious  of  good  works  for  extorting  from 
heaven  the  blessing  most  desired  by  the  patient  or  his  employer 
(the  doctrine  of  vicarious  atonement  being  most  thoroughly 
Hindoo).  The  English  Resident  at  Eunjeet  Singh's  court  has 
minutely  described  all  the  preparation  made  by  the  royal  proxy, 
(whose  regular  trade  it  was  thus  to  die  for  others),  and  the 
successful  completion  of  his  penance,  which  occupied  the  space 
of  six  weeks.  The  Eesident  assisted  at  the  closing  and  the 
opening  of  the  vault,  and  was  certain  that  no  deception  could 
possibly  have  been  practised  by  the  Yogi.  The  blessing 
aimed  at  was  the  gift  of  fecundity  for  a  favourite  queen  of 

The  "  Taurobolia,"  or  Baptism  of  Blood,  during  the  later  ages 
of  the  Western  Empire,  held  the  foremost  place,  as  the  means 
of  purification  from  sin,  however  atrocious.  Prudentius  has 
left  a  minute  description  of  this  horrid  rite,  in  which  the  person 
to  be  regenerated,  being  stripped  of  his  clothing,  descended  into 
a  pit,  which  was  covered  with  planks  pierced  full  of  holes  ;  a 
bull  was  slaughtered  upon  them,  whose  hot  blood,  streaming 
down  through  these  apertures  (after  the  fashion  of  a  shower- 
bath),  thoroughly  drenched  the  recipient  below.  The  selection 
of  the  particular  victim  proves  this  ceremony  in  connection 
with  the  Mithraica,  which  latter,  as  Justin  says,  had  a 
"Baptism  for  the  remission  of  Sins";  and  the  Bull  being  in 
that  religion  the  recognised  emblem  of  life,  his  blood  necessarily 
constituted  the  most  effectual  laver  of  regeneration.  No  more 
conclusive  evidence  of  the  value  then  attached  to  the  Taurobolia 
can  be  adduced,  than  the  fact  mentioned  by  Lampridius  that 
the  priest-emperor  Ileliogabalus  thought  it  necessary  to  submit 
to  its  performance ;  and  a  pit,  constructed  for  the  purpose  as 
late  as  the  fourth  century,  has  lately  been  discovered  within 
the  sacred  precincts  of  the  Temple  at  Eleusis,  the  most  holy 
spot  in  all  Greece. 

The  subject  will  find  its  most  appropriate  conclusi-jn  in  the 



list  of  "  Degrees  "  to  be  taken  in  the  Mysteries,  as  laid  down  by 
M.  Lajard,  in  his  elaborate  treatise,  '  Le  Culte  do  Mithra,'* 
These  degrees  were  divided  into  four  stages,  Terrestrial,  Aerial, 
Igneous,  and  Divine,  each  consisting  of  three.  The  Terrestrial 
comprised  the  Soldier,  the  Lion,  the  Bull.  The  Aerial,  the 
Vulture,  the  Ostrich,  the  Eaven.  The  Igneous,  the  Gryphon, 
the  Horse,  the  Sun.  The  Divine,  the  Eagle,  the  Sparrow- Hawk, 
the  Father  of  fathers.  Lajard's  theory  is  best  elucidated  by 
quoting  his  way  of  expounding  a  very  frequent  cylinder-subject. 
He  finds  the  admission  to  the  degree  of  "  The  Soldier,"  in  the 
group  where  a  man  is  seen  standing  before  a  "  hierophant,"  or 
priest,  who  stands  on  the  back  of  a  bull  couchant  on  a  platform. 
The  hierophant,  wearing  a  cap  tipped  by  a  crescent,  holds  out 
to  the  neophyte  a  curved  sword,  symbol  of  admission  into  the 
Order.  A  priestess  stands  apart,  separated  from  him  by  the 
horn,  or  Tree  of  Life,  over  which  soars  the  emblem  of  the 
Assyrian  Triad.  Her  cap  is  tipped  by  the  Sun-star,  but  she 
also  wears  the  crescent,  to  show  the  hermaphrodite  nature  of 
Mylitta ! 

*  Lajard  discovers  upon  the  Baity- 
Ionian  cylinders  representations  of 
admission  to  the  several  degrees,  of 
which  they  were  given,  as  certificate 
to  the  initiated :  and  accounts  for 
their  enormous  extant  numbers  by 
the  supposition  that  every  one,  upon 

proceeding  to  a  higher  degree,  threw 
away  the  cylinder  marking  the  pre 
ceding  one.  But  the  complicated 
system  of  the  Mithraici  was  evi 
dently  the  creation  of  much  later 
times,  and  of  a  religion  vainly  strug 
gling  for  life. 

FIG    5 



The  transition  from  orthodoxy  to  Gnosticism,  in  its  last  and 
mosi  elaborate  phase  is  well  pointed  out  by  the  following  re 
miniscences  of  St.  Augustine,  describing  his  own  experiences. 
In  his  eighteenth  or  nineteenth  year  he  had  begun  to  study 
the  Scriptures,  to  satisfy  himself  as  to  the  truth  of  the  religion  in 
which  he  had  been  brought  up.  "  Consequently  I  set  to  work 
to  study  the  Holy  Scriptures,  in  order  that  I  might  discover 
what  was  their  true  character.  And  lo  !  I  behold  a  thing 
not  discovered  unto  the  proud,  nor  revealed  unto  babes;  but 
humble  in  gait,  lofty  in  issue,  and  veiled  in  mysteries  ;  and  I  was 
not  such  a  one  as  could  enter  therein,  neither  to  bow  down  my 
neck  unto  the  steps  thereof.  For  I  did  not  think  then,  as  1 
speak  now,  when  I  was  studying  Scripture,  but  it  seemed  to 
me  unworthy  to  be  compared  with  the  sublimity  of  Cicero's 
eloquence.  Nevertheless  that  Scripture  was  such  as  should 
grow  up  together  with  babes,  but  I  .disdained  to  be  a  babe,  and 
being  puffed  up  with  pride  I  fancied  myself  a  grown-up  man. 
So  it  came  to  pass  that  I  fell  in  with  men  full  of  pride,  dotards, 
too  carnal,  and  great  talkers,  in  whose  mouth  is  a  snare  of  the 
Devil,  and  bird-lime  made  up  with  a  mixture  of  the  syllables  of 
Thy  Name,  and  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  and  of  the  Paraclete's, 
our  Comforter  the  Holy  Ghost.  All  these  names  did  not 
proceed  out  of  their  mouth  except  as  far  as  the  sound  and  echo 
of  the  tongue  go,  but  their  heart  was  utterly  void  of  truth. 
And  they  used  to  repeat  '  Truth  and  Truth,'  and  so  did  they 
repeat  her  name  to  me,  but  she  was  nowhere  amongst  them,  but 
they  spoke  false  things,  not  only  concerning  thee  who  art  the 
Truth  in  truth,  but  even  concerning  the  elements  of  this  world 
of  ours,  thy  creation ;  concerning  which  even  the  philosophers, 
who  declared  what  is  true,  I  ought  to  have  slighted  for  the  love 
of  Thee,  0  my  Father,  the  Supreme  Good,  the  Beauty  of  all 
things  beautiful.  0  Truth  !  Truth  !  how  inwardly  did  the 
marrow  of  rny  soul  sigh  after  thee  even  then,  whilst  they  were 



perpetually  dinning  thy  name  into  my  ears,  and  after  various 
fashions  with  the  mere  voice,  and  with  many  and  huge  boohs  of 
theirs.  And  these  were  the  dishes  upon  wliich  were  served  up 
to  me  who  was  hungering  after  thee,  nothing  but  the  Sun  and 
the  Moon,  thy  fair  works  indeed,  but  not  thyself,  and  not  even 
the  first  amongst  thy  works.  For  thy  spiritual  works  are 
before  those  corporeal  works,  however  splendid  and  heavenly 
they  may  be.  But  even  for  those,  thy  higher  works,  I  hungered 
and  thirsted  not,  but  for  thee  only,  0  Truth  !  wherein  there  is 
no  change,  neither  shadow  of  turning.  And  again  there  were 
set  before  me,  in  those  same  dishes,  splendid  phantoms,  than 
which  it  were  even  better  to  love  the  Sun  himself,  for  he  was 
true  as  far  as  regards  one's  eyes,  rather  than  to  love  those 
fictions  whereby  the  soul  was  deceived  through  the  eyes.  And 
yet  because  I  believed  them  to  be  Thee,  I  ate  thereof  though  not 
greedily,  because  Thou  didst  not  taste  in  my  mouth  as  thou 
really  art,  for  thou  wert  not  those  empty  fictions ;  neither 
was  I  nourished  thereby,  but  rather  weakened.  Food  in  dreams 
is  like  to  the  food  of  one  awake,  yet  the  sleepers  are  not  fed  by 
the  same,  for  they  sleep  on  :  but  those  dishes  were  not  in  any 
wise  like  unto  Thee  as  thou  now  hast  spoken  to  me,  &c." 

FIG.  G. 




The  next  great  series  of  monuments  to  be  considered  are 
those  emanating  from  the  worship  of  Serapis,  that  mysterious 
deity,  who,  under  his  varying  forms,  had,  during  the  second 
and  third  centuries  of  our  era,  completely  usurped  the  sove 
reignty  of  his  brother  Jupiter,  and  reduced  him  to  the  rank  of 
a  mere  planetary  Genius.  Unlike  the  generality  of  the  deities 
who  figure  upon  the  Gnostic  stones,  the  Alexandrian  Serapis 
does  not  belong  to  the  primitive  mythology  of  Egypt.*  His 
worship  may  be  said  to  be  only  coeval  with  the  rise  of  Alex 
andria,  into  which  city  it  was  introduced  from  Sinope  by  the 
first  Ptolemj7,  in  consequence  of  the  command  (and  repeated 
threats,  in  case  of  neglect)  of  a  vision  which  had  appeared  to 
him.  After  three  years  of  ineffectual  negotiation,  Ptolemy 
at  last  obtained  the  god  from  Scythotherius,  king  of  Sinope ; 
but  when  the  citizens  still  refused  to  part  with  their  idol,  a 
report  was  spread,  that  it  had  spontaneously  found  its  way  from 
the  temple  down  to  the  Egyptian  ships  lying  in  the  harbour. 

The  prevalent  opinion  amongst  the  Greeks  was  that  the 
figure  represented  Jupiter  Dis  (Aidoneus)  and  the  one  by  his 
side,  Proserpine.  This  latter  the  envoys  were  ordered  by  the 
same  divine  messenger,  to  leave  in  its  native  shrine.  Another 
story,  also  mentioned  by  Tacitus,f  made  the  statue  to  have 
been  brought  from  Seleucia  by  Ptolemy  III,  but  this  rested 
on  slighter  authority.  It  is,  however,  a  curious  confirmation 
of  this  last  tradition  that  Serapis  is  named  by  Plutarch 
("  Alexander,")  as  the  chief  deity  of  Babylon  (Seleucia  in  later 
times)  at  the  date  of  the  Macedonian  Conquest — a  proof  that 

*  The  difference  between  him  and  f  Who  narrates  the  whole  affair  at 

the  ancient  Theban  Serapia  (as  the  great  length — a  proof  of  the  influ- 

Greeks   translated   his   title   "  Osor-  ence  of  the  religion  in  his  day — in  his 

Api"),  shall  be  pointed  out  farther  History,  iv.  84. 


he  at  least  regarded  that  god  as  identical  with  Belus.  Now,  it 
is  a  remarkable  coincidence  that  Ana,  the  First  Person  in  the 
primitive  Chaldean  Triad,  is  likewise  "  King  of  the  Lower 
World,"  and  that  his  symbol,  the  vertical  wedge,  stands  also  for 
the  numeral  GO,  which  last  is  often  used  to  express  hiero- 
glyphically  the  name  Ana. 

It  was  Timotheus,  an  Athenian  Eumolpid,  and,  in  virtue  of 
his  descent,  Diviner  to  the  king,  who  indicated  Pontus  as  the 
residence  of  the  unknown  god,  whose  apparition  had  so  dis 
quieted  the  monarch  by  commanding  himself  to  be  sent  for 
without  declaring  whence.  The  figure,  seen  in  the  vision,  was 
that  of  a  youth,  a  circumstance  that  tallies  ill  with  the  mature 
majesty  of  the  great  god  of  Alexandria.*  But  the  Helios 
Dionysos,  a  veritable  Christina,  who  graces  the  reverse  of  the 
gold  medallion  of  Pharnaces  II,  coined  at  Sinope  in  the  follow 
ing  century,  agrees  much  more  exactly  with  this  description  of 
the  nocturnal  visitor. 

Speedily  did  Serapis  become  the  sole  lord  of  his  new  home ; 
and  speculations  as  to  his  true  nature  employed  the  ingenuity 
of  the  philosophers  at  Alexandria,  down  to  the  times  when 
they  were  superseded  by  the  discussions  on  the  doctrine  of 
the  Trinity,  waged  with  equal  zeal  but  infinitely  worse  temper. 
Every  conflicting  religion  strove  to  claim  him  as  the  grand 
representative  of  their  own  doctrine.  Macrobius  has  pre 
served  one  of  the  most  ingenious  of  these  interpretations,  as 
made  by  the  '  Rationalists,'  a  party  so  strong  amongst  the  later 
Greeks  (I.  20).  "  The  City  of  Alexandria  pays  an  almost 
frantic  worship  to  Serapis  and  Isis,  nevertheless  they  show  that 
all  this  veneration  is  merely  offered  to  the  Sun  under  that  name, 
both  by  their  placing  the  corn-measure  upon  his  head,  and  by 
accompanying  his  statue  with  the  figure  of  an  animal  having 
three  heads  ;  of  these  heads,  the  middle  and  the  largest  one  is  a 

*  The  great  god  of  Assyria,  Adad,  signify  their  influence  upon  the  earth, 

"  The  One,"  the  oracle-giving  Jupiter  who  stood  before  him  in  the  figure  of 

of  Heliopolis,  was  thus   figured  in  Atergatis,    the    rays    in    her    crown 

his    golden    statue     as    a    beardless  pointing    upwards,   to    express    the 

youth,  brandishing  aloft  a  whip,  and  springing  up  of  her  gifts.     She  was 

holding  in  his  left  hand  the  thunder-  supported,    like    Cybele,    upon    the 

bolt  and  wheat-ears.   The  rays  crown-  backs  of  lions, 
ing  his  head  pointed  downwards  to 


lion's,  that  which  rises  on  the  right  is  a  dog's  in  a  peaceable  and 
fawning  attitude ;  whilst  the  left  part  of  the  neck  terminates  in 
that  of  a  ravening  wolf.  All  these  bestial  forms  are  connected 
together  by  the  wreathed  body  of  a  serpent,  which  raises  its  head 
up  towards  the  god's  right  hand,  on  which  side  the  monster  is 
placed.  The  lion's  head  typifies  the  Present,  because  its  con 
dition  between  the  Past  and  the  Future  is  strong  and  fervent. 
The  Past  is  signified  by  the  wolfs  head,  because  the  memory 
of  all  things  past  is  scratched  away  from  us  and  utterly  con 
sumed.  The  emblem  of  the  fawning  dog  represents  the  Future, 
the  domain  of  inconstant  and  flattering  hope.  But  whom 
should  Past,  Present  and  Future  serve  except  their  Authors  ? 
'His  head  crowned  with  the  calathus  typifies  the  height  of  the 
planet  above  us,  also  his  all-powerful  capaciousness,  since  unto 
him  all  things  earthly  do  return,  being  drawn  up  by  the  heat 
he  emits.  Moreover  when  Nicocreon,  tyrant  of  Cyprus,  con 
sulted  Serapis  as  to  which  of  the  gods  he  ought  to  be  accounted, 
ho  received  the  following  response  : — 

"  '  A  god  I  am,  such  as  I  show  to  thee, 
The  starry  heavens  my  head ;  my  trunk  the  sea  ; 
Earth  forms  my  feet;  mine  ears  the  air  supplies; 
The  sun's  far-darting,  brilliant  rays  mine  eyes.'  " 

From  all  this  it  is  evident  that  the  nature  of  Serapis  and  the 
Sun  is  one  and  indivisible.  Again,  Isis  is  universally  worshipped 
as  the  type  of  earth,  or  Nature  in  subjection  to  the  Sun.  For 
this  cause  the  body  of  the  goddess  is  covered  with  continuous  rows 
of  udders,  to  declare  that  the  universe  is  maintained  by  the  per 
petual  nourishing  of  the  Earth  or  Nature."  This  last  curious 
remark  shows  that  Macrobius  regarded  the  Alexandrian  Isis  as 
the  same  with  the  Ephesian  Diana,  for  the  ancient  Isis  of  Egypt 
had  only  the  usual  complement  of  breasts.  This  philosopher 
had  started  with  the  axiom  (I.  17),  "  Omnes  deos  referri  ad 
Solem,"  and  begins  by  demonstrating  from  the  various  epithets 

*  I  cannot  help  suspecting  that  blem  of  the  air,  the  serpent,  accordin 

this    description  supplied    Basilides  to  Herodotus,  was  the   offspring  of 

with    the    idea    of    his    celebrated  earth,   the  breast  of  man   was    the 

Pantkeus,  the   Abraxas-figure.     The  Homeric  attribute  of  Neptune, 
head  of  the  Irird  was  the  fittest  em- 


of  Apollo,  that  Tie  was  the  same  god  with  the  one  styled  the  Sun. 
He  then  proceeds  to  prove  the  same  of  Bacchus,  Hermes, 
Aesculapius,  and  Hercules.  His  ingenious  explanation  of  the 
serpent-entwined  rod  of  Hermes,  and  club  of  Aesculapius,  will  be 
found  applied  further  on  to  the  elucidation  of  the  remarkable 
symbol  on  the  reverse  of  all  the  Chnuphis  amulets.  After  this, 
Macrobius  passes  in  review  the  attributes  and  legends  of  Adonis 
and  Atys,  also  of  Osiris  and  Horus,  and  comes  to  the  same  con 
clusion  concerning  the  real  nature  of  all  these  personages,  add 
ing  parenthetically  a  very  fanciful  exposition  of  the  Signs  of 
the  Zodiac,  as  being  merely  so  many  emblems  of  the  solar  in 
fluence  in  the  several  regions  of  creation.  Nemesis,  Paris, 
Saturn,  Jupiter,  and  finally  the  Assyrian  Adad,  are  all  reduced 
by  him  to  the  same  signification. 

This  brings  us  to  that  most  wondrous  identification  of  all, 
which  Hadrian  mentions  in  a  letter  to  his  brother-in-law 
Servianus,  preserved  by  the  historian  Vopiscus  in  his  Life  of  the 
Tyrant  Saturninus.  "  Those  who  worship  Serapis  are  likewise 
Christians;  even  those  who  style  themselves  the  bishops  of 
Christ  are  devoted  to  Serapis.  The  very  Patriarch  himself,* 
when  he  comes  to  Egypt,  is  forced  by  some  to  adore  Serapis,  by 
others  to  worship  Christ.  There  is  but  one  God  for  them  all, 
Him  do  the  Christians,  Him  do  the  Jews,  Him  do  the  Gentiles, 
all  alike  worship."  Severus  Alexander,  too,  who  daily  paid  his 
devotions  to  Christ  and  Abraham,  did  none  the  less  expend 
large  sums  in  decorating  the  temples  of  Serapis  and  Isis  "  with 
statues,  couches,  and  all  things  pertaining  to  their  Mysteries,"f 
whilst  he  left  the  other  gods  of  Korne  to  take  care  of  them- 

And  as  connected  with  the  same  subject,  it  may  be  here 
observed  that  the  conventional  portrait  of  the  Saviour  is  in  all 
probability  borrowed  from  the  head  of  Serapis,  so  full  of  grave 
and  pensive  majesty.  Of  the  first  converts,  the  Jewish  foredilec- 
tions  were  so  powerful  that  we  may  be  sure  that  no  attempt 
was  made  to  portray  His  countenance  until  many  generations 

*  The  Patriarch  of  Tiberias,  head  f  A  very  favourite  representation 
of  the  Jewish  religion,  after  the  of  Isis  upon  our  talismans  shows  her 
destruction  of  Jerusalem.  reclining  upon  a  couch. 



after  all  who  had  beheld  it  on  earth  had  passed  away.*     Never 
theless,  the  importance  so  long  attached  to  the  pretended  letter  of 
Len  tulus  to  the  emperor,  Tiberius,  describing  Christ's  personal 
appearance,    demands   a   notice   in   this   place.      Its    monkish 
Latinity  and  style  betray  it,  at  first  sight,  for  the  authorship 
of  some   mediaeval   divine.     Yet,  incredible   as   it   may  seem, 
even  a  learned  man  like  Grynaeus  has  been  so  besotted  through 
hie  pious  longing  for  the  reality  of  such  a  record,  as  to  persuade 
himself  that  Lentulus,  a  Eoman  Senator  and  an  eminent  his 
torian,  could  have  written  in  the  exact  phrase  of  a  mendicant 
friar.     "  There  has   appeared   in  our  times,  and  still  lives,  a 
Man  of  great  virtue,  named  Christ  Jesus,  who  is  called  by  the 
Gentiles   a   Prophet    of  Truth,  but  whom   his    own   disciples 
called  the  Son  of  God ;  raising  the  dead,  and  healing  diseases. 
A  man  indeed  of  lofty  stature,  handsome,  having  a  venerable 
countenance,  which  the  beholders  can  both  love  and  fear.     His 
hair   verily  somewhat  wavy  and   curling,  somewhat   brightish 
and  resplendent  in   colour,  flowing  down  upon  his   shoulders, 
having  a  parting  in  the  middle  of  the  head  after  the  fashion 
of  the  Nazarenes,  &c."     (Grynaeus,  '  Orthodoxia  '  I.  p.  2.)    This 
forgery  reminds   one   of  Pliny's   remark,    "  Pariunt   desideria 
non  traditos  vultus,  sicutin  Homero  evenit."    The  wish  is  father 
to  the  image  of  the  venerated  object ;  and  the  conception  is  too 
joyfully  accepted  by  the   loving   soul  for   it   to  trouble   itself 
overmuch   in  scrutinizing  the  legitimacy  of  the  same  :    for,  as 
Martial  exclaims  with  full  truth  "  quis  enirn  darnnet  sua  vota 

But  to  return  to  the  Egypt  of  the  times  of  Gnosticism.  In  the 
very  focus  of  that  theosophy,  Alexandria,  the  syncretistic  sects 
which  sprang  up  so  rankly  there  during  the  three  first  centuries 
of  the  Eoman  empire,  had  good  grounds  for  making  out  Serapis 
a  prototype  of  Christ,  considered  as  Lord  and  Maker  of  all,  and 
Judge  of  the  quick  and  the  dead.  For  the  response  given  to 
Nicocreon,  above  quoted,  evinces  that  the  philosophers  at  least 
saw  in  Serapis  nothing  more  than  the  emblem  of  the  '  Anima 

*  What  proves  the  ^ant  of  any  monuments  in  sculpture  or  painting, 
real  authority  for  the  portraits  of  the  represent  him  as  youthful  and  beard- 
Saviour  is  the  fact  that  the  earliest  Jess. 


Mundi,'  the  Spirit  of  whom  Nature   universal  is  the  body,  for 
they  held  the  doctrine  of 

" the  one  harmonious  whole, 

Whose  body  Nature  is,  and  God  the  soul." 

So  that  by  an  easy  transition  Serapis  came  to  be  worshipped  as 
the  embodiment  of  the  One  Supreme,  whose  representative  on 
earth  was  Christ. 

The  very  construction  of  the  grand  Colossus  of  Serapis  in 
geniously  set  forth  these  ideas  of  his  character.  It  was  formed 
out  of  plates  of  all  the  metals,  artfully  joined  together,  to  typify 
the  harmonious  union  of  different  elements  in  the  fabric  of  the 
universe,  the  "  moles  et  machina  mundi."  This  statue  was  placed 
upon  the  summit  of  an  artificial  hill  (whose  vast  interior  was 
divided  into  vaulted  halls,  containing  the  famous  library),  as 
cended  by  a  flight  of  a  hundred  steps — a  style  of  building  totally 
diverse  from  the  native  Egyptian  and  the  Grecian  model,  but 
exactly  following  the  Indian  usage,  as  may  be  seen  by  the  grand 
pagoda  of  Siva  at  Tanjore,  and  by  the  topes  and  dagolas  of 
the  Buddhists. 

The  remarkable  construction  of  this  Colossus  may  reasonably 
be  supposed  to  have  suggested  to  the  Alexandrian  Jew,  who 
completed  the  Book  of  Daniel,  the  notion  of  the  similarly  com 
pacted  Image  which  figures  in  Nebuchadnezzar's  Dream.  That 
his  description  of  the  latter  was  penned  long  after  the  coming 
of  Serapis  into  that  city  is  manifest  from  the  minute  details 
this  prophet  gives  concerning  the  constant  squabbles  going  on 
between  Antiochus  Epiphanes  and  Ptolemy  Philometor,  his 
nephew ;  together  with  the  final  intervention  of  the  Roman 
Senate.  The  popular  belief  of  the  Alexandrians  (Christian  as 
well  as  pagan)  was  that  the  profanation  of  this  statue  would  be 
the  signal  for  heaven  and  earth  to  collapse  at  once  into  pristine 
chaos — a  notion  bearing  clear  testimony  to  the  grand  idea 
embodied  by  the  figure.  At  last,  however,  although  his  worship, 
thus  defended  by  deep-rooted  fear,  had  been  tolerated  by  the 
Christian  government  long  after  the  other  gods  of  Egypt 
had  been  swept  away,  this  wonderful  Colossus  was  broken 
down  by  "  that  perpetual  enemy  of  peace  and  virtue "  the 

M  2 


Patriarch  Theophilus,  in  the  reign  of  Theodosius ;  and  its  muti 
lated  trunk,  dragged  triumphantly  through  the  streets  "by  the 
mob  of  rejoicing  fanatics,  was  ultimately  buried  in  the  Hippo 

Like  that  of  Mithras,  the  worship  of  Serapis  was  widely 
diffused  over  the  West.  A  very  curious  exemplification  of  this 
is  to  be  found  in  Ammianus'  notice  that  Mederich,  king  of  the 
Alemanni,  had,  when  detained  as  a  hostage  in  Gaul,  been  taught 
certain  Greek  Mysteries,  and  for  that  reason  changed  the 
name  of  his  son  Aganerich  into  Serapion.  But  Serapis  had  a 
natural  claim  to  the  adoration  of  the  Gauls,  who,  as  Caesar  tells 
us,  actually  boasted  of  descent  from  Dis  Pater. 

The  new-comer  from  Sinope  does  not  seem  to  have  brought 
his  name  with  him.  When  Ptolemy  consulted  his  own  priest 
hood  upon  this  important  point,  Manetho  boldly  identified  the 
Pontic  god  with  their  own  Osor-Apis,  chiefly  on  the  score  of  his 
attribute  Cerberus,  which  he  considered  the  counterpart  of  the 
hippopotamus-headed  Typhon  who  attends  Osor-Apis  in  his 
character  of  sovereign  of  the  Lower  World.  This  deity  is  no 
other  than  the  Bull  Apis,  who,  after  death,  assumes  the  figure  of 
Osiris,  the  regular  form  of  Egyptian  apotheosis,  and  so  frequently 
seen  applied  to  deceased  kings.  Osor-Apis,  as  he  now  becomes, 
is  depicted  as  a  man  with  the  head  of  a  bull,  and  carrying  the 
ensigns  by  which  we  usually  recognize  Osiris.  The  god  of 
Alexandria  therefore  differs  in  form  as  widely  as  in  origin  from 
the  original  patron  of  Thebes,  with  whom  he  has  no  other 
affinity  than  in  name,  and  that  rests  only  on  the  arbitrary  inter 
pretation  of  the  Egyptian  priests,  so  successful  in  persuading 
the  Greeks  that  the  mythology  of  the  whole  world  was  but  a 
plagiarism  from  their  own. 

M.  Mariette  in  1860  excavated  the  Theban  Serapeum,  as  it 
was  called  in  Koman  times,  with  its  long  avenue  of  sphinxes ; 
he  also  discovered  the  catacombs  where  the  Apis  Bulls  were 
deposited  after  death,  and  found  there  no  fewer  than  sixty,  two 
of  their  mummies  yet  reposing  undisturbed.  It  is  amusing  to 
notice  how  neatly  the  Greeks  turned  the  Coptic  Osor-Apis  into 
the  more  euphonious  6 



The  ancient  speculations  cited  in  the  preceding  chapter  are 
all  baseless  theories,  due  to  the  ingenious  refinements  of  the 
Alexandrian  literati,  and  springing  out  of  the  system  of 
allegorical  interpretation  in  which  the  New  Platonists  so  much 
delighted.  It  is  evident  that  upon  his  first  introduction  into 
Egypt,  Serapis  was  regarded  by  the  Alexandrians  as  identical 
with  Ai'doneus,  or  Dis,  the  Lord  of  the  Lower  World.  Now,  all 
his  attributes  suggest  him  to  have  been  of  Indian  origin,  and  no 
other  than  Yama,  "Lord  of  Hell,"  attended  by  his  dog 
"  Barbara,"  the  spotted,  who  has  the  epithet  "  Trigira,"  three- 
headed,  and  by  his  serpent  "  Qesha,"  called  "  Regent  of  Hades  ;  " 
in  fact,  some  have  discovered  in  the  name  Serapis*  but  the 
Grecian  form  of  Yama's  epithet,  "  Sraddha-deva,"  Lord  of  the 
obsequies,  that  is,  of  the  funeral  sacrifices  offered  to  the  Pitris 
or  Manes.  Yama  also  is  styled  "  Lord  of  souls,"  and  "  Judge  of 
the  dead ;  "  another  office  assimilating  him  to  Serapis  in  the 
character  under  which  the  latter  came  to  be  specially  regarded 
— a  point,  moreover,  which  at  a  later  date  afforded  stronger 
reasons  for  identifying  him  with  Christ.  A  plausible  etymology 
of  the  name  Serapis  may  be  found  in  another  of  Yama's  epithets, 
"  Asrik-pa  "  the  Blood-drinker.  This  explanation  is  confirmed  to 
some  extent  by  the  ancient  tradition,  of  which  Homer  makes 
such  fine  use  when  he  describes  Ulysses'  mode  of  evoking  the 
ghosts,  and  their  eagerness  to  lap  up  the  life-blood  of  the 
victim  (Od.  xi.  35)  : — 

"  Seizing  the  victim  sheep  I  pierced  their  throats  ; 
Flowed  the  black  blood,  and  filled  the  hollow  trench  ; 
Then  from  the  abyss,  eager  their  thirst  to  slake, 
Came  swarming  up  the  spirits  of  the  dead." 

And   connected   with   the   same   notion   was   the    practice   of 
strewing  roses  over  the  graves  of  departed  friends — 

"  Purpureos  spargam  flores  et  fungar  inani  munere," 
for    (as    Servius    explains   it)   the   red  colour   of    the   flower 

*  It  is  not  improbable  that  the  this  sound ;  and  which  suggested  to 
name  under  which  the  god  was  wor-  Manetho  the  idea  of  identifying  him 
shipped  at  iSinope  had  something  of  with  his  own  Osor-Api. 


represented  blood,  and  thereby  served  as  a  substitute  for  the 
living  victim.* 

This  analogy  between  Yama  and  Serapis  may  be  further 
extended  by  the  consideration  of  certain  other  points  con 
nected  with  the  office  of  the  former  deity.  For  example,  unto 
the  souls  of  the  righteous  he  appears  as  "  Dharma-raja,"  and 
has  a  servant  "  Karma-la  "  (the  Hermes  Psychopompos  of  the 
Greeks),  who  brings  them  into  his  presence  upon  a  self-moving 
car.  But  unto  the  wicked  he  is  "  Yama,"  and  has  for  them 
another  minister,  *•  Kash-Mala,"  who  drags  them  before  him 
with  halters  round  their  necks,  over  rough  and  stony  places. 
Other  titles  of  Yama  are  "Kritanta"  and  "Mrityu."  The 
connection  of  the  latter  with  Mors  is  evident  enough,  making 
it  a  fitting  appellation  for  Dis  (Ditis),  in  which  again  unmis 
takably  lies  the  root  of  our  name  Death,  applied  to  the  same 
Principle  of  Destruction. 

Yama  as  "  Sraddha-deva,"  monarch  of  "  Patala  "  (the  infernal 
regions),  has  for  consort  Bhavani,  who  hence  takes  the  title  of 
"  Patala-devi,"  as  upon  Earth  she  is  "  Bhu-devi,"  in  heaven, 
"  Swardevi."  Her  lord  owns,  besides  (Barbara,  another  dog 
named  "  Qyama,"  the  Blade  One  (now  we  see  wherefore  the 
mediaeval  familiar  spirits  like  Cornelius  Agrippa's  black 
spaniel,  and  Faustus'  "  pudel "  chose  that  particular  figure), 
whom  he  employs  as  the  minister  of  his  vengeance.  As  Judge 
of  Souls  he  displays  two  faces,  the  one  benign,  the  other 
terrific.  Another  of  his  titles  is  "  Kalantika,"  Time  as  the 
Destroyer :  it  can  hardly  be  a  mere  accidental  coincidence  that 
such  was  the  exact  name  given  to  the  head-dress  worn  by  the 
Egyptian  priests  when  officiating — in  later  times  a  purple  cloth 
covering  the  head,  and  falling  down  upon  the  neck,  surmounted 
by  two  plumes. 

*  One    of     the    most    frequented  flowers   included.     Another  well  in 

places  of  pilgrimage  at  Benares   is  the  same  city,  of  supreme  efficacy  for 

the  "  Gyan  Bapi,"  "  Well  of  Know-  the  washing  away  of  all  sin,  is  the 

ledge,"  in  the  depths  whereof  Siva  Manikarnika,  so  called  from  the  ear- 

himself  resides.     It  was  dug  by  the  ring  of  Mahadeva,  which  fell  into  it. 

genius  Eishi,   with  that  gud's  own  Vishnu  had  dug  this  well  with  his 

trident,  to  relieve  the  world  after  P  rJiangra,  quoit,  and  filled  it  with  the 

twelve  years'  drought.     The  pilgrims  luminous  sweat  of  his  body, 
throw  into  it  offerings  of  all  kinds. 


"  Kali-Bhavani,"  the  Destructive  Female  Principle  is  repre 
sented*  in  this  character  with  a  visage  exactly  identical  with 
the  most  ancient  type  of  the  Grecian  Gorgon — such  as  we  still 
behold  it  guarding  the  Etruscan  sepulchres,  and  lowering 
horrifically  upon  the  sacrilegious  intruder ;  as  in  that  notable 
example  in  the  tomb  of  the  Volumni  at  Perugia,  where  it  forms 
the  centrepiece  of  the  ceiling  of  the  grand  hall.  Formed  of  a 
Tiger's  head  in  its  first  conception  by  the  excited  fancy  of 
Hindoo  superstition,  the  Etruscan  demon  still  exhibits  the 
same  protruded  tongue,  huge  tusks,  glaring  eyes,  wings  in 
the  hair,  and  serpents  twining  about  the  throat.  Of  such 
aspect  was  doubtless  that  "  Gorgon's  Head,  the  work  of  the 
Cyclops,"  which  was  shown  to  Pausanias  as  the  most  notable 
object  in  the  Argive  Acropolis — a  proof  that  the  earliest  essays 
of  Pelasgic  art  had  been  made  in  realising  this  idea.  Again,  in 
that  most  ancient  monument  of  Grecian  art,  the  Coffer  of 
Cypselus  (made  before  B.C.  600),  the  same  traveller  states 
(v.  19.),  "  Behind  Polynices  stands  a  female  figure,  having  tusks 
as  savage  as  those  of  a  wild  beast,  and  the  nails  of  her  fingers 
like  unto  talons :  the  inscription  above  her,  they  tell  you  means 
Kvjp  (Fate)."  This  name  therefore  must  have  been  a  foreign 
word,  translated  to  Pausanias  by  the  Custodian  of  the  Temple. 
Plutarch  (Life  of  Aratus)  supplies  another  singular  illustration 
of  the  Worship  of  these  terrific  idols  of  the  olden  time  in 
the  most  polished  ages  of  Greece.  The  Artemis  of  Pellene  was 
of  so  dreadful  an  aspect  that  none  dared  to  look  upon  her :  and 
when  carried  in  procession,  her  sight  blasted  the  very  tree  and 
crops  as  she  passed.  When  the  ^Etolians  were  actually  in 
possession  of  and  plundering  the  town,  her  priestess,  by  bringing 
this  image  out  from  the  shrine,  struck  them  with  such  terror 
that  they  made  a  precipitate  retreat.  This  Artemis  conse 
quently  must  have  been  a  veritable  Hecate,  a  true  Queen  of 
Hell,  an  idol  moreover  of  wood,  goavov  (like  her  of  Ephesus),  other 
wise  the  priestess  had  not  been  able  to  wield  it  so  effectually 
to  scare  away  the  marauders.  Again,  the  recorded  dream  of 
Cimon,  which  presaged  his  death,  was  that  a  black  bitch  bayed 


Roth,  '  Zeitschrift  dor   Morgenlandischen  Gcsollschaft,'  iv.  p.  425,  and 
c  in  Koyal  Asiatic  Society's  Journal,  i.  p.  287. 


at  him  in  a  half-human  voice,  "  Come  to  me  ;  I  and  my  whelps 
will  receive  thee  gladly."  The  Hellenic  gods,  now  and  then 
shew  themselves  tinder  an  aspect  strangely  at  variance  with 
their  usual  benevolent  and  jovial  character.  A  true  Siva  was 
that  **  Dionysos  Omestes  "  (The  Cannibal),  unto  whom  Themi- 
stocles,  forced  by  the  Diviners,  sacrificed  the  three  sons  of 
Sandauce,"own  sister  to  Xerxes,  when  taken  prisoners  on  the 
eve  of  the  Battle  of  Salamis.  It  must  be  remembered  that 
tradition  made  Perseus  bring  back  the  Gorgon's  Head,  trophy 
of  his  success,  from  Ethiopia,  a  synonym  at  first  for  the 
remotest  East — it  being  only  in  Roman  times  that  "  Ethiopia  " 
was  restricted  to  a  single  province  of  Africa.  The  liarpe  too, 
the  weapon  lent  to  the  hero  by  Hermes,  is  from  its  form 
no  other  than  the  ankusa,  elephant-hook,  which  is  carried  for 
attribute  by  so  many  of  the  Hindoo  Deities.*  '  Sufficient  ex 
planation  this  why  Persephone  (Destroying-slayer}  was  assigned 
by  the  earliest  Greeks  as  Consort  to  Aidoneus ;  and  also  why 
Ulysses,  on  his  visit  to  her  realms,  should  have  been  alarmed, 

"  Lest  from  deep  Hell  Persephone  the  dread 
Should  send  the  terror  of  the  Gorgon's  Head." 

From  the  influence  of  this  terror  upon  the  otherwise  un 
daunted  wanderer,  these  same  two  lines  came  to  be  considered 
as  endued  with  a  wonderfully  strong  repellent  power,  for 
Marcellus  Empiricus  prescribes  them  to  be  whispered  into  the 
ear  of  any  one  choking  from  a  bone  or  other  matter  sticking  in 
his  throat;  or  else  to  write  them  out  on  a  paper  to  be  tied 
around  his  throat,  "  Which  will  be  equally  effectual." 

Lucian  remarks  (' Philopatris, ')  that  the  reason  why  the 
ancient  warriors  bore  the  Gorgon's  Head  upon  their  shields 
was  because  it  served  for  an  amulet  against  dangers  of  every 
sort;  on  the  same  account,  in  all  likelihood,  was  it  put  for 
device  on  many  archaic  coinages ;  Populonia,  Paros,  &c.  For 

*  The  Gorgon  of  the  gems  ('Ant.  of  "Keeper  of  the  Gate."     Now  we 

Gems,'  PI.  XX.,  4),  and  of  the  coin  see  why  her  head  decorated  the  pe- 

of  Neapolis  is  regularly  to  be  seen,  to  diluents  of  temples  in  Greece  and 

this  day,  sculptured  in  relief  upon  the  Rome,  and  formed  the  keystone  of 

pillar  set  up  on  each  side  of  the  gates  triumphal  arches  even  in  the  time  of 

of  Hindoo  temples,  as  I  am  informed  Constantino,  as  the  lately-discovered 

by  our  great  oriental  archaeologist,  entrance  to  his  "  Forum  of  Taurus  " 

Col.  Pearse.    She  goes  by  the  name  convincingly  attests. 


what  could  be  more  effective  for  the  purpose  of  scaring  away  all 
evil  spirits  than  the  visible  countenance  of  the  Queen  of  Hell  ? 
Timomachus  the  painter  (contemporary  with  the  first  Caesar) 
made  his  reputation  by  such  a  subject,  "  praecipue  tamen  ars  ei 
favisse  in  Gorgone  visa  est,"  are  the  words  of  Pliny,  which 
masterpiece  is  supposed  the  original  of  the  horrific  fresco  dis 
covered  at  Pompeii,  the  finest  example  of  the  art  that  has 
reached  our  times.  Many  centuries  after  the  fall  of  Paganism 
did  this  image  retain  its  power;  Miinter  figures  (' Sinnbilder 
der  Christen')  a  Gorgon's  Head  surrounded  by  the 
—  Ytos  0eou  •  MeAau/r;  /xeAati/o/xeVr?,  cos  o<£ts  etAa  ^crv^J,  a>s 
AeW  /fyvxrjo-ei,  /cat  a>s  dpi/os  /coi/tTJo-ei.  "  Black,  blackened 
one,  as  a  serpent  thou  coilest  thyself  quietly,  thou  shalt  roar 
like  a  lion,  thou  shalt  go  to  sleep  like  a  lamb !  "  The  same 
inscription,  but  so  barbarously  spelt  as  to  be  unintelligible, 
probably  forms  the  legend  upon  the  famous  Seal  of  St.  Serva- 
tius,  preserved  in  Maestricht  Cathedral.  The  seal  is  alarge  disc 
of  green  jasper,  engraved  on  both  sides,  and  is  attached  to  a 
small  slab  of  porphyry,  traditionally  passing  for  the  Saint's 
portable  altar.  Servatius  died  A.D.  389,  but  the  workmanship 
of  his  seal  betokens  the  tenth  or  eleventh  century  for  its  origin. 
An  important  evidence  of  the  veneration  of  the  Christian 
Byzantines  for  their  guardian  demon  is  afforded  by  the  ex 
humation  (Spring  of  1869)  in  the  Ahmedan,  Constantinople, 
of  the  Colossal  Gorgonion,  six  feet  high  from  chin  to  brow, 
carved  in  almost  full  relief  on  each  side  of  an  immense  marble 
block,  which  once  formed  the  keystone  of  the  gateway  to 
the  Forum  of  Constantine.  Though  the  execution  betrays  the 
paralysis  of  the  Decline,  yet  the  general  effect  still  remains 
grandiose  and  awe-inspiring. 

Having  thus  traced  Bhavani  in  her  progress  from  Archaic 
Greek  to  Byzantine  times,  let  us  observe  the  part  she  plays  in 
the  superstitions  of  Imperial  Eome.  The  idea,  full  of  novel 
horrors,  was  gladly  seized  by  the  extravagant  genius  of  Lucan* 

*  Who  had  in  all  probability  learnt       with  all  persons  making  pretensions 
them  at  some  of  the  Mysteries,  all  of      to  the  title  of  philosophers. 
Asiatic  origin,  so  popular  in  his  times 


to  animate  the  exorcisms  of  his  Thessalian   sorceress   Erictho 
(Pharsalia,  vi.  695). 

"  And  Chaos,  ever  seeking  to  enfold 
Unnumbered  worlds  in  thy  confusion  old  : 
And  Earth's  dull  god,  who  pining  still  beneath 

Life's  lingering  burthen,  piriest  for  tardy  death. 

Tisiphone,  and  Thou  her  sister  fell, 

Megaera,  thus  regardless  of  my  spell, 

Why  haste  ye  not  with  sounding  scourge  to  chase 

The  soul  accursed  through  hell's  void  formless  space? 

Say,  must  I  call  you  by  the  names  your  right, 

And  drag  the  hell-hounds  forth  to  th'  upj>er  light  ? 

Midst  death  I'll  dog  your  steps  at  every  turn, 

Chase  from  each  tomb,  and  drive  from  every  urn. 

And  thou,  still  wont  with  visage  not  thine  own, 

To  join  the  gods  round  the  celestial  throne, 

Though  yet  thy  pallor  doth  the  truth  betray, 

And  hint  the  horrors  of  thy  gloomy 

Thee,  Hecate,  in  thy  true  form  I'll  show, 

Nor  let  thee  change  the  face  thou  wearest  below. 

I'll  tell  what  feasts  thy  lingering  steps  detain 

In  earth's  deep  centre,  and  thy  will  enchain; 

Tell  what  the  pleasures  that  thee  so  delight, 

And  what  tie  binds  thee  to  the  King  of  Night ; 

And  by  what  union  wert  thou  so  defiled, 

Thy  very  mother  would  not  claim  her  child, 

— I'll  burst  thy  caves,  the  world's  most  evil  Lord, 

And  pour  the  sun  upon  thy  realms  abhorred, 

Striking  thee  lifeless  by  the  sudden  day, 

If  still  reluctant  my  behests  to  obey. 

Or  must  I  call  Him  at  whose  whispered  Name 

Earth  trembles  awestruck  through  her  inmost  frame  V 

Who  views  the  Gorgon's  face  without  a  veil, 

And  with  her  own  scourge  makes  Erinnys  quail ; 

To  whom  the  abyss,  unseen  by  you,  is  given, 

To  which  your  regions  are  the  upper  heaven, 

Who  dares  the  oath  that  binds  all  gods  to  break, 

And  marks  the  sanction  of  the  Stygian  lake  ?  '? 

All  these  personifications  are  in  a  spirit  quite  foreign  to  that 
of  Grecian  mythology,  but  thorougly  imbued  with  that  of  India. 
Lucan's  Chaos  is  the  Hindoo  Destroyer,  the  Negro  giant,  "  Maha- 
Pralaya,"  swallowing  up  the  gods  themselves  in  his  wide-gaping 
jaws.  His  "  Hector  terrae  "  pining  for  the  promised  annihila 
tion  that  is  so  long  in  coming,  finds  no  parallel  in  classical 


religions,*  and  his  character  remains  to  mo  utterly  inexplicable. 
His  Furies  "  hunting  souls  to  make  them  fly,"  instead  of  being 
like  the  old  awful  Eumenides,  the  impartial  avengers  of  guilt, 
are  mere  demons,  or  churchyard  ghouls.  But  his  Hecate  is 
manifestly  Bhavani  herself;  her  "  facies  Erebi "  being  the 
Gorgonian  aspect  which  the  latter  was  when  reigning  in 
44  Yama-putri,"  but  which  she  puts  off  when  presiding  on 
earth,  or  in  heaven ;  whilst  the  "  infernal  banquets  "  that  so 
enchant  her  are  the  human  sacrifices  regularly  offered  up  by 
Bhavaiii's  special  votaries,  the  Thugs.  In  the  first,  or  infernal 
aspect,  a  true  "  facies  Erebi,"  she  is  depicted  wearing  a  neck 
lace  of  human  skulls  and  grasping  in  each  hand  a  naked 
victim  ready  to  be  devoured.  She  probably  still  shows  us  in 
what  shape  the  Artemis  of  Pallene  appeared  to  scare  away  the 
^Etolian  plunderers.  The  title  of  her  lord  "  pessimus  mundi 
arbiter  "  is  far  more  applicable  to  the  Destroyer  Siva  than  to  the 
inoffensive  Pluto  of  the  Greeks.  Unless  indeed  the  Neronean 
poet  may  have  heard  something  of  the  Demiurgus  Ildabaoth, 
"  Son  of  Darkness,  or  Erebus,"  existing  under  a  different  name 
in  some  ancient  theogony.  The  Gnostics  did  not  invent — they 
merely  borrowed  and  applied. 

Bhavani,  in  her  character  of  "  Kali,"  is  sculptured  as  a 
terminal  figure,  the  exact  counterpart  in  outline  of  the  Ephesian 
Diana.  Even  the  stags,  those  remarkable  adjuncts  to  tho 
shoulders  of  the  latter,  are  seen  in  a  similar  position  spinging 
from  Kali's  hands.  The  multiplied  breasts  of  the  Ephesian 
statue  were  also  given  to  the  Alexandrian  Isis,  who  is  allowed 
by  Creuzer  and  the  rest  to  be  the  Hindoo  goddess  in  her 
character  of  "  Parvati."  Now  this  remark  applies  only  to  her 
statue  in  the  Serapeum,  not  to  those  belonging  to  the  ancient 
Pharaonic  religion ;  and  Macrobius's  expressions  show  that  her 
real  character  there  was  as  much  a  matter  of  dispute  as  that  of 
her  companion,  Serapis.  Again,  Diana  as  Hecate  or  Proserpine, 
belongs  to  the  infernal  world  over  which  she  rules  with  the 
same  authority  as  Bhavani  over  Yama-Putri.  The  Ephesian 

*  Unless,  perhaps,  obscurely  sha-  '•  Orcus  arid  Hades  and  the  dreaded 

dowed  forth  by  Hesiod,  from  whom  Name 

Milton   drew  his    grand  picture   of  Of  Demogorgon." 
Chaos,  on  whom  wait — 


image,  made  of  cypress  wood,  had  "  fallen  down  from  heaven," 
which  only  means,  had  come  from  some  very  remote  and 
unknown  source. 


Innumerable  are  the  statues,  bas-reliefs,  and  gems,  many  of 
them  in  the  best  syle  of  Koman  art,  emanating  from  the 
worship  of  Serapis ;  a  thing  not  to  be  wondered  at  in  the  case 
of  a  divinity  whose  idea  involved  the  two  strongest  principles 
that  actuate  the  conduct  of  mankind — the  love  of  riches  and  the 
fear  of  death.  For  the  god  of  the  subterranean  world  was 
necessarily  lord  also  of  its  treasures  ;  a  truth  expressed  by  the 
dedication  to  Serapis  of  an  altar  as  "  lovi  custodi  et  genio 
thesaurorum"  (Winckelmann,  'Pierres  Gravees  de  Stosch,' 
p.  83).  And  similarly  the  older  Koman  Pluto  takes  the  title  of 
"  Jupiter  Stygius  ;  "  but  the  comprehensiveness  of  the  idea  as 
expanded  by  the  monotheistic  tendency  of  later  times  is  most 
fully  manifested  by  the  invocation  (Raspe,  No.  1490)  €10  Z€YC 
Jupiter,  Serapis,  Holy  Name,  Sabaoth,  the  Light,  the  Day- 
spring,  the  Earth ! " 

Talismanic  gems  very  commonly  bear  the  full  length  figure, 
or  the  bust  of  Serapis,  with  the  legend  6IC  ©GOG  CAPAHIC 
(often  abbreviated  into  €  •  0-  c),  "  There  is  but  one  God,  and  ho 
is  Serapis:"  €IC  ZCON  ©6OC,  "The  One  Living  God."  Some 
times  the  purpose  of  the  amulet  is  distinctly  expressed  by  the 
inscription,  NIKAO  CAPAHIC  TON  <1>QONON,  "Baffle  the  Evil- 
eye,  0  Serapis : "  or  in  the  curious  example  published  by 
Caylus,  where  the  god  stands  between  Venus  and  Horus,  and 
the  legend  KATA  XPHMATICMON  intimates  that  the  gem  had 
been  "  so "  engraved  in  consequence  of  a  vision  or  other 
divine  intimation.  Around  his  bust  on  a  jasper  (Praun) 
appears  the  invocation,  convincing  proof  of  his  supposed 
supremacy,  ct>YAACC€  AIA,  "  Protect  Jupiter,"  the  ancient 
kin^  of  heaven  being  now  degraded  to  the  rank  of  an 
astral  genius  and  benignant  horoscope.  Invocations  like  the 


above  bear  the  unmistakable  stamp  of  the  age  when  the  old, 
liberal,  mythology  of  the  West,  which  had  pictured  Heaven  as 
a  well-ordered  monarchy  peopled  by  innumerable  deities,  each 
one  having  his  own  proper  and  undisputed  position  therein, 
was  fast  giving  place  to  the  gloomy  superstitions  of  Syria, 
which  made  the  tutelary  divinity  of  each  nation  or  sect  the 
sole  god  of  Heaven,  condemning  those  of  all  other  races  as  mere 
deceivers  and  evil  spirits. 

There  are,  however,  many  gems,  fine  both  as  to  material  and 
workmanship,  which  give  us,  besides  Serapis,  the  primitive 
Egyptian  gods  exactly  as  they  appear  in  the  most  ancient 
monuments,  but  engraved  in  the  unmistakable  style  of  Roman 
art.  Most  of  these  are  to  be  referred  to  the  efforts  of  Hadrian 
to  resuscitate  the  forms  of  that  old  religion  whose  life  had  long 
before  passed  away  in  this  equally  with  the  grander  department 
of  sculpture.  Under  his  zealous  patronage,  the  religion  of  the 
Pharaohs  blazed  up  for  a  moment  with  a  brilliant  but  factitious 
lustre,  a  phenomenon  often  observed  to  precede  the  extinction 
of  a  long  established  system.*  To  this  period  belongs  a 
beautiful  sard  of  my  own,  which  represents  Serapis  enthroned 
exactly  as  Macrobius  describes  him,  whilst  in  front  stands  Isis, 
holding  in  one  hand  the  sistrum,  in  the  other  a  wheatsheaf, 
with  the  legend,  HKYPIAGICIC  ATNH-t  "Immaculate  is  our 
Lady  Isis !  "  This  address  is  couched  in  the  exact  words  applied 
later  to  the  personage  who  succeeded  to  the  form,  titles, 
symbols  and  ceremonies  of  Isis  with  even  less  variation  than 
marked  the  other  interchange  alluded  to  above.  The  "Black 
Virgins"  so  highly  venerated  in  certain  French  Cathedrals 
during  the  long  night  of  the  Middle  Ages,  proved  when  at  last 
examined  by  antiquarian  eyes  to  be  basalt  statues  of  the 
Egyptian  goddess,  which  having  merely  changed  the  name, 
continued  to  receive  more  than  pristine  adoration.  Her 
devotees  carried  into  the  new  priesthood  the  ancient  badges  of 
their  profession ;  "  the  obligation  to  celibacy,"  the  tonsure,  the 

*  Sbering,  in  his   'Benares,'  ob-  throw  of   Buddhism;    and  yet  the 

serves  that  the    Hindoos    are    now  religion  itself  is  utterly  worn  out. 

building  and  restoring  temples  every-  f  In  inscriptions  of  this  period  the 

where  with  greater  zeal  and    cost  long  I  is  usually  written  El. 
than  at  ai/y  time  since  the  final  over- 


bell,  and  the  surplice — omitting  unfortunately  the  frequent  and 
complete  ablutions  enjoined  by  the  older  ritual.  The  holy  image 
still  moves  in  procession  as  when  Juvenal  laughed  at  it  (vi.  530), 
"  Escorted  by  the  tonsured,  surpliced,  train."  Even  her  proper 
title  •'  Domina,"  exact  translation  of  the  Sanscrit  Isi,  survives 
with  slight  change,  in  the  modern  "  Madonna  "  (Mater-Domina). 
By  a  singular  permutation  of  meaning  the  flower  borne  in  the 
hand  of  each,  the  lotus,  former  symbol  of  perfection  (because  in 
leaf,  flower,  fruit,  it  gave  the  figure  of  the  Circle,  as  Jamblichus 
explains  it),  and  therefore  of  fecundity,  is  now  interpreted 
as  signifying  the  opposite  to  the  last — virginity  itself.  The 
tinkling  sistrum,  so  well  pleasing  to  Egyptian  ears,  has  unluckily 
found  a  substitute  in  that  most  hideous  of  all  noise-makers,  the 
clangorous  bell.  But  this  latter  instrument  came  directly 
from  the  Buddhistic  ritual  in  which  it  forms  as  essential  a  part 
of  the  religion  as  it  did  in  Celtic  Christianity,  where  the  Holy 
Bell  was  the  actual  object  of  worship  to  the  new  converts.  The 
bell  in  its  present  form,  was  unknown  to  the  Greeks  and 
Eomans :  its  normal  shape  is  Indian,  and  the  first  true  bell- 
founders  were  the  Buddhist  Chinese.  Again  relic-worship  became, 
after  the  third  century,  the  chief  form  of  Christianity  through 
out  the  world ;  which  finds  its  parallel  in  the  fact  that  a  frag 
ment  of  a  bone  of  a  Buddha  (that  is,  holy  man  in  whom  the 
deity  had  dwelt  during  his  life)  is  actually  indispensable  for 
the  consecration  of  a  dagobali,  or  temple  of  that  religion ;  equally 
as  a  similar  particle  of  saintliness  is  a  sine  qua  non  for  the 
setting-up  of  a  Eoman-Catholic  altar. 

Very  curious  and  interesting  would  it  be  to  pursue  the 
subject,  and  trace  how  much  of  Egyptian,  and  second-hand 
Indian,  symbolism  has  passed  over  into  the  possession  of  a 
church  that  would  be  beyond  measure  indignant  at  any  re 
clamation  on  the  part  of  the  rightful  owners.  The  high  cap 
and  hooked  staff  of  the  Pharaonic  god  become  the  mitre  and 
crosier  of  the  bishop;  the  very  term,  Nun,  is  Coptic,  and  witk 
its  present  meaning :  the  erected  oval  symbol  of  productive 
Nature,  christened  into  the  Vesica  piscis,  becomes  the  proper 
framework  for  pictures  of  the  Divinity  :  the  Crux  ansata,  that 
very  expressive  emblem  of  the  union  of  the  Male  and  Female 



Principles,  whence  comes  all  Life,  and  therefore  placed  as  the 
symbol  of  Life  in  the  hands  of  gods,  now,  by  simple  inversion, 
changes  into  the  orb  and  cross,  the  recognised  distinction  of 

But  to  give  a  last  glance  at  Serapis  and  his  attributes  :  his 
bust  on  gems  is  often  accompanied  by -a  figure  resembling  a 
short  truncheon  from  the  top  of  which  spring  three  leaves,  or 
spikes.  Can  it  be  some  plant  sacred  to  the  god,  or  else  some 
instrument  of  power  ? — certain  it  is  that  Iva,  Assyrian  god  of 
Thunder,  carries  in  his  hand  a  fulmen  of  somewhat  similar  form 
in  the  Ninivitish  sculptures.  A  dwarf  column,  supporting  a 
globe,  a  corded  bale,  the  letter  M,*  are  all  frequently  to  be  seen 
in  the  same  companionship.  Another  symbol  is  of  such  mighty 
import  in  the  domains  of  the  Lord  of  Souls,  that  its  discussion 
may  fairly  claim  to  itself  the  space  of  the  following  section. 

*  Perhaps  the  Greek  numeral  =40, 
which  was  the  number  sacred  to  the 
Assyrian  Hoa,  god  of  Water.  A  con 
jecture,  therefore,  may  be  hazarded 

that  these  figures  symbolise  The 
Four  Elements  under  the  protection 
of  the  supreme  Lord,  Serapis. 

FIG.  7. 



Macrobius  seems  to  afford  us  some  clue  for  solving  this 
enigma  by  his  remarks  upon  the  true  universality  of  the  sun- 
worship  under  different  names  (Sat.  i.  19).  "  That  under  the 
form  of  Mercury  the  Sun  is  really  worshipped  is  evident 
also  from  the  Caduceus  which  the  Egyptians  have  fashioned  in 
the  shape  of  two  dragons  (asps),  male  and  female  joined  together, 
and  consecrated  to  Mercury.  These  serpents  in  the  middle 
parts  of  their  volume  are  tied  together  in  the  knot  called  the 
4  Knot  of  Hercules ; '  whilst  their  upper  parts  bending  back 
wards  in  a  circle,  by  pressing  their  mouths  together  as  if  kissing 
complete  the  circumference  of  the  circle;  and  their  tails  are 
carried  back  to  touch  the  staff  of  the  Caduceus ;  and  adorn  the 
latter  with  wings  springing  out  of  the  same  part  of  the  staff. 
The  meaning  of  the  Caduceus  with  reference  to  the  nativity  of 
man,  technically  termed  his  genesis  (or  horoscope),  is  thus 
explained  by  the  Egyptians :  they  teach  that  four  deities  preside 
and  attend  at  man's  birth— the  Daimon  (his  genius),  Fortune, 
Love,  and  Necessity.  By  the  two  first  of  these  they  hold  that 
the  Sun  and  the  Moon  are  meant ;  because  the  Sun,  as  the 
author  of  spirit,  heat,  and  light,  is  the  producer  and  guardian 
of  human  life,  and  therefore  is  esteemed  the  Daimon  that  is  the 
god  of  the  person  born.  The  Moon  is  the  Fortune,  because  she 
is  the  president  over  our  bodies  which  are  the  sport  of  a  variety 
of  accidents.  Love  is  signified  by  the  kissing  of  the  serpents  ; 
Necessity,  by  the  knot  in  which  they  are  tied.  The  reason  for 
adding  the  wings  has  been  fully  discussed  above.  For  a  symbol 
of  this  nature  the  convolution  of  the  serpents  has  been  selected 
in  preference  to  anything  else,  because  of  the  flexuosity  of  the 
course  of  both  these  luminaries.  From  this  cause  it  conies, 
that  the  serpent  is  attached  to  the  figures  both  of  Aesculapius 
and  of  Hygiea,  because  these  deities  are  explained  as  expressing 
the  nature  of  the  Sun  and  the  Moon.  For  Aesculapius  is  the 
health-giving  influence  proceeding  out  of  the  substance  of  the 


Sun,  that  benefits  the  souls  and  bodies  of  mortals.*     Ilygieia 
again  is  the  influence  of  the  nature  of  the  Moon,  by  which  the 
bodies  of  things  animated  are  holpen,  being  strengthened  by 
her  health-giving  sway.     For  this  reason,  therefore,  the  figure 
of  the  serpent  is  attached  to  the  statues  of  both  deities,  because 
they  bring  it  about  that  our  bodies  strip  off,  as  it  were,  the 
slough  of  their   maladies,  and    are    restored    to  their  pristine 
vigour,  just   as    serpents    renew   their   youth    every   year,    by 
casting  off  the  slough  of  old  age.     And  the  figure  of  the  serpent  is 
explained  as  an  emblem  of  the  Sun  himself  for  the  reason  that 
the  Sun  is  perpetually  returning  out  of,  as  it  were,  the  old  age 
of  his  lowest  setting,  up  to  his  full  meridian  height  as  if  to  the 
vigour  of  youth.     Moreover,  that   the    dragon    is    one  of  the 
chiefest  emblems  of  the  Sim,  is  manifest  from  the  derivation  of 
the  name,  it  being  so  called   from  Sep/ceu/,  '  to  see.'     For  the}' 
teach    that   this   serpent,  by  his  extremely  acute  and   never- 
sleeping  sight,  typifies  the  nature  of  the  luminary;    and  on 
this  account  the  guardianship  of  temples,  shrines,  oracles,  and 
treasures  is  assigned  to  dragons.     That  Aesculapius  is  the  same 
with  Apollo  is  further  proved  by  this  fact,  not  merely  that  he 
is  reputed  the  son  of  the  latter,  but  because  he  also  is  invested 
with   the   privilege   of  divination.      For   Apollodorus,    in    his 
Treatise  on  Theology,  lays  down  that  Aesculapius  presides  over 
augury  and  oracles.     And  no  wonder;  seeing  that  the  sciences 
of  medicine  and  of  divination  are  cognate  sciences  :  for  medicine 
predicts  the  changes   for  good  or  ill  about  to  succeed  in   the 
human  body.     As  Hippocrates  hath  it,  the  physician  should  be 
competent  to  predicate  of  his  patient  'both  his  present,  his 
past  and  future  condition,'  which  is  the  same  thing  as  divination 
which  foreknows,  as  Homer  says, 

'The  things  tint  be,  that  shall  be,  and  that  were.'" 

It  has  been  already  stated  how,  in  the  Mithraic  worship,  the 
image,  surrounded  from  foot  to  head  by  the  spiral  convolutions 
of  the  serpent,  had  become  the  established  emblem  of  the  deity 
himself.  The  incidental  remark  in  the  above  citation,  that  the 

*  Or  in  modern  scientific  phrase,  Aesculapius  is  but  another  name  for 



flexuous  motion  of  the  reptile  represented  to  the  Egyptians,  the 
annual  course  of  the  sun,  affords  the  sufficient  reason  why  his 
image  should  be  thus  encircled  by  so  significant  an  attribute. 
Taking  therefore  into  account  the  fact  that  the  disputed  symbol 
we  are  considering  was  by  its  nature  primarily  confined  to 
talismans  designed  for  medical  agents,  there  is  at  once  sufficient 
reason  to  suppose  it  connected  with  the  worship  of  Aesculapius ; 
and  secondly,  as  it  always  appears  in  such  cases  in  company  with 
the  Agathodaemon,  the  undoubted  emblem  of  the  Solar  god,  it 
may  be  inferred  to  be  either  a  symbol  or  a  hieroglyphical 
representation  in  little  of  the  same  type.  In  other  words,  the 
figure  signifies  nothing  more  than  a  serpent-entwined  wand, 
and  its  sense  only  contains  an  allusion  to  the  principal  visible 
manifestation  of  the  nature  of  the  Sun.  But  this  point  must  be 
left  for  fuller  examination  in  its  connexion  with  the  hitherto 
unexplained  Sigil  which  invariably  makes  its  appearance  on  the 
reverse  of  the  Chnuphis  talismans,  and  which  therefore  must 
have  been  regarded  as  an  essential  element  in  their  potency. 

FIG.  8. 



The  King  of  the  Shades  has  formed  the  subject  of  the  pre 
ceding  investigation.  The  natural  sequence  of  ideas  requires  us 
to  consider  by  what  visible  form  ancient  imagination  expressed 
the  direct  agency  of  his  power,  and  represented  to  the  eye  the 
unwelcome  apparition  of  the  "  Satolles  Orel." 

Mingling  among  the  Cupids,  whether  sculptured  or  glyptic, 
and  easy  to  be  mistaken  for  one  of  the  sportive  group  by  the 
casual  observer,  comes  the  most  popular  antique  embodiment  of 
what  to  our  notions  is  the  most  discordant  of  all  ideas.  He  can 
only  be  distinguished  from  the  God  of  Love  by  observing  his 
pensive  attitude;  his  action  of  extinguishing  his  torch  either  by 
striking  the  blazing  end  against  the  ground  or  by  trampling  it 
out  with  the  foot ;  otherwise  he  leans  upon  it  inverted,  with 
folded  wings,  and  arms  and  legs  crossed  in  the  attitude  of 
profound  repose.  At  other  times  he  is  divested  of  wings,  to 
typify  the  end  of  all  movement,  and  whilst  he  quenches  his 
torch  with  one  hand,  he  holds  behind  him  with  the  other  the 
large  hoop,  annus  (which  the  Grecian  'EvtWos  carries  before 
him),  to  signify  that  for  his  victim  no  more  shall  the  year 
roll  on. 

To  understand  how  so  charming  a  type  came  to  be  appro 
priated  to  such  a  signification,  it  is  necessary  to  cast  off  modern 
associations,  and  to  recollect  that  to  the  ancient  mind,  arguing 
merely  from  the  analogy  of  Nature,  death  presented  itself  as 
merely  the  necessary  converse  of  birth,  and  consequently  carried 
no  terror  in  the  thought—'-  nullique  ea  tristis  imago,"  as  Statius 
happily  words  it.  For  it  implied  nothing  worse  than  the 
return  to  the  state  of  unconsciousness,  such  as  was  before 
Being  commenced  ;  or,  as  1'liny  clearly  puts  the  case,  "  Unto  all 
the  state  of  being  after  the  last  day  as  the  same  as  it  was  before 
the  first  day  of  life;  neither  is  there  any  more  sensation  in 

N  2 


either  body  or  soul  after  death  than  there  was  before  life." 
On  this  account  the  mere  return,  as  Byron  hath  it — 

"  To  be  the  nothing  that  I  was, 
Ere  born  to  life  and  living  woe," 

inspired  no  fears  beyond  those  springing  from  the  natural 
instinct  of  self-preservation.  Many  carried  this  indifference 
to  the  opposite  extreme — exemplified  in  the  trite  story  of  the 
Thracians  lamenting  on  the  occasion  of  a  birth,  and  rejoicing 
on  that  of  a  death  in  the  family.  Pliny  boldly  declares  that 
the  greatest  favour  Nature  has  bestowed  on  man  is  the  short 
ness  of  his  span  of  life;  whilst  the  later  Platonists,  as  seen 
in  that  curious  chapter  of  Macrobius,  "  On  the  descent  of  the 
Soul,"  termed  the  being  born  into  this  world  "  spiritual 
death,"  and  dying,  "spiritual  birth."  But  after  the  ancient 
order  of  ideas  had  been  totally  revolutionised — when  the  death 
of  the  body  came  to  be  looked  upon  as  the  punishment  of 
Original  Sin,  and  as  the  infraction,  not  the  fulfilment  of  a 
natural  law — the  notion  necessarily  assumed  a  more  horrific 
aspect;  which  again  was  exaggerated  to  the  utmost  of  their 
power  by  the  new  teachers,  for  it  supplied  them  with  the  most 
potent  of  all  engines  for  the  subjugation  of  the  human  soul— 
"  ^Eternas  qnoniam  pcenas  in  morte  timendum."  The  ancient 
type,  therefore,  which  implied  nothing  but  peace  and  unbroken 
repose,  was  therefore  at  once  discarded,  as  totally  inconsistent 
with  the  altered  view  of  the  reality.  Add  to  this  the  fact  that 
everything  in  the  shape  of  Cupid  had  been  forcibly  enrolled 
amongst  the  Cherubim  and  Seraphim,  and  had  thereby  received 
a  character  yet  more  foreign  to  that  of  the  newly-created  King 
of  Terrors. 

Hence  the  Christians  were  driven  to  seek  in  the  ancient 
iconology  for  a  more  fitting  representation  of  the  offspring  and 
avenger  of  transgression — something  that  should  be  equally 
ghastly  and  terror-inspiring — and  such  a  representative  they 
found  made  to  their  hand  in  the  former  way  of  picturing  a 
Larva,  or  bad  man's  ghost.  This  had  always  been  depicted  as 
a  skeleton,  and  such  a  figure  was  recommended  by  old  asso 
ciation  to  their  minds  in  the  times  when  (as  Bottiger  phrases 
it)  "the  Christians  creeping  forth  out  of  their  catacombs 


substituted  for  the  Genius  with  inverted  torch,  the  skulls  and 
mouldering  bones  of  their  own  martyrs."  And  that  the  larva 
was  popularly  imagined  in  a  skeleton  form,  appears,  amongst 
the  rest,  from  Ovid's  line  in  his  '  Ibis  '- 

"  Insequar  atque  oculos  o.s.sea  larva  tuos." 
"  Wheie'er  thou  turn'st  my  injured  shade  shall  rise, 
And  flit,  a  fleshless  ghost  before  thine  eyes." 

Seneca  also  laughs  at  the  vulgar  notion  of  "larva-forms, 
frames  of  bare  bones  hanging  together ;  "  and  Trimalchio,  at 
his  famous  dinner,  in  order  to  promote  conviviality,  throws 
down  upon  the  table  a  silver  larva,  so  ingeniously  made  as  to 
bound  about  on  the  board  with  every  limb  quivering,  whilst 
the  host  hiccups  out  the  admonition — 

"  Heu,  Heu,  DOS  miseros,  quam  totus  homuncio  nil  est, 
Sic  erimus  cuncti,  postquam  nos  auferet  Orcus 
Ergo  vivamus  dum  licet  esse  bene." 

Such  a  larva  sometimes  makes  his  appearance  on  the  gem, 
introduced  there  for  the  same  purpose — to  remind  his  wearer 
of  the  shortness  of  life,  and  the  wisdom  of  making  the  best 
use  of  the  portion  allotted  to  him — speaking,  mutely,  the  words 
of  Virgil's  '  Copa  Syrisca  '- 

"  Pone  ireniiii  et  talos,  pereat  qui  crastina  curat ! 
Mors  aurem  vellens ;  Vivite,  ait,  venio." 

Thus  upon  one  gem  we  behold  him  holding  forth  in  his 
bony  hand  the  lecythus  (long,  pointed  vase  of  oil),  that  regul  irly 
accompanied  every  Greek  interment,  whilst  he  leans  with  his 
elbow  against  a  huge  amphora  of  wine,  as  though  recommending 
the  enjoyment  of  its  contents  whilst  yet  in  one's,  power.* 
Another,  a  more  fanciful  composition,  depicts  Cupid  casting 
the  light  of  his  torch  into  the  depths  of  an  immense  Corinthian 
crater  out  of  which  a  skeleton  is  throwing  himself  headlong, 
as  though  scared  away  by  the  hateful  glare — a  design  whoso 
abstruse  meaning  may  perhaps  be  interpreted  by  the  foregoing 

*  Exactly  the  same  lesson  is  taught       a   dauee   of  skeletons.      (Mein.   Soc. 
by   a   drinking-cup    in   the   Orleans       Antiq.  de  France,  vol.  xxxi.) 
Museum,  the  dccoiHtion  of  which  i*« 


remarks  ('Impronte  Gemmarie,'  ii.  10,  11).*  A  skeleton,  like 
wise,  was  often  painted  on  the  wall  of  tombs ;  for  example,  in  that 
pathetic  scene  at  Pompeii,  where  a  mother  is  represented  laying 
a  mortuary  fillet  over  the  bones  of  her  child.  In  all  these 
cases  the  form  is  merely  intended  to  symbolise  the  condition  of 
death  by  placing  before  the  eye  the  body  as  deserted  by  life, 
reduced  to  the  state  most  expressive  of  mortality  and  decay, 
and  which  cannot  be  mistaken  for  one  of  sleep.  But  it  is  easy 
to  perceive  how  ready  was  the  transition  from  the  hieroglyph 
of  mortality  regarded  as  a  state  (especially  when  to  the  popular 
mind  the  figure  also  represented  a  restless  and  malignant 
spiritual  being)  to  the  adoption  of  the  same  inauspicious  shape 
for  the  embodiment  of  the  idea  of  the  actual  principle  of 

But  to  return  to  antique  imagery  of  the  same  sense.  The 
idea  of  death  i.s  ingeniously  and  curiously  expressed  in  a  fresco 
decorating  the  lately  discovered  vault  of  Yincentius  and  Vibia, 
in  the  Catacombs  of  Prretextatus,  Home.  In  the  scene  labelled 
"  abreptio  Aribie  et  Discensio,"  the  messenger  of  Fate,  "  Mer- 
curius,"  appears  placing  one  foot  ami  leading  the  way  into  a 
huge  urn  laid  sideways  on  the  ground.  The  allusion  to  Orcus 
in  the  name  of  such  a  vessel,  orca,  is  sufficiently  obvious,  and 
in  fact  both  may  spring  from  the  same  root,  epKos,  inclosure, 
prison.  But  the  most  common  type,  perpetually  repeated  on 
sarcophagi  and  tablets,  is  the  Horse,  significant  of  departure, 
looking  in  through  the  window  upon  a  party  carousing — 
life's  festive  scene.  Yet  more  forcibly  is  the  same  notion 
carried  out  in  an  Etruscan  sculpture  (figured  in  the  Revue 
Archeologique,  1844),  where  the  angel  of  death,  Charun,  armed 
as  usual  with  his  ponderous  mall,  actually  leads  this  horse 
upon  which  sits  the  deceased  with  head  muffled  up,  "  capite 
obnupto" — the  established  form  in  sentencing  a  criminal  to 
execution.  The  same  reason,  probably,  made  the  horse's  hea  I 

~*  Such   a   larva    also    points   the  standing  before  him ;  at  his  t'eet  lies 

moral  of  the  scene  embossed  upon  a  an  infant  in  swaddling-clothes.  These 

lamp,  publishf  d  by  De  Witte  (Mem.  adjuncts  declare  the  subject  of  the 

Soc.  Antiq.  de  France,  1871),  where  philosopher's    meditations — the   des- 

:i  philosopher  seated,  and  grasping  a  tiny  of  Man  from  birtb  to  death, 
scroll,  is   apostrophising  a  skeleton 


so  popular  a  subject  for  signet-gems;  it  served  there  for  a 
memento-mori,  like  the  death's  heads  so  much  in  vogue  amongst 
the  jewels  of  the  Cinque-cento  time,  although  the  antique 
symbol  carried  with  it  a  widely  different  admonition.  The 
same  notion  may  possibly  lie  at  the  bottom  of  that  immemorial 
custom  in  South  Wales  of  the  mummers  carrying  the  skull  of  a 
horse  in  their  Christmas  merry-makings. 

Cognate  to  this  is  that  most  ancient  representation  of  the 
conveyance  of  the  departed  soul  to  the  realms  of  bliss — imagined 
as  some  happy  island  in  the  far  West — upon  a  fantastic 
hippocampus,  in  figure  like  a  winged  sea-serpent,  and  who  later 
became  the  Eornan  Capricornus,  "  Ruler  of  the  Hesperian 
Wave  :  "  - 

"  Thou,  for  thy  rule,  0  Capricorn  !  hast  won 
All  that  extends  beneath  the  setting  sun," 

as  Manilius  defines  the  authority  of  that  amphibious  sign.  But 
the  original  conception  is  often  engraved  upon  Phoenician 
scarabic;  and  no  doubt  can  remain  as  to  its  intention,  since 
Caylus  has  published  an  Etruscan  vase  (i.  pi.  32)  where  this 
same  monster  is  painted  joyously  careering  over  the  sea,  whilst 
on  its  other  side  stands  the  mourner,  prsefica,  chaunting  the 
funeral  hymn  over  the  corpse  laid  out  upon  its  bier  of  bronze. 

To  continue  within  the  earliest  portion  of  the  subject,  it 
must  be  observed  that  in  the  most  ancient  monument  of  Greek 
sculpture  whereof  any  account  remains — the  Coffer  of  Cypselus 
(executed  earlier  than  600  B.C.) — Night  was  represented  carrying 
in  her  arms  two  children,  alike  in  all  respects  save  colour ;  the 
one  white,  the  other  black,  having  their  legs  crossed :  *  their 
names  being  inscribed  over  them — Sleep  and  Death — for  their 
mother  was  hastening  to  the  aid  of  the  expiring  Memnon.  Thus 
it  is  manifest  that  from  the  very  dawn  of  pictorial  art  the 
crossed  legs  were  the  accepted  emblem  of  the  most  profound 
repose  ;  whilst  the  sluggard's  wish  for  "  a  little  more  folding  of 

*  Steo-Tpa^eVous  rovs  TroSas.     The  authority  of  tins  blunder,  Properties' 

very  obvious  meaning  of  these  words  "  somnia   rana"  have    been    turned 

critics  have  contrived    to   misuuder-  into  " somnia  vara"  and  ever  since 

stand,  and  to  render  as  "  distorte  1."  the  whole   tribe  of  Dreams   are  be- 

Nor  is  this  all ;  entirely   upon   the  lievcd  to  walk  bandy-legged. 


the  hands  in  slumber  "  bears  the  same  testimony  to  the  import  of 
the  crossed  arms  of  the  Roman  Genius  who  leans  on  his  inverted 
torch.  In  that  master-piece  of  Roman  chasing,  the  Pompeian 
discus,  "  The  Death  of  Cleopatra,"  the  object  of  the  design  is 
indicated  with  equal  truth  and  pathos  by  the  placing  of  the 
beauteous  infant  genius  at  the  knee  of  the  dying  queen,  on 
which  he  rests  his  elbow  to  form  a  support  for  his  head  as 
though  dropping  off  into  a  gentle  slumber.  The  traditional 
attitude*  retained  its  significance  well  understood  far  down 
into  the  Middle  Ages  :  witness  so  many  cross-legged  effigies 
of  warriors  resting  from  their  toils — who  for  that  sole  reason 
popularly  pass  for  crusaders. 

But  in  the  whole  long  catalogue  of  emblems,  not  one 
expressed  the  distract  idea  so  definitely  as  that  most  frequently 
employed  in  such  sense — the  Gorgon's  Head.  Accepting  the 
explanation  already  offered  (p.  107),  that  at  its  origin  this 
terrific  visage  was  designed  for  the  "  vera  effigies  "  of  the  Queen 
of  the  dead,  it  was  the  most  speaking  emblem  of  her  office  that 
could  possibly  be  chosen.  In  the  Heroic  ages  it  was  universally 
painted,  or  embossed  upon  the  warrior's  shield  ;  and  with  the 
progress  of  art,  cut  in  cameo,  became  the  regular  decoration  of 
the  imperial  breastplate ;  t  in  which  post  it  served,  as  Lucian 
remarks  ('Philopatris '),  "both  to  terrify  enemies  and  to  avert 
all  danger  from  the  wearer,"  conveying  to  all  beholders  the 
im  nace  of  death  exactly  as  now  by  an  undesigned  coincidence 
does  the  death's  he,»d  and  cross-bones  painted  upon  the  pirate's 
flag.  The  Byzantines,  in  the  true  spirit  of  their  gloomy  super 
stition,  discarded  the  Pros-Italian  type  for  whose  beauty  they 
had  lost  all  feeling,  and  reverted  to  the  image  invented  by  the 
horror-loving  genius  of  Pelasgic  barbarism.  They  saw  in  it 
the  most  faithful  representation  of  their  Motpa,  the  destroying 
demon  or  glioul,  still  believed  by  the  Greek  peasant  to  haunt 

*  The    child's    bkeb  tnn    in     the  Dum  vacat  hrec,  Caesar,  potent 

Pompeian    painting    above     quoted,  lorica  vocari, 

similarly  folds  his  feet.  Pcctore  cum  sacro  sederit,  ^Kgis 

t  Accipe  bell, gene  cruclum  thorac;i  erit. 

Minervse,  'Mart.'  vii.  I. 

Ip&a    MedusffB   quani   timet   ira 
com  ?e. 


ruins  and  desolate  places.  That  the  figure  was  received  in 
such  a  sense  into  Byzantine  symbolism,  the  examples  of 
amulets  already  quoted  convincingly  declare.  From  Byzantine 
the  Gorgon  passed  into  Gothic  art,  which  ever  revelling  in 
grotesque  horror,  its  inspiring  genius  being  the  skeleton  which 
intrudes  his  ghastliness  into  every  mode  of  ornamentation,  even 
of  a  mirror-frame  (Lucrezia  Borgia's  for  example)  contrived  to 
render  the  image  yet  more  terrible  by  converting  the  face  into 
a  fleshless  skull,  and  substituting  for  the  hawk's  wings  lent 
by  Hermes,  which  previously  impelled  its  flight,  the  skinny 
pinions  of  her  own  congenial  and  much-loved  fowl,  ihe 
sepulchre-haunting  bat. 

But  of  all  these  emblems,  not  one  is  so  full  of  poetry  and 
truth  as  the  device  of  the  Winged  Foot  crushing  the  Butterfly, 
Life.  The  Foot,  chosen  probably  for  the  same  reason  as  the 
Horse,  as  conveying  most  speakingly  the  notion  of  departure, 
was  equally  accepted  as  the  emblem  of  death.  Horace's  simile 
must  occur  to  every  reader  : — 

"  Pallida  Mors  juquo  pulsat  jiedv  pauperum  tabernas 
Regumque  turres." 

On  this  account  the  Foot  became  the  peculiar  attribute  of 
the  infernal  deities ;  and  the  figure  of  one  carved  in  stone  was 
often  dedicated  in  the  temple  of  Serapis  * — apparently  as  an 
ex  voto  commemorating  the  donor's  escape  from  the  very 
threshold  of  his  dark  domain.  Singularly  related  to  this 
custom  is  what  Moor  notices  of  the  pairs  of  feet  carved  in  stone 
commonly  seen  in  the  vicinity  of  Hindoo  temples,  traditionally 
said  to  be  memorials  of  suttees,  marking  the  spot  whence  the 
devoted  widow  stepped  from  earth  upon  the  funeral  pile,  that 
is  into  the  Gate  of  Heaven. 

It  has  long  been  a  question  how  the  Grecian  Hades  ("  The 
Invisible  One ")  and  the  Koinan  Pluto  were  depicted  in  a 
bodily  form  as  they  were  originally  conceived — for  their 
Egyptian  equivalent,  Serapis,  figures  much  more  frequently  in 

*  A  colossal  example  of  the  fiuest  Commodus   from   that    mint,   which 

workmanship  was  exhumed  at  Alex-  has   for   reverse   a   head   of    Serapis 

andria  a  few  years  ago.     It  may  have  placet  upon  a  foot  for  pedestal,  with 

been  contemporary  with  the  coin  of  the  date  of  his  seventh  year. 


monuments  of  Imperial  date  than  either  of  his  brethren,  Jove 
or  Neptune.  In  the  latter  style  he  is  regularly  sculptured  as 
Plutus,  "Lord  of  Riches,"  seated  on  a  throne,  holding  a  cornucopia, 
and  extending  with  his  right  hand  a  cluster  of  earth's  choicest 
gifts.  But  under  what  form  the  primitive  Greeks  had 
imagined  their  Aidoneus,  God  of  the  Shades,  before  Serapis  was 
introduced  into  their  mythology,  is  a  question  that  has  never 
been  satisfactorily  answered.  We  should  have  found  him  on 
the  scarabeus  of  the  Etruscans  and  early  Italiotes,  had  not  a 
long-enduring  respect  for  things  divine  (expressly  enjoined  by 
Pythagoras)  prevented  their  placing  in  their  signets,  used  for 
everyday  purposes,  the  actual  figures  of  the  gods,  whose  absence 
they  supplied  by  their  well-known  attributes.  For  this  reason  a 
popular  Etruscan  seal-device  is  Cerberus,  represented  sometimes 
as  a  man  with  three  heads  of  a  dog,  but  more  commonly  in  the 
shape  so  familiar  to  us  from  later  arts.  But  the  Egyptians  had 
contrived  to  make  their  Guardian  of  the  Shades  much  more 
formidable  in  aspect  by  equipping  him  with  the  heads  of  a  lion, 
crocodile,  and  hippopotamus.  "We  are  also  certified  in  what 
shape  the  Etruscans  imaged  their  god  of  the  lower  world, 
Mantus;  for  he  is  painted  with  serpent  legs,  like  Typhon, 
wielding  a  huge  butcher's  cleaver,  and  attended  by  Cerberus, 
enthroned  upon  the  court  placed  below  the  niche  of  interment, 
locidus,  in  the  Campana  tomb,  Cervetri. 

The  "  Helmet  of  Hades"  is  named  by  Homer  (v.  845),  which 
Pallas  puts  on  in  order  to  render  herself  invisible  to  Ares  ; 
which  helmet  the  scholiast  explains  by  "  cloud  and  invisibility  "- 
whence  it  seems  but  natural  to  infer  that,  as  this  deity  was 
rendered  invisible  by  his  very  attiibute,  no  attempt  would  be 
made  to  depict  his  personal  appearance.  A  figure  of  a  god  in 
long  flowing  robes,  and  wielding  a  trident  wanting  one  of  its 
prongs,  sometimes  painted  on  the  Nolan  vases,  has  been  taken  for 
an  Aidoneus,  but  on  no  sufficient  grounds,  there  being  better 
reason  to  consider  him  a  Poseidon  in  the  archaic  style.  The 
epithet  "  Eenowned  for  horses "  is  given  to  the  f^ame  god 
elsewhere  by  Homer  (v.  445),  allusive  doubtless  to  the  siviftness 
of  the  Destroyer :  and  in  the  s  nne  title  may,  perchance,  lie  the 
motive  which  made  the  Greeks  adopt  the  horse,  as  above  noticed, 

THE    GNOSTICS    AND    THEIlt    REMAINS.  187 

for  the  commonest  symbol  of  his  power.  If  we  could  meet 
with  any  genuine  antique  and  early  representation  of  the 
Rape  of  Proserpine  it  would  at  once  decide  the  question  by 
portraying  the  grim  Ravisher  himself;  but  the  inauspicious 
nature  of  the  subject  (so  conspicuously  set  forth  in  Suetonius' 
anecdote  of  the  ring  with  the  story  presented  by  Sporus  to  Nero 
for  a  New  Year's  gift)  has  completely  excluded  it  from  the 
artist's  repertory,  so  far  as  anything  now  remaining  informs 
us.  Stosch's  Collection,  amongst  its  immense  varity  of  mytho 
logical  designs,  contains  nothing  of  the  sort,  whilst  Kaspe 
gives  for  its  representative  only  a  single  antique  paste  (and 
that,  too,  of  very  dubious  attribution)  where  a  god  with  quiver 
on  shoulder  is  carrying  off  a  Nymph  in  a  car  drawn  by  two 
swans — attributes  properly  bespeaking  an  Apollo  ;  and  if  really 
given  here  to  Pluto,  proving  the  work  to  belong  to  those  latter 
times  of  Paganism  when  Hades,  Serapis,  Phoebus,  were  equally 
interpreted  as  mere  titles  of  the  Solar  god. 

As  for  the  Roman  Pluto,  or,  to  give  him  his  native  name,  Dis 
(ditis,  from  the  same  root  as  death),  there  was  the  best  of  reasons 
for  excluding  him  from  the  province  of  art  which  admitted 
nought  that  was  hideous  or  of  evil  augury.  For  there  can  be 
no  doubt,  that,  to  the  popular  imagination,  he  still  continued  the 
Charun  *  whom  we  still  behold  lording  it  over  the  sepulchres  of 
their  Etruscan  teachers  in  the  arts,  a  giant  of  horrid  aspect  with 
pointed  ears,  and  tusky  grinning  jaws,  winged  buskins  011  legs, 
extending  with  one  hand  a  hissing  serpent,  with  the  other 
wielding  a  monstrous  mall.  It  was  probably  the  traditional 
influence  of  the  idea  that  caused  the  ^ame  instrument,  mazza, 
to  be  retained  at  Rome  for  the  execution  of  peculiarly  atrocious 
criminals  down  to  the  recent  introduction  of  the  guillotine. 

That  Pluto  was  really  so  personified  in  the  shows  of  the 
Amphitheatre,  as  late  as  the  third  century,  may  be  gathered 
from  the  remark  of  Tertullian  (Apol.  xxv.),  that,  "  amongst  the 
other  scenic  cruelties  of  the  afternoon,  the  spectators  laughed  at 
the  sight  of  Mercury  raising  the  dead  with  his  red-hot  wand 
[applied  doubtless  to  the  feet  of  the  slaughtered  gladiators  to 

.  *  As  Etriiriii  was  the  only  scho,>l  she  supplied  the  figures  equally  with 
of  art  for  Koine  until  very  late  times,  the  iHanes  of  all  the  Roman  deities. 


ascertain  if  life  still  lingered  within  them]  ;  whilst  the  *  Brother 
of  Jupiter,'  armed  with  his  mall,  escorted  the  dead  bodies  of  the 
combatant  "  [for  the  purpose  clearly  of  giving  them  the  coup  de 
grace].  The  primitive  Etruscan  image  passed  down  into  the 
belief  of  their  mediaeval  descendants,  for  Dante  brings  on  the 
stage  : — 

"  Charon,  demonic  con  occhi  di  bragia." 
"  Charon,  a  devil  with  live-coals  jor  ey  s." 

It  is  time  now  to  dismiss  the  Lord  of  the  Shades,  and  to 
consider  by  what  Emblem  ancient  art  sought  to  express  the 
Shade  itself,  the  disembodied  spirit.  The  Greeks  of  early  times 
appropriately  painted  it  in  the  shape  of  a  bird  with  a  human 
head,  as  on  that  beau'iful  vase,  "The  Death  of  Procris"  (British 
Museum),  where  such  a  fowl  is  conspicuously  seen  winging  its 
flight  from  the  mouth  of  the  wounded  Nymph.  The  celebrated 
Orleans  (now  Russian)  scarabeus,  engraved  with  the  "  Death  of 
Achilles,"  has  its  back  carved  into  the  same  creature,  tearing 
her  breast  in  an  agony  of  despair.  This  expressive  type  was 
riot,  however,  the  birth  of  Grecian  genius,  but  adopted,  without 
alteration,  from  the  most  ancient  symbolism  of  Egypt.  In  the 
"  Judgment  of  the  body  and  soul,"  regularly  painted  on  the 
mummy-cases,  the  former,  depicted  as  a  mummy,  stands  before 
Osiris,  "  Lord  of  the  West,"  to  answer  for  its  actions ;  whilst  the 
soul,  in  shape  of  a  hawk,  with  human  head  and  wings  uplifted, 
is  brought  before  the  same  god  under  another  form,  to  give 
an  account  of  its  thoughts.  And  the  same  soul,  purified,  and 
admitted  amongst  the  gods,  appears  as  before,  but  tranquilly 
standing  with  a  golden  disk,  "  a  crown  of  glory,"  set  upon  her 
head :  figures  of  the  last  kind  in  bronze  frequently  occurring 
amongst  Egyptian  remains,  complimentary  mementoes  of 
deceased  friends.  Again,  this  same  bird  is  often  found  painted 
on  the  mummy-case  right  over  the  heart  (named  in  Coptic,  "  the 
abode  of  the  soul "),  a  plain  proof  of  what  it  signifies  there ; 
although  Father  Kifcher,  with  his  wonted  extravagance,  chose 
to  explain  it  as  figuring  the  iynx,  the  bird  so  renowned  in  the 
magical  operations  of  the  Greeks.  Again,  the  same  notion  is 
expressed  by  the  simple  figure  of  a  bird  flying  away,  as  often  is 
done  in  Etruscan  works,  where  the  subject  represented  is  the 


death  of  a  hero.  Latest  of  all,  this  somewhat  grotesque 
Egyptian  conception  was  modified  by  Grecian  culture  into  the 
graceful  girl  with  butterfly  wings — the  well-known  Psyche — 
and  such  a  form  is  seen  seated  upon  the  summit  of  Achilles' 
tomb,  before  which  the  sacrifice  of  Polyxena  is  about  to  be 
offered.  This  ancient  human-headed  Bird,  by  a  natural  tran 
sition  of  ideas,  came  ultimately  to  be  applied  to  express  a 
widely  different  meaning.  Instead  of  the  dead,  it  was  made  to 
stand  for  the  destroyer ;  and  the  Syrens  are  always  painted  in 
this  shape  whenever  their  interview  with  Ulysses  becomes  the 
theme  of  ancient  art,  or  when  they  engage  in  their  unlucky 
contest  with  the  Muses.  But  here,  for  the  sake  of  more  grace, 
in  the  conformation  of  the  monster,  the  whole  of  the  female 
bust  is  adapted  to  the  body  of  the  fowl.  Despite  their  beauty 
and  melodiousness,  the  Syrens  were  considered  as  the  most 
malignant  and  destructive  of  beings,  for  which  reason  the 
Harpies  likewise  were  depicted  in  precisely  the  same  figure. 
Although  identical  at  first,  the  more  refining  art  of  Koman 
times  introduced  a  distinction  between  them  by  giving  to  the 
Syrens  the  complete  bust,  to  the  Harpies  the  head  only  of  the 
woman.  Inasmuch  as  the  name  signifies  "  Snatcher-away,"  the 
Harpy  was  understood  to  embody  the  abstract  idea  of  death, 
which  acceptation  explains  why  she  is  often  represented  armed 
with  a  sword,  or  carrying  on  her  shoulder  the  funeral  lecytlius, 
and  torch.  For  the  same  reason  the  Harpy  holds  a  conspicuous 
place  in  the  decorations  of  many  ancient  tombs,  unlesss,  indeed, 
the  emblem  may  have  been  used  there  in  its  Egyptian  sense. 

In  what  shape  Death  was  personified  by  Euripides,  in  his 
Alcestis,  cannot  be  made  out  from  the  insufficiency  of  data 
afforded  by  the  lines  relating  to  his  appearance  on  the  stage. 
It  is,  however,  plain  that  the  poet  brought  forward  ©cu/a-ros  in 
a  bodily  form,  perhaps  considering  him  the  same  with  Aidoneus, 
for  he  styles  him  "King  of  the  Dead;"  and  Macrobius,  speaking 
of  the  same  event,  uses  for  his  name  the  Roman  equivalent, 
"  Orcus."  All  that  can  be  gathered  from  the  incidental  allu 
sions  of  the  other  dramatis  personse  to  this  apparition,  is  that  he 
was  robed  in  black,  and  carried  a  sword,  wherewith  to  sever  a 
lock  from  the  head  of  his  destined  victim,  and  so  devote  it  to 



the  subterranean  gods.  It  is,  however,  possible  that  Euripides 
brought  on  this  ©avaros  in  that  harpy  shape  which  sometimes  is 
found  in  antique  art  where  the  bust  is  that  of  a  grim  aged 
man,  in  place  of  the  smiling  female's,  and  who,  as  badge  of 
office,  carries  a  naked  sword.  In'  such  a  form  the  Destroyer 
must  have  flitted  before  the  eyes  of  Statius,  when  about  to  make 
prey  of  the  young  and  beautiful  Glaucius  :  — 

"  Snbitas  ininiica  levavit 
Parca  manus  ;  quo  diva  feros  gravis  exuis  unrjues  ?  " 

This  last  word  can  apply  to  nothing  but  the  Harpy,  of  whom 
claws  were  the  distinctive  attribute  :  — 

"  Unguibus  ire  parat  nummoa  raptura 

Nevertheless,  a  representation  like   this  had    in  it  nothing 
grotesque  or  offensive  to  the  Athenian  eye.     Far  different  was 
the  Pelasgic  K^,  likewise  robed  in  Hack  (according  to  Ilomer'd 
normal    epithet    for    her),    in    the    form    which    the    archaic 
sculptor  had  given  her  upon  the  Coffer  of  Cypselus,  "  having 
tusks  as  fierce  as  those  of  any  wild  beast."     Such  a  conception 
was  eagerly  embraced  by  the  gloomy  genius  of  the  Etruscans, 
ever   delighting    in    the    monstrous    and    the    horrible.       She 
therefore  figures  on  their  signets  in  a  form  to  be  described  in 
the  very  words  of  Pausaiiias,  having  a  huge  Gorgonian  head, 
grinning  jaws,    arms    wreathed   with    serpents,    impelled    by 
quadruple  wings,  like  an  Assyrian  deity,  and  her  action  that  of 
furious  baste.     So,  doubtless,  appeared  the  Furies,  brought  on 
the  stage  by  ^Eschylus,  when  the  horror  of  their  strange  aspect 
struck  the  Athenian  audience  with  such  deadly  fright.    For  his 
purpose  he  must  have  revived  a  very  ancient  and  forgotten  type 
of  the  idea,  for  the  paintings  on  the  vases  of  his  epoch  exhibit 
the  Eumenides,  who  persecute  Orestes,  under  a  no  more  terrific 
form  than  as  shadowy  old  women  brandishing  serpents  and 
torches,  as  they  chase  their  victim  from  shrine  to  shrine. 

*  The    same    picture    must     have  been    in    Horace's     mind    when    he 
uses  the  figure     .... 

"  Mors  atris  cireumvolat  alis." 



Sorapis,  in  his  double  character  of  God  of  Death  and  God 
of  Riches,  has  been  the  subject  of  preceding  chapters;  the 
present  one  shall  be  devoted  to  the  consideration  of  the  most 
striking  method  by  which  human  superstition  sought  to  turn 
to  account  the  two  ideas.  To  propitiate  the  Manes  by  placing 
his  most  valuable  or  beloved  effects  in  the  sepulchre  of  the 
defunct,  dates  probably  from  the  very  institution  of  interment ; 
but  the  account  now  to  be  cited  is  the  most  interesting  of  any 
on  record,  owing  to  the  circumstances  of  the  time,  person,  and 
place.  It  is  literally  translated  from  the  description  of  an 
eye  witness,  the  earliest  of  Italian  antiquaries,  M.  L.  Fauno, 
given  in  his  '  Antichita  de  Roma,'  p.  154,  published  1553. 

"In  February,  1544,  in  the  Chapel  of  the  King  of  France,  which 
is  now  being  built  in  St.  Peter's,  after  the  plan  of  Julius  II., 
the  workmen,  in  excavating,  came  upon  a  marble  coffin,  which, 
from  the  things  found  therein,  was  clearly  known  to  be  the 
tomb  of  Maria,  wife  of  the  Emperor  Honorius.  Of  the  body, 
indeed,  there  was  nothing  left,  except  the  teeth,  the  hair,  and 
the  two  leg-bones.  From  the  robes  which  were  interwoven 
with  gold,  and  from  the  head-tire,  which  was  cloth  of  silk  and 
gold,  there  was  extracted  by  smelting  more  than  forty  pounds 
weight  of  the  purest  gold."  [Suecius  says  thirty-six,  but  makes 
the  total  of  all  the  gold  found  to  amount  to  the  above  weight 
when  they  weie  melted  down  by  order  of  Paul  III.,  to  be 
applied  to  the  building  fund  of  the  Cathedral.] 

"  Within  the  coffin  lay  a  silver  box,  one  and  a  half  foot  long 
by  eight  inches  deep,  with  many  articles  inside,  the  which  we 
shall  proceed  particularly  to  describe.  There  were  vases  and 
different  things  in  rock  crystal,  thirty  in  all,  big  and  little  ; 
amongst  which  were  two  cups,  as  it  were,  not  very  large,  the 
one  round,  the  other  oval  shaped,  with  most  beautiful  figures 
in  intaglio  of  middling  depth  (mezzo-cavo),  and  a  snail-shell 
(nautilus),  likewise  in  crystal,  fitted  up  for  a  lamp  in  fine  gold, 
with  which  in  the  first  place  the  mouth  of  the  shell  is  overlaid, 
there  being  only  left  a  hole  for  pouring  in  the  oil ;  by  the  side 


of  which  hole  is  fixeJ  &fly  of  gold  upon  a  pivot,  turning  back 
wards  and  forwards,  for  the  purpose  of  closing  the  orifice.  In 
the  same  way  is  also  made  a  nozzle  with  beak  (^jAppio)  for 
holding  the  wick,  drawn  out  long  and  sharpened  with  the 
greatest  elegance,  and  so  fastened  to  the  crystal  that  it  appears 
all  one  piece  naturally.  The  cover  also  is  equally  well  made. 
The  shape  of  the  shell  is  that  of  a  great  sea-shell,  encompassed 
all  round  with  its  points,  which  in  this  vessel  are  polished  and 
very  smooth,  so  excellently  wrought  is  the  crystal.  There  were 
also  vases  and  various  articles  in  agate,  with  certain  little 
animals,  eight  in  all,  and  amongst  them  two  very  beautiful 
vases,  one  like  the  glass  ampullae,  made  big  and  squat  for 
holding  oil  and  such  like  liquids,  so  worked,  so  beautiful,  and 
thin  that  it  is  a  wonder  to  behold.  The  other  is  in  the  shape 
of  those  ladles  with  long  handles  used  at  Rome  for  baling  water 
out  of  cisterns,  and  is  supposed  to  be  a  vessel  used  by  the 
ancients  in  their  sacrifices  [a  ligula  for  the  purpose  of  ladling 
the  wine  out  of  the  great  standing  crater}.  Next  came  four 
little  vessels  in  gold  of  different  kinds,  and  another  little  vessel 
of  gold  with  a  cover  set  round  with  jewels.  A  little  gold  heart 
that  had  been  a  pendant  with  jewels  set  in  it ;  a  buckle  of  gold 
with  six  gems  of  different  kinds  set  in  it,  also  twenty-four 
other  buckles  of  gold  of  various  patterns  with  little  gems  set 
in  them ;  furthermore,  forty-eight  rings  and  hoops*  of  gold  of 
different  shapes,  one  of  them  in  red  bone,  and  various  gems. 
A  mouse  in  "  chelidonia,"  a  reddish  quartz,  is  also  specified  by 
Suecius  [which  must  be  the  next  item],  also  three  little  animals 
in  red  lone  ;  also  two  ear-drops  in  emerald  or  plasma  with  two 
jacinths ;  four  small  crosses  with  red  and  green  stones ;  a 
pendant  in  the  form  of  a  bunch  of  grapes,  made  of  purple 
stones ;  eight  other  little  gold  pendants  of  different  sorts  with 
gems  set  in  them.  The  remains  of  a  string  of  crepundia,  the 
usual  decoration  of  little  children.  [Maria  had  died  at  the  age 
of  four,  being  thus  early  betrothed  to  Honorius  by  his  father 
the  all-powerful  Stilicho].  Three  little  gold  crosses  set  with 
emeralds ;  a  piece  of  a  small  fine  necklace  with  certain  green 

*   Verglte :  "  verga,''   like  the   French  verge,  signifies  a  plain  gold  wire 
forming  a  ring  having  no  head. 


stones   strung   upon   it.      Another    little   gold   necklace  with 
twenty-four  beads  of  plasma.     Another  necklace  with  twelve 
heads  of  sapphire  cut  almond  shape.     Another  little  necklace 
of  gold  wire  folded  up  (raccolto),  but  broken  into  four  pieces. 
Two  small  buttons  in  gold ;  fourteen  little  gold-wire  rings  like 
those  of  a  coat  of  mail ;  three  more  crosses  with  some  emeralds, 
and  a  round  gold  plate  like  an  Agnus  Dei,*  with  these  words 
upon  it,  STILICHO  VI VAT.     Two  bracelets  (maniche)  of  gold,  set 
with  certain  red  and  green  stones.     Two  large  pins  or  stiletti  for 
the  hair,  one  in  gold  nearly  a  palm  (nine  inches)  long  inscribed 
with  these  words,  DOMINVS   HONORIVS  DOMINA  MARIA:   the 
other  in  silver  without  inscription.     There  were  likewise  many 
fragments  of  enamels  and  other  stones.     Also  silver  nails  [their 
heads]  partly  flat,  partly  in  relief,  which  had  fastened  down  a 
cover  of  silver  upon  a  little  coffer.     Also  a  small  plate  of  gold 
with  these  words  written  or  rather  scratched  in  Greek,  MICHAEL- 
GABRIEL- RAPHAEL- VRIEL-"      [Laurentius   Surius   makes    out 
forty  gold  rings  set  with  precious  stones,  besides  an  emerald 
set  in   gold,   engraved   with   a   head    supposed    to   be  that  of 
Honorius,  which  was  valued  at  five  hundred  gold  ducats].     We 
have  particularly  described  all  the  above-named  objects  because 
Claudian,  a  poet  of  those  times,  declares  that  to  the  Empress 
Maria  were  sent  similar  rare  presents  from  her  betrothed  ;  which 
perhaps  may  have  formed   the  greatest  part  of  these  things. 
The  words  of  the  poet  are — 

"  Jam  munera  nuptce 

Prasparat,  et  pulchros  Marios  sed  luce  minores 
Elicit  ornatus  :  quidquid  venerabilis  olini 
Livia,  divorumque  nurus  gessere  superbaj."     (x.   10-1.'}. ) 

This  account  enables  us  to  form  some  notion  of  the  treasures 
deposited  to  a  greater  or  less  degree  in  all  the  tombs  of  important 
personages,  but  more  especially  in  those  sumptuous  structures 
raised  to  the  memory  of  the  dead  throughout  Asia  Minor.  The 
same  fact  sufficiently  accounts  for  the  furious  onslaught  made 
upon  the  tombs  all  over  the  Roman  world,  so  soon  as  the  change 
of  religion  had  extinguished  the  old  veneration  for  the  Manes 
and  the  things  consecrated  to  them— a  profanation,  and  a 
*  A  disk  of  stamped  wax  about  three  inches  in  diameter. 



destruction  of  works  of  art,  which  Gregorius  Theologus,  inspired 
by  a  taste  and  good  feeling  very  surprising  in  a  Byzantine  saint, 
has  attacked  in  one  hundred  and  eighty-two  very  interesting 
and  often  poetical  epigrams. 

The   same  custom   was   kept  up  (although  we  can  hardly 
suppose  with  any  lingering  belief  in  its  ancient  efficiency)  by 
the  Merovingian  and  Carlovingian  successors  to  the  wealth  of 
the  Western  Empire.     The  learned  Canon  Chiflet  has  left  in 
his  interesting  book,  '  Anastasis  Childerici  Kegis,'  a  complete 
history  of  tomb-treasures,  serving  to  illustrate  his  account  of 
that  of  Childeric  the  Frank,  accidentally  found  in  the  precincts 
of  Tournay  Cathedral,  May  1654.     The  deposit,  as  far  it  could 
be  recovered  from  the  first  finders,  consisted  of  the  arms  of  the 
king,  the  trappings  of  his  horse  (buried  with  him),  all  of  gold 
encrusted  with  garnets,  his   gold   tablets   and  writing-stylus, 
abundance  of  golden-bees  originally  stretched  over  his  mantle 
(which  gave  that  curious  idea  to  Napoleon  I.),  a  bull's  head  for  a 
pendant  (the  primitive  Frankish  badge  of  sovereignty),  and 
lastly,  a  viaticum  in  the  shape  of  one  hundred  Byzantine  solidi  of 
contemporary  emperors,  and  as  many  denarii  of  several  and  much 
earlier  Cajsars.     The  canon,  by  zealous  perquisitions,  succeeded 
in  recovering  all  these  articles,  including  the  most  important  of 
all,  the   royal   signet  ring  of  massy  gold,  engraved  with  the 
image  and  superscription  of  Childeric,  for  his  patron  the  Arch 
duke  Leopold,  then  governor  of  the  Low  Countries.     At  some 
subsequent  period  the  most  important  of  these  relics  passed  into 
the  collect]  on  of  the  Bibliotheque  Imperiale,  where  they  continued 
in  all  due  honour  until  the  disastrous  robbery  of  1 808,  when  it 
is  supposed,  with  too  much  probability,  that  they  were  melted 
down  along  with  the  rest  of  the  booty  ! 

FIG.  1). 



I.     THE  EVIL  EYE. 

Serapis  we  have  seen,  in  one  of  his  representations  lately 
noticed,  specially  invoked  to  defend  his  votary  against  the 
Evil  Eye  under  its  abstract  title  of  00oW  A  glance  therefore 
at  this  most  ancient  superstition  (which  still  nourishes  in  full 
vigour  in  the  same  countries  that  gave  it  birth)  will  form  a 
fitting  prelude  to  the  coming  section,  which  takes  for  subject 
talismans  and  amulets  of  every  class. 

The  belief  in  the  power  for  mischief  of  the  eye  of  an  envious 
or  malignant  person  (to  counteract  which  was   the   principal 
object  of  so  many  of  the  amulets  that  have  come  down  to  us) 
was  universal  amongst  all  ancient  nations.     It  is  needless  to 
bring  forward  classic  writers  to   support  this  statement ;  such 
as  Apollonius  Rhodius,  where  he  skilfully  avails  himself  of  the 
notion,  and  makes  Medea  by  her  basilisk  glance  alone  work  the 
death  of  Talas,  the  Brazen  Man,  guardian  of  the  Cretan  shores ; 
for  even  St.  Paul  (Rom.  i.  29)  sets  down  this  action  of  the  soul 
working  through  the  eye  in  the  list  of  sins  of  the  deepest  dye. 
But  the  actual  manner  of  operation  upon  the  sufferer  I  have 
nowhere  found  explained  except  in  the  following  passage  from 
Heliodorus  (*  ^Ethiopica,'  iii.  8),  and  which  therefore  deserves  to 
be  inserted  at  length  in  this  prelude  to  the  subject.     "  Tell  me, 
my  good  Calasiris,  what  is  the  malady  that  has  attacked  your 
daughter  ?  "    "  You  ought  not  to  be  sui prised,"  I  replied,  "  if  at 
the  time  when  she  was  heading  the  procession  in  the  sight  of  so 
vast  an  assemblage  of  people,  she  had  drawn  upon  herself  some 
envious  eye"     Whereupon,  smiling  ironically,  "  Do  you  then," 
asked  he,  "  like  the  vulgar  in  general,  believe  in  the  reality  of 
such  fascination  ? "     "  As  much   as  I    do   in   any  other  fact," 
I  replied,  "and  the  thing  is  this  :  the  air  which  surrounds  us 
passing  through  the  eyes,  as  it  were  through  a  strainer,  and 

o  2 


also  through  the  mouth,  the  teeth  and  the  other  passages,  into 
the  inward  parts,  whilst  its  external  properties  make  their  way 
in  together  with  it — whatever  be  its  quality  as  it  flows  in,  of 
the  same  nature  is  the  effect  it  disseminates  in  the  recipient,  so 
that  when  any  one  looks  upon  beauty  with  envy,  he  fills  the 
circumambient  air  with  a  malignant  property,  and  diifuses  upon 
his  neighbour  the  breath  issuing  from  himself,  all  impregnated 
with  bitterness,  and  this,  being  as  it  is  of  a  most  subtile  nature, 
penetrates  through  into  the  very  bone  and  marrow.     Hence 
envy  has  frequently  turned  itself  into  a  regular  disease,  and  has 
received  the  distinctive  appellation  of  fascination   (/foo-Kcma). 
Consider   also,    my   Charicles,   how   many   people    have    been 
infected  with  ophthalmia,  how  many  with  other  pestilential 
diseases,  not  from  any  contact  with  those  so  affected,  or  from 
sharing  the  same  bed  or  same  table,  but  merely  from  breathhig 
the  same  air.     Let  also  (and  above  all  the  rest),  the  origin  of 
love  be  a  support  to  my  argument,  for  that  owes  its  first  origin 
to  the  sight  which  shoots  like  arrows  the  passion  into  the  soul. 
And  for  this  there  is  very  good  reason,  for  of  all  the  senses  and 
passages  of  the  body,  the  sight  is  the  most  easily  excited,  and 
the  most  inflammable,  and  consequently  the  most  susceptible 
with  regard  to  external  emanation,  in  consequence  of  its  own 
natural  fiery  essence,  attracting   to  itself  the  visits  of  love. 
And   if   you  wish   for    a   proof  drawn  from  Natural  History, 
recorded  likewise  in  the  Sacred  Books,  the  bird,  the  yellow- 
hammer,  cures  the  jaundice,  and  if  a  person  so  affected  shall  but 
look  at  that  bird,  the  latter  at  once  tries  to  escape  and  shuts  its 
eyes  ;  not  as  some  think,  because  it  begrudges  the  benefit  to  the 
sick  man,  but  because,  if  looked  upon  by  men,  it  is  forced  by  its 
nature  to  attract  his  disease  into  its  own  body,  like  an  exhala 
tion,  and  therefore  shuns  the  glance  as  much  as  a  blow.     And 
amongst  serpents,  the  basilisk,  doth  not  he,  as  you  may  have 
heard,  kill  and  blast  whatever  conies  in  his  way  by  means  of 
his  eyes  and  his  breath  alone  ?     And  if  some  give  the  stroke  of 
the  Evil  Eye  even  to  those  they  love  and  are  well  disposed 
towards,  you  must  not  be  surprised,  for  people  of  an  envious 
disposition  act  not  as  they  loish,  but  as  their  Nature  compels 
them  to  do." 



Few  relics  of  antiquity  combine  in  one  so  many  and  so 
widely  differing  points  of  interest,  with  respect  to  the  material, 
the  strangely  dissimilar  uses  to  which  the  same  object  has  been 
applied  in  two  opposite  phases  of  the  history  of  Man,  and, 
above  all,  the  curious  superstitions  engendered  by  its  peculiar 
form,  as  does  the  stone  brought  under  the  notice  of  the  Archaeo 
logical  Institute  by  General  Lefroy,  now  in  the  Woolwich 
Repository.  The  kindness  of  that  gentleman  having  afforded  me 
full  opportunity  for  the  careful  examination  of  this  interesting 
monument,  I  proceed  to  embody,  in  as  succinct  a  form  as  their 
multifarious  nature  will  permit,  the  observations  suggested 
to  me  by  that  examination. 

The  subject,  therefore,  of  this  section  is  a  small  stone  celt  of 
the  common  pattern,  but  of  very  uncommon  material  (in  the 
antique  class),  being  made,  not  of  flint,  but  of  dark-green  jade  or 
nephrite,  2  in.  by  lj  in.  in  length  and  greatest  width;  and 
brought,  there  is  reason  to  believe,  from  Egypt  many  years  ago, 
by  Colonel  Milner,  aide-de-camp  to  Lord  J.  Bathurst  during 
the  English  occupation  of  Sicily  in  1812.  Each  of  its  two  faces 
is  occupied  by  a  Gnostic  formula,  engraved  with  much  neatness, 
considering  the  excessive  hardness  of  the  material,  in  the  some 
what  debased  Greek  character  that  was  current  at  Alexandria 
during  the  third  and  fourth  centuries  of  our  era. 

The  most  important  of  these  two  formulae  has  been  in°-e- 
niously  forced  to  take  the  outline  of  a  wreath  composed  of 
broad  leaves,  in  number/ow£eew(or  the  sacred  seven  duplicated), 
and  doubtless  intended  for  those  of  the  "  Five  Trees "  that 
figure  so  conspicuously  in  Gnostic  symbolism  ;  the  ends  being 
tied  together  with  four  broad  ribbons.  This  is  a  design  of 
which  no  other  example  has  ever  come  to  my  knowledge 
amongst  the  innumerable  and  wondrously  varied  devices 
excogitated  by  the  prolific  fancy  of  this  religion  of  mysteries. 
Upon  the  four  ties  are  engraved  in  very  minute  letters  different 
combinations  of  the  seven  Greek  vowels,  whilst  each  of  the 


leaves  is  emblazoned  with  some  "  Holy  Name,"  of  which  many 
can  be  easily  recognised  as  constantly  recurring  in  charms  of 
this  class ;  others  are  disguised  by  a  novel  orthography  ;  whilst 
a  few,  from  the  uncertain  forms  of  the  It-tiering,  defy  all 
attempts  at  interpretation. 

To  the  first  series  belong  ABPACA,  "  Abraxas,"  properly 
an  epithet  of  the  sun,  but  designating  here  the  Supreme  Deity  ; 
IAGOOYIE,  "  lao,  Jehovah  ;  "  ABAANA,  "  Thou  art  our  Father  !  " 
TAMBPIHA,  a  curious  mode  of  spelling  "Gabriel,"  that  testifies 
to  the  difficulty  ever  felt  by  the  Greeks  of  expressing  the 
sound  of  our  B;  AKTNONBCx),  which  contains  the  Coptic  form 
of  Anubis  ;  AAMNAMENEYC,  the  sun's  name  in  the  famous 
"  ftphesian  Spell;  "  and,  most  interesting  of  all,  nCANTAPEOC, 
who  can  be  no  other  than  the  IYANTA  of  the  Pistis- Sophia — 
one  of  the  great  TpiSwa/xeis,  a  Power  from  whom  is  enthroned 
in  the  planet  Mars.  To  the  uncertain  belong  COYMA,  probably 
for  COYMAPTA,  a  name  occurring  elsewhere,  and  perhaps  cognate 
to  the  Hindoo  Sumitri,  XOONONIXAP  which  may  be  intended  for 
XAP-XNOYMIC,  a  common  epithet  of  the  AgathodaBinon  Serpent; 
AEICUEHAANHC;  NEIXAPOnAHC  ;  the  two  last,  spells  un 
explained  but  very  uncommon  ;  MONAPXOC  ;  whilst  AXAPCIC 
and  the  rest  appear  here  for  the  first  time,  if  correctly  so 

The  other  face  is  covered  with  an  inscription,  cut  in  much 
larger  letters,  and  in  eight  lines.  This  number  was  certainly 
not  the  result  of  chance,  but  of  deep  design,  for  it  was  mystic 
in  the  highest  degree,  representing — so  taught  the  profoundest 
doctor  of  the  Gnosis,  Marcus — the  divine  Ogdoad,  which  was 
the  daughter  of  the  Pythagorean  Tetrad,  the  mother  of  all 
creation.*  The  lines  2,  4,  5,  consist  of  Greek  letters  used  as 
numerals,  intermixed  with  siglce,  which,  from  their  constant 
occurrence  upon  monuments  of  a  like  nature,  are  supposed,  with 
good  reason,  to  be  symbols  of  the  planets.  The  numerals,  on 
their  part,  probably  denote  various  deities,  for  the  Alexandrian 
Gnosis  was  the  true  daughter  of  Magiism  ;  and  in  the  old 
theology  oi  Chaldea  every  god  and  astral  genius  had  a  number 
of  his  own,  and  which  often  stands  instead  of  his  proper 
*  St.  Hippolytus,  Eefut.  Om.  Hseres.  vi.  50. 


name  in  dedicatory  inscriptions.*  Thus,  the  number  of  Hoa 
(Neptune),  was  40  ;  of  Ana  (Pluto),  60  ;  of  Bel  (Jupiter),  50  ; 
of  the  Sun,  20 ;  of  the  moon,  30  ;  of  the  Air,  10 ;  of  Nergal 
(Mars),  12 ;  &o. 

A  fragment  of  the  Pistis- Sophia^  supplied  the  "spiritual 
man"  with  a  key  to  the  right  interpretation  of  similar  steno 
graphy  in  his  own  creed.  "  These  be  the  Names  which  I  will 
give  unto  thee,  even  from  the  Infinite  One  downwards.  Write 
the  same  with  a  sign  (cypher),  so  that  the  sons  of  God  may 
manifest  (understand  ?)  them  out  of  this  place.  This  is  the 
name  of  the  Immortal  One,  AAA  (jL)U)U).:j:  And  this  is  the 
name  of  the  Voice  whereby  the  Perfect  Man  is  moved,  TIT. 
These  likewise  be  the  interpretations  of  the  names  of  the 
Mysteries.  The  first  is  AAA,  and  the  interpretation  thereof  is 
ct>4>4>.  The  second,  which  is  MMM,  or  which  is  CX)(JL)(JL),  the 
interpretation  thereof  is  AAA.  The  third  is  YYT,  the  inter 
pretation  thereof  is  OOO.  The  forth  is  <t>ct>4>,  the  interpretation 
thereof  is  NNN.  The  fifth  AAA,  the  interpretation  thereof  is 
AAA,  the  which  is  above  the  throne  of  AAA.  This  is  the  in 
terpretation  of  the  second  AAAA,  namely,  AAAAAAAA  ;  the  same 
is  the  interpretation  of  the  whole  Name." 

Lines  7,  8,  are  made  up  of  vowels,  variously  combined,  and 
shrouding  from  profane  eyes  the  Ineffable  Name  I  ATT  which, 
as  we  are  informed  by  many  authorities  (the  most  ancient  and 
trustworthy  being  Diodorus  Siculus),§  was  the  name  of  the  God  of 
the  Jews ;  meaning  thereby  their  mode  of  writing  "  Jehovah  "  in 
Greek  characters. 

Line  3  consists  of  the  seven  vowels  placed  in  their  natural 
order.  This  was  the  most  potent  of  all  the  spells  in  the 
Gnostic  repertory;  and  its  importance  may  justify  the  ex- 
tensiveness  of  the  following  extract  from  the  grand  text-book 
of  this  theosophy,  which  sets  forth  its  hidden  sense  and 
wondrous  efficacy.  The  primary  idea,  however,  was  far  from 
abstruse,  if  we  accept  the  statement  of  the  writer  "  On  Interpre- 

*  On  this  curious  subject,  see  J  That  is,  1000  and  800  tripled. 

Kawlinson's  '  Ancient  Monarchies,'  The  next  numbers  are  10,000  tripled, 
iii.  p.  466.  and  so  on. 

t  Cap.  125.  §  '  Bibliotheca  Historica,'  i.  94. 


tations,"  that  the  Egyptians  expressed  the  name  of  the  Supreme 
God  by  the  seven  vowels  thus  arranged — IEHQOYA.*  But 
this  single  mystery  was  soon  refined  upon,  and  made  the  basis 
of  other  and  infinitely  deeper  mysteries.  In  an  inscription 
found  at  Miletus  (published  by  Montfaucon),  the  Holy  IEOY- 
AHHAEIOYn  is  besought  "to  protect  the  city  of  Miletus 
and  all  the  inhabitants  of  the  same ;  a  plain  proof  that  this 
interminable  combination  only  expressed  the  name  of  some  one 
divine  being.  Again,  the  Pistis-Sophia  perpetually  brings  in 
IEOY  invariably  accompanied  with  the  epithet  of  "the  Primal 
Man,"  «.e.,  He  after  whose  image  or  type  man  was  first  created. 
But  in  the  fulness  of  time  the  semi-Pythagorean,  Marcus,  had 
it  revealed  unto  him  that  the  seven  heavens  in  their  revelation 
sounded  each  one  vowel  which,  all  combine'!  together,  formed  a 
single  doxology,  "the  sound  whei'eof  being  carried  down  to 
earth  becomes  the  creator  and  parent  of  all  things  that  be  on 


The  Greek  language  has  but  one  word  for  vowel  and  voice; 
when  therefore,  "  the  seven  thunders  uttered  their  voices,"  the 
seven  vowels,  it  is  meant,  echoed  through  the  vault  of  heaven, 
and  composed  that  mystic  utterance  which  the  sainted  seer  was 
forbidden  to  reveal  unto  mortals.  "  Seal  up  those  things  which 
the  seven  thunders  uttered,  and  write  them  not. "if  With  the 
best  reason,  then,  is  the  formula  inscribed  on  a  talisman  of 
the  first  class,  for  hear  what  the  Pistis-Sophia  delivers  touching 
its  potency. §  "  After  these  things  his  disciples  said  again  unto 
him,  Kabbi,  reveal  unto  us  the  mysteries  of  the  Light  of  thy 
Father,  forasmuch  as  we  have  heard  thee  saying  that  there  is 
another  baptism  of  smoke,  and  another  baptism  o!  ihe  Spirit  of 
Holy  Light,  and  moreover  an  unction  of  the  Spirit,  all  which 
shall  bring  our  souls  into  the  treasurehouse  of  Light.  Declare 
therefore  unto  us  the  mysteries  of  these  things,  so  that  we  also 
may  inherit  the  kingdom  of  thy  Father.  Jesus  said  unto  them, 
Do  ye  seek  after  these  mysteries  ?  No  mystery  is  more  excellent 

*  This    is    in    fact  a  very  correct  f  Hippolytus,  vi.  48. 

representation,  if  we  give  each  vowel  J  Rev.  x.  4. 

its  true  Greek  sound,  of  the  Hebrew  §  Pistis-Sophiu,  cap.  378. 
pronunciation  of  the  word  Jehovah. 


than  they;  which  shall  bring  your  souls  unto  the  Light  of 
Lights,  unto  the  place  of  Truth  and  Goodness,  unto  the  place 
of  the  Holy  of  holies,  unto  the  place  where  is  neither  male  nor 
female,  neither  form  in  that  place  but  Light,  everlasting,  not  to 
be  uttered.  Nothing  therefore  is  more  excellent  than  the 
mysteries  which  ye  seek  after,  saving  only  the  mystery  of  the 
Seven  Vowels  and  their  forty  and  nine  Powers,  and  the  numbers 
thereof.  And  no  name  is  more  excellent  than  all  these 
(Vowels),*  a  Name  wherein  be  contained  all  Names  and  all 
Lights  and  all  Powers.  Knowing  therefore  this  Name,  if  a  man 
shall  have  departed  out  of  this  body  of  Matter,  no  smoke  (of  the 
bottomless  pit),  neither  any  darkness,  nor  Euler  of  the  Sphere 
of  Fate,|  nor  Angel,  nor  Power,  shall  be  able  to  hold  back  the 
soul  that  knoweth  that  Name.  But  and  if,  after  he  shall  have 
departed  out  of  this  world,  he  shall  utter  that  Name  unto  the 
fire,  it  shall  be  quenched,  and  the  darkness  shall  flee  away. 
And  if  he  shall  utter  that  Name  unto  the  devils  of  the  Outei 
Darkness,  and  to  the  Powers  thereof,  they  shall  all  faint  away, 
and  their  flame  shall  blaze  up,  so  that  they  shall  cry  aloud 
'Thou  art  holy,  thou  art  holy,  0  Holy  One  of  all  holies!' 
And  if  he  shall  utter  that  Name  unto  the  Takers-awav  for 
condemnation,  and  their  Authorities,  and  all  their  Powers,  nay, 
even  unto  Barbelo,J  and  the  Invisible  God,  and  the  three 
Triple-powered  Gods,  so  soon  as  he  shall  have  uttered  that 
Name  in  those  places,  they  shall  all  bo  shaken  and  thrown  one 
upon  the  other,  so  that  they  shall  be  ready  to  melt  away  and 
perish,  and  shall  cry  aloud,  '  0  Light  of  all  lights  that  art  in 
the  Boundless  L?ght !  remember  us  also,  and  purify  us ! '  " 
After  such  a  revelation  as  this,  we  need  seek  no  further  for  the 
reason  of  the  frequent  occurrence  of  this  formula  upon  talismans 
intended,  when  they  had  done  their  duty  in  this  world,  to 
accompany  their  owner  into  the  tomb,  continuing  to  exert  there 
a  protective  influence  of  a  yet  higher  order  than  in  life. 

For  the  student  of  the  mineralogy  of  the  ancients  this  celt 

*  Evidently  alluding  to  the  col-  released  from  the  body  in  which  they 

location  of  the  vowels  on  our  talisman.  have  imprisoned  it. 

t  The  twelve  Mons  of  the  Zodiac,  J  The  divine  mother  of  the  Saviour, 

the  creators  of  the  human  soul,  which  and  one  of  the  three  "  Invisible  Gods  " 

they  eagerly  seek  to  catch  when  cap.  351). 


has  very  great  interest  in  point  of  material,  as  being  the  only 
specimen  of  true  jade,  bearing  indisputable  marks  of  either 
Greek  or  Eoman  workmanship,  that,  so  far  as  my  knowledge 
extends,  has  ever  yet  been  brought  to  light.  This  ancient 
neglect  of  the  material  is  truly  difficult  to  explain,  if  the  state 
ment  of  a  very  good  authority,  Corsi,  be  indeed  correct,  that  the 
sort  showing  the  deepest  green  is  found  in  Egypt.  The  known 
predilection  of  the  Eomans  for  gems  of  that  colour,  would,  one 
should  naturally  expect,  have  led  them  in  that  case  to  employ 
the  stone  largely  in  ornamentation,  after  the  constant  fashion  of 
the  Chinese,  and  to  value  it  as  a  harder  species  of  the  Smaragdus. 
The  circumstances  under  which  this  relic  was  brought  to 
England  render  it  more  than  probable  that  Egypt  was  the 
place  where  it  was  found ;  a  supposition  corroborated  by  the 
fine  quality  of  the  stone  exactly  agreeing  with  what  Corsi 
remarks  of  the  Egyptian  kind.  That  Alexandria  was  the  place 
where  the  inscription  was  added  upon  its  surface  can  admit  of 
little  question ;  the  lettering  being  precisely  that  seen  upon 
innumerable  other  monuments  which  can  with  certainty  be 
assigned  to  the  same  grand  focus  of  Gnosticism.  In  addition  to 
this,  it  is  very  doubtful  whether  in  the  third  or  fourth  centuries 
a  lapidary  could  have  been  found  elsewhere  throughout  the 
whole  KomanVEmpiie  capable  of  engraving  with  such  skill  as 
the  minute  characters  within  the  wreath  evince,  upon  a 
material  of  this,  almost  insuperable,  obduracy.  From  the  times 
of  the  Ptolemies  down  to  the  Arab  conquest,  and  even  later, 
Alexandria  was  the  seat  of  the  manufacture  of  vases  in  rock 
crystal.  This  trade  served  to  keep  alive  the  expiring  Glyptic 
art  for  the  only  purpose  for  which  its  productions  continued  to 
be  demanded — the  manufacture  of  talismans,  consignments  of 
which  must  have  been  regularly  shipped,  together  with  the 
crystal- ware,*  to  Rome,  and  equally  to  the  other  important 
cities  of  the  empire. 

The   primitive   Egyptians,   like   the   early    Chaldeans,  used 

stone  in  the  place  of  metal  for  their  cutting  instruments,  and 

continued   its   use   for   making   particular   articles   down   into 

historic  times.     Herodotus  mentions  the  regular  employment  of 

*  "  Duin  tibi   Niliacus  portat  cryatallu  catajplua."— Mart.  xii.  72. 


the  "  Ethiopian  stone  "  sharpened,  for  a  dissect  ing-knife*  in  the 
process  of  embalming,  and  similarly  for  pointing  the  arrowsf 
carried  by  the  contingent  of  the  same  nation  in  the  army  of 
Xerxes.  The  Alexandrian  citizen,  half-Jew  half-Greek,  who 
had  the  good  fortune  to  pick  up  this  primaeval  implement, 
doubtless  rejoiced  in  the  belief  that  he  had  gotten  a  "stone  of 
virtue,"  most  potent  alike  from  substance,  figure,  and  nature, 
and  therefore  proceeded  to  do  his  prize  due  honour  by  making 
it  the  medium  of  his  most  accredited  spells — nay,  more,  by 
inventing  a  new  formula  of  unusual  complication  and  pro 
fundity  whereby  to  animate  its  inherent  powers.  As  regards 
its  substance,  the  stone  probably  passed  then  for  a  smaragdus  of 
exceptional  magnitude,  and  that  gem,  as  Pliny  records,  J  was 
recommended  by  the  magi  as  the  proper  material  for  a  talisman 
of  prodigious  efficacy,  which,  duly  engraved,  should  baffle 
witchcraft,  give  success  at  court,  avert  hailstorms,  and  much 
more  of  like  nature.  The  smaragdus  of  the  ancients  was  little 
more  than  a  generic  designation  for  all  stones  of  a  green  colour, 
and  the  entire  Gnostic  series  strikingly  demonstrates  that  this 
hue  was  deemed  a  primary  requisite  in  a  talismanic  gem — the 
almost  exclusive  material  of  the  class  being  the  green  jasper 
and  the  plasma. 

Again,  as  regards  figure,  this  celt  offered  in  its  triangular 
outline,  that  most  sacred  of  all  emblems,  the  mystic  Delta,  the 
form  that  signified  maternity,  and  was  the  hieroglyph  of  the 
moon.  This  belief  is  mentioned  by  Plutarch,§  and  explains 
why  the  triangle  so  often  accompanies  the  figure  of  the  sacred 
baboon,  Luna's  special  attribute,  on  monuments,  where  also  it 
is  sometimes  displayed  elevated  upon  a  column  with  that 
animal  standing  before  it  in  the  attitude  of  adoration. 

Lastly,  the  supposed  nature  of  this  gift  of  Fortune  was  not  of 
Earth,  inasmuch  as  it  then  passed  for  a  holy  thing  that  "  had 
fallen  down  from  Jupiter,"  being,  in  fact,  nothing  less  than  one 
of  that  god's  own  thunderbolts.  A  notion  this  which  will 

*  ii-  86.  the  equilateral  triangle  "  Athene  " — 

t  vii.  69.  a  curious  confirmation  of  the  tradition 

I  xxxvii.  40.  quoted    by  Aristotle,  that  the  Attic 

§  '  De   Iside   et   Osiride,'  cap.  75.  goddess  was  one  and  the  same  with 

He  adds  that  the  Pythagoreans  called  the  Moon. 


doubtless  strike  the  modern  mind  as  so  strange,  or  rather  as  so 
preposterous,  that  it  necessitates  my  giving  at  full  length  my 
reasons  for  making  such  an  assertion.  And  in  truth  the  subject 
is  well  worth  the  trouble  of  investigation,  seeing  that  the  same 
superstition  will  be  found  to  extend  from  an  early  period  of 
antiquity  down  into  the  popular  belief  of  our  own  times 
throughout  a  large  extent  of  Europe. 

It  is  in  accordance  with  this  notion  that  I  have  designated 
this  celt  a  "ceraunia"  (thunderbolt-stone),  and  it  therefore 
remains  for  me  to  adduce  my  reasons  for  giving  it  what  must 
appear  to  most  people  so  unaccountable  and  highly  inappro 
priate  an  appellation.  Sotacus,  who  is  quoted  elsewhere  by 
Pliny  "  as  one  of  the  most  ancient  writers  on  mineralogy,"  is 
cited  by  him*  "  as  making  two  other  kinds  of  the  ceraunia,  the 
black  and  the  red,  resembling  axe-heads  in  shape.  Of  these, 
such  as  be  black  and  round  are  sacred  things;  towns  and  fleets 
can  be  captured  by  their  instrumentality.  The  latter  are  called 
Bsetyli,  whilst  the  oblong  sort  are  the  Ceraunise.  Some  make 
out  another  kind,  in  mighty  request  in  the  practices  of  the 
magi,  inasmuch  as  it  is  only  to  be  found  in  places  that  have 
been  struck  by  lightning."  One  would  have  been  utterly  at  a 
loss  to  understand  what  the  old  Greek  had  been  speaking  about 
in  the  chapter  thus  confusedly  condensed  by  the  later  Eoman 
naturalist,  or  to  discover  any  resemblance  in  form  between  the 
lightning-flash  and  an  axe-head,  had  it  not  been  for  the  popular 
superstition  tint  has  prevailed  in  Germany  from  time  im 
memorial  to  the  present  day,  and  of  which  full  particulars  are 
given  by  Anselmus  Boetius  in  his  invaluable  repertory  of 
medieval  lore  upon  all  such  matters,  written  at  the  beginning 
of  the  seventeenth  century. | 

Under  the  popular  names  of  "  Strahl-hammer,"  "  Donner- 
pfeil,"  "  Donner-keil,"  "  Strahl-pfeil,"  "  Strahl-keil  "  (lightning- 
hammer,  thunder-arrow  or  club,  lightning-arrow,  &c.),  and  the 
Italian  "  Sagitta,"t  he  figures  stone  celts  and  hammers  of  five 

*  xxxvii.  51.  lightning-niissila,  the  archer's  shaft 

f  '  Gem.  et  Lapid.  Hist.'  ii.  cap.  being  expressed  by  the  Teutonic 

261.  "  freceia,"  in  accordance  with  the 

J"Saetta"  (a  vulgar  Italian  genius  of  the  language  which  reserves 

execration),  is  now  restricted  to  the  the  old  Latin  terms    for    the  things 


different,  but  all  common,  types ;  remarking  that  so  firm  was 
the  belief  in  these  things  being  the  "actual  arrow  of  the 
lightning  "  (ipsa  fulminis  sagitta),  that  should  any  one  attempt 
to  controvert  it  he  would  be  taken  for  a  madman.  He  however 
confesses  with  amusing  simplicity  that  the  substance  of  these 
thunderbolts  is  exceedingly  like  the  common  flint  used  for 
striking  fire  with;  nay,  more,  he  boldly  declares  he  should 
agree  with  those  few  rationalists  who,  on  the  strength  of  their 
resemblance  in  shape  to  the  tools  in  common  use,  pronounced 
these  objects  to  be  merely  ordinary  iron  implements  that  had 
got  petrified  by  long  continuance  in  the  earth,  had  it  not  been 
for  the  testimony  of  the  most  respectable  witnes'ses  as  to  the 
fact  of  their  being  discovered  in  places  just  seen  to  be  struck 
witli  lightning.  Besides  quoting  some  fully  detailed  instances 
from  Gesner,  he  adds  that  several  persons  had  assured  him  of 
having  themselves  seen  these  stones  dug  up  in  places  where  the 
lightning  had  fallen.  The  natural  philosophers  of  the  day 
accounted  for  the  creation  of  such  substances  in  the  atmosphere 
by  supposing  the  existence  of  a  vapour  charged  with  sulphureous 
and  metallic  particles,  which  rising  above  a  certain  height 
became  condensed  through  the  extreme  heat  of  the  sun,  and 
assumed  a  wedge-like  form  in  consequence  of  the  escape  of  their 
moisture,  and  the  gravitation  of  the  heavier  particles  towards 
their  lower  end!  Notwithstanding  this  celestial  origin,  the 
virtue  of  the  production  was  not  then  esteemed  of  a  pro 
portionally  sublime  order,  extending  no  further  than  to  the 
prevention  or  the  cure  of  ruptiires  in  children,  if  placed  upon 
their  cradles ;  and  also  to  the  procuring  of  sleep  in  the  case  of 
adults.  In  our  own  times  Justinus  Kerner  mentions*  the  same 
names  for  stone  celts  as  universally  popular  amongst  the 
German  boors;  but  they  are  now  chiefly  valued  for  their 
efficacy  in  preserving  cattle  from  the  murrain,  and  consequently 
the  finders  can  seldom  be  induced  to  part  with  them. 

not  of  this  world, — using  those  of  the  peasantry    to     have     this     celestial 

lingua  militaris   for   every-day  pur-  origin,   and   are    highly   valued    as 

poses.     The  flint  arrow-heads  found  portable  "  light-conductors." 
in  the  terra  marna  of  the  primaeval          *  In  his  little  treatise  on  Amulets. 
Umbrian  towns,  are  believed  by  the 


It  must  not,  however,  be  supposed  that  Sotacus  picked  tip 
this  strange  notion  from  the  Teutones  of  bis  own  age,  whose 
very  existence  was  probably  unknown  to  him ;  his  informants 
were  unquestionably  those  magi  cited  at  the  conclusion  of 
Pliny's  extract.  The  Greek  mineralogist  had  lived  "  apud 
Eegem,"  that  is,  at  the  court  of  the  King  of  Persia,  very  pro 
bably  in  the  capacity  of  royal  physician,  like  his  countrymen 
Democedes  and  Ctesias.  In  that  region  he  had  ample  oppor 
tunities  of  seeing  stone  celts,  for  Rawlinson  observes  *  that 
flint  axes  and  other  implements,  exactly  identical  with  the 
European  in  workmanship,  are  common  in  all  the  most  ancient 
mounds  of  Chaldsea,  those  sites  of  primeval  cities.  Such 
elevations  above  the  dead  level  of  those  interminable  plains 
were  necessarily  the  most  liable  to  be  lightning-struck ;  and 
hence  probably  arose  the  idea  that  these  weird-looking  stones 
('all  tradition  of  whose  proper  destination  had  long  since  died 
out  amongst  the  iron-using  Persians)  were  the  actual  fiery  bolts 
which  had  been  seen  to  bury  themselves  in  the  clay.  And 
again,  to  revert  to  the  German  belief,  it  must  be  remembered 
that  Thor,  the  Northern  Jupiter,  is  pictured  as  armed  with  a 
huge  hammer  in  the  place  of  the  classical  thunderbolt.  The 
type  of  the  god  had  been  conceived  in  the  far-remote  ages  when 
the  stone -hammer  was  as  yet  the  most  effective  and  formidable 
of  weapons,  and  was  preserved  unchanged  out  of  deference  to 
antiquity,  after  the  true  meaning  of  the  attribute  was  entirely 
forgotten.  Nevertheless,  his  worshippers,  accustomed  to  be 
hold  the  hammer  in  the  hand  of  the  god  of  thunder, — vi/a/^pe/zeV^s 
Zev's, — very  naturally  concluded  that  these  Grange  objects,  of 
unknown  use,  found  from  time  to  time  deep  buried  in  the 
earth,  were  the  actual  mis.siles  which  that  deity  had  discharged. 
It  is  a  remarkable  proof  of  the  wide  diffusion  of  the  same  belief, 
that  the  late  owner  of  the  relic  under  consideration,  habitually 
spoke  of  it  as  a  *'  thunderstone," — a  name  he  could  only  have 
learnt  from  the  Arabs  from  whom  it  was  procured,  seeing  that 
no  such  notion  with  respect  to  celts  has  ever  been  current  in 
this  country.  But  every  one  whose  memory  reaches  back  forty 
years  or  more  may  recollect,  that  wheresoever  in  England  the 
*  'Ancient  Monarchies,'  i.  p.  120. 


fossil  Belemnite  is  to  be  found,  it  was  implicitly  received  by  all, 
except  the  few  pioneers  of  Geology  (a  word  then  almost  synony 
mous  with  Atheism),  as  the  veritable  thunderbolt  shot  from 
the  clouds,  and  by  that  appellation  was  it  universally  known. 
I,  for  one,  can  recollect  stories,  quite  as  respectably  attested 
as  those  Boetius  quotes  concerning  the  Ceraunise,  told  re 
specting  the  discovery  of  new  fallen  belemnites  under  precisely 
the  same  circumstances ;  and,  in  truth,  the  same  author  does 
in  the  preceding  chapter  treat  at  length  of  the  Belemnites, 
and  his  cuts  show  that  the  name  meant  then  what  it  does 
at  present ;  but  he  assigns  to  the  missile  an  infernal  instead 
of  a  celestial  source,  giving  the  vulgar  title  for  it  as  "  Alp- 
schoss,"  (elfin-shot,)  which  he  classically  renders  into  "  dart 
of  the  Incubus,"  stating  further  that  it  was  esteemed  (on 
the  good  old  principle,  "  similia  similibus  curantur ")  of 
mighty  efficacy  to  guard  the  sleeper  from  the  visits  of  that 
much  dreaded  nocturnal  demon.  The  Prussian,  Saxon,  and 
Spanish  physicians  employed  it,  powdered,  as  equally  efficacious 
with  the  lapis  Judaicus,  in  the  treatment  of  the  calculus.  It  was 
also  believed  a  specific  for  the  pleurisy  in  virtue  of  its  pointed 
figure,  which  was  analogous  to  the  sharp  pains  of  that  disease, 
for  so  taught  the  universally  accepted  "  Doctrine  of  Signa 

The  Ceraunise  of  Sotacus,  however,  comprised,  besides  these 
primitive  manufactures  of  man,  other  substances,  it  is  hard  to 
say  whether  meteorites  or  fossils  ;  the  nature  of  which  remains 
to  be  discussed.  Photius,*  after  quoting  the  paragraph,  "  I 
beheld  the  Bsetylus  moving  through  the  air,  and  sometimes 
wrapped  up  in  vestments,  sometimes  carried  in  the  hands  of 
the  ministers,"  proceeds  to  give  a  summary  of  the  wondrous 
tale  told  by  the  discoverer  of  the  prodigy — one  Eusebius  of 
Emesa.  He  related  how  that,  being  seized  one  night  with  a 
sudden  and  unaccountable  desire  to  visit  a  very  ancient  temple 
of  Minerva,  situated  upon  a  mountain  at  some  distance  from  the 
city,  he  started  off,  and  arriving  at  the  foot,  sat  down  to  rest 
himself.  Suddenly  he  beheld  a  globe  of  fire  fall  down  from 
heaven,  and  a  monstrous  lion  standing  by  the  same,  but  who 
*  '  Bibliotheca,'  1063,  R. 


immediately  vanished.  Running  to  pick  it  up  as  soon  as  the 
fire  was  extinguished,  he  found  this  self-same  Bsetylus.  In 
quiring  of  it  to  what  god  it  belonged,  the  thing  made  answer 
that  he  came  from  the  Noble  One  (so  was  called  a  figure  of  a 
lion  standing  in  the  temple  at  Heliopolis).  Eusebius  thereupon 
ran  home  with  his  prize,  a  distance  of  210  stadia  (26  miles), 
without  once  stopping,  being  quite  unable  to  control  the  im 
petus  of  the  stone  !  He  described  it  as  "  of  a  whitish  colour,  a 
perfect  sphere,  a  span  in  diameter,  but  sometimes  assuming  a 
purple*  shade,  and  also  expanding  and  contracting  its  dimen 
sions,  and  having  letters  painted  on  it  in  cinnabar,  of  which  he 
gave  the  interpretation.  The  stone,  likewise,  if  struck  against 
the  wall,  returned  answers  to  consultors  in  a  low  whistling 
voice."  The  grain  of  truth  in  this  huge  heap  of  lies  is 
obviously  enough  the  fact  that  Eusebius,  having  had  the  good 
fortune  to  witness  the  descent  of  a  meteorite,  and  to  get  posses 
sion  of  the  same,  told  all  these  fables  about  it  in  order  to  in 
crease  the  credit  of  the  oracular  stone  (which  doubtless  brought 
him  in  many  fees)  amongst  his  credulous  townsfolk.  Damasciusf 
(whose  Life  of  Isidorus  Photius  is  here  being  epitomised)  adds, 
that  this  philosopher  was  of  opinion  that  the  stone  was  the  abode 
of  a  spirit,  though  not  one  of  the  mischievous  or  unclean  sort, 
nor  yet  one  of  a  perfectly  immaterial  nature.  He  further 
more  states  that  other  bsetyli  were  known,  dedicated  to  Saturn, 
Jupiter,  and  the  Sun ;  and  moreover  that  Isidorus  and  himself 
saw  many  of  such  bsetyli  or  bsetylla  upon  Mount  Libanus,  near 
Heliopolis  in  Syria. 

As  for  the  derivation  of  bsetylus,  the  one  proposed  by  the 
Byzantine  Hesychius,  who  makes  it  come  from  bsete,  the  goat 
skin  mantle,  wherein  Rhea  wrapped  up  the  stone  she  gave  old 
Saturn  to  swallow,  instead  of  the  new-born  Jove,  cannot  be 
considered  much  more  satisfactory  than  Bochart's,  who,  like  a 
sound  divine,  discovers  in  it  a  reminiscence  of  the  stone  pillar 
which  Jacob  set  up  at  Bethel,  and  piously  endeavours  to  force 
Sancoriiathon,  who  speaks  of  the  "  living  "  stones,  the  bsethylia,  J 

*  The  Greek  purple  included  every  J  "  Moreover  the  god  Uranus  de- 
shade  from  crimson  to  violet.  vised  btethylia,  contriving  stones  that 

t  A  stoic  philosopher  under  Justi-  moved  as  having  life." 


to   confirm    his    interpretation    by    correcting    his    text    into 
"  anointed." 

But  this  last  Ixtylm  is  beyond  all  question  the  same  thing 
with  that  described  by  the  Pseudo-Orpheus,*  under  the  names 
of  Sideritcs,  and  the  animated  Oritcs,  "  round,  black,  ponderous, 
and  surrounded  with  deeply-graven  furrows."  In  the  first  of 
these  epithets  may  easily  be  recognized  the  ferruginous  character 
common  to  all  meteorites  (siderites  being  also  applied  to  the 
loadstone),  whilst  the  second  (Orites)  seems  to  indicate  the 
locality  where  they  most  abounded,  viz.,  Mount  Lebanon. 

Sotacus'  notice,  indeed,  of  the  efficacy  of  the  Isetylm  in  pro 
curing  success  in  seafights  and  sieges,  is  copiously  illustrated 
by  the  succeeding  verses  of  the  same  mystic  poet,  who,  it  must 
be  remembered,  can  claim  a  very  high  antiquity,  there  being 
sufficient  grounds  for  identifying  him  with  Onomacritus,  a  con 
temporary  of  Pisistratus,  in  the  sixth  century  before  our  era. 
The   diviner   Helenus,   according   to   him,   had   received    this 
oracular   stone  from  Apollo,   and  he  describes  the  rites,   with 
great  minuteness,  for  the  guidance  of  all  subsequent  possessors 
of  such  a  treasure,  by  means  of  which  the  Trojan  woke  up  the 
spirit  within  the  "  vocal  sphere."     This  was  effected  by  dint  of 
thrice  seven  days'  fasting  and  continence,  by  incantations  and 
sacrifices  offered  to  the  stone,  and  by  bathing,  clothing,  and 
nursing  it  like  an  infant.     Through  its  aid,  when  at  length 
rendered  instinct  with  life,  the  traitorous  seer  declared  to  the 
Atridas   the   coming  downfall  of  Troy;  the  stone  uttering  its 
responses  in  a  voice  resembling  the  feeble  wail  of  an  infant 
desiring  the  breast.     It  is  more  than  probable  that  Orphesius  in 
describing   the   Orites,  had  in  view  the  Sdlagrdma,   or  sacred 
stone  of  Vishnu,    still  employed  by  the  Brahmins   in  all  pro 
pitiatory  rites,  especially  in  those  performed  at  the  death-bed. 
Sonnerat  describes  it  as  "  a  kind  of  ammonite,  round  or  oval  in 
shape,  black,  and  very  ponderous."     The  furrows  covering  its 
surface  were  traced  by  Vishnu's  own  finger  ;  but  when  found 
of   a  violet  colour,  it  is  looked   upon  with  horror,  as   repre 
senting  a  vindictive  avatar  of  the  god.     The  possessor  keeps 
it  wrapped  up  in  linen  garment  like  a  child,  and  often  bathes 

*  Ai0i/ca,  355. 



and  perfumes  it — precisely  the  rites  prescribed  by  our  poet  for 
the  due  consultation  of  the  oracle  of  the  Siderites. 

From  all  this  it  may  safely  be  deduced  that  the  "  stone  of 
power,"  whether  bsetylus  or  orites,  was  in  most  cases   nothing 
more  than  a  fossil ;  either  a  ferruginous  nodule,  or  an  echinus 
filled  with  iron  pyrites.     Their  being  found  in  abundance  in  one 
particular  locality,  precludes  the  idea  of  these    at  least  being 
meteorites,  which  latter,  besides,  never  assume  any  regular  form, 
but  look  like  mere  fragments  of  iron  slag.      This  explanation  is 
strongly  supported  by  the  drawings  Boetius  gives*  of  what  was 
then  called  the  "  Donner-stein,"  or  "  Wetter-stein,"  (thunder,  or 
storm-stone,)   and   which   he   very   plausibly    identifies    with 
Pliny's  Brontias  "  that  got  into  the  head  of  the  tortoise  during 
thunder-storms,"  and  which  is  described  in  another   place  as 
the  "  eye   of  the  Indian  tortoise "   that  conferred   the  gift  of 
prophecy.     His   carefully   drawn   figure   of  this   Donner-stein 
(which  also  passed  for  the  "  grosser  Kroten-stein,"  bigger  toad- 
stone),  shows  it  to  be  only  a  fossil  echinus  of  a  more  oMate  form 
than  the  common  sort.     The  regular  toadstone,  plentifully  to  be 
seen   in  medieval  rings,  was,   on   the   other   hand,    the   small 
hollow  hemisphere,  the  fossil  tooth  of  an  extinct  fish,  found  in 
the  greensand  formation.     In  that  age   the   Donner-stein   was 
held  to  possess  all  the  many  virtues  of  the  Toadstone,  Belem- 
nito,  and  Ovum   Anguinum,    in    counteracting   poison,    giving 
success   in    all   enterprises,    procuring    sleep,    and    protection 
against  danger  of  lightning.      But  the  old  physician,  so  much 
in  advance  of  his  times,  cannot  help  winding  up  the  list  of  its 
virtues  with  the  hint,  "  Fides  saspe  veritate  major." 

The  axe-heads  and  hammer-heads  of  stone,  known  to  us  by 
the  general  designation  of  celts,  have,  until  recent  explorations, 
been  regarded  as  comparatively  of  rare  'occurrence  amongst 
ancient  relics  obtained  from  Eastern  lands  and  from  some  other 
continental  countries.  Our  information,  however,  in  regard 
to  objects  of  this  class  has  become  greatly  extended.  Mr. 
James  Yates  published,  in  the  Archaeological  Journal,  ex 
amples  of  stone  celts  from  Java ;  an  interesting  specimen 
obtained  at  Sardis  is  figured,  vol.  xv.  p.  178,  and  some  others 

*  ii.  cap.  26-i. 


were  found  by  Mr.  Layard  at  Nineveh.  The  occurrence  of 
any  ornament  or  inscription  upon  such  objects  is  very  rare, 
but  amongst  numerous  stone  implements  obtained  in  Greece 
one  is  noticed  by  M.  de  Mortillet  (Materiaux  pour  1'Histoire 
primitive  do  rilomme,  Jan.  1868,  p.  9),  of  which  he  had  re 
ceived  from  Athens  a  drawing  and  an  estampage  ;  it  is  described 
as  "une  hache  en  pierre,  sur  une  des  faces  de 
laquello  on  a  grave  trois  personnages  et  une  inscription  en 
caracteres  grecs.  L'ancien  outil  a  evidemment  ete,  beaucoup 
plus  tard,  quand  on  a  eu  completement  oublie  son  usao-e 
primitif,  transforme  en  talisman  ou  pierre  cabalistique." 

At  the  annual  meeting  of  the  Antiquaries  of  the  North,  on 
March  21st,  1853,  under  the  presidency  of  the  late  King  of  Den 
mark,  several  recent  acquisitions  were  exhibited,  obtained  for  his 
private  collection  at  Frederiksborg.  Amongst  these  there  was 
an  axe-head  of  stone  (length  about  6J  inches),  perforated  with  a 
hole  for  the  handle,  and  remarkable  as  bearing  on  one  of  its 
sides  four  Eunic  characters,  that  appear  to  have  been  cut  upon 
the  stone  at  some  period  more  recent  than  the  original  use  of 
the  implement.  It  has  been  figured  in  the  Memoirs  of  the 
Society,  1850-1860,  p.  28  ;  see  also  Antiquarisk  Tidsskrift,  1852- 
1854,  pp.  258-266.  I  am  indebted  to  a  friend  well  skilled  in 
Eunes  and  Scandinavian  archaeology,  Dr.  Charlton,  formerly 
secretary  of  the  Society  of  Antiquaries  of  Newcastle,  for  the 
following  observations  on  this  interesting  relic. 

"  The  first  letter  is  L,  and,  if  we  accept  the  idea  that  these 
were  Eunes  of  Victory,  it  may  stand  for  the  initial  of  Loki ; 
the  second  is  Th,  and  may  stand  for  Thor ;  the  third  0  for 
Odin;  the  fourth,  Belgthor,  with  a  T  above  it,  may  refer  to 
Belgthor's  friendship  and  alliance  with  Thor,  and  the  T  stands 
for  Tyr.  We  may  imagine  the  names  of  the  Northern  gods  to 
have  been  cut  on  this  stone  axe  to  give  it  victory  in  battle, 
just  as  the  old  Germans  and  Saxons  cut  mystic  Eunes  on  their 
swords,  a  practice  noticed  by  Haigh  in  his  '  Conquest  of  Britain 
by  the  Saxons,'  p.  28,  pi.  1,  where  he  has  figured  amongst 
various  examples  of  the  futhorc,  or  alphabet  of  Eunic  charac 
ters,  one  inlaid  on  a  sword  or  knife  found  in  the  Thames, 
and  now  in  the  British  Museum.  At  p.  51,  ibid.  pi.  iii.  fig.  20, 
he  has  cited  also  the  Eunic  inscription  on  the  silver  pommel  of 

P  2 


a  sword  found  at  Gilton,  Kent,  formerly  in  the  collection  of  the 
late  Mr.  Eolfe,  of  Sandwich,  and  subsequently  in  the  possession  of 
Mr.  Joseph  Mayer.  This  relic  is  now  in  the  precious  museum 
bestowed  by  his  generous  encouragement  of  archaeological  science 
on  the  town  of  Liverpool.  The  interpretation  given  in  the 
latter  instance  is  as  follows, — I  eke  victory  to  great  deeds.* 

"  There  was  another  explanation  given  of  the  characters  on 
the  Danish  stone  axe.  It  was  read — LUTHER,  o. — Ludr  owns 
namely,  the  weapon  thus  inscribed." 

In  the  ancient  Sagas,  as  remarked  in  Nilsson's  *  Primitive 
Inhabitants  of  Scandinavia  '  (translation  by  Sir  John  Lubbock, 
Bart,  p.  214J,  mention  occurs  of  amulets  designated  life-stones, 
victory-stones,  &c.,  which  warriors  carried  about  with  them  in 
battle  to  secure  victory.  A  curious  relation  is  cited  from  one 
of  the  Sagas,  that  King  Kidung,  when  about  to  engage  in 
conflict,  perceived  that  he  had  neglected  to  bring  a  precious 
heir-loom,  a  .stone  that  possessed  the  virtue  of  ensuring  victory. 
He  offered  the  hand  of  his  daughter,  with  a  third  part  of  his 
kingdom,  to  him  who  should  bring  this  talisman  before  the 
fight  commenced ;  and,  having  received  it,  he  won  the  battle. 
In  another  narrative,  the  daughter  of  a  Scanian  warrior  steals 
during  his  slumbers  the  stone  that  was  hung  on  his  neck,  and 
gave  it  to  her  lover,  who  thus  became  the  victor.  Nilsson 
observes  that  stones  are  found  in  museums,  for  instance  a 
hammer-stone  with  a  loop,  that  appear  to  have  been  worn  thus 
as  talismans  in  war. 

It  is  perhaps  scarcely  necessary  to  advert  to  certain  axe-heads 
of  stone,  in  their  general  form  similar  to  those  with  which  we 
are  familiar  as  found  in  Europe  ;  upon  these  implements  are 
engraved  rude  designs,  such  as  the  Jiuman  visage,  &c.  These 
objects,  of  which  an  example  preserved  in  a  museum  at  Douai 
has  been  much  cited,  may  be  "  victory-stones "  of  an  ancient 
and  primitive  people,  but  they  are  now  recognised  as  of  Carib 
origin,  and  not  European. 

*  '  Archceologia,' vol.  xxxii.  p.  321.  antiquaries     suggest,    appended     to 

A  spear-head    inscribed  with  Runes  sword-hilts  as  charms.     One  of  these 

is  noticed,  '  Journ.  Brit.  Arch.  Ass.,'  rings,  lately  found  at  Carlisle,  is  in 

vol.  xxiii.  p.  387.   There  exist  certain  possession  of  Mr.  Robert  Ferguson,  of 

massive  rings  of  metal  inscribed  with  Morton,  near  that  city. 
Runes,  that  may  have  been,  as  some 





"  THERE  was  a  time  "  (says  M.  Matter  with  much  force)  "  when  it 
was  from  Judaism,  especially  from  the  Kabbala,  and  the  system 
of  Philo,  that  people  sought  to  derive  the  great  transition  of  the 
human  mind  from  the  ancient  into  the  modern  world  :  a  revolu 
tion  in  which  so  important  a  part  is  played  by  Gnosticism.  So 
far  as  regards  the  explanation  of  the  writings  and  the  under 
standing  of  the  views  given  by  Origen,  Irengeus,  and  the  other 
Fathers  upon  Gnosticism,  the  Jewish  element  still  retains  its 
ancient  pre-eminence  ;  but  in  the  case  of  the  tangible  monuments 
come  down  to  us  from  the  Gnostics  themselves,  we  ought  hence 
forth  to  be  fully  convinced  that  it  is  in  the  antiquities  of  Eyypt 
we  must  look  for  our  chief  information :  and  if  the  ideas, 
terminology,  and  symbols  of  Judaism  (that  is,  of  the  Kabbala) 
have  lent  certain  doctrines  to  this  system,  yet  it  is  Egyptian  art 
that  has  furnished  it  with  the  greatest  part  of  its  symbols." 

This  grand  development  of  the  old  Wisdom  of  Egypt  in  a 
new  phase  is  the  most  conspicuously  exhibited  in  that  very 
numerous  class  of  engraved  gems  popularly  and  indiscriminately 
called  Abraxas,  Basilidan,  and  Gnostic  stones,  almost  the  sole 
production  of  the  expiring  Glyptic  Art  during  the  last  two 
centuries  of  the  Western  Empire.  But,  contrary  to  the 
generally  received  notion  concerning  their  nature,  a  careful, 
study  of  their  numerous  subdivisions  has  fully  convinced  me 
that  only  a  very  small  minority  amidst  their  multitude  present 
any  traces  of  the  influence  of  Christian  doctrines  ;  being  for  the 
most  part  the  fruit  of  religious  ideas  which  had  flourished  long 
before  the  first  dawn  of  Christianity.  An  important  portion, 
indeed,  originating  in  the  primitive  Egyptian  Mythology,  have 
more  connexion  with  Magic  and  Medicine  than  with  any 
religious  object ;  and  their  employment  as  talismans  establishes 

216  THE    GNOSTICS    AND    THEIli    REMAINS. 

for  them  a  higher  antiquity  than  belongs  to  the  real  "  Abraxas  " 
gems,  the  date  of  whose  origin  is  historically  ascertained.  The 
subject  therefore  will  be  more  conveniently  approached  by 
considering  in  the  first  place  the  Agathodsemon,  Chnuphis,  or 
Chneph  figures,  often  named  "  Dracontia,"  and  erroneously 
attributed  to  the  Ophites  and  such-like  semi-Christian  sects,  as 
their  actual  inventors. 

It  cannot  however  be  denied,  that  although  these  last-named 
sectaries  did  not  invent  this  emblem,  yet  that  they  generally 
adopted  it  for  their  distinguishing  badge  or,  to  use  their  technical 
word,  "  seal."  And  this  circumstance  leads  to  a  remark  which, 
applying  to  all  talismans  alike,  may  aptly  serve  for  preface  to 
the  following  dissertation  upon  their  several  classes.  In  the 
primitive  Nature-worship  of  the  Old  World  all  religion  consisted 
in  the  deification  of  the  great  visible  Powers  of  the  Universe* 
The  Supremo  Beings  therefore  belonged  to  the  present  World, 
consequently  all  the  blessings  they  could  confer  were  limited  to 
this  life.  The  means,  of  whatever  kind,  supposed  to  secure  the 
goodwill  of  these  Powers  had  for  object  tangible  blessings 
alone— wealth,  peace,  long  life,  posterity— in  fact  all  those 
rewards  promised  by  Moses  to  the  obedient  Israelites.  The 
engraved  stones  under  consideration,  being  legacies  of  this 
older  religion,  were  designed  to  secure  temporal  not  spiritual 
benefits  to  the  wearers.  The  latter  were  not  even  dreamed  of 
by  people  holding  the  belief  "  mors  ultima  linea  rerum  est." 
This  fact  explains  why  so  many  of  the  Gnostic  gems  are  in 
reality  no  more  than  medicinal  agents,  and  prescribed  by 
physicians,  Heathen  and  Christian  alike,  in  their  regular 
practice,  from  Nechepsos  down  to  Alexander  Trallianus.  On 
the  other  hand  the  true  Gnostics,  whose  sole  profession  was 
the  knowledge  of  the  other  world,  when  they  applied  to  the 
doctrines  of  the  ancient  religion  the  same  method  of  interpre 
tation  that  the  Kabbalists  had  used  for  Moses  and  the  Prophets 
(of  which  the  Pistis- Sophia  has  left  us  such  ingenious  specimens), 
subjected  all  the  productions  of  the  former  creed  to  the  same 
Procrustean  torture,  and  consequently  availed  themselves  of 
these  same  symbols — nay,  more,  continued  to  manufacture 
them  in  their  own  sense  of  their  import. 


Tho  Agathodsemon —  "Good  Genius"  —  whose  very  name 
furnishes  the  reason  why  he  should  be  chosen  to  figure  on  an 
ornament  intended  to  defend  its  wearer  from  all  disease  and 
mischance,  is  depicted  as  a  huge  serpent  having  the  head  of  a 
lion,  surrounded  by  a  crown  of  seven  or  twelve  rays — components 
conspicuously  announcing  that  he  is  the  embodiment  of  the 
idea  of  the  Sun-god.  This  figure  is  usually  accompanied,  either 
on  obverse  or  reverse,  with  its  proper  title,  written  variously 
XNOTBIZ,  XNOT<t>II,  and  XNOTMIZ,  accordingly  as  the  engraver 
fancied  ho  could  best  master  that  difficulty  to  the  Greek 
mouth,  the  true  sound  of  our  letter  B.  This  name  Salmasius* 
considers  as  a  rendering  of  the  Coptic  XNOTB,  gold;  and  hence 
explains  another  title  which  sometimes  takes  its  place,  XOAXN- 
OTBIZ,  as  '"  All-golden."  Jablonsky,  however,derives  the  word 
more  plausibly  from  XNOTM,  good,  and  IZ,  spirit,  and  thus  makes 
"  Agothodaemon  "  to  be  the  literal  translation  of  the  namc.t 

This  last  had  become  in  the  third  century  the  popular  name 
for  the  hooded  snake  of  Egypt.  Lampridius  has  "  Heliogabulus 
^Egyptios  dracunculos  Romae  habuit,  quos  illi  Agatlwdsemonas 
vocant."  This  kind  was  the  Uraeus,  to  be  seen  commonly  on 
Egyptian  monuments,  whore  it  is  the  badge  of  royalty  placed 
upon  the  head  of  the  sovereign.  It  is  the  hadji  hasher  of  the 
modern  Arabs,  the  cobra  di  capello  of  the  Hindoos.  I  have  met 
with  a  large  sard  engraved  in  the  late  Roman-Egyptian  style, 
with  two  imperial  busts  regardant;  reverse,  the  Chnuphis 
Serpent,  with  the  legend  in  Roman  letters  AGATHO DAEMON, 
the  sole  instance  known  to  me  of  such  an  amulet  with  a  Latin 
inscription:  but  which  goes  far  to  confirm  Jablonsky's  inter 
pretation  of  the  Coptic  title.  In  classical  Greek  the  original 
Chneph  becomes  Canopus  ;  hence  the  Canopic  vase  often  appears 
between  two  serpents  for  heraldic  supporters.  But  in  those 
lower  times,  so  fruitful  in  the  Chnuphis  talismans,  no  more 
Canopic  vases  appear  on  gems. 

*  He  has  treated  the  subject  at  (the  Sun)  designated  as  HFE"Tlie 

some  length  in  that  learned  miscel-  Serpent "  par  eminence,  and  which 

lany  of  his,  the  treatise  *  De  Anno  was  a  winged  serpent  bavin"  human 

Climacterico.'  arms  and  feet.  He  is  thus"  painted 

t  The  prototype  appears  to  have  on  mummy-cases  as  guardian  of  the 

been  that  ancient  figure  of  Atmon  inmate. 


The  ancient  Agathodsemon,  in  the  form  of  his  congener  the 
Cobra,  still  haunts  the  precincts  of  the  Hindoo  temples,  as  of 
old  the  shrines  of  Isis;  and  issues  from  his  hole  at  the  sound 
of  a  fife  to  accept  the  oblation  of  milk  from  the  attendant  priest. 
As  with  the  ancients  so  with  the  Hindoos,  he  is  the  special 
keeper  of  concealed  treasure ;  and  when  a  zemindar  deposits  his 
hoard  in  the  prepared  hiding-place,  he,  to  make  assurance 
doubly  sure,  builds  up  a  serpent  therewith,  to  watch  over  the 
gold.  Suetonius  records  that  Tiberius  had  a  most  appropriate  pet 
in  a  "  serpens  draco  "  ;  but  having  found  it  one  day  devoured  by 
a  swarm  of  ants,  the  suspicious  CaBsar  took  warning  from  its  fate 
to  beware  of  the  force  of  a  multitude  of  feeble  individuals;  and 
consequently  secured  his  person  against  all  danger  of  popular  out 
break  by  shutting  himself  up  in  the  inaccessible  fastness  of  Capri. 

But  to  return  to  the  type  of  the  Agathodaiiiion  upon  our 
gems.  Over  the  seven  rays  of  the  lion's  crown,  and  correspond 
ing  to  their  points,  stand  often  the  seven  vowels  of  the  Greek 
alphabet,  AEHIOTQ,  testifying  the  Seven  Heavens;  a  mystery 
whereof  notice  shall  be  taken  in  the  fitting  place.  The  reverse 
of  such  gems  is  invariably  occupied  by  a  special  symbol 
resembling  the  letter  S,  or  Z,  thrice  repeated,  or  the  convolu 
tions  of  a  spiral  cord,  and  traversed  by  a  straight  rod  through 
their  middle ;  a  symbol  for  which  many  and  the  most  whimsical 
explanations  have  been  proposed.  Of  these  the  most  ingenious, 
but  also  the  most  fanciful,  makes  it  represent  the  spinal  marrow 
traversing  the  spine — certainly  an  apt  device  for  a  medicinal 
talisman.  But  whatever  its  primary  meaning  it  was  probably 
imported  in  its  present  shape  from  India  (that  true  fountain- 
head  of  Gnostic  iconography).  It  is  to  be  seen  in  two  varieties, 
upon  series  16  and  17  in  Plate  VII.  of  E.  Thomas'  admirable 
Essay  on  the  Primitive  Coinage  of  India,  amongst  the  punch- 


A  Limoges  enamelled  plaque  of  the  twelfth  century  (in  the 
collection  of  Mr.  Octavius  Morgan)  represents  on  its  one  half 
"  Moyses  "  lifting  up  the  Brazen  Serpent  to  the  "  Filii  Israel." 
On  the  other  half,  "  similis  Aaron "  is  seen  inscribing  with  a 


reed  pen  the  mystic  Tau  Cross  upon  the  foreheads  of  the  elect. 
The  first  of  these  tableaux  offers  the  most  extraordinary  feature 
in  its  representation  of  the  serpent,  depicted  here  with  lion's 
head  and  mane :  the  veritable  Agathodaemon  Chnuphis  of  our 
Alexandrian  talismans.  The  preservation  of  this  form  to  so 
late  a  period  fills  one  with  surprise  :  it  indicates  a  traditionary 
belief  that  the  symbol  was  the  giver  of  life  and  health.  The 
belief  must  have  come  down  from  the  times  when  the  Egyptian 
talisman  was  commonly  worn,  in  the  way  Galen  mentions,  as  a 
protection  to  the  chest.  The  Brazen  Serpent  of  Moses  and  the 
Plasma  Agathoda3mon  of  King  Nechepsos  had  in  all  probability 
one  and  the  same  origin,  giving  currency  to  those  little  ingots 
which  formed  the  sole  money  of  the  Hindoos  before  the  esta 
blishment  of  the  Macedonians  in  Bactria.  But  the  most  probable 
solution  of  the  question  is  that  the  symbol  stealthily  represents 
the  serpent-entwined  club  of  Aesculapius  (itself  so  hard  to  account 
for),  or  the  wand  similarly  encircled,  which  was  the  badge  of 
Egyptian  priesthood.  And  what  renders  this  conjecture  of  mine 
almost  a  certainty  is  an  as  of  the  gens  Acilia,  bearing  for 
obverse  the  head  of  Aesculapius,  for  reverse  a  wand  (not  the 
usual  club)  placed  vertically  and  encircled  by  his  serpent  in 
three  convolutions.  This  type,  if  slightly  defaced  by  wear,  would 
become  identical  in  appearance  with  the  Chnuphis  symbol. 
The  spiral  frequently  takes  the  form  of  the  letters  S  S  S  dis 
connected,  traversed  by  a  straight  line.  The  curative  virtue 
ascribed  to  the  sigil,  again,  tends  to  indicate  its  derivation  from 
the  proper  badge  of  the  god  of  the  healing  art.  For  the  eminent 
physician  Marcellus  Ernpiricus  (who  flourished  at  Bordeaux  in 
Theodosius'  reign)  promises  wonderful  effects  in  the  cure  of 
pleurisy  from  the  wearing  of  this  very  figure  engraved  upon  a 
cerulean  Scythian  jasper.  Whether  this  promise  be  true  or  not, 
marvellous  has  been  the  vitality  of  the  symbol  itself ;  for  re 
duced  to  a  double  S  S  upon  a  bar,  it  became  a  favourite  device 
in  the  times  of  chivalry,  being  taken  as  the  rebus  upon  the 
word  Fermesse*  (SS  fermees)  and  the  emblem  of  constancy. 
Hence  comes  it  that  this  ancient  Egyptian  symbol  now  adorns 

*  This  sigla  ill  its  simplest  form,       fusion    over    all    the     buildings    of 
>$,    makes    its    appearance    in    pro-       Henri  IV.,  where  it  is  popularly  ex- 



the  Collar  of  the  Garter,  formerly  known  as  the  "  Collars  of  SS." 
Meyrick's  derivation  of  the  name  from  the  initial  of  "  Souver 
ayne,"  motto  of  Henry  IV.  when  Earl  of  Derby  (and  on  whoso 
effigy  the  Collar  first  appears),  is  of  little  weight ;  for  that  king 
was  long  posterior  to  the  institution  of  the  Order  and  its  in 
signia.  Even  more  preposterous  is  Camden's  idea  that  the  name 
originated  in  the  initials  of  Sanctus  Simo  Simplicius,  a  famous 
Koinan  lawyer  ;  and  therefore  was  taken  for  badge  by  his  pro 
fession — a  theory  which  assuredly  does  not  account  for  Henry's 
queen,  Joan  of  Navarre,  being  similarly  decorated  with  her 
husband  upon  their  monument. 

That  the  Agathodaemon  sigil  was  not  only  pre-Christian,  but 
ascended  to  the  remotest  antiquity  in  its  use  as  a  talisman,  plainly 
appears  from  Galen's  notice  thereof  (De  Simp.  Med.  6  ix.). 
"  Some  indeed  assert  that  a  virtue  of  this  kind  is  inherent  in 
certain  stones,  such  as  it  is  certain  is  possessed  by  the  green  jasper, 
which  benefits  the  chest  and  mouth  of  the  stomach,  when  tied 
upon  them.  Some  indeed  set  the  stone  in  a  ring,  and  engrave 
upon  it  a  serpent  with  head  crowned  with  rays,  according  to  the 
directions  of  King  Nechepsos  in  his  thirteenth  book.  Of  this 
material  I  have  had  much  experience,  having  made  a  necklace 
out  of  stones  of  the  kind,  and  hung  it  about  the  patient's  neck, 
descending  low  enough  to  touch  the  mouth  of  the  stomach,  and 
they  proved  to  be  of  no  less  benefit  than  if  they  had  been  en 
graved  in  the  manner  laid  down  by  King  Nechepsos."  This 
treatise  by  Nechepsos  must  have  been  a  regular  Manual  for  the 
use  of  Magicians,  for  Ausonius  mentions  its  author  as 

"  Quique  magos  docuit  mysteria  vaiia  Nechepsi." 
"  Xechepsos,  teacher  of  vain  Magic's  lore." 

plained     as    relating     to    Gabrielle  cords — ('  Revue   Numismatique '  for 

d'Estrees,   a     rebus     in    its     sound,  1856,  p.  276j. 

"  S  pcrce  d'un  t rait."   But  Longperier  "  Fermesse,  dout  1'Araour  point  uu 

has  shown  that  the  same  figure  is  to  Chiffre  d'amour 

be   found  on  the  medals  of  Henri's  Commune  en  1'ecriture,  mais  rare 

mother  and   sister,   and   even   upon  dans  le  coeur, 

,.  T             -in       *            n    A      j.  •  Mais  ainsi  que  la  lorrne  est  a  un 

articles  made  for  Anne  of  Austria;  anj  mb  ^  deux 

and  he  acquiesces  in  the  explanation  Le    de'sir     inc0nstant     froiase     et 

given  in  the  text,  which   is   taken  brise  tes  uceuds, 

from  an  old  book,  '  Lcs  Bigarrures,'  Ce    pendant    quo    les    mains     ta 

chap.  "  DCS  Rebus  de  la  Picardie,"  fcrmesse  figurent." 

by  Etioime  Tabouret,  Sieur  des  Ac  '  Lov*  PaP°n»'  16th  centur>'' 


The  book,  perhaps  the  foundation  of  the  pretended  Evax,  was 
the  first  source  of  the  notions  concerning  the  virtues  of  sigils 
and  gems  preserved  to  us  in  the  medieval  "  Lapidaria."  Pliny 
(vii.  50)  quotes  him  along  with  hi&  countryman  Petosiris  as  an 
astrological  authority,  according  to  whose  rule  of  the  "  Tetarto- 
morion "  (or  law  deduced  from  the  position  of  three  signs, 
Trine)  the  possible  duration  of  human  life  in  the  region  of  Italy 
extended  to  124  years.  And  before  dismissing  Nechepsos  and 
his  book  it  may  be  as  well  to  add  here—for  the  fact  will  be  of 
service  in  a  further  stage  of  this  inquiry — that  Pliny  mentions 
(xxx.  2)  a  second  school  of  Magic,  "  but  more  recent  by  many 
thousand  years "  than  Zoroaster's,  and  founded  by  the  Jews, 
Moses,  lannes  and  Jotapes.  The  first  of  the  trio  may  be  the 
Talmudist  to  whose  "  secret  volume  "  Juvenal  alludes — 

"  Tradidit  arcane  quacunique  voluminc  Moses." 

Although  the  Apostle  couples  lannes  along  with  lambrcs 
amongst  the  Egyptian  opponents  of  the  Hebrew  legislator, 
Juvenal  also  informs  us  that  the  nation  retained  even  in  his 
times  their  ancient  fame  of  veracious  interpreters  of  dreams ; 
nay,  more,  grown  "wiser  than  Daniel,"  they  even  produced 
them  to  order — 

"  Qualiacunque  voles  Judan  somnia  mittunt." 
"The  Jew,  for  money,  sends  what  dreams  you  chooso." 

Hippolytus  in  the  following  century  remarks  that  the  **  Sama 
ritans,  or  "  Simonians,"  founded  by  the  first  preacher  of  the 
Gnosis,  Simon  Magus  himself,  availed  themselves  of  this  power 
in  order  to  plague  their  adversaries,  "sending  the  dream- 
producing  demons  to  trouble  whomsoever  they  please."  The 
medieval  name  for  engraved  gems  regarded  as  talismans,  viz., 
"  Pierres  d'Israel,"  is  better  founded  than  is  generally  supposed- 
The  obvious  difficulty  that  graven  figures — nay,  more,  idols — 
could  not  have  been  the  work  of  Jews,  is  answered  by  the 
Kabbinical  gloss  upon  the  Second  Commandment,  which  allows 
the  wearing  of  any  sort  of  design  cut  in  intaglio,  though 
prohibiting  anything  of  the  sort  in  relief. 


The  choice  of  the  green  jasper  (now  called  plasmcv*)  for  the 
Agathodasinon  sigils  was  probably  dictated  by  the  resemblance 
of  its  colour  to  that  of  the  sacred  Asp — green  banded  with 
brown.  As  for  the  figure  itself,  a  very  ancient  testimony  as  to 
its  nature  and  signification  is  aiforded  by  the  tradition  Eusebius 
has  preserved  (I.  7)  :  "  The  serpent,  unless  injured  by  violence, 
never  dies  naturally,  for  which  reason  the  Phoenicians  have 
given  it  the  name  of  the  'Good  Genius,'  AgatJwdsemon.  For 
the  same  cause  the  Egyptians  have  called  it  '  Cneph,'  and 
given  to  it  the  head  of  a  hawk,  because  of  the  especial  swiftness 
of  that  bird."  The  priest  of  Epeae,  entitled  "  Head-interpreter 
of  sacred  things  and  Scribe,"  had  expounded  the  allegory  thus  : 
"  The  most  divine  Nature  of  all  was  one  Serpent  having  the 
face  of  a  hawk,  and  most  delightful  in  aspect,  for  when  he 
opened  his  eyes  he  filled  all  the  places  of  his  native  region 
with  light;  but  when  he  closed  them,  darkness  immediately 
ensued."  The  serpent  on  our  gems,  however,  does  not  appear 
invested  with  a  hawk's  head,  but  with  a  lion's  ;  for  which  reason 
this  legend  applies  better  to  the  Abraxas-god,  occasionally 
equipped  with  a  hawk's  or  lion's  head,  in  place  of  his  proper 
one,  that  of  a  cock.  But  the  idea  is  certainly  embodied  in  that 
common  design  upon  the  Mithraic  gems,  a  man  grasping  a 
serpent,  of  which  the  radiated  head  points  at  his  eyes  and  seems 
to  supply  them  with  light.  Furthermore,  the  meaning  of  the 
figure  of  the  Agathodairnon  is  clearly  denoted  by  the  Chaldee 
legend  frequently  accompanying  it.  C6M€C6IAAM,  "The  Ever 
lasting  Sun,"  which  is  sometimes  followed  by  YG,  probably  used 
as  sacred  numerals,  for  they  have  the  power  in  Greek  arith 
metic  of  705.  This  same  legend  is  attached  to  a  classical 
figure  of  Phcobus  (such  as  he  appears  on  the  coins  with  the 
legend  SOLI  INVICTO  C  OMIT  I )  engraved  upon  a  yellow  jasper 
in  the  Marlborough  Cabinet — a  fact  sufficiently  attesting  the 
accuracy  of  the  interpretation  here  given  to  the  Chaldee 

Astrology  likewise  lent  its  aid  to  accrediting  the  virtues  of  the 

*  The  green  jasper  of  the  moderns       as  opaque,  dark-green,  and  specially 
was  the  rnolochites  or  moloohas  of      used  for  amulets, 
the  ancients,  for   Pliny  describes  it 


sigil.  That  great  authority  Hephaestion  (quoted  by  Salmasius, 
i.e.)  observes  that  XNOTMIC  is  the  name  of  one  of  the 
Decani,  or  three  chief  stars  in  Cancer ;  whilst  another  astrologer 
laid  down  that  the  star  so  called  was  set  in  the  breast  of  Leo, 
and/or  that  reason  was  efficacious  for  the  cure  of  all  diseases  in  the 
chest  of  man.  And  in  fact  we  find  this  latter  dictum  con 
firmed  by  the  prayer  <J>TAACC6  THH  CTOMAXON  HPOKAOT, 
"  Keep  in  good  health  the  chest  of  Proclus,"  engraved  upon  the 
back  of  one  of  these  very  Chnuphis  gems.  Others  of  the  same 
kind  are  again  surrounded  by  a  long  Coptic  legend  often 
arranged  in  the  outline  of  a  serpent,  varying  in  words,  but 
always  terminating  in  the  epithet  riTANTUPHKTA  or  nAIKTA, 
"  Breaker  "  or  "  Mocker  "  of  the  Giants— that  is,  of  the  evil  and 
rebellious  Angels;  for  the  Grecian  fable  of  the  War  of  the 
Giants  against  Jove  had  then  revived,  a  Zoroastrian  interpreta 
tion  being  applied  to  the  rebellion  of  Ahriman  and  his  demons 
against  Ormuzd  and  the  Ministers  of  Good. 

The  method  of  employing  a  talisman  is  thus  prescribed 
in  the  Magic  Papyrus,  §  9  :— "  A  Spell  of  Alloius  Crseonins, 
spoken  to  the  Lamp,"  "  O^ap/xaxo)  rovvovpai  xprj  /uaXXov  SepKvo>v 
i/a  lao  o-ov/Ai/^iow  o-ovjjujnqvis  o-wcrta  <riaa>i,  Thou  that  shakest 
the  world!  Enter,  and  deliver  an  oracle  concerning  such 
and  such  a  matter.  ®oto  KoroO  <f>0ovtj>vovv  vovefiov?)  €Trraa-7raxaTov. 
The  engraved  stone  (A.y.)  Serapis  seated  in  front,  having  the 
Egyptian  crown  (/WiAijZoi/)  ££,  and  upon  his  sceptre  an  ibis, 
on  the  back  of  the  stone  the  Name ;  and  lock  it  up  and  keep 
it  for  use.  Hold  in  thy  left  hand  the -ring,  and  in  thy  right 
a  branch  of  olive  and  of  bay-tree,  waving  them  over  the  lamp, 
repeating  all  the  while  the  spells  even  times.  And  having 
drawn  the  ring  upon  the  proper  finger  of  thy  left  hand,  facing 
and  being  inwards  (the  engraving),  stick  the  gem  against  thy 
left  ear,  and  go  to  sleep,  without  returning  answer  to  any  one." 
The  object  of  this  charm  was  (although  not  so  stated)  to 
procure  prophetic  dreams,  which  are  actually  enumerated 
amongst  the  effects  to  follow  from  the  use  of  the  one  that 
stands  next  in  the  MS. 

Although  the  original  intention  of  these  Chnuphis  sigils  was 
unquestionably  the  one  pointed  out  in  the  preceding  pages,  yet 


there  is  every  probability  from  the  nature  of  the  case  that  the 
same  were  adopted  and  interpreted  in  a  spiritual  sense  by  the 
numerous  and  influential  sect  that  first  assumed  the  title  of 
"  Gnostics."  They  had  an  all-sufficient  reason  for  so  doing,  in 
the  fundamental  doctrine  of  their  creed  The  well-informed 
and  temperate  Hippolytus,  writing  at  the  most  flourishing 
period  of  these  transitional  theosophies,  thus  opens  his  actual 
'  Refutation  of  all  Heresies '  and  his  Fifth  Book  with  the 
description  "  of  that  sect  which  hath  dared  to  boast  the  Serpent 
as  the  author  of  their  religion,  as  they  prove  by  certain 
arguments  wherewith  he  hath  inspired  them.  On  this  account 
the  apostles  and  priests  of  this  creed  have  been  styled  '  Naaseni,' 
from  '  Naas,'  the  Hebrew  word  for  serpent :  but  subsequently 
they  entitled  themselves  '  The  Gnostics,'  because  they  alone 
understood  the  deep  things  of  religion.  Out  of  this  sect  sprung 
many  other  teachers,  who  by  diversifying  the  original  doctrines 
through  inventions  of  their  own  became  the  founders  of  new 
systems."  Further  on  he  has  a  passage  bearing  immediately 
upon  this  subject.  "  This  Naas  is  the  only  thing  they  worship, 
for  which  reason  they  are  called  '  Naaseni '  (i.e.  Ophites,  or 
Serpent- worshippers).  From  this  same  word  Naas  they  pretend 
that  all  the  temples  (vaoi*)  under  Heaven  derive  the  name. 
And  unto  this  Naas  are  dedicated  every  rite,  ceremony,  mystery, 
that  is ;  in  short,  not  one  rite  can  be  found  under  Heaven  into 
which  this  Naas  doth  not  enter.  For  they  say  the  Serpent 
signifies  the  element  Water ;  and  with  Thales  of  Miletus  contend 
that  nothing  in  the  Universe  can  subsist  without  it,  whether  of 
things  mortal  or  immortal,  animate  or  inanimate.  All  things 
are  subject  unto  him  ;  and  he  is  good,  and  hath  all  good  things 
within  himself  as  in  the  horn  of  a  unicorn,  so  that  he  imparts 
beauty  and  perfection  unto  all  that  is,  inasmuch  as  he  pervades 
all  things,  as  flowing  out  of  Eden,  and  divided  into  four 
heads.  .  .  .  This  Naas  is  the  '  water  above  the  firmament,'  and 
likewise  the  'living  water'  spoken  of  by  the  Saviour.  Unto 
this  Water  all  Nature  is  drawn,  and  attracts  out  of  the  same 
whatever  is  analogous  to  its  own  nature,  each  thing  after  its 
own  kind,  with  more  avidity  than  the  loadstone  draws  the  iron, 
Hie  ray  of  the  sea-hawk  gold,  or  amber  straws.  Then  they  go 


on  to  boast :  Wo  are  the  Spiritual,  who  have  drawn  our  own 
portion  out  of  the  living  water  of  the  Euphrates  that  flows 
through  the  midst  of  Babylon  ;  and  who  have  entered  in  through 
the  True  Gate,  the  which  is  Jesus  the  Blessed.  And  we  of  all 
men  are  the  only  Christians,  in  the  Third  Gate  celebrating  the 
Mystery,  being  anointed  with  the  ineffable  ointment  out  of  the 
horn  like  David,  not  out  of  the  earthen  vessel  like  Saul  who 
conversed  with  the  Evil  Spirit  of  carnal  concupiscence." 

Euphrates,  a  more  recent  teacher  of  the  sect,  who  founded 
the  branch  calling  themselves  "  Peratai,"  or  Fatalists,  has  a 
passage  that  indicates  the  sense  in  which  his  followers  may 
have  accepted  these  Clmuphis  gems.  "  To  them  therefore  of 
the  Children  of  Israel  who  were  bitten  in  the  Wilderness  Moses 
showed  the  True  and  Perfect  Serpent;  in  whom  whosoever 
trusteth  he  shall  not  be  bitten  by  the  serpents  of  the  Wilderness, 
that  is,  shall  not  be  hurt  by  the  Powers.  No  one  therefore  is 
able  to  heal  and  to  save  them  that  be  gone  forth  out  of  Egypt, 
that  is,  out  of  the  body  and  out  of  the  world,  save  that  Perfect, 
Full  of  all  fulness,  Serpent.  In  Him  whosoever  putteth  his 
trust,  that  man  perisheth  not  by  the  serpents  of  the  Wilderness, 
that  is,  by  the  gods  of  the  nativity." 

These  last  Powers,  whom  Euphrates  (a  pure  astrologer)  in 
another  place  calls  the  "  gods  of  death,"  are  the  stars  of  the 
horoscope,  "  which  impose  upon  all  that  be  born  the  fatal  yoko 
of  the  changeful  nativity,"  that  is,  the  necessity  of  death,  the 
necessary  consequence  of  birth,  a  doctrine  that  clearly  leads  to 
the  efficacy  of  the  Serpent  sigil  as  a  talisman  to  protect  the 
wearer  against  the  malign  influence  of  the  astral  genii.  The 
Ophites,  in  fact,  were  the  legitimate  descendants  of  the  Bacchic 
Mystae,  whose  religion  during  the  two  centuries  preceding  cm- 
era  must  have  been  the  predominant  one  in  the  great  cities  of 
Asia  Minor.  An  argument  derived  from  Numismatics  establishes 
the  common  fact — the  coinage  of  the  chief  cities,  Ephesus, 
Apamea,  Pergamus,  was  issued  chiefly  in  the  form  of  Cistophor), 
having  for  obverse  the  Bacchic  Serpent  raising  himself  out  of 
the  sacred  coffer;  for  reverse,  two  serpents  entwined  round 




Bellermann  in  his  lucid  little  treatise,  *  Drei  Programmen 
iiber  die  Abraxas-gemmen,'*  has  divided  his  subject  into  three 
parts — the  true  Abraxas,  all  of  which  bear  the  Pantheon  com 
monly  so  entitled,  whose  creation  is  assigned  to  Basilides  him 
self  ;  the  Abraxastcr,  or  types  borrowed  from  the  old  religions, 
but  adapted  by  the  Gnostic  semi-Christians  to  the  expression 
of  their  own  new  ideas ;  and  Abraxoid,  which,  though  vulgarly 
accounted  Basilidan  gems,  have  no  connection  at  all  with 
Basilides'  own  doctrines,  but  owe  their  origin  entirely  to  the 
astrologers  of  his  or  anterior  times. 

The  Alraxaster  gems,  therefore,  on  account  of  this  priority  of 
their  first  creation,  have  by  right  the  first  claim  to  be  con 
sidered  ;  and  this  mode  of  treating  the  subject  possesses  the 
additional  advantage  of  elucidating  the  sources  of  many  ideas 
that  strike  us  as  so  extraordinary  in  the  Gnostic  creed. 

The  strangely  heterogeneous  mixture  of  creeds  that  prevailed 
over  the  Koman  Empire  during  the  two  centuries  between  the 
reigns  of  Trojan  and  Constantino  is  exemplified  by  numerous 
allusions  in  the  *  Historia  Augusta,'  equally  with  their  tangible 
monuments,  which  are  the  subject  of  this  inquiry.  What  vast 
encouragement  (little  enough  needed,  of  a  truth)  must  have 
been  given  to  the  talisman-makers  by  the  accession  to  imperial 
power  of  the  Syrian  priest  Heliogabalus  !  "  He  used  to  sacrifice 
human  victims,  selecting  for  the  purpose,  throughout  all  Italy, 
boys  of  noble  birth  and  conspicuous  beauty,  having  both 
parents  living,  in  order  that  both  parties  might  feel  the  keener 
anguish.  In  fact  Magicians  of  every  sort  attended  upon  him 
and  practised  their  arts  every  day,  whilst  he  gave  them  every 
encouragement,  and  returned  thanks  to  the  gods  for  his  having 
met  with  their  especial  favourites,  at  the  same  time  that  he  was 
prying  into  the  entrails  of  the  sacrificed  children,  and  torturing 
the  victims  to  death,  after  the  rules  of  his  national  religion." 

( Lamprulins.)     And  yet  the  same  amusing  chronicler  puts  it 

*  Berlin,  1820. 


down  amongst  tlio  accomplishments  of  his  model  Emperor,  Severus 
Alexander,  cousin-german  to  the  monster  he  has  previously 
portrayed — "  that  he  was  a  great  proficient  in  Judicial  Astrology 
(ma thesis),  so  that  he  gave  permission  to  astrologers  to  profess 
and  teach  that  science  publicly  at  Rome.  He  was  moreover 
very  well  skilled  in  divination  by  victims  (Jiaruspicina) ;  also 
an  excellent  diviner  by  birds  (ornitlwscopos),  so  far  as  even  to 
surpass  the  Augurs  of  Spain  and  Pannonia."  This  same  "  every 
way  accomplished  gentleman '  (to  use  the  Elizabethan  phrase) 
set  up  the  statues  of  Abraham  and  Christ  side  by  side  with 
Orpheus  and  Alexander  in  his  private  chapel  (Sacrarium) ;  whilst 
his  mad  predecessor  had  conceived  the  grand  notion  of  found 
ing  one  universal  syncretistic  religion ;  for  having  conveyed  to 
Rome  his  Emesene  god  (the  aerolite),  he  built  for  him  a  temple  on 
the  Palatine,  whither  he  transferred  the  Palladium,  Vesta's  fire, 
the  Ancilia,  the  Cybele — in  short,  whatever  object  of  worship 
was  most  sacred  to  the  Romans.  Nay,  more — he  talked  of 
drawing  into  the  same  centre  the  "  religions  of  the  Jews  and 
Samaritans  and  the  devotion  of  the  Christians,  in  order  that  his 
deity,  Elagabal,  might  possess  the  mystery  of  every  other 
creed." — (Heliogabalus,  3.) 

Of  the  Abraxaster  class  the  figures  are  for  the  most  part 
drawn  from  the  ancient  iconography  of  the  Egyptian  religion ; 
but  they  were  adopted  in  a  more  spiritual  sense  by  the  newly- 
arisen  sects,  holding  the  doctrines  of  Christianity  strangely 
amalgamated  with  the  old  teachings  of  the  Mysteries.* 

Of  all  these  borrowed  types  the  most  frequent  and  most  impor 
tant  is  the  Jackal-headed  Anubis  (sometimes  double-headed,  the 
human  being  superadded  to  his  own),  and  bearing  the  caduceus 
of  Hermes  to  denote  his  office  of  conducting  souls,  not  as  of  yore 
through  the  shades  of  the  lower  world,f  but  along  the  planetary 
path  to  their  final  rest  in  the  Pleroma.  Thus  the  Gnostic 

*  Many  of  the  actual  types— the  Hebrew    inscriptions    certify    their 

mummified  erect  Osiris,  the  reclining  authorship. 

Isis,  the  Nile,  the  Horus  on  the  lotus-  t  In  the  paintings  on  the  mummy- 
flower,  tho  Anuhis,  &c. — occur  on  case  of  Petemeuopt  (or  Ammonius), 
the  contemporary  Alexandrian  coins;  Osiris  the  Occidental,  invoked  in  tho 
they  therefore  can  only  be  accounted  papyrus  ritual  inclosed  with  the 
Gnostic  productions  when  their  corpse,  is  seen  seated  on  his  throne  ; 

Q  2 


Gospel,  "  Pistis-Sophia  "  (§  20),  describing  the  Saviour  after  re 
ceiving  his  luminous  vestment,  inscribed  with  the  Five  words  of 
power  and  with  the  names  of  all  the  Domination  to  be  encoun 
tered  in  his  Ascension,  makes  him  come  first  to  the  Gate  of  the 
firmament,  then  to  the  God  of  the  sphere,  then  to  the  Spheie 
of  Fate,  and  lastly  to  the  Twelve  great  yEons :  all  which  Powers 
when  they  beheld  their  own  names  written  upon  his  vesture 
were  smitten  with  fear  and  began  to  sing  hymns  unto  him. 

This  Anubis-Hermes  appears  sometimes  waving  a  palm-branch, 
to  proclaim  his  victory  over  the  Powers  of  Evil ;  or  presiding 
at  the psycliostasia  "weighing  of  the  soul,"  the  scene  commonly 
pictured  in  the  Egyptian  Eitual  of  the  Dead.  In  the  latter 
character  he  stands  here  for  Christ,  the  Judge  of  the  quick  and 
the  dead ;  but  his  successor  in  mediaeval  art  is  the  Archangel 
Michael,  who  holds  the  scales.  In  the  old  Greek  gems  Hermes 
is  often  represented  as  bending  forward,  caduceus  in  hand,  and 
by  its  mystic  virtue  assisting  a  soul  to  emerge  from  the  depths 
of  the  earth — a  strange  coincidence  in  form,  probably  too  in 
origin,  with  the  mediaeval  picture  of  the  Saviour  lifting  souls 
out  of  Purgatory.  The  Zoroastrian  Hell,  a  burning  lake  of 
molten  metal,  into  which,  on  the  Judgment-Day,  Ahriman  with 
his  followers  were  to  be  cast,  had  for  object  the  ultimate 
purification  and  restoration  to  their  pristine  state  of  the  con 
demned — a  merciful  doctrine,  held  by  Origen,  and  partly 
allowed  by  Jerome. 

Hermes  in  this  particular  character  of  Psycliopotnpos  was 
made  great  use  of  by  the  Naaseni  (Ophites)  as  the  prophetic 
representative  of  the  Saviour  in  his  grandest  office.  They 
interpreted  Hermes'  leading  souls  through  darkness  into 
Elysium  as  Christ's  guiding  the  minds  of  the  enlightened  out 
of  Ignorance  into  Knowledge,  in  their  special  sense  of  the  words. 
As  may  well  be  supposed,  they  descanted  largely  upon  that 

at  his  side,  his  wife  and  sister,  Isis.  functions    equally   in   the    supernal 

In  front  stands  an  altar,  loaded  with  and   infernal   regions   (the  place   of 

flowers,  fruits,  and  libations.  Anubis,  the  Four  Amenti),  presents  to  his  sire 

recognisable    by   his  jackal's    head  the    defunct    Petemenopt,    swathed 

crowned  with  the  pschent  (tall  cap),  in    his    sepulchral     bandages,    and 

because,    like    the    Hermes    of    the  holding  up  his  hands  in  the  attitude 

Greeks,     he     discharges     important  of  supplication. 


peculiar  symbol,  under  which  form  Hermes,  surnamed  Cyllenius, 
was  worshipped.  Amongst  their  mystical  expositions  of  the 
object  one  curious  fact  appears,  that  its  popular  name  was 
aya@o(f>of)ov,  "  briiiger  of  good  luck,"  for  which  cause  it  was  set 
up  at  cross-roads,  and  upon  house-tops.  But  as  regards  the 
ancient  religion,  since  it  is  thus  made  out  that  this  attribute, 
later  modified  into  a  Pillar,  stood  for  Cyllenius,  guide  of 
departed  souls  (exactly  as  the  same  figure,  linyam,  represents 
Siva,  Lord  of  the  dead  in  modern  Hinduism),  the  reason 
becomes  obvious  why  its  sculptured  representations  should 
have  been  the  earliest  form  of  monument  placed  over  the 
departed.  The  monuments  secured  for  the  dweller  in  the 
grave  the  perpetual  protection  of  the  Guide  and  Shepherd  of 
souls  ;  a  colossal  phallus  crowns  to  this  day  the  summit  of  the 
oldest  tomb,  the  date  of  which  is  historically  certain,  the 
tumulus  of  the  Lydia  king,  Alyattes.  The  Asiatic  colonists 
carried  with  them  into  Italy  the  same  belief  in  the  protective 
virtues  of  the  symbol ;  carved  in  stone  it  regularly  surmounted 
the  door  of  the  sepulchre.  One  lately  came  into  my  possession, 
inscribed  around  with  the  name  and  patronymic  of  the  deceased 
Etruscan,  whose  repose  it  had  so  long  guarded,  SVSES  FELVS 
FENTV,  "  Suses,  son  of  Phintas." 

This  double  character  of  Anubis  is  very  curiously  expressed 
by  the  figure  upon  a  sard  belonging  to  myself,  which  to  the 
casual  observer  presents  that  most  orthodox  of  types,  the  Good 
Shepherd,  carrying  a  lamb  upon  his  shoulders,  leaning  upon  his 
staff,  his  loins  bound  with  a  girdle  having  long  and  waving 
ends.  But  upon  closer  examination  this  so  innocent  personage 
resolves  himself  into  the  double-headed  god  of  Egypt,  the 
lamb's  head  doing  duty  for  the  jackal's,  springing  from  the 
same  shoulders  with  that  of  the  man,  whilst  the  floating  end  of 
the  girdle  is  turned  into  the  bushy  tail  of  the  wolfish  beast, 
and  the  "  latrator  Anubis  "  bursts  upon  our  astonished  eyes. 
This  identification  of  character  in  Anubis  and  Christ  enables  us 
rightly  to  understand  that  drawing,  the  discovery  of  which 
created  such  a  sensation  at  Rome  a  few  years  back,  scratched 
(graffito)  roughly  on  the  plaster  of  a  room  in  a  house  buried  (in 
ancient  times)  under  the  extended  buildings  of  the  Palatine. 


It  represents  this  same  jackal-headed  man  holding  in  front  of 
him  a  Latin  Cross  with  his  outstretched  hands,  and  standing  on 
a  pedestal,  in  front  of  his  worshipper,  who  makes  the  customary 
form  of  adoration  by  raising  his  hand  to  his  lips,  and  who  has 
expressed  the  object  of  his  handiwork  by  the  inscription 
AAEZAMENOC  CeBGTE  0/EON.  In  reality  the  production  of 
some  devout,  but  illiterate  Gnostic,  it  is  construed  by  its  present 
owners*  into  a  shocking  heathen  blasphemy,  and  a  jibe  upon 
the  good  Christian  Alexamenos,  because  they  mistake  the 
jackal's  head  for  that  of  an  ass,  and  consequently  imagine  an 
intentional  caricature  of  their  own  Crucifix. 

The  discovery  of  this  picture  clearly  illustrates  a  passage  of 
Tertullian  (Apol.  xvi.)  where  he  says  to  his  opponents  :  "  Like 
many  others  you  have  dreamed  that  an  Ass's  Head  is  our  god. 
But  a  new  version  of  our  god  has  lately  been  made  public  at 
Kome,  ever  since  a  certain  hireling  convict  of  a  bullfighter  put 
forth  a  picture  with  some  such  inscription  as  this,  '  the  god  of 
tho  Christians  ONOKOIHTHZ.'  He  was  depicted  thus — with  the 
ears  of  an  ass,  and  with  one  of  his  feet  hoofed,  holding  in  his 
hand  a  book,  and  clothed  in  the  toga."  An  exact  description 
this  of  the  Anubis  figured  by  Matter  (PL  ii.  c.  No.  1.),  save 
that  instead  of  a  book  the  god  carries  a  cadceus  and  palm- 
branch.  Tho  same  calumny  was  somewhat  later  transferred 
by  the  Christians  themselves  to  the  account  of  the  Gnostics. 
Not  being  acquainted  with  tho  Egyptian  beast,  they  mistook 
(perhaps  intentionally)  the  head  of  the  jackal  for  that  of  the 
ass,  which  in  truth  it  strongly  resembles  in  the  rude  drawing  of 
our  gems.  Thus  we  find,  at  the  close  of  the  fourth  century, 
Epiphanius  asserting  "  that  the  Gnostic  Sabaoth  has,  according 
to  some,  the  face  of  an  Ass,  according  to  others,  that  of  a  Hog ; 
on  which  latter  account  He  hath  forbidden  the  Jews  to  eat 
swine's  flesh."  This  second  notion  was  a  very  ancient  one, 
being  alluded  to  by  Petronius  in  *  Judaeus  licet  et  porcinum  numen 
adoret."  Now  Sabaoth  being  held  by  the  Gnostics  as  the 
national  god  of  the  Jews,  it  seems  probable  that  this  same 
confusion  of  one  beast  with  the  other  was  the  real  source  of 

*  Having  been  cut  from  the  wall  aud  deposited  in  the  museum  of  the 
Collegio  Romano. 


the  opinion  so  prevalent  amongst  the  ancients,  and  quoted  by 
Tacitus  (Hist.  v.  4).  "  The  sacred  object  so  zealously  guarded 
from  profane  eyes  within  the  Sanctuary  at  Jerusalem  was  the 
figure  of  the  wild  ass  by  whoso  guidance  they  had  relieved  their 
thirst  and  their  distress,  Moses  having,  through  the  observation 
of  the  movements  of  a  troop  of  these  animals,  discovered  the 
spring,  the  waters  of  which  saved  his  followers  from  perishing 
in  the  desert."  This  legend  was  furthermore  connected  with 
the  belief  that  the  real  god  of  the  Jews  was  Bacchus,  for  the  ass 
was  sacred  to  the  god  of  wine.  For  this  dedication  Pliny  finds 
i  singular  reason  in  the  fact  that  the  ass  was  fond  of  fennel,  a 
deadly  poison  to  all  other  quadrupeds,  but  a  plant  specially 
consecrated  to  Bacchus  (xxxv.  1).  Again,  the  spurious  gospel 
'  The  Genealogy  of  Mary  '  assigns  for  the  cause  of  the  death  of 
Zacharias,  son  of  Barachias,  that  once  entering  the  Temple  he 
beheld  standing  within  the  Sanctuary  a  man  with  the  face  of 
an  ass,  and  when  he  was  rushing  out  to  cry  unto  the  people, 
Woe  unto  you !  Whom  do  ye  worship  ?  he  was  smitten  with 
dumbness  by  the  apparition.  But  afterwards,  when  he  had 
recovered  his  speech,  and  revealed  what  he  had  seen  unto  the 
Jews,  they  slew  him  for  a  blasphemer.  And  this  they  gave  as  a 
reason  wherefore  the  High  Priest  had  bells  fastened  around  the 
hem  of  his  garment,  in  order  that  this  monstrous  deity  might 
by  their  tinkling  be  warned  of  the  approach  of  man,  and  so 
have  the  time  to  conceal  himself.  This  wild  story  is  preserved 
by  Epiphanius  alone,  for  the  original  work  is  entirely  lost.  It 
was  ascribed  to  St.  Matthew,  and  was  taken  for  their  special 
textbook  by  the  Collyridians,  who  got  their  name  from  their 
custom  of  sacrificing  cakes  to  the  Virgin  Mary,  whom  they 
pretended  was  also  born  of  a  virgin.  Faustus,  bishop  of  Eiez, 
cites  this  same  gospel  concerning  the  parentage  of  Mary.  But 
the  apocryphal  gospel,  '  The  Birth  of  Mary,'  still  extant,  is 
of  a  totally  different  character,  being  a  mere  monkish  invention 
of  the  most  orthodox  stupidity ;  and  which,  coupled  with  the 
*  Protevangelion,'  became  the  source  of  all  the  medieval  pictures 
and  sculptures  that  set  forth  the  history  of  the  Madonna. 

To   the   same   Egyptian   family   likewise   belongs   the    boy 
Harpocratcs  or  Horus  (the  vernal  Sun),  having  the  symbol  of 


fecundity  monstrously  exaggerated  and  seated  upon  the  lotus, 
which  expressed  the  same  idea  by  its  abundant  seeds ;  and  also 
Perfection  because  for  its  flower,  fruit,  bulb,  all  exhibit  the  form 
of  the  circle,  as  lamblichus  observes.  Macrobius  too  remarks 
that  Horus  is  the  Egyptian  equivalent  for  Apollo,  who  gave  his 
name  to  the  twenty-four  hours  of  day  and  night :  and  this 
acceptation  of  his  character  is  recorded  by  the  Alexandrian 
plasma  (Vienna  Cabinet,  I.  39)  which  identifies  him  with  the 
6TIAATOCTU)  cjjQPOTNTI.  He  often  appears  accompanied  by 
Anubis  in  the  character -of  his  messenger.  Again,  Horus  is 
seen  adored  by  the  kneeling  Cynocephalus  baboon,  the  animal 
consecrated  to  Luna.  This  last  curious  animal  also  belonged 
to  Thoth,  scribe  of  the  gods,  and  makes  a  favourite  Gnostic 
device  performing  his  devotions  before  a  pillar  covered  all  over 
with  inscriptions  and  supporting  a  triangle,  symbol  of  the  Moon 
whose  influence  was  supposed  singularly  to  affect  his  constitu 
tion.  This  pillar  clearly  enough  denotes  those  "  Pillars  of 
Hermes,"  by  means  of  which  lamblichus  solved  all  the  ques 
tions  propounded  to  him  by  Porphyrius  (Jam.  De  Mystcrieis,  II.). 

To  make  the  allusion  more  certain,  these  beings  are  even 
designated  in  the  spells  by  their  proper  name  of  "  Titans." 
Kicoroni  has  given  in  his  Formse  No.  4  a  mould  for  casting  the 
reverse  of  a  medalet,  of  the  3B  size,  bearing  the  Dioscuri 
facing  each  other,  holding  their  spears  point  downwards,  in 
token  of  amity,  in  their  left  hands  each  a  situla.  Behind, 
vertically  CABACOT  in  two  lines  :  in  the  exergue  TITAN,  space 
not  admitting  the  remainder  of  the  title— too  well-known  besides 
to  require  more  than  such  a  reminiscence. 

Horus  is  often  figured  sailing  through  the  heavens  in  the 
sacred  boat,  the  Bans  steered  by  two  hawks ;  solar  emblems, 
with  sun  and  moon  overhead,  and  taking  the  same  titles  I  AH, 
ABAANA0ANAABA,  &c.,  as  the  great  Abiaxas-god  himself, 
and  with  reason,  the  same  idea  being  couched  in  the  two 
personifications.  Horus,  as  Heliodorus  records  (Mih.  ix.  22), 
was  also  applied  to  the  Nile,  whose  Greek  name  NelAos  also 
contained  the  mystic  solar  number  365 ;  this  voyager  in  the 
baria  is  analogous  to  the  Hindoo  Nerjaiut,  the  child  floating 


in  his  argah  leaf  upon  the  face  of  the  waters  having  his  whole 
body  coloured  blue  (nila).  To  complete  the  resemblance  the 
situla  regularly  carried  from  a  cord  in  the  hand  of  Anubis  is 
the  very  lotah,  brass  drinking  cup,  of  the  modern  Brahmins. 
Those  common  emblems,  the  baris  and  the  coiled  serpent,  have 
their  Gnostic  meaning  fully  explained  by  a  remarkable  passage 
in  the  Pistis-Sophia  (§  359).  "  And  the  disk  of  the  sun  was  a 
Great  Dragon  whose  tail  was  in  his  mouth,  who  went  up  into 
the  Seven  Powers  on  the  left  hand,  being  drawn  by  four  Powers 
having  the  similitude  of  white  horses.  But  the  going  of  the 
Moon  was  in  the  shape  of  a  boat,  the  rudder  whereof  showed  a 
male  and  female  dragon  with  two  white  cows  drawing  the  same, 
and  the  figure  of  a  child  on  the  stern  guiding  the  dragons,  who 
drew  away  the  light  from  the  Rulers  (the  regular  synonym  in 
the  book  fur  the  rebellious  ^Eons,  lords  of  the  Zodiac),  and  in 
front  of  the  child  was  the  similitude  of  a  cat." 

The  Regeneration  of  the  "  Spiritual  Man  "  occasionally  deco 
rates  these  talismans,  being  symbolised  in  the  most  material 
istic  manner  by  the  Solar  Lion  impregnating  a  naked  woman, 
the  recognised  emblem  of  the  soul,  who,  "  quadrupeduin  ritu," 
submits  with  joy  to  the  vivifying  operation.  And  the  spiritual 
man  thus  regenerate  is  again  depicted  under  the  form  of  a 
human  outline  holding  up  by  the  neck  a  huge  serpent,  both  of 
them  entirely  filled  up  with  inscribed  letters,  amongst  whicli 
the  mystic  Seven  Vowels  largely  predominate. 

Scaliger,  however,  as  cited  by  Salmasius  in  the  above-quoted 
work,  takes  this  figure  to  be  the  representative  of  the  combined 
365  JEons,  all  whose  names  are  supposed  to  be  condensed  within 
his  outline — in  short  he  is  the  emblem  of  the  Pleroma,  and 
stands  for  the  "  Adam-Kadmon  "  of  the  Kabbalists,  the  Primal 
Man,  the  Ophite  Adamas,  after  whose  image  the  second  Adam 
was  made.  Or  again,  this  same  combination  may  have  been 
intended  to  display  the  Seven  Vowels,  with  their  forty  and  nine 
Powers,  the  virtues  whereof  are  so  wondrously  exalted  by  the 
inspired  writer  of  the  Pistis-Sophia  (§  378),  whose  words  are 
cited  in  another  place.*  But  as  the  fact  bears  directly  upon  the 

*  Goodwill's  '  Magic  Papyrus,'  terminating  in  several  vowel-com- 
gives,  at  the  end  of  a  spell  (No.  1)  binatious,  these  directions  for  pro- 


sigil  before  us,  it  may  be  mentioned  here  that  the  same  gospel 
(358)  makes  the  Saviour  open  his  "Prayer"  with  the  ejaculation, 
AEHIOTQIAnOA  IOJIA  ;  which,  as  enveloping  the  mystic  Name 
of  God,  were  the  most  obvious  spell  to  be  selected  to  fill  up  so 
important  a  talisman.  Neither  is  it  out  of  place  to  conclude 
this  inquiry  with  the  notice  that  the  motto  of  the  mediaeval 
House  of  Hapsburgh  was  the  Latin  vowels  A.E.I.O.V.  These 
enigmatical  letters  were  interpreted  by  the  arrogance  of 
succeeding  generations,  puffed  up  with  imperial  dignity,  into 
the  initials  of  the  prophecy  "  Austriae  est  imperare  orbi  uni- 
verso."  But  I  more  than  suspect  that  the  five  Latin  letters  were 
adopted  by  some  illuminato  amongst  the  ancient  Dukes  (perhaps 
acquired  during  his  alchemical  studies)  as  containing  the  same 
transcendental  virtues  with  the  Gnostic  seven  of  the  Gieek 

The  winged  goddesses  Athor  and  Sate,  representing  the  Eoman 
Venus  and  Juno,  sometimes  are  found  accompanied  with  such 
legends  as  makes  it  evident  they  too  had  been  pressed  into  the 
Gnostic  service,  as  representatives  of  certain  amongst  the 
feminine  .ZEons.*  But  another  shape  repeatedly  presents  his 
monstrosity  to  our  astonished  gaze,  whose  true  character  almost 
sets  conjecture  at  defiance,  but  evidently  the  offspring  of  very 
diverse  ideas  most  strangely  commingled.  He  is  an  aged  man, 
Priapean,  four-winged,  with  four  hands  grasping  as  many 
sceptres ;  he  has  likewise  the  spreading  tail  of  the  vulture  and 
stands  in  the  baris,  or  upon  the  coiled  serpent,  or  on  a  tree- 
trunk,  horizontal,  whence  project  five  lopped  off  branches. 
Some  potent  saviour  must  be  be,  for  he  is  addressed,  like 
Abraxas  himself,  by  the  title  ABAANAOANAABA!  But  the 
most  prominent  symbol  in  the  monstrous  collocation  suggests 
an  explanation  of  its  hidden  meaning,  supplied  by  the  following 

uounciug  each —  O,  in  the  same  manner  as  above 

"  A,  with  the  mouth  opened,  rolled  said, 

about  like  a  wave.  H,  with  gentleness  aspirated. 

O,  in  a  short  manner  for  spiritual  T,  unto   the  Shepherd  (Hermes), 

threatcniugs.  as  if  it  were  long." 

A  O,  unto  Earth,  Air,  Heaven.  *  Valeutinus  made   his   yEous  in 

E,  after  the  fashion  of  the  cyiioce-  pairs,  male  and  female. 


exposition  of  Justinus,  that  wildest  teacher  in  all  the  Gnosis. 
"  For  this  cause  said  he  unto  Eden,  Mother,  behold  thy  son ! 
meaning  his  animal  and  carnal  body.  He  himself,  however, 
having  commended  his  spirit  into  the  Father's  hands,  ascended 
up  unto  the  Good  One.  Now  this  Good  One  is  Priapus,  He  that 
created  before  anything  existed.  On  this  account  he  is  called 
Priapus  because  he  first  made  all  things  (eVptaTroto-c).*  For 
this  reason  is  he  set  up  in  every  temple,  being  honoured  by  all 
Nature,  and  likewise  in  the  roadways,  having  the  fruits  of 
Autumn  hung  about  him,  that  is,  the  fruits  of  the  Creation 
whereof  he  is  the  author,  inasmuch  as  he  first  made  the  Creation 
which  before  was  not." 

That  very  frequent  type,  a  mummy  swathed  in  the  coils  of  a 
vast  serpent,  is  easily  explained  as  an  allusion  to  the  protection 
in  the  next  world  of  the  ancient  agatho-demon,j"  or  the 
spiritual  Naas  of  the  more  recent  Ophites.  The  same  belief 
also  generated  that  more  graceful  allegory,  the  woman  en 
throned  on  the  back  of  the  same  reptile,  like  the  Atergatis  of 

Interesting  above  the  rest  for  the  part  it  played  in  mediaeval 
superstition  is  the  Osiris,  or  old  man,  with  radiated  head,  a 
terminal  figure  always  shown  in  front  face  with  arms  crossed  on 
the  breast,  the  true  Bapliomet  of  the  Templars.  Sometimes  he 
is  borne  aloft  upon  the  heads  of  four  Angels,  upon  whom  two 
streams  pour  forth  from  his  sides.  This  group  has  been 
explained  as  Ormuzd  borne  up  by  the  Four  Elements ;  although 
it  may  possibly  refer  to  the  notion  the  prophet  Enoch  mentions 
(xviii.  3)  "I  also  beheld  the  Four  Winds  which  bear  up  the 
earth  and  the  firmament  of  heaven."  The  idea  in  truth  has 
rather  an  Assyrian  than  Egyptian  cast,  for  in  Assyrian  works 
Athor  (Mylitta)  often  appears  pouring  out  from  her  extended 
arms  the  Waters  of  Life ;  and  again  the  Persian  female  Ized 
Ardui&her  is  by  interpretation  "  The  giver  of  living  water."J 

A   curious   specimen   of  ancient  form,   borrowed  in  a  more 

*  That  is,  the  proper  symbol  of  J  At  Tarsus  (1863)  was  discovered 
Priapus,  either  the  phallus  or  the  in  company  with  aurei  of  Sev.  Alex- 
Egyptian  Tau.  ander  and  Gordian  III.,  a  talisman 

f  The  HFE  painted  on  the  thus  described  by  Longpcriur : 

niiunmy  cases  in  that  very  capacity.  "  Amulet  formed  of  lapis-lazuli,  set 


spiritual  sense,  is  furnished  by  a  pretty  sard,  found  in  tho 
Punjab  (Major  Pearise),  engraved  with  two  figures  of  the  Eoman 
Providentia  facing  each  other,  in  the  field  between  them, 
the  heads  of  Sol  and  Luna,  and  below  XAIA,  the  Hebrew 
for  Life. 

The  common  figure  0  may  be  explained  by  Eusebius's  de 
scription  of  the  Egyptian  hieroglyph  for  the  world,  as  a  circle 
coloured  sky-blue  and  besprinkled  with  flames,  in  the  centre  an 
extended  serpent ;  the  whole  being  carelessly  imitated  by  the 
letter  0  in  the  Diagramma  of  the  Ophites. 

An  armed  man,  the  Mithraic  soldier,  one  of  the  figures 
regularly  set  up  in  the  mystic  Cave  of  the  Solar  god,  often 
decorates  a  talisman,  holding  a  spear  tipped  with  tho  head 
of  a  cock,  a  mark  of  honour  granted  by  the  Persian  kings  to 
distinguished  valour  (as  by  Artaxerxes  to  the  Carian  who  slew 
Cyrus  the  Younger)  ;  or  else  grasping  a  serpent  in  each  hand. 
A  sect  that  sprung  up  in  Egypt,  the  Phibionites,  took  the  title 
•'  Militant,"  3rparta)ruco£  Another  figure,  the  three-headed 
throe-bodied  god,  who,  standing  like  Priapus,  grasped  with  one 
hand  the  symbols  of  fecundity,  with  the  other,  asps  and  scorpions, 
must  be  the  visible  embodiment  of  the  Great  TpiSwa/xets, 
who  figure  so  prominently  in  the  celestial  hierarchy  of  the 
Pistis -Sophia.  The  Trees  sometimes  enlisted  in  the  Talismanic 
corps  may  find  their  motive  in  the  "  Almond-tree "  of  the 
Phrygian  Mysteries,  in  which  the  Naaseni  discovered  the  name 
of  the  Great  Creator  of  All;  or  else  to  the  "Mystery  of  the 
Five  Trees,"  mentioned  in  that  oft-quoted  revelation,  on  whose 
true  nature  light  is  thrown  by  Justinus'  exposition  making  out 

in  a  gold  frame  of  rude  workmansnip,  large  haematite  (Praun)  now  in  the 

with  a  ring  for  suspension.    The  two  British    Museum.     Montfaucon,   pi. 

faces  are  engraved   in  intaglio,  and  clxi.  has  a  Venus  unveiling  inscribed 

represent  an  ^Eon  with  four  wings  A  PGUP  I  OPACIC,   "The  Vision  of 

and  bird's  tail,  holding  two  spears;  Arori ;"  and  another  with  A  P  POOP  I  <J> 

and  with  a  Venus  and  the  inscription  I  AC  1C,  and  on  the  field  CAN  KTA 

(not    reversed)    APCx)PI     OPACIC,  for  the  owner's  name.     It  was  under 

some  letters  of  which  are  concealed  such  a  form  as  this  that  the  Supreme 

by    the    setting.       Length,  0-0034 ;  Tetrad    brought   down   Truth    from 

weight,   5 '20   grammes   (=95   grs.  Heaven   to    display   her    beauty   to 

troy)."     The    same    legend    accoin-  Marcus  as  he  d<  scribes  in  his  '  lleve- 

pauies  a  Venus  Amvlyorneiic  upon  a  latiou  '  (see  p.  218). 


the  Trees  of  Paradise  to  bo  the  Angels  generated  between  the 
Demiurgus  Elohim  and  his  daughter  Eden.* 

There  is  a  sigil  of  this  class,  that  from  its  frequency  must 
have  been  considered  of  peculiar  virtue.  It  represents  a  fish 
with  immense  head  and  shoulders,  but  diminutive  body,  as  if 
from  above  ;  the  reverse  of  the  stone  thus  inscribed  — 

One  of  the  three  sacivd  fish  of  the  Nile  must  figure  here  ;  and 
in  this  talismanic  character  passed,  with  an  appropriate 
mystic  interpretation,  into  the  symbolism  of  the  Alexandrine 


Our  invaluable  and  most  charming  guide,  Ilippolytus,  when 
describing  the  Astrotlicoscopi,  "  Seekers  of  God  in  the  stars," 
begins  with  a  simile  more  apposite  than  complimentary  to  the 
fashion  which  then  prevailed  for  combining  astrology  with  every 
species  of  religion.  He  compares  these  inquirers  to  that  silly 
fowl  the  bustard,  which  suffers  itself  to  be  caught  by  the  follow 
ing  device.  "  When  a  man  discovers  a  flock  he  begins  to  dance 
and  make  grimaces  in  front  of  them,  The  birds  stand  motionless 
staring  at  him  in  wonderment  until  his  confederate  steals  up  to 
them  from  behind  and  knocks  them  on  the  head.  In  the  same 
way  (adds  the  good  Saint,  evidently  much  refreshed  by  his  joke) 
do  the  people  seduced  by  such  teachers  stare  up  at  the  stars, 
until  at  last  they  find  themselves  hopelessly  caught  in  the  snare 
of  the  heresy."  As  an  example  of  this  most  curious  system  of 
theology  it  will  suffice  to  quote  their  exposition  of  the  doctrine  con 
veyed  by  one  constellation  out  of  many.  "  Ophiuchus  represents 
with  his  stars  a  man  on  his  knees,  in  appearance  oppressed  with 

*  An  authentic  description  of  the  bearing  fruit  which  resembled  grapes 

Tree  of  Knowledge  will  doubtless  be  extremely    fine  ;    and   its    fragrance 

acceptable    to  -  my    readers.     "  The  extended  to  a  considerable  distance. 

Tree  of  Knowledge  also  was  there,  I  exclaimed  :  '  How  beautiful  is  this 

(if  which  if  any  eats    he  becomes  tree,  and  how  delightful   is   its  ap- 

endowed  with  great  wisdom.     It  was  pearance  !  '  "  —  (Book  of  Enoch,  xxxi. 

like  a  species  of  the  tamarind-tree,  3-4). 


fatigue,  a  posture  for  which  that  great  authority  in  Astrology, 
Aratas,  is  at  a  loss  to  account.  But  rightly  understood,  he  is 
Adam  engaged  in  watching  the  Dragon's  head  underneath  him, 
which  is  biting  his  heel.  Over  his  head  are  seen  the  Lyre,  and 
the  Crown.  The  Lyre  was  the  invention  of  the  infant  Hermes, 
who  is  in  reality  the  Word  of  God  :  their  position  therefore 
announces  that  whosoever  gives  heed  unto  the  Word,  he  shall 
obtain  the  Crown ;  but  if  he  refuses  to  hearken  unto  the  Word, 
he  shall  be  cast  down  below  with  the  Dragon."  In  another 
place  Hippolytus  observes  :  "  The  doctrine  of  the  Chaldaians 
concerning  trines,  quadrates,  benignant  and  malign  stars, 
Euphrates  the  Peratist  applies  to  Christianity,  by  changing  the 
concord  and  discord  of  the  stars  into  the  constitution  of  the 
TEons,  the  transition  of  Good  Powers  into  Evil  ones,  and  the 
harmony  of  their  respective  particles.  From  the  same  source 
he  gets  his  «« Toparchs  "  and  "  Presidents,"  and  all  the  other 
imagery  of  the  astrologers." 

Such  being  the  nature  of  the  actual  foundations  of  Gnosticism, 
no  wonder  that  it  should  so  frequently  be  impossible  to  decide 
whether  a  talismanic  sigil  be  the  expression  of  some  semi- 
Christian  tenet,  or  merely  the  imagined  similitude  of  some 
astral  Power  whose  influence  was  thus  secured  for  the  wearer's 
protection.  For  the  gods  of  Magianism,  the  religion  that  has 
so  deeply  tinged  all  Gnostic  doctrines,  were  no  other  than  these 
starry  Powers.  The  Agathodamion  himself  gave  his  name  to 
one  of  the  three  Decani  of  Cancer,  as  Hephaestion  hath  already 
informed  us.  The  very  title,  "  Decanus,"  Salmasius  with  some 
reason  derives  from  the  Chaldee  Dekan,  "  inspector,"  and  thereby 
makes  it  equivalent  to  the  Greek  "  Horoscopos,"  "  The  god 
that  looks  down  upon  the  nativity."  The  common  Latin 
derivation,  in  its  military  sense  of  "sergeant,"  Salmasius  rejects 
as  foreign  to  the  idea  conveyed.  Again,  Charchnumis  is 
named  as  the  First  Decanus  in  Leo,  and  this  title  actually 
appears  around  a  serpent  with  human  and  radiated  head,  figured 
by  Salmasius  in  the  same  chapter.  This  name  is  sometimes 
written  XOAXNOTBIZ,  which  the  same  authority  explains  as 
"  The  All-golden  One." 

A  Greek  astrologer  quoted  without  name  by  Salmasius   gives 


this  curious  piece  of  information  :  "  There  are  appointed  in  each 
one  of  the  Signs,  three  Decani  of  different  forms  ;  one  holding  an 
axe,  the  others  represented  variously.  These  figures  engraved 
in  rings  are  amulets  against  all  mischance."  As  Teucer  asserts, 
with  other  great  astrologers  of  his  times :  "  This,  alas !  too 
scanty  notice  of  their  attributes  shows  at  least  one  of  their 
number  to  be  the  old  Babylonian  god  described  by  the  prophet 
Raruch  ( Epistle  13,  14) — *  He  hath  a  sceptre  in  his  hand  like  a 
man,  like  a  judge  of  the  kingdom — ho  hath  in  his  hand  a  sword 
and  an  axe'  "  But  not  merely  the  Decani  of  the  Signs  were  thus 
worn  in  rings,  but  equally  so  the  signs  themselves,  and  the  stars 
rising  together  with  them,  technically  called  ot  TrapareAAovrc?. 
Such  images  were  termed  oroi^eta,  whence  those  who  made  a 
business  of  engraving  then  got  the  name  a-roLx^o^arLKOL. 
They  performed  their  work  with  many  ceremonies,  and  always 
under  the  inspection  of  the  particular  Decanus,  or  star,  whose 
sigil  they  were  embodying,  On  this  account  Epiphaiiius  speaks 
of  the  sun,  moon,  and  planets  as  oroi^eTa,  terming  /xop(£axreis  the 
figures  of  the  constellations  formed  by  the  imaginary  collocation 
of  the  stars.  The  same  writer  uses  the  expression,  "The  stars 
that  be  vainly  imagined  in  the  shape  of  figures,  which  are 
called  Signs  of  the  Zodiac."  As  Diodorus  distinguishes  between 
planets  and  <rroix«a,  it  follows  that  the  term  was  equivalent 
to  our  "  constellation."  All  this  evinces  that  the  Arabian 
writers  were  correct  in  translating  o-Totxao/xariKot  by  "  talis 
man-makers."  How  these  later  astrologers  thought  proper  to 
portray  the  Ascendants  of  each  Sign  in  their  "  Table  of  the 
Myriogeneses "  will  be  described  in  my  chapter  upon  Talis 

A  curious  Praun  gem  represents  Mercury  enthroned  and 
bearing  the  attributes  of  Jupiter,  with  the  strange  legend  EnnTA 
(sic)  XPTZOZ,  which  has  been  absurdly  interpreted  as  referring  to 
his  seven-stringed  lyre.  More  probably  was  the  gem  the  signet 
of  some  "  Hebdomadarian  "  or  votary  of  the  Number  Seven  ;  a 
sect  of  sufficient  importance  to  get  from  Hippolytus  a  separate 
section  for  themselves  in  his  great  work.  The  identification  of 
Hermes  with  the  Christian  Logos  was  one  grand  feature  in  the 
doctrine  of  the  Naaseni,  so  lucidly  set  forth  by  that  learned 


Father.  Ho  was  of  opinion  that  this  Hebdomadarian  doctrine 
(derived  from  ancient  Egyptian  philosophy)  was  the  true  source 
of  every  form  of  Gnosticism.  This  potent  Numeral  is  illus 
trated  by  another  device  of  frequent  occurrence  in  cameo,  the 
Delphic  e  crowned  with  a  fillet,  and  below,  the  legend  XPTZOT- 
This  can  be  no  other  than  that  most  holy  of  Numerals  the 
Delphic  "Ei,  or  Five,  on  the  mystery  whereof  Plutarch  has  left  a 
very  curious  dissertation  ;  and  it  represents  the  golden  figure  of 
that  same  numeral  dedicated  by  Livia  Augusta  at  the  shrine 
of  her  husband's  peculiar  patron.  And  similarly  the  gem  above 
referred  to  exhibits  Hermes  invested  with  supreme  dominion,  and 
accompanied  by  his  own  special  number,  "  testudo  resonare 
septem*  callida  nervis  "— the  Magian  method  for  symbolizing 
the  different  Powers  of  Heaven,  which  shall  be  explained  in  its 
due  place,  when  we  come  to  treat  of  the  "  Seven  Voices." 

The  oddest  adaptations  of  the  imagery  of  the  old  religions 
mark  the  earliest  preaching  of  the  Gnosis.  its  first  apostle, 
Simon  Magus,  who  passed  himself  off  upon  the  Samaritans  as 
the  third  manifestation  of  the  Christ,  was  worshipped  as  late 
as  Hippolytus'  times,  in  statues  made  in  the  form  of  Jupiter. 
His  famous  concubine  Helena  (in  whom  Simon  has  discovered 
the  Lost  Sheep  of  the  parable  whilst  carrying  on  her  profession 
in  a  brothel  at  Tyre)  was  similarly  adored  under  the  forms  of 
Minerva  and  the  Moon  (Hipp.  vi.  19).  The  main  doctrines  of 
the  Naaseni  were  supported  by  ingenious  applications  of  the 
symbolism  employed  in  the  Eleusinian,  Phrygian,  and  Samo-* 
thracian  Mysteries,  of  which  Hyppolytus  has  given  a  full  and 
very  interesting  account. 

Phoenicia,  again,  furnished  our  talisman-makers  with  a  copious 
repertory  in  the  exaggerated  symbolism  of  the  figures  whereby 
their  priesthood  had  expressed  their  notions  of  the  Divine 
Power.  "  Taut,  the  great  god  of  the  Phoenicians "  (says 
Samoniathon),  "  in  order  to  express  the  character  of  Kronos,  made 
his  image  with  four  eyes— two  in  front,  two  behind,  open  and 
closed ;  also  with  four  wings — two  expanded  upwards,  two 
folded  downwards.  The  eyes  denoted  that  the  godhead  sees 

*  The  compound  'Eirrdxpvaos  is  'EirraxaA/cos,  the  place  in  the  wall  of 
made  after  the  same  rule  as  the  Athens  where  Sulla  took  the  city. 


when  sleeping,  and  sleeps  when  waking ;  the  attitude  of  his 
wings,  that  he  flies  in  resting,  and  rests  in  flying.  Upon  his 
head  are  two  wings,  denoting  Reason  and  the  Senses."  -It  is 
very  provoking  that  Diodorus  (xx.  1 9)  should  have  given  no 
further  description  of  the  famous  Kronos,  Mdcarth,  of  Carthago 
than  the  brief  remark  that  it  held  the  hands  open,  palm 
upwards,  but  sloping  downwards,  so  that  the  child  sacrificed, 
when  laid  upon  them,  should  roll  off  into  a  pit  of  fire  at  the 
foot.*  When  Agathocles  was  pressing  hard  the  siege,  and 
hope  was  almost  lost,  no  fewer  that  three  hundred  children  of 
the  nobles  were  offered  to  Melcarth  at  one  and  the  same  time. 

Inasmuch  as  the  genius  of  the  planet  Saturn,  or  Kronos,  was 
held  by  the  Talmudists  to  be  good  and  pure,  contrary  to  those 
of  the  other  planets,  the  Four-winged  image,  so  common  upon 
Gnostic  gems,  may  reasonably  be  considered  as  a  copy  from  the 
ancient  original,  devised  by  Taut.  Saturn,  the  solo  inspirer  of 
the  Law  and  the  Prophets,  had  special  claims  to  the  veneration 
of  the  Alexandrine  Kabbalists.  And  this  belief  explains  where 
fore  Valentinus  fixed  upon  this  planet  for  the  abode  of 
Ildabaoth,  the  Giver  of  the  Law  to  the  Children  of  Israel  in  the 

It  sounds  like  a  paradox  to  assert  that  our  "  Gnostic  "  gems 
are  not  the  work  of  the  Gnostics ;  but  taking  that  appellation  in 
its  strictest  sense,  the  thing  is  perfectly  true.  The  talismans 
we  are  considering  never  exhibit  any  traces  of  that  admixture 
of  Christian  and  Pagan  doctrines  which  properly  constitutes 
the  Gnosis,  that  subject  of  the  descriptions  and  the  attacks  of 
the  Fathers  of  the  Church.  Their  elements  are  drawn  from  the 
ancient  religions  of  Babylon  and  Egypt,  mixed  at  times  with 
the  formulae  of  the  Jewish  Kabbala.  The  "  Gnostic  "  stones  are 
in  reality  the  paraphernalia  of  magicians  and  dealers  in  charms 
(charm-doctors  in  modern  phrase),  and  only  belong  to  the 
Ophites,  Valentinians,  and  other  subdivisions  of  the  Christian 
Gnosis,  in  so  far  as  those  theosophists  were  especially  given  to 

*  This  tradition   was  verified  by  burnt  human  bones.     The  discovery 

N.  Davis,  who  in  excavating  the  ruins  is  well  described  in  his  section  "  Mo 

of  the  temple  found,  at  a  great  depth,  loch  and  his  Victims." 
a  thick  layer  of   ashes  mingled  with 


the  cultivation  of  the  Black  Art;  as  the  notices  above  cited 
abundantly  declare.  This  delusive  study  prevailed  at  the 
period  of  the  grand  development  of  Gnosticism  to  an  extent 
which  no  one  can  credit  who  has  not  studied  the  historians  of 
the  Later  Empire.  The  accusation  of  "  magical  practices " 
proved  a  ready  weapon  for  destroying  an  obnoxious  individual 
against  whom  no  tangible  crime  could  be  charged :  what 
stronger  proof  of  this  than  its  being  effectually  employed  (as 
Animian  tells  us)  to  expel  that  pattern  of  orthodoxy,  the  great 
Athanasius,  from  the  patriarchal  throne  of  Alexandria  ?  The 
same  historian  notices  that  under  the  timid  Valens  it  sufficed  to 
establish  this  capital  charge  if  the  suspected  person  had 
been  seen  walking  at  night-time  in  the  neighbourhood  of  any 
cemetery,  where  he  might  possibly  have  gone  to  hold  conference 
with  the  demons  of  the  dead. 

But  to  exhibit  the  true  source  and  nature  of  these  "  Gnostic  " 
inscriptions  I  shall  transcribe  a  spell  from  the  "  Magic  Papyrus," 
to  which  I  shall  have  occasion  frequently  to  refer.  The  author 
of  this  wondrous  Manual  of  Necromancy  was  unmistakably  of 
the  old  unmixed  Egyptian  religion,  and  very  probably  a 
priest  of  Isis.  Nevertheless,  he  not  merely  employs  the  very 
words  found  on  our  talismans,  but  even  the  same  peculiar 
arrangement  of  them.  Any  one  desirous  of  preserving  so 
valuable  a  charm  in  a  more  durable  material  than  papyrus  or 
lead,  had  only  to  order  a  lapidary  to  copy  it  for  him  upon  a 
jasper,  and  a  regular  "  Gnostic  "  monument  would  have  been 
bequeathed  to  our  times.  The  maker  having  carefully  specified 
the  virtues  of  composition,  gives  us  to  understand  the  value  of 
similar  forms  still  existing  on  stones  :  VII.  "  Take  a  sheet  of 
hieratic  paper,  or  a  leaden  plate,  and  an  iron  link  of  a  chain 
(/cpi/cos),  and  place  the  link  upon  the  paper,  and  mark  both 
inside  and  out  with  a  pen  the  form  of  the  link.  Then  having 
described  the  circular  outline  of  the  link,  write  upon  the  same 
outline,  inscribing  upon  the  paper  the  name  and  the  characters 
on  the  outside,  and  inside  the  thing  which  you  wish  not  to 
happen,  or  that  a  man's  mind  may  be  bound  so  as  not  to  do 
such  and  such  a  thing.  Then  placing  the  link  upon  its  outline 
which  you  have  made,  and  taking  up  the  parts  outside  the 


outline,  sew  up  the  link  with  thread  so  as  to  completely  conceal 
it,  piercing  through  the  characters  with  the  pen ;  and  when  you 
wish  to  bend,  say — '  I  bend  such  a  one  not  to  speak  to  such  a 
one,  let  him  not  resist,  lot  him  not  contradict,  let  him  not  be 
able  to  look  me  into  the  face,  or  to  answer  me,  but  let  him  be 
subject  unto  me  so  long  as  this  link  is  buried.  And  again  I 
bind  his  mind,  his  senses,  his  desires,  his  actions,  that  he  may 
be  sluggish  towards  all  men,  in  case  (a  certain  woman)  marries 
such  a  one,'  or  else,  '  in  order  that  she  may  not  marry  such  and 
such  a  one.'  Common  (i.e.,  to  be  said  in  Greek). 

"  Then  taking  it  to  the  grave  of  one  untimely  deceased,  dig 
four  fingers  deep,  and  put  it  in  and  say — « 0  departed  Spirit, 
whosoever  thou  art,  them  art  this ;  I  deliver  unto  thee  such  a 
one,  that  he  may  not  do  such  and  such  a  thing.'  Then  cover  it 
up  and  depart.  And  you  will  do  this  best  when  the  moon  is  on 
the  wane.  The  words  to  be  written  within  the  circle  are 
these  :  APOAMA0PA6P6C  :  KITAAAX  •  6ZANTA  •  IAPOTNH  •  AKH  • 
lACx)  •  AAPTNKU)  •  MANIHA  •  MH  nPAXGHTO)  TO  $  (Se«/a) 
('Let  not  such  and  such  a  tiling  be  done  for  so  long  a  time  as  this 
link  is  buried  ').  Bind  it  with  knots,  making  a  twist  of  them,  and 
so  deposit  it.  The  link  may  also  be  cast  into  a  disused  well,  or 
into  the  grave  of  one  dead  before  his  time.  And  after  the 
characters,  write  also  these  words  below  the  link  as  a  plinth  (or 
OTX66©  eCOPNUXfrPI,  and  the  inscription  at  the  top  of  the 
page,  which  also  you  must  place  within  it. 


(This  spell  is  repeated  at  the  foot  of  the  page,  inscribed  in 
one  continuous  circle,  to  show  that  it  reads  either  way.  It 
occurs  also  on  a  gem  (Brit.  Mus.)  followed  by  AOTAI  XAPIN 
lePWNIMA  nPOC  riANTAC,  "Give  to  Hieronima  favour  in 
the  sight  of  all  men  "  :  and  also  on  another,  figured  by  Monl- 
faucon,  II.  pi.  164— a  proof  of  the  importance  attached  to  it  at 
the  time.) 

R  2 



"  And  the  same  arrangement  may  be  written  upon  a  leaden 
plate  ;  and  having  put  the  link  within  it,  fold  it  over  and  seal 
with  gypsum,  and  afterwards  the  base  beneath,  upon  which 
IA600  as  before  directed,  and  also  these  words:  BAKAZTXTX 
M6N6BA  IXTX  ABPACAZ  AT,  "  Prevent  such  and  such  a  thing." 
But  in  the  original  the  Names  are  found  as  follows  :  AM4>OOA 
vent  such  and  such  a  thing." 

AA|>H  D[>nMA 

On  the  reverse  of  a  Chnuphis  plasma  (Lewis  Collection), 
KICNVOaiid  NABIC  (prophet)  occur,  as  also  011  the  Bosanquet 
gem.  The  last  words  may  be  corrupt  Greek,  "Restore  the 
night  "  ;  the  object  of  the  talisman. 

FIG.  10. 



Having  in  the  preceding  sections  cleared  the  ground  of  the 
innumerable  usurpers  of  the  title  "  Abraxas  gems,"  we  can  con 
veniently  proceed  to  consider  the  wondrous  Sigil,  the  invention 
whereof  is  universally  ascribed  to  Basilides  himself.  And  for 
this  asumption  there  are  very  good  grounds,  for  it  is  certain 
that  such  a  Sigil  never  occurs  executed  in  a  style  that  bespeaks 
a  date  anterior  to  the  grand  heresiarch's,  the  first  years  of  the 
second  century. 

This  figure,  which  has  given  its  name  to  the  whole  family,  is 
designed  to  represent  the  god  "  Abraxas,"  for  so  his  name  is 
written  invariably  on  the  gems,  although  the  Latin  Fathers 
to  suit  the  genius  of  their  own  language  have  transposed  the 
final  letters.  The  etymology  and  value  of  the  name  require  a 
whole  section  to  themselves,  so  deep  are  the  mysteries  that 
they  contain. 

The  purpose  of  the  composition  was  to  express  visibly,  and  at 
once,  the  365  ^ons,  emanations  from  the  First  Cause,  whose 
number  was  probably  first  suggested  by  its  own  numerical 
signification,  and  consequently  the  figure  may  be  taken  as  a 
speaking  type  of  the  Pleroma,  the  one  embracing  all  within 
itself,  an  idea  fittingly  embodied  in  a  name  containing  the  sum 
of  all  its  component  powers.  To  shadow  forth  therefore  this 
grand  doctrine,  the  image  in  question  is  a  "  Paiitheus,"  or  com 
bination  of  many  discordant  attributes  expressing  the  amalga 
mation  of  many  different  ideas  in  one  and  the  same  figure. 
Hence  he  is  depicted  with  the  head  of  a  cock,  sacred  to  Phoebus, 
or  else  of  a  Lion,  symbol  of  Mithras  and  Belus;  his  body, 
human  and  clad  in  armour,  indicates  his  guardian  power,  for  he 
is  a  Virtue  Militant  "putting  on  the  whole  armour  of  God";  his 
legs  are  the  sacred  asps,  types  of  the  Agathodeemon,  likewise 
indicating  swiftness;  for  in  this  way,  says  Fausanias,  was  Boreas 
pictured  upon  the  Coffer  of  Cypselus :  in  his  right  hand  ho 
brandishes  a  scourge,  the  Egyptian  badge  of  sovereignty;  on 


his  left  arm  a  shield,  usually  emblazoned  with  some  word  of 
power,  declaring  his  perpetual  warfare  against  the  rebellious 
Angels,  the  "  Gods  of  death."  Bellermann  has  proposed  with 
much  ingenuity  an  interpretation  of  this  Pantheus  in  the  more 
spiritual  sense  better  consonant  with  the  esoteric  teaching  of 
its  inventor.  According  to  him,  the  whole  represents  the 
Supreme  Being,  with  his  Five  great  Emanations,  each  one 
pointed  out  by  means  of  an  expressive  emblem.  Thus,  from  the 
human  body,  the  usual  form  assigned  to  the  Deity,  forasmuch 
as  it  is  written  that  God  created  man  in  his  own  image,  issue 
the  two  supporters,  Nous  and  Logos,  symbols  of  the  inner  sense 
and  tho  quickening  understanding,  as  typified  by  the  serpents, 
for  the  same  reason  that  had  induced  the  old  Greeks  to  assign 
this  reptile  for  an  attribute  to  Pallas.  His  head — a  cock's — 
represents  Phroncsis,  the  fowl  being  emblematical  of  foresight 
and  vigilance.  His  two  hands  bear  the  badges  of  Sophia  and 
Dynamis,  the  shield  of  Wisdom,  and  the  scourge  of  Power. 

This  Pantheus  is  invariably  inscribed  with  his  proper  name, 
IAO,  and  his  epithets,  ABPAZAZ  and  ZABAQ0,  and  often  accom 
panied  with  invocations  such  as,  ZEMEZ  EIAAM,  "The  Eternal 
Sun";  ABAANAOANAABA,  "Thou  art  our  Father"  (sometimes 
curtailed,  but  generally  so  arranged  as  to  read  the  same  both 
ways)  ;  or  AAONAI,  "  The  Lord."* 

]n  all  this  a  further  relationship  to  the  ancient  idea  of  the 
Sun-god  is  readily  to  be  discovered.  Phoebus,  as  the  god  of  day, 
is  similarly  furnished  with  a  whip,  and  the  serpent,  according  to 
the  Egyptians,  hieroglyphically  expressed  his  tortuous  course 
through  the  Zodiac.  **  Adonai "  was  the  Syrian  title  of  the 
Sun,  whence  Adonis  or  Thammuz  denoted  that  luminary  at  the 
winter  solstice.  Moreover,  the  Gnostic  epithets  above  are  the 
very  words  composing  that  "  short  prayer,"  from  the  use  of 
which  at  all  sacrifices  Macrobius  (I.  23)  makes  out  that  the 
influence  of  the  Sun  is  the  Power  supreme  over  all :  "  0  Sun, 
Father  of  All,  Spirit  of  the  world,  Strength  of  the  world, 
Light  of  the  world  !  "  But  the  God  adored  under  the  name  of 

*  Besides  these  regular  titles,  Abraxas  figure  (John  Evans)  has 
others  are  occasionally  used,  of  im-  over  his  head  BICTYC,  below  his 
known  import.  Thus  a  well-engraved  feet  GICIT- 


"  Abrasax  "  is  clearly  shown  by  the  Bosanquet  jasper  (more 
particularly  described  elsewhere),  exhibiting  the  Fantheus  in 
the  very  car,  and  attitude  of  Phoebus,  and  by  the  Alexandrian 
coin  of  Hadrian  presenting  Serapis  similarly  engaged.  That 
the  latter  was  the  Solar  deity,  all  mythologists  were  agreed  ; 
and  this  identity  of  action  would  lead  one  to  suspect  that 
"  Abrasax  "  was  no  more  than  the  mystic  name  of  the  tutelary 
god  of  Alexandria. 

The  older  Chnuphis  was  occasionally  (though  rarely)  erected 
with  Abraxas  on  the  same  talisman  ;  an  example  of  which  is 
offered  in  one  of  the  most  remarkable  of  the  class  ever  brought 
under  my  notice.  It  was  brought  from  Bombay  by  a  Jew  (1874), 
and  sold  to  M.  Gaston  Feuardent,  whence  it  came  into  the 
possession  of  the  Rev.  S.  S.  Lewis. 

Red  jasper  of  fine  quality,  Ijxli  inch,  with  figure  of 
Abraxas,  holding  whip  and  shield,  engraved  in  unusually  good 
stylo  upon  the  convex  face.  Round  the  edge,  beginning  over  the 
head,  runs  continuously, 

®ANA#3A       AVAAI© 

at  the  back  of  the  head,  P  ;  under  beak,  I  ;  over  right  shoulder, 
RA  (probably  nexus  of  ABA  AN)  ;    across  the  field,  each  side  of 



Aain,  across  field  on  a  level  with  his  loins,  on  each  side, 

(perhaps  Eoia,  "  The  Serpent,"  in  Syriac). 

Between  the  serpent  legs, 


On    the   other   side,    which   is   almost    flat,  is    the    Chnuphis 
Serpent,  erect,  with  the   Seven  Vowels   inserted   between  the 
rays  of  his  head.     Across  the  middle  of  the  field, 
HA  €IX   ("Thy  God.") 

Over  his  head,  three  scarabei  in  a  row;  to  the  right,  three 
goats,  and  three  crocodiles  above  each  other;  to  the  left,  as 
many  ibises  and  serpents  so  arranged. 



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,  2J  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 

IA0    IAOO    AAU)N 
U)H  . 

On  each  side  of  figure  — 


CON  ce    g  ^ 

BAA  ru  5  z 

OA  #  <  3  ° 





The  whole  inclosed  within  a  coiled  serpent. 

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

On  each  side  of  the  figure— 





M6AZA  K6N€ 
X  HH6 




Under  the  footstool,  similarly  surrounded  by  the  coiled  serpent, 

z  z  z 

This  Solomon  is  a  truly  medieval  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 

Some  legends,  following  the  rule  of  the  famous  ABAA0ANAABA, 
read  indifferently  from  either  end.  A  good  example  occurs  on 
the  reverse  of  a  serapis,  carried  in  the  laris  between  Sol  and 





(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  Agathodsemon,  furnished  with  a  human  trunk,  standing. 
On  the  reverse  a  novel  formula  — 




Eucliael,  "  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 
1  j  inches  long  and  wide  ;  engraved  very  neatly,  with  Scrapin 


seated  on  the  Baris,  busts  of  Osiris  and  Isis  on  prow  and  poop  ; 
above,  AAAA  ;  below,  BAIN.     On  the  reverse,  finely  cut  — 







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


That  the  Pantheus  upon  our  gems  was  really  intended  to 
picture  forth  the  deity  styled  "  Abraxas  "  can  be  established 
by  the  indirect  evidence  of  many  contemporary  writers. 
Irenaeus  remarks  of  the  Basilidans,  that  "  they  use  images, 
incantations,  and  all  other  things  pertaining  unto  Magic." 
Further  on  (xxiii.)  he  adds  their  custom  of  giving  names  to 
their  images  of  pretended  angels.  And,  what  bears  more 
directly  on  the  subject,  Tertullian  (Apol.  xvi.),  after  laughing 
at  the  god  of  the  heretics  as  "  biforme  numen  "  (evidently  in 
reference  to  the  serpent  legs,  "biforrnes"  being  the  classical 
synonym  for  the  Giants  similarly  equipped),  then  goes  on  to 
say,  "  They  have  taken  unto  themselves  gods  with  wings,  or 
with  heads  of  dogs  or  lions,  or  else  serpents  from  tlie  legs  down 
wards"  Here  we  have  unmistakeable  reference  to  the  Magian, 
Egyptian,  and  Mithraic  idols  so  common  upon  these  talismans, 
and  in  the  last  words  to  the  serpent-legged  and  veritable 

Lastly,  Epiphanius,  after  stating  that  Basilides  had  taught 
that  the  Supreme  Being — out  of  whom  proceeded  Mind,  Intelli 
gence,  Providence,  Strength,  and  Wisdom — was  named  Abraxas, 
proceeds  to  describe  in  what  manner  the  idea  was  embodied  by 


the  heresiarch  :  "  Having  taken  their  vain  speculations,  he  and 
his  followers  have  converted  them  into  a  peculiar  and  definite 
form,  as  a  foundation  for  their  own  erroneous  idolatrous  and 
fictitious  doctrines."  Further  on  he  adds :  "  With  respect 
to  their  «  Kavlacav,'  what  person  with  any  understanding 
would  not  laugh  at  their  converting  a  Hebrew  word  into  a 
lodily  shape  in  order  to  represent  their  idol;  at  their  per 
sonified  Principalities  ;  in  a  word,  at  their  fondness  for  images ; 
whilst  through  these  fancies  they  sow  error  in  the  minds  of  the 
ignorant  for  the  furtherance  of  their  disgraceful  arid  lying 
trade  ? "  Then  proceeding,  it  would  appear,  to  the  analysis  of 
the  figure  itself,  he  exclaims :  "  It  is  a  Spirit  of  deceit,  which, 
like  the  playing  upon  a  pipe,  leads  the  ignorant  into  many  sins 
against  the  Truth.  Yea,  even  his  legs  are  an  imitation  of  the 
Serpent  through  whom  the  Evil  One  spake  and  deceived  Eve. 
For  after  the  pattern  of  that  figure  hath  the  flute  been  invented 
for  the  deceiving  of  mankind.  Observe  the  figure  that  the 
player  makes  in  blowing  his  flute.  Doth  he  not  bend  himself 
up  and  down  to  the  right  and  to  the  left,  like  unto  it  (the 
serpent)?  These  forms  hath  the  Devil  used  to  support  his 
blasphemy  against  heavenly  things,  to  destroy  with  destruction 
things  upon  earth,  to  encompass  the  whole  world,  taking  cap 
tive  right  and  left  all  such  as  lend  an  ear  to  his  seductions." 


Of  this  "Great  Name,"  many  etymologies  have  been  pro 
posed.  Of  all  these  the  most  satisfactory  is  perhaps  the  one 
offered  by  Eabbi  Abraham  Geiger,  making  it  the  Grecised 
form  of  Ha-Brachah,  "The  Blessing."  For  there  is  good  reason 
for  believing  that  the  Z  had  the  sound  of  SH,  which  explains 
the  strange  metamorphoris  of  the  Persian  "  Artashir "  into 
"  Artaxerxes."  By  the  same  rule  the  Kabbi  interprets  the 
talismanic  EAZAI  as  representing  El-Chai,  "  The  Living  God." 
The  same  interpretation  is  again  confirmed  by  the  true  solution 
(so  long  sought  in  vain,  and  now  suggested  by  Mr.  W.  A. 
Wright)  of  the  mighty  spell  abracadabra,  which  receives  a 


most  fitting  sense  when  rendered  by  Ha-Brachah-dabarah, 
"  Pronounce  the  Blessing,"  where  "  Blessing  "  stands  for  the 
name  of  the  Blessed  One,  that  most  potent  of  exorcisms. 

Another  derivation,  extremely  acute,  but  probably  untenable, 
had  been  previously  offered  by  Bellermann  in  the  Coptic  com 
pound  signifying  "  The  Blessed  Name,"  made  of  the  word  ab  or 
o/,  "  let  it  be,"  Bali,  "  adore,"  and  Sax  for  Sadsh,  "  name."  This 
formula  would  agree  in  a  remarkable  manner  with  the  regular 
Jewish  synonym  for  the  Ineffable  Name  Jehovah,  viz.,  shem 
Hamephorash,  "  The  Holy  Word  " ;  which  the  Rabbins  compress 
into  "  The  Name  "  or  "  The  Word."  It  is,  besides,  a  singular 
coincidence  that  the  Egyptian  word  Abrak  should  be  used  by 
Moses  (Gen.  xli.  43),  where  Pharaoh  commands  that  Joseph 
shall  ride  in  his  own  chariot,  and  that  they  shall  cry  before 
him  Abrak,  "  kneel  down  !  "  where  the  Coptic  word  is  actually 
retained  in  the  Hebrew  text,  and  not  rendered  by  an  equivalent 
in  that  language.*  A  precedent  for  expressing  a  sacred  title 
in  an  unknown  tongue  is  furnished  by  St.  John  (Rev.  xix.  12)  : 
"  His  eyes  were  as  a  flame  of  fire,  and  upon  his  head  were  many 
crowns,  and  he  had  a  name  written  (upon  them)  that  no  man 
knew  but  himself :  and  he  was  clothed  in  a  vesture  dipped  in 
blood,  and  his  name  was  called  The  Word  of  God."  And 
again  (iii.  12)  :  "  He  that  overcometh  will  I  make  a  pillar  in  the 
Temple  of  my  God,  and  he  shall  go  no  more  out,  and  I  will 
write  upon  him  the  name  of  my  God,  and  the  name  of  the  City 
of  my  God." 

All  this  supplies  a  reason  for  the  occurrence  of  the  word 
dbra  in  so  many  sacred  titles.  A  very  remarkable  instance  is  to 
be  seen  in  the  wall-painting  of  the  tomb  of  Vincentius  and  Yibia, 
in  the  Catacomb  of  Preetextatus  at  Eome.  Now  this  Vincentius 
is  described  in  his  epitaph  as  priest  of  Sabazius,  a  title  connected 
with  the  lao-worship ;  and  the  name  Abracura  is  inscribed 
over  the  head  of  the  consort  of  Dispater,  the  two  Kulers  of  the 
Shades  into  whose  presence  Vibia's  soul  is  ushered  by  Hermes. 
In  the  first  title,  cur  a  is  plainly  the  Latinised  Kovprj  Virgin, 

*  Sharpe,  however,  makes  Abrasax      deity    represented    on    the    gein. — 
si  pure  Egyptian  phrase,  signifying      ('  Egypt.  Mythol.*  p.  xii.) 
"  Hurt  me  not,"  as  addressed  to  the 


the  regular  synonym  for  Proserpine,  whilst  Abra  seems  to  have 
the  same  deeper  meaning  in  which  it  was  employed  by  the 

The  efficacy  of  a  Mystic  Name  is  set  forth  in  the  Book  of  Enoch 
(Ixviii.  19)  :  "  This  is  the  Number  of  the  Kesbal,  the  principal 
part  of  the  oath  which  the  Most  High  dwelling  in  glory  revealed 
unto  the  holy  ones.  Its  name  is  Beka:  He  spoke  to  holy 
Michael  to  deliver  to  them  the  Secret  Name,  that  they  might 
understand  that  secret  name  and  thus  remember  the  oath  ;  and 
that  those  who  pointed  out  every  secret  thing  to  the  children 
of  men  might  tremble  at  that  Name  and  oath.  This  is  the 
power  of  that  oath,  for  powerful  is  it  and  strong.  And  he 
established  the  oath  of  Abrac  by  the  instrumentality  of  the 
holy  Michael.  These  are  the  secrets  of  this  oath,  and  by  it 
were  they  confirmed.  Heaven  was  suspended  by  it  before 
the  world  was  made  for  ever.  By  it  has  the  earth  been  framed 
upon  the  flood,  whilst  from  the  concealed  parts  of  the  hills  the 
agitated  waters  proceed  forth  from  the  creation  unto  the  end 
of  the  world.  By  this  oath  the  sea  has  been  formed  and  the 
foundation  of  it.  ...  By  this  oath  the  sun  and  moon  complete 
their  progress,  never  swerving  from  the  command  given  to  them 
for  ever  and  ever.  By  this  oath  the  stars  complete  their  progress. 
And  when  their  names  are  called  they  return  an  answer  for 
ever  and  ever  .  .  .  And  with  them  he  establishes  this  oath  by 
wnich.  their  paths  are  preserved,  nor  does  their  progress  perish. 
Great  was  their  joy." 


To  find  out  some  deep  mystery  expressed  by  the  numerical 
value  of  the  letters  in  a  name  is  the  grand  foundation  of  the 
famous  science  of  the  Kabbala.  Although  the  Jewish  Talnmd- 
ists  now  engross  all  the  honour  of  the  discovery,  it  is  but 
consistent  with  the  known  character  of  that  very  uninventive 
race  to  suspect  that  they  borrowed  the  first  notion  from  a 
foreign  source— Chaldrca,  the  real  fountain-head  of  all  their 
spiritual  knowledge.  The  earliest  instance  that  can  be  quoted 


of  this  way  of  expressing  a  name  is  St.  John's  so  much  dis 
cussed  "  Number  of  the  Beast,  "  employed  to  screen  from 
vulgar  curiosity  some  dangerous  secret.  What  though  its 
analysis  has  supplied  good  Protestants  like  Bishop  Newton 
with  a  deadly  weapon  (in  their  own  eyes)  against  the  Pope, 
after  the  sum  total  has  been  reduced  into  its  integrals  Aareivos ; 
yet  a  prosaic  non-controversialist  will  be  more  inclined  to 
suspect  that  the  Kabbalistic  number  shrouds  the  name  of  some 
potentate  of  the  times  who  had  happened  to  make  himself 
especially  formidable  to  the  beholder  of  the  Vision.*  But  the 
titles  lao,  Abraxas,  and  the  like,  instead  of  being  recent  Gnostic 
inventions,  were  in  all  likelihood  recognised  "  Holy  Names,"  and 
borrowed  from  the  most  ancient  religions  of  the  East.  Pliny 
must  be  alluding  to  something  of  the  sort  when  he  mentions 
with  a  sneer  the  miraculous  powers  ascribed  by  the  Magi  to 
amethysts  engraved  with  ihenames  of  the  Sun  and  Moon — names 
certainly  from  the  nationality  of  his  authorities  not  inscribed 
in  either  the  Greek  or  the  Latin  tongue.  In  the  "  Shemesh 
Eilam,"  "  Adoiiai,"  "  Abraxas  "  of  these  talismans  we  may  rea 
sonably  recognise  the  words  of  power  referred  to  by  the  great 

The  Alexandrine  Greeks,  proceeding  upon  the  axiom  that 
"  things  equal  to  the  same  thing  are  equal  to  one  another," 
spied  out  the  sacred  number  365  in  many  Holy  Names,  and 
thus  proved  the  identity  of  the  several  personages,  so  denomi 
nated,  with  one  another.  To  give  a  few  examples :  the  same 
sum  is  obtained  by  adding  up  the  numerals  in  Mei#pas  and  in 
A/fyao-a£  ;  and  whether  we  interpret  the  latter  as  "  Blessing  " 
or  "  Holy  Word,"  both  are  equally  applicable  to  the  Persian 
god.  Again,  the  Egyptians,  says  Heliodorus  (^Eth.  ix.  22), 
discovered  the  same  value  in  NeiAos,  appellation  of  that  earliest 
god  and  father  of  their  land,  entitled  in  their  hymns  Horus  also, 
properly  the  name  of  the  Sun.j  In  the  new-coined  religions 
of  Egypt,  other  and  stranger  mysteries  were  extracted  out  of 

*  Who     expressly    tells    us    that  certain  person.     The  Hebrew   cha- 

"  his  number    is  the  number  of  a  racters  representing  "  Caesar  Nero  " 

man";    that    is,    the    sum   of    the  produce  by  addition  the  required  sum. 

numerical  letters  in  the  name  of  a  f  Amongst    the    many  points    of 


sacred  names  by  following  the  old  process.  Kircher  publishes 
a  gem  inscribed  XNOYMIZ  •  PI,  and  supposes,  with  much  apparent 
reason,  the  last  syllable  to  be  added  in  order  to  make  up  a 
sum  equivalent  to  xpurros  =  1480.  That  most  ingenious  of  the 
Gnostics,  Marcus,  based  his  whole  system  upon  these  numerical 
deductions.  According  to  him,  the  Saviour  calls  himself  A  and 
fi,  because  these  letters  stand  for  801,  which  is  the  sum  of  those 
in  Trepto-repa,  the  Dove,  assumed  in  virtue  thereof  for  the  vehicle 
of  the  Holy  Ghost.  But  the  profoundest  mystery  that  rewarded 
his  researches  is  the  fact,  certainly  a  very  curious  coincidence, 
that  all  the  24  letters  of  the  Greek  alphabet  added  together  yield 
the  exact  "  number  of  the  Name "  Lycrovs  =  888.  But  his  own 
words  well  deserve  to  be  quoted  (Hip.  vi.  50)  :  "  Now  Jesus  had 
this  ineffable  origin.  From  the  Mother  of  all  things  the  First 
Tetrad,  proceeded  another  Tetrad,  and  there  was  an  Ogdoad, 
whence  proceeded  the  Decad,  so  there  were  Eighteen."  The 
Decad  therefore  having  come  together  with  the  Ogdoad,  after  that 
it  had  decoupled  the  same,  produced  the  number  Eighty.  And 
again  after  that  it  had  decoupled  the  Eighty  it  begot  the  number 
which  is  Eight  hundred,  so  that  the  whole  number  of  the 
letters  proceeding  from  the  Ogdoad  according  to  the  Decad  is 
eight  hundred  and  eighty  and  eight — the  same  is  Jesus.  For 
the  Name  Irjcrovs  by  the  value  of  its  letters  is  the  number  888. 
And,  verily,  the  alphabet  of  the  Greeks  has  eight  monads,  and 
eight  decads,  and  eight  hundreds,  producing  the  number  888, 
which  is  made  up  by  all  the  numbers,  the  same  is  Jesus.  For 
this  cause  doth  He  call  himself  A  and  fi,  to  set  forth  his 
generation  from  the  All."  At  first  sight  it  will  strike  the 
reader,  accustomed  only  to  Arabic  numerals,  as  a  work  of 
incredible  laboriousness  to  discover  numerical  values,  so  aptly 
tallying  in  different  words,  of  totally  different  components. 
But  the  difficulty  was  in  truth  much  less  than  it  appears.  The 
Greek,  accustomed  perpetually  to  use  the  letters  of  his  alphabet 

close  connexion  between  Hindoo  and  sirnilis,"  observes  Pliny  (xxxv.  36), 
Egyptian  Mythology  is  the  name  of  speaking  of  a  picture  by  Nealces  of  a 
the  sacred  river,  so  nearly  re-  naval  battle  upon  that  river.  The 
sembling  the  Sanscrit  nil,  "  blue,"  Arabs  still  distinguish  its  upper  con- 
referring  to  the  remarkable  colour  of  fluents  as  the  Blue  and  the  White 
its  waters.  "  In  Nilo  cujus  aquaiww  Nile. 


indifferently  as  symbols  of  number  and  of  sounds,  perceived  the 
two  forces  at  the  same  glance  in  every  word  that  caught  his 
eye,  and  easily  estimated  the  total  value  of  each  proper  name, 
more  especially  when  he  made  it  his  business  to  attend  to  such 
coincidences.  The  same  operation  would  be  equally  familiar 
to  ourselves  were  our  "Arabic"  numerals  exchanged  for  the 
first  ten  letters  of  the  Eoman  alphabet,  instead  of  being  what 
they  are,  the  ancient  Palmyrene  somewhat  modified  by  the 
wear  of  ages  and  a  long  course  of  travel. 

The  use  of  the  Numerical  Value  of  Names  is  remarkably  ex 
emplified  by  a  Midrash,  which  makes  the  318  men  of  Abraham's 
household,  with  whom  he  defeated  the  Five  Kings,  to  be  no 
more  than  his  one  servant,  Eliezer,  the  numeral  letters  in  whose 
name  exactly  make  up  that  sum — a  coincidence,  though  acci 
dental,  truly  astonishing ! 

That  genuine  Gnostic,  Dante,  employs  with  great  effect 
this  numerical  expression  of  a  Name  in  that  most  mystical 
prophecy  with  which  his  '  Purgatorio '  closes  :— 

"  Ch'  io  veggio  certamente,  e  perb  il  narro, 
A  darne  tempo  gia  stelle  propinque, 
Sicuro  d'  ogni  intoppo  e  d'  ogni  sbarro, 
Nel  qual  un  Cinquecento-dieci-c-cinque, 
Messo  di  Dio,  ancidera  la  fuia, 
E  quel  gigante  che  con  lei  delinque." 

(Canto  xxxiii.  40-45.) 

The  interpretation  whereof  is  found  in  the  word  DVX  formed 
out  of  the  Eoman  letters,  and  applying  to  the  "General" 
of  the  Ghibelline  League,  from  whom  such  great  things  were 
expected  by  the  poet  for  the  chastisement  of  the  Papacy  and 
the  restoration  of  the  Imperial  power. 

FIG.  11. 



That  most  philosophic  of  the  Fathers,  Hippolytus,  commences 
his  account  of  the  systems  of  Basilides  and  his  successors  with 
this  ingenious  and  appropriate  simile :  "  It  behoves  all  their 
hearers,  as  they  see  that  the  doctrines  of  these  heretics  are  like 
unto  a  sea  tossed  into  waves  by  tho  fury  of  the  winds,  to  sail  bv 
them  without  heeding  them,  and  to  look  out  for  the  tranquil 
harbour  for  themselves.  For  that  sea  of  theirs  is  both  full  of 
monsters,  and  difficult  to  traverse,  and  may  be  likened  unto  the 
Sicilian  wherein  are  the  fabled  Cyclops,  Charybdis  and  Scylla 
•  .  .  and  the  rock  of  the  Syrens  which  the  Grecian  poets  tell 
how  Ulysses  sailed  it  past  when  he  craftily  baffled  the  cruelty 
of  those  inhospitable  monsters.  For  the  Syrens  singing  clear 
and  musically  used  to  beguile  all  sailing  by,  through  the 
sweetness  of  their  voice  seducing  them  to  come  to  land .  Ulysses 
learning  this  is  said  to  have  stopped  with  wax  the  ears  of  his 
crew,  and  having  tied  himself  fast  to  the  mast  in  this  way 
sailed  past  the  Syrens  and  overheard  all  their  song.  Which 
same  thing  it  is  my  advice  that  all  who  fall  in  with  these 
seducers  should  do,  and  either  to  stop  his  ears,  on  account  of  his 
own  weakness,  so  to  sail  by  unheeded  the  doctrines  of  heresies, 
without  even  listening  to  things  too  easily  capable  of  seducing 
him  by  their  sweetness,  like  the  melodious  Syrens'  song,  or  else 
faithfully  binding  himself  fast  to  the  Tree  of  Christ  to  listen  to 
them  without  being  shaken,  putting  his  trust  in  that  whereunto 
he  hath  been  tied,  and  stand  fast  without  wavering." 

The  Abraxas  Deity,  his  titles,  nature  and  form  already 
having  been  discussed,  it  remains  now  to  give  a  sketch  of  his 
great  Apostle  and  his  doctrines.  To  begin  with  the  earliest 
notice  of  them — 

Clemens  Alexandrinus  lived  in  the  same  city,  and  in  the 
same  century,  with  Basilides,  the  reputed  founder  of  the 
Abraxas  religion.  During  some  years  of  that  period  they  were 
contemporaries,  and  it  is  more  than  probable  that  Clemens 
was  personally  acquainted  with  Basilides — he  being  a  very 
remarkable  personage  of  his  times.  On  this  account  Clemens' 



testimony  to  the  character  of  the  Basilidan  doctrine  deserves 
infinitely  more  reliance  than  the  statements  of  the  later 
Fathers ;  whilst  at  the  same  time  he  passes  a  more  judicious, 
and  also  a  more  favourable  judgment  upon  its  nature.  He 
describes  the  system  as  consisting  in  a  constant  attention  to  the 
soul,  and  intercourse  with  the  Deity  considered  as  the  fountain 
of  universal  Love.  In  his  own  words,  "  The  Basilidan  doctrine 
consists  of  two  parts ;  the  first  part  busies  itself  with  divine 
things,  and  considers  what  is  the  First  Cause  through  which  all, 
and  without  which  nothing  is  made ;  of  what  constitution  are  the 
things  that  pervade,  or  include,  each  other :  the  forces  which 
exist  in  Nature,  arid  unto  what  they  tend.  The  other  part 
relates  to  things  human,  as  to  what  is  Man ;  what  things  be 
consistent  or  inconsistent  with  his  Nature,  what  he  has  to  do 
and  to  suffer.  In  this  department  Basilides  includes  Virtue  and 
Vice;  what  is  Good,  what  is  Evil,  and  what  is  Indifferent." 
In  short  we  are  here  reminded  of  a  description  of  a  Buddhist 
missionary.  The  amiable  but  fanciful  Clemens,  whose  own 
Christianity  was  no  more  than  a  graft  upon  the  congenial  stock 
of  his  original  Platonism,  could  see  very  little  to  blame  in  the 
transcendental  speculations  of  Basilides.  In  his  eyes  the  latter 
was  not  a  heretic,  that  is,  an  innovator  upon  the  accepted 
doctrines  of  the  Catholic  Church,  but  only  a  theosophic  specu 
lator  who  sought  to  express  old  truths  by  new  formulae,  and 
perhaps  to  combine  the  same  with  the  new  faith,  the  divine 
authority  of  which  he  was  able  to  admit  without  renouncing 
his  own  creed — precisely  as  is  the  case  with  the  learned 
Hindoos  of  our  own  day. 

But  far  different  is  the  picture  of  Basilides,  as  drawn  by  the 
pen  of  bigoted  orthodoxy  in  the  two  next  centuries,  after  his 
doctrines  had  been  taken  up  and  carried  out  to  monstrous 
precision  by  the  swarms  of  semi-Christian  sects  that  sprung  up 
in  the  very  bosom  of  the  Church.  These  notices  are  subjoined  in 
chronological  order,  for  they  give  in  a  few  words  the  grand 
features  of  the  perfected  system.  Hippolytus  has  left  an 
excellent  analysis  of  the  Basilidan  doctrine,  well  deserving  of 
caceful  study,  although  it  is  hard  to  see  how  it  bears  out  the 
assertion  at  the  opening,  that  this  heretic  took  his  entire  system 


ready  made  from  Aristotle,  with  his  genus,  species  and  individual, 
but  pretended  to  have  received  the  same  from  St.  Matthew,  who 
had  communicated  to  him  the  esoteric  doctrines  which  he  alone 
had  received  from  Christ  when  on  earth.  The  philosophic 
Bishop,  however,  is  mild  in  censure;  nay,  seems  rather  capti 
vated  by  the  ingenuity  of  the  Alexandrine  mystic.  But 
Tertullian,  with  no  sense  of  the  beauty  of  a  clover  piece  of 
sophistry,  launches  out  like  a  true  African  barrister :  "  After 
this,  Basilides  the  heretic  broke  loose.  Ho  asserted  that  there 
was  a  Supreme  God  named  Abraxas,  by  whom  was  created 
Mind  whom  the  Greeks  call  Nous.  From  Mind  proceeded  the 
Word,  from  the  Word,  Providence;  from  Providence,  Virtue 
and  Wisdom ;  from  these  two  again,  Virtues,  Principalities  and 
Powers  were  made  ;  from  these  infinite  productions  and  emissions 
of  Angels.  By  these  Angels  the  365  heavens  were  created. 
Amongst  the  lowest  Angels,  indeed,  and  those  who  made  this 
world,  he  sets  last  of  all  the  god  of  the  Jews,  whom  he  denies 
to  be  God,  affirming  that  he  is  one  of  the  Angels."  Similarly 
the  still  later  Jerome  has  (Amos  III.)  :  "  So  Basilides,  who  called 
Almighty  God  by  the  portentous  name  of  Abraxas,  saying  that 
the  same  word  according  to  Greek  numeration,  and  the  sum  of 
his  annual  revolution,  are  contained  in  the  circle  of  the  Sun, 
whom  the  heathen  taking  the  same  amount  but  expressed  in 
different  numerical  letters  call  Mithras;  him  whom  the  simple 
Iberians  worship  under  the  names  of  Balsamus  (Baal-samen, 
"  Lord  of  heaven")  and  Barbelus  ("  Son  of  Baal ").  And  that  this 
wondrous  title  Abraxas  had  long  before  been  applied  to  the 
Sun-god  in  the  formula  of  The  Mysteries  may  be  inferred 
from  various  incidental  allusions  of  ancient  writers.  Thus 
Theosebius  the  philosopher  (says  Photius,  in  his  'Life  of 
Isidorus ')  drove  a  devil  out  of  a  woman  by  merely  invoking 
over  her  "  the  Eays  of  the  Sun,  and  the  Name  of  the  God  of  the 
Plebrews."  The  same  explanation  is  much  supported  by  the 
words  of  Augustine  :  "  Basilides  asserted  the  number  of  heavens 
to  be  365,  the  number  of  the  days  in  the  year.  For  this 
reason  he  used  to  glorify  a  Holy  Name,  as  it  were,  that  is  the 
word  Abraxas,  the  letters  in  which,  taken  according  to  the 
Greek  method  of  computation,  make  up  this  number." 

s  2 


The  Basil idan  doctrine  of  "  Emanation  "  was  greatly  refined 
upon  by  Valentinus,  whose  muster-roll  of  the  celestial  hierarchy 
shall  be  given  in  its  proper  place.  Suffice  it  here  to  observe  that 
the  entire  theory  resembles  the  Brahminical ;  for  in  that  theogony 
each  Manifestation  of  the  One  Supreme  Being,  regarded  by  the 
vulgar  as  a  separate  self-existing  deity,  has  a  female  partner  the 
exact  counterpart  of  himself,  through  whom,  as  through  an 
instrument,  he  exerts  his  power — to  express  which  doctrine  this 
other  half  is  styled  his  Durga,  "Active  Virtue."  This  last 
name,  "Virtue,"  actually  figures  in  all  the  Gnostic  lists  of 
Emanations ;  and  the  great  ^Eon,  Pistis- Sophia,  in  her  second 
"  Confession  "  perpetually  upbraids  herself  for  having  quitted 
her  male  2v?v^o?,  partner,  in  her  proper  habitation,  to  go  in 
quest  of  the  Supernal  Light :  whilst  she  equally  reproaches 
him  for  not  descending  into  Chaos  to  her  aid.  The  system  of 
Dualism,  in  fact,  pervades  the  whole  of  that  wondrous  revelation. 

Brahminical  inspiration  is  possible  in  many  other  points  of  the 
doctrine  of  Basilides,  as  will  appear  by  the  following  extracts 
from  Irenfeiis — whoso  judgment  was  not  warped,  like  that  of 
Hippolytus,  by  the  mania  for  deriving  his  system  from  the 
Aristotelian.  Basilides  (according  to  him)  lived  at  Alexandria 
under  Trajan  and  Hadrian  (the  first  half  of  the  second  century), 
and  commenced  life  as  a  student  of  the  Oriental  Gnosis — an 
epithet  sufficiently  indicating  the  source  of  that  philosophy. 
Being  converted  to  Christianity  he  attempted,  like  many  others, 
to  combine  his  new  faith  with  his  old,  for  the  explanation  of 
things  both  spiritual  and  natural.  To  do  this  he  invented  a 
terminology  and  symbolism  of  his  own.  In  the  promulgation 
of  his  peculiar  notions  concerning  God  and  the  Divine  attributes 
—  the  Word,  the  Creation,  the  Emanation  of  spirits  and  worlds, 
the  Architect  of  the  universe,  and  the  multifarious  forces  of 
Nature — he  took  the  same  road  with  his  contemporary  Satur- 
ninus  in  Syria.  His  system  was  a  combination  of  Christian, 
Jewish,  Persian  and  Egyptian  notions,  but  the  entire  com 
position  was  moulded  by  the  spirit  of  the  Oriental  Gnosis. 
These  tenets  their  author  zealously  promulgated.  For  many 
years  he  taught  in  the  school  of  Alexandria;  he  was  also  a 
most  prolific  writer.  Clemens  says  he  published  twenty-four 


volumes  of  "  interpretations  upon  the  Gospels,"  besides  "  Odes" 
and  "Spiritual  Songs";  all  of  which  have  perished.  The 
doctrines  he  thus  disseminated  his  contemporary  Irenseuw 
represents  in  the  following  manner  :— 

"  Basilides  in  order  to  invent  something  more  refined  and 
plausible  in  the  Gnostic  speculative  philosophy  pushed  his 
investigations  even  into  the  Infinite.  He  asserted  that  God, 
the  uncreated  eternal  Father,  first  brought  forth  Nous  or  Mind  ; 
and  Mind,  the  Logos,  Word  ;  this  in  turn,  Phronesis,  Intelligence  ; 
whence  came  forth  Sophia,  Wisdom,  and  Dynamis,  Strength." 
IreneBus  understands  Basilides  as  making  a  Quiuternion  of 
Beings  or  Personal  Intelligences  external  to  the  Godhead  :  but 
Bellermann  with  more  reason  takes  them  as  signifying  personi 
fied  attributes  of  the  Supreme  forms  of  his  working  internally 
and  externally.  According  to  this  explanation  Basilides  would 
only  have  borrowed  his  system  from  the  Kabbala  ;  it  is  however 
equally  likely  that  he  drew  the  whole  from  a  much  more  distant 
source,  and  that  his  "  Uncreated  "  and  "  Quinterniou  "  stand  in 
truth  for  the  First  Buddha  and  the  successive  Five. 

"  When  the  uncreated  eternal  Father  beheld  the  corruption 
of  mankind,  he  sent  his  Firstborn,  Nous,  into  the  world  in  the 
form  of  Christ,  for  the  redeeming  of  all  that  believe  in  him  out 
of  the  power  of  those  who  fabricated  the  world — namely,  the 
Demiurgus  and  his  Six  sons,  the  planetary  Genii.  Nous 
appeared  amongst  men  as  the  Man  Jesus,  and  wrought  miracles. 
This  Christ  did  not  die  in  person,  but  Simon  the  Cy reman,  to 
whom  he  lent  his  bodily  form,  suffered  in  his  stead  ;  inasmuch 
as  the  Divine  Power,  the  Nous  of  the  Eternal  Father,  is  not 
corporeal,  and  therefore  cannot  die.  Whoso  therefore  maintains 
that  Christ  has  died  is  still  the  bondman  of  Ignorance,  but 
whoso  denies  the  same,  he  is  a  freeman,  and  hath  understood  the 
purpose  of  the  Father."  From  this  tenet  the  Basiiidans  got 
the  opprobrious  title  of  "  Docetae  "  (Illusionists).  Similarly  the 
pious  Brahmins  explain  away  all  such  of  their  legends  as  are 
inconsistent  with  our  notions  of  divine  dignity  by  making  them 
all  "Maya"  (illusion).  The  same  is  also  the  doctrine  of  the 
Koran  (Cap.  iv.)  upon  this  point :  "  And  for  that  they  have 
not  believed  upon  Jesus,  and  have  spoken  against  Mary  a 


grievous  calumny,  and  have  said,  Verily  we  have  slain  Christ 
Jesus,  the  Son  of  Mary,  the  apostle  of  God  ;  yet  they  slew  him 
not,  neither  crucified  him,  but  he  was  represented  by  one  in  his 
likeness  ;  and  verily  they  were  disagreed  concerning  him,  were 
in  a  doubt  as  to  this  matter,  and  had  no  true  knowledge  thereof, 
but  followed  only  an  uncertain  opinion.  They  did  not  really 
kill  him,  but  God  took  him  up  unto  himself,  and  God  is  mighty 
and  wise." 

The  system  just  described  coincides  to  a  remarkable  degree 
with  the  Brahniinical,  where  the  First  Principle  produces  in 
succession  the  Five  Powers— Mahasiva,  Sadasiva,  Kudra,  Vishnu 
and  Brahma— who  are  held  by  some  for  mere  attributes  of 
the  Godhead  ;  by  others  are  taken  in  a  materialistic  sense  for 
.Ether,  Air,  Fire,  Water,  Earth.  But  possibly,  as  Mosheim  so 
long  ago  maintained,  the  whole  Gnostic  system  is  derived,  not 
from  the  Kabbala,  nor  from  the  Greek  philosophy,  but  from  the 
theosophy  of  the  Brahmins. 

Another  circumstance  in  the  Basilidan  practice,  mentioned  by 
Iveimeus,  will  receive  abundant  illustration  from  the  study  of 
these  talismans.     "  Furthermore  the  sect  have  invented  proper 
names  for  these  Angels,  and  class  them  under  the  first,  second, 
third   heavens,    and   so   on.     Besides   this,   they   endeavour   to 
explain  the  names,  origin,  powers,  and^Eons  of  their  pretended 
oOo  heavens— similarly  they  give  its  own  name  to  the  terrestrial 
sphere,  which  they  say  the  saviour  (whom  they  call  Kavlacav) 
has    visited,   and    then    abandoned.       Who    understands    this 
rightly  and  knows  the  ^Eoiis  with  their  respective  names,  the 
same  shall   be  invisible  unto,  and  beyond  the  power  of,  those 
zEons,  in  the  same  manner  as  the  Saviour  Kavlacav  himself 
was.     As  the  Son  of  God  remained  unknown  in  the  World,  so 
n. ust  also  the    disciple   of   Basilides  remain   unknown  to  the 
rest  of  mankind,  as  they  know  all  this,  and  nevertheless  must 
live  amongst  strangers,  therefore  must  they  conduct  themselves 
towards  the  rest  of  the  world  as  beings  invisible  and  unknown. 
Hence  their  motto,    '  Learn  to  know  all,  but  keep  thyself  un 
known,'— and  for  this  cause  they  are  accustomed  to  deny  the 
fact  of  their  being  Basilidans.     Neither  can  they  be  detected  as 
Christian  heretics,    because   they    assimilate  themselves  to  all 


sects.  Their  secret  constitution  however  is  known  to  but  a  few, 
perhaps  to  one  in  a  thousand  or  two  in  ten  thousand.  The 
local  situation  of  their  365  heavens  they  parcel  out  just  like 
land-surveyors.  Their  doctrine  is  contained  in  a  sacred  book, 
and  likewise  in  Symbolic  Figures.  The  Supreme  Lord,  the  Head 
of  all  things,  they  call  Abrasax,  which  name  contains  the 
number  365." 

So  much  virtue  being  involved  in  a  perfect  knowledge  of  the 
names  of  the  ^Eons,  it  would  be  unpardonable  not  to  subjoin  them, 
as  far  as  they  can  possibly  be  procured  at  present  and,  the  follow 
ing  may  be  taken  for  their  most  authoritative  roll-call,  having 
been  drawn  up  by  Valentinus  himself,  the  profoundest  doctor 
of  the  Gnosis,  and  who  had  elaborated  to  the  highest  degree 
the  system  first  sketched  out  by  Basilides.     He  arranges  them 
in    pairs,  male  and    female,   in   the   order   of  their   successive 
emanation   from    Bythos,  the    pre-existing,   eternal   Principle. 
The  number  of  pairs  is  fifteen,  or  the  sacred  number  Five  three 
times  repeated.    Their  names,  it  will  be  seen,  are  Hebrew  words, 
the  va  preceding  some  of  the  female  powers  being  merely  the 
copulative  "and."     Matter  supposes  Valentinus  to  have  been 
of  Jewish   origin,    although    bo.rn   at  Alexandria.     Tertullian 
states  that  he  was  first  of  all  a  Platonist,  then  a  convert   to 
Christianity,  but  having  been  disappointed  in  his  aspirations 
to  a  bishopric  he  founded  a  religion  of  his  own. 

1.  Ampsiu,  Ouraan  =  Depth,  Silence. 

2.  Bucua,  Thurtun  =  Mind,  Truth. 

3.  Ubucua,  Thardedia  =  Reason,  Life. 

4.  Metaxas,  Artababa  —  Man,  Church. 

r    |  Udua,  Casten  /-,      /.    , 

5.  1_  =  Comforter,  Faith. 
(  Udu,  Vacastene 

6.  Amphian,  Essumen  —  Fatherly,  Hope. 

7.  Vannanin,  Larner  =  Motherly,  Charity. 

8.  Tarde,  Athames  =  Eternal,  Intelligence. 

9.  Susua,  Allora  =  Light,  Beatitude. 

10.  Bucidia,  Damadarah  =  Eucharistic,  Wisdom. 

11.  Allora,  Damnio  =  Profundity,  Mixture. 

12.  Oren,  Lamaspechs  =  Unfading,  Union. 

13.  Amphiphuls,  Emphsboshbaud  =  Self-born,  Temperance. 

14.  Assiouache,  Belin  =  Only  begotten,  Unity. 

15.  Dexariche,  Massemo  =  Immovable,  Pleasure. 

Epiphauius   has  evidently   copied  one  pair  (5)  twice  over* 


misled  by  a  slight  difference  of  spelling,  and  thus  adds  one  pair 
to  the  proper  fifteen. 

It  will  be  very  instructive  to  compare  this  Valentinian 
system  of  Emanation,  which  makes  all  to  proceed  in  pairs,  male 
and  female,  out  of  the  First  Cause,  with  that  Indian  theosophy 
Avhich  this  very  feature  indicates  as  its  real  source,  in  the  latter, 
every  Principle  is  divided  into  a  male  and  female  Energy,  each 
exactly  alike  the  other — "  the  same,  distinguished  by  their 
sex  alone."  Each  deity  exerts  his  power  through  the  agency 
of  his  female  Principle  or  Sacti,  which  in  turn  possesses  a  Vahan 
"  vehicle,"  that  is  an  instrument  or  attribute,  which  is  fixed 
and  represented  in  a  material  form.  Of  the  Persons  in  the 
Supreme  Triad  the  Sactis  and  their  Vahans  *  are  :— 

1.  Of  Brahma,  Saraswati,  goddess  of  harmony  and  the  arts  (the 
Jewish  Wisdom^)  ;  her  vahan  is  a  swan,  or  goose.    (Hence  Juno's 
Capitoline  bird,  afterwards  explained  by  an  historical  fiction.) 

2.  Of  Vishnu,  Lakshmi,  goddess  of  Prosperity,  she  has  the 
title  of  Kamala,  "  lotus-bearer ;  "  her  vahan  is  Garuda,  the  man- 
eagle.     Vishnu  in  one  Avatar  takes  the  name  "  Varaha,"  and 
his  consort  "  Vanihi,"  in  which  case  her  vahan  is  a  buffalo. 

3.  Of  Siva,  the  Changer  or  Destroyer,  the  Sacti  is  Bhavani, 
goddess  of  fecundity,  and  consequently  of  death,  for  the  first  im 
plies  the  second  "Nascentes  morimur,  finisque  ab  origine  pendet." 

Nothing  perishes,  things  only  take  a  new  form  called  by  the 
ignorant  Death.  (Compare  the  title  "  Gods  of  death,"  which 
the  Ophites  were  so  fond  of  giving  to  the  "  Gods  of  the 
Nativity,"  the  astral  genii  ruling  the  horoscope).  Bhavani's 
appropriate  vehicles  are  the  Bull,  emblem  of  generation,  and 
the  Tiger,  of  destruction. 

And  before  going  further  I  cannot  resist  observing  how  these 
names  and  symbols  manifest  the  far-spreading  influence  of  the 
nations  they  embody.  The  Sassanian  queens  in  their  gem 

*  It    might    even     be    suggested  Elders  had  their  prototypes  in  the 

that  Indian  influence  shines  through  Saints  to  the  same   number  of  the 

the   whole  Apocalypse.      The  Four  Buddhist  theology ;  the  "  sea  of  glass 

Beasts  (borrowed  it  is  true  from  the  or  crystal "  is  the  vast  crystal  block 

First  Vision  of  Ezekiel)   are  these  suspended  in  the  highest  heaven,  the 

Vahans,  ministers  of  the  Divine  Will.  shrine  of  the   Supreme   Being  ;  ab- 

Later    times    assigned    each    to   an  sjrption  into  whom  is  the  true  object 

evangelist.       The    Foui'-and-twenty  of  the  believer. 


portraits  generally  bear  the  lotus  in  the  hand,*  **  Varanes  "  is 
a  common  name  for  the  kings  of  that  line,  and  the  Brahminic 
Bull,  the  commonest  of  all  signet  devices  with  their  subjects. 
But  as  the  dominions  of  the  later  Persian  kings  extended  as 
far  as  the  Indus,  Hindoo  princesses  doubtless  entered  their 
harems  and  communicated  their  own  religion  to  their  children. 
Again,  many  of  these  Sanscrit  titles  bear  a  resemblance, 
certainly  not  accidental,  to  words  frequently  occurring  in  the 
Gnostic  inscriptions.  Thus,  "  Sumitri,"  wife  of  Vishnu  in  his 
seventh  Avatar  may  explain  ^v^apra  ;  and  "  Natha,"  a  title 
of  Vishnu  and  Crishna,  the  equally  common  Navrtra ;  "  Isa," 
lord,  feminine,  "Isi,"  lady,  is  perhaps  even  the  origin  of 
Isis  ;  and  "  Nila,"  dark-blue,  and  epithet  of  Parvati,  is  more 
appropriately  transferred  to  Father  Nilus.  Vishnu  in  infancy 
as  Narayana  floating  in  his  "  Vat,"  leaf  boat  over  the  face  of  the 
waters,  and  coloured  all  over  blue,  may  be  compared  to  the  child 
Horns  wafted  in  the  baris.  The  ra<  >st  ancient  of  all  creeds  having, 
as  above  shown,  made  the  lotus  the  symbol  of  Plenty,  the 
reason  becomes  obvious  for  the  introduction  of  its  seed-vessels, 
always  mistaken  for  poppyheads,  amongst  the  wheatears  in 
the  cornucopia  of  Ceres. 

The  above  quoted  ^v^apra  seems  to  have  been  applied  by 
the  Gnostics  to  the  Sun-god,  for  Montfancon  gives  (PL  157) 
a  figure  of  Sol  so  inscribed,  with  ^€pov(3i  on  the  reverse,  a 
manifest  invocation  to  all  the  angelic  host.  And  as  the  pro 
tection  of  this  celestial  hierarchy  is  so  perpetually  sought  by 
our  talisman-makers  in  their  "  voluntary  humility  and  wor- 
"  shipping  of  angels,"  I  subjoin  the  names  of  the  Hindoo  Guardians 
of  the  "  Jehabs,"  quarters  of  the  world,  which  may  perhaps  lurk 
in  their  Grecised  form  amongst  these  interminable  strings  of 


E.  Indra.  N.W.  Vayu. 

S.E.  Agni.  N.  Kuvera. 

S.  Yama.  N.E.  Jsaua. 

S.W.  Nirriti.  Above.  Brahma. 

W.  Varuna.  Below.  Xaga. 
Of  the  centre,  Kudra. 

*  In  the  character  of  Kaiii.ila,  as  the  later  Greek,  aud  the  Roman  ladies  in 
that  of  Isis. 

206  THE    GNOSTICS    AND    THEIR    llEMAINS. 


We  have  already  heen  how  inportant  a  part  the  notion  of  an 
"  Ineffable  Name,"  denoting  the  inconceivable  Supreme,  plays 
in  the  machinery  of  the  Gnosis,  and  here  again  the  original  idea 
is  to  be  found  fully  developed  in  the  practice  of  the  Brahmins. 
This  awful  name  emblazoned  in  three  Sanscrit  letters  within  a 
cartouche  formed  by  a  coiled  serpent  (that  normal  inclosure  for 
a  Holy  Name  in  Gnostic  art)  *  is  fittingly  borne  up  by  the 
elephant  headed  Ganesa,  god  of  Wisdom.  The  word  being 
triliteral  is  rather  AUM  than  OM,  as  usually  written  in  English. 
It  is  never  to  be  uttered  aloud,  but  only  mentally  by  the  devout. 
Of  the  characters,  A  signifies  the  Creator,  U  the  Preserver,  M 
the  Destroyer ;  that  is,  the  Triad  Brahma- Vishnu-Siva.  "  If 
pronounced  aloud,  the  sound  much  resembles  Amen  as  drawled  out 
by  a  country  parish  clerk.  In  fact  it  is  used  for  "  Augiekar," 
So  Le  it !  in  token  of  approbation  (**  Moor,  Hindoo  Pantheon). f 
And  here  a  very  curious  analogy  is  to  be  pointed  out  in  the 
assertion  of  the  Talmudists  that  the  word  Amen  if  shouted  aloud 
is  of  power  to  open  the  gates  of  Heaven.  In  the  Pistis-Sophia 
the  "  Three  Ainen,"  and  again  the  "  Four  Amen,"  are  repeatedly 
mentioned  amongst  the  other  Mysteries  revealed  by  the  Saviour 
in  his  esoteric  teaching.  On  this  account  the  word  may  be 

*  As    the    Pistis-Sophia    informs  and  that  the   whole  life  of  man  is 

us,  "  the  disk  of  the  sim  was  a  great  not  sufficient   to   measure   its  depth 

dragon  having  his  tail  in  Irs  mouth,"  and  extent.  Knox  ('  Overland  through 

the  meaning  of  this  figure  whereon  Asia ')  describes  the  ruined  "  Monas- 

the  sacred  word  is  emblazoned   be-  tery  of  Eternal  Eepose,"  built  at  the 

comes  sufficiently  obvious.  junction    of    the    Augoou   with   the 

tOMMANIPADHVM  "  Glorifi-  Amoor  by  an  emperor  of  the  Yuen 

cation  of  the  Deity,"  is  the  Thibetian  dynasty  to  commemorate  his  visit  to 

Confession   of    Faith,    engraved    on  that  region.     On  the  summit  of  the 

stone     tablets     set    up    everywhere  cliff  are  three  columns,  5  to  8  feet 

over  the  country;   and  everlastingly  high  of  marble  granite,  and  porphyry 

chanted  by  the  Lamas   as  they  tell  and     granite,     bearing    inscriptions 

their  beads.     (Cooper's  'Travels  of  a  commemorating  this  foundation,  and 

Pioneer,'  p.  208).  Hue  mentions  that  also  this  formula   in  Chinese,  Mon- 

tho  Lamns   assert  that  the   doctrine  golian  and  Thibetan, 
contained  in  these  words  id  immense, 


suspected  to  have  some  connexion  with  the  Hindoo  Sacred 
Name,  unless  indeed  Valentinus  had  got  it  nearer  home, 
from  the  four  "  Amenti,"  guardians  of  the  dead,  and  sons  of 
Osiris.  The  common  explanation  that  "  Amen  "  signifies  Truth 
in  some  Eastern  dialect,  does  not  seem  to  rest  on  good  founda 
tion.  The  Kabbalist  Marcus  discovered  a  great  mystery  in 
Ajar/i/,  taken  numerically,  the  number  Ninety-nine  became 
formed  by  the  union  of  the  Eleven  and  the  Nine  and  therefore 
set  forth  by  the  parables  of  the  piece  of  silver,  and  the  ninety 
and  nine  sheep,  "  which  is  the  reason  why  we  use  '  amen  '  in 

Other  Hindoo  titles  of  the  Deity  are  "  Tat "  and  "  Sat "  =  Virtue. 
These  are  recognisable  in  the  Egyptian  gods  Tat  or  Hermes, 
and  Sate,  Truths.  It  is  likewise  more  than  probable  that  the 
mighty  AUM  itself  often  lies  enshrouded  amidst  the  lines  of 
vowels  filling  our  talismans.  Certainly  the  Praun  calcedony 
(No.  517)  bearing  011  one  side  the  Delphic  Apollo  in  a  good 
style  of  art,  or  the  other  (by  a  later  hand)  a  man  dancing  with 
his  apron  filled  with  fruits,  presents  in  its  legend  Trupo-Traiooo 
aov/j,,  the  Sanscrit  triliteral  in  the  only  form  in  which 
Greek  characters  could  express  the  sound. 

The  origin  of  this  Ineffable  Name  is  thus  related  (4  Inst.  Menu.' 
ii.  370)  Brahma  milked  out  as  it  were  from  the  three  Vedas  the 
letter  A,  the  letter  U,  and  the  letter  M ;  together  with  the  three 
mysterious  words  "  Bhur,"  "  Bhavah,"  "  Swar,"  or  Earth,  Sky 
and  Heaven.  From  the  three  Vedas  also  the  Lord  of  Creation, 
incomprehensibly  exalted  successively  milked  out  the  three 
Treasures  of  the  ineffable  text,  beginning  with  the  word  "  Tat,'' 
and  entitled  the  "  Savatri,"  or  Gayatri.  A  priest  who  shall  know 
the  Veda,  and  pronounce  to  himself  both  morning  and  evening 
that  syllable  and  that  holy  text  preceded  by  the  Three  words 
shall  attain  that  sanctity  which  the  Veda  confers  :  and  a  "  twice 
born  "  man  who  shall  a  thousand  times  repeat  those  Three  apart 
from  the  multitude,  shall  be  released  in  a  month  even  from  a 
great  offence,  as  a  snake  from  its  slough.  The  Three  great 
immutable  words  preceded  by  the  Triliteral  syllable  and 
followed  by  the  Gayatri  which  consists  of  three  measures,  must 
be  considered  as  the  mouth,  or  principal  part  of  the  Veda."  In 


this  doctrine  lies  the  very  origin  of  all  talismanic  inscriptions, 
for  their  essence  is  the  stringing  together  of  sacred  names.  Nay 
more,  the  actual  Three  words,  disguised  by  Coptic  pronunciation, 
or  purposely  sealed  from  profane  eyes  by  a  duplication  of  vowels, 
very  probably  exist  in  the  midst  of  certain  Gnostic  formula?. 
In  the  spell  of  Battus,  hereafter  to  be  quoted,  words  of  the  same 
senhe  as  the  Hindoo  Three  do  in  reality  occur. 

The  Gayatii  or  holiest  verse  of  the  Vedas  is :  "  Let  us  adore 
the  supremacy  of  the  Divine  Sun,  the  Godhead,  who  illuminates 
all,  who  recreates  all,  from  whom  all  proceed,  unto  whom  all 
must  return,  whom  we  invoke  to  direct  our  progress  aright  in 
our  progress  towards  the  Holy  Seat."  Another  is ;  "  Earth,  Sky, 
Heaven ;  Let  us  meditate  upon  that  most  excellent  Light  and 
Power,  of  that  most  generous,  sportive,  and  resplendent  Sun,  that 
it  may  guide  our  intellects."  In  all  this  there  is  something 
that  irresistibly  reveals  the  Gnostic  invocations  whenever  they 
can  be  interpreted,  and  the  "  Divine  Sun  "  finds  its  counterpart 
in  the  "  Shemesh  Eilani "  so  perpetually  repeated. 

This  Gayatri  is  contained  in  the  confession  of  faith  of  the 
Brahmin.  "  This  new  and  excellent  praise  of  thee  O,  splendid 
playful  Sun  (Pushan)  is  offered  by  us  to  thee.  Be  gratified 
by  this  niy  speech:  approach  this  craving  mind  as  a  fond  man 
seeks  a  woman.  May  that  Sun  who  contemplates  and  looks 
into  all  worlds  be  our  Protector !  Let  us  meditate  on  the 
adorable  light  of  the  Divine  Kuler  (Savitri) ;  may  it  guide  our 
intellects.  Desirous  of  food  we  solicit  the  gift  of  the  splendid 
Sun,  who  should  be  studioufly  worshipped.  Venerable  men, 
guided  by  the  understanding,  salute  ihee,  Divine  Sun,  with 
oblations  and  praise." 

Moor  hereupon  makes  the  very  pertinent  remark:  -'It  is 
difficult  to  conjecture  why  this  text  should  be  so  studiously  kept 
secret,  for  its  exposition,  unconnected  with  any  idea  of  mystery, 
and  affectation  of  profundity,  does  not  appear  likely  to  have  the 
effect  so  dreaded  by  all  priests  of  guiding  the  intellect  of  man 
kind  to  the  discovery  of  Truth." 

As  already  remarked  our  Gnostic  formulae  when  expressed  in 
Greek  have  a  spirit  and  a  rhythm  that  strikes  the  ear  as  the  echo 
of  these  primitive  invocations;  witness  the  legend  upon  the 


plasma  described  by  Creuzor  (Archool.  iii.  last  plate).  Within 
the  serpent- formed  cartouche  is  an  inscription  of  many  lines,  the 
first  half  an  undecypherable  medley  of  letters,  which  like  Marcus' 
thirty  syllabic  appellation  of  the  Supreme  Tetrad,  must  express 
the  name  of  the  Unknown  God,  who  in  the  following  portion  is 
invoked  as :  "  The  Primal  Father,  incorporeal,  pervading  all 
things,  self-existing,  the  seal  of  Solomon  :  "  then  come  more 
mystic  epithets  ending  with  "  lion-headed,"  evidently  the 
Mithrnic  figure  of  that  kind.  The  declaration  that  the  unknown 
legend  is  the  "  Seal  of  Solomon  "  is  extremely  interesting,  as 
showing  the  early  date  of  the  celebrity  attained  by  that  most 
famous  of  talismans ;  which,  be  it  remembered,  was  reported  to 
derive  its  virtue  from  the  mighty  throne  of  God  engraven  on 
the  gem. 

Many  further  analogies  between  the  two  theosophies  may  be 
detected  in  the  Hindoo  forms  of  worship  published  by  Moor. 
Of  the  Persons  in  the  Supreme  Triad,  P>rahma  represents  the 
Creator,  Vishnu  the  Preserver,  and  Siva  the  Destroyer.  But 
the  last  is  more  truly  the  Changer,  all  death  being  only  change. 
Siva  therefore  in  one  of  his  characters  becomes  identified  with 
Yama,  god  of  the  Shades.  Now,  seeing  that  the  first  two 
Persons  are  symbolised  by  the  elements  Fire  and  Water,  the 
analogy  of  the  Hellenic  Triad,  Zeus,  Poseidon,  Hades,  becomes 
at  once  apparent.  Here  also  we  find  the  originals  of  the  "  Great 
TpiSwa/x€t5,"  who  hold  so  high  a  place  in  the  hierarchy  of  the 

The  famous  Inscription  of  Buddha-Gaya,  Bengal,  dated  the 
year  1005  of  the  era  of  Yikramaditya  (B.C.  57)  contains  this 
remarkable  passage :  "  Amaradiva  [son  of  Sandracottus]  having 
heard  this  voice  caused  an  image  of  the  Supreme  Spirit,  Buddha, 
to  be  made;  and  he  worshipped  it,  according  to  the  law,  with 
perfumes,  incense,  and  the  like,  and  he  thus  admired  [magnified] 
the  Name  of  that  Supreme  Being,  an  Incarnation  of  a  portion 
of  Vishnu.  Eeverence  be  unto  thee  in  the  form  of  Buddha  ; 
reverence  be  unto  thee,  Lord  of  the  Earth !  Reverence  be  unto 
thee  an  Incarnation  of  the  Deity,  and  the  Eternal  One; 
Reverence  be  unto  thee  0  God,  in  the  form  of  the  God  of  Mercy, 
the  Dispeller  of  pain  and  trouble,  the  Lord  of  all  things,  the 


Deity  who  overcomes  the  sins  of  the  Kali  yug  (Imn  Age),  the 
Guardian  of  the  universe,  the  emblem  of  Mercy  towards  all  them 
that  sue  thee — OM,  the  Possessor  of  all  things  in  vital  form, 
Thou  art  Brahma,  Vishnu,  and  Mahesa  (Siva) ;  Thou  art  the 
Lord  of  the  universe  ;  Thou  art  the  proper  form  of  all  things,* 
moveable  and  immoveable,  the  Possessor  of  the  whole.  And 
thus  I  adore  thee.  Eeverence  be  unto  thee  the  Bestower  of 
Salvation  ;  Eeverence  be  unto  thee  the  Destroyer  of  the  Evil 
Spirit,  Kesi ;  f  0  Damadara  shew  me  favour  !  Thou  art  he  who 
resteth  upon  the  face  of  the  Milky  Ocean,  and  who  lieth  upon 
the  serpent  Sesha.  Thou  art  Trivikrama,  who  at  three  strides 
encompasseth  the  earth ;  I  adore  thee,  who  art  celebrated  by  a 
thousand  names,  and  under  various  forms,  in  the  shape  of 
Buddha,  the  God  of  Mercy ;  be  propitious,  0  thou  Most  High ! 
Having  thus  worshipped  the  Guardian  of  mankind,  he  became 
like  one  of  the  just.  He  joyfully  caused  a  holy  temple  to  be 
built  of  a  wronderful  construction,  and  therein  were  set  up  the 
Divine  Feet  of  Vishnu,  for  ever  Purifier  of  the  sins  of  mankind  ; 
the  images  of  the  Pandus,  and  the  Descents  of  Vishnu  (Avatars)  ; 
and  in  like  manner  of  Brahma  and  the  rest  of  the  divinities." 
(Hind.  Panth.  p.  223.) 

It  may  here  be  observed  how  extensively  this  symbol  of  the 
Divine  Foot  has  pervaded  the  religions  of  the  West.  Feet  either 
in  relief  or  in  cavo,  cut  in  stone,  are  common  about  Hindoo 
temples  ;  according  to  tradition  they  are  memorials  of  suttees, 
the  self-sacrificing  widow  having  mounted  from  that  stone  upon 
the  pyre.  This  usage  supplies  the  connection  of  the  symbol 
with  Serapis,  the  translated  Yama,  god  of  Hades.  Compare  the 
colossal  Foot  dedicated  to  the  Serapis  of  Alexandria,  as  his  special 
attribute,  and  recently  exhumed  from  the  ruins  of  his  temple.J 
It  is  richly  sandalled,  and  on  the  top  sits  enthroned  the  god 
himself,  with  his  attendants  Cerberus  and  the  Serpent,  Tricasa 

*  Meaning  the  pre-existing  Type,  %  The  religious  importance  of  the 

the  Platonic  Idea,  the  Persian  Fe-  s>  mbol  is  attested  by  an  Alexandrian 

rouher,  the  Rabbinical  Adam-Karl-  coin  of  Commodus,  having  for  re- 

mon — all  springing  from  this  source.  verse  this  same  Foot,  with  the  bust 

f  This  explains  the  title  of  the  of  Serapis  placed  on  the  section  of 

deity  so  often  put  on  our  talismans,  the  leg.  (Feuardent,  '  Egypie  An- 

cienne,'  pi.  xxvii.)- 


and  Scslia  in  Grecian  disguise.  The  same  Foot,  winged  and 
girt  with  the  Serpent  placed  between  two  seated  lions,  is  cut  on 
the  altar  inscribed  "  Deo  Sarapi  M.  Vibius  Onesimus  ex  visu  " 
(Montfaucon,  pi.  122).  The  same  idea  produced  in  Ceylon  the 
print  of  Adam's  foot  upon  the  summit  of  the  Peak,  bearing  his 
name,  whence  he  had  ascended  to  his  Creator,  and  equally, 
in  the  very  metropolis  of  Christianity,  that  of  Christ  himself 
stamped  in  the  basalt  paving-stone  of  the  Via  Appia,  still 
worshipped  in  the  church  and  entitled,  "  Domino  quo  vadis1'" 

An  ancient  silver  plate,  found  in  a  pit  at  Islamabad,  at  the 
northern  end  of  the  Bay  of  Bengal,  records  the  hallowing  of  the 
site  of  a  projected  temple  there  in  the  deposit  in  that  pit  of  120 
small  bronze  images  called  "  Tahmudas,"  twenty  of  larger  size, 
"  Languda,"  one  large  in  stone,  "  Langudagari,"  and  a  brass 
vessel  containing  two  of  the  bones  of  "  Thacur."  This  last  title, 
"  Noble,"*  is  the  regular  style  of  a  god,  or  a  deified  mortal. 
In  medieval  ecclesiastical  usage  (which  probably  still  continues) 
it  was  indispensable  for  the  consecration  of  any  altar  in  a  church 
that  a  relic  (bone)  of  some  Saint  should  have  been  deposited 
under  its  base.  The  same  silver  plate  contains  this  account  of 
the  birth  and  infancy  of  Buddha.  This  coincidence,  if  acci 
dental  is  very  curious.  "  When  Buddha  Avatar  descended  from 
the  region  of  souls,  and  entered  the  body  of  Mahamaya,  the 
wife  of  Soontala  Danna,  Raja  of  Kailas,  her  womb  suddenly 
assumed  the  appearance  of  clear  transparent  crystal  in  which 
Buddha  appeared,  beautiful  as  a  flower,  kneeling,  and  reclining 
on  his  hands.  \Vhen  born  he  had  on  his  head  two  feet,  and  on 
his  hands  the  marks  of  wheels.  Brahma  attending  at  the 
birth  received  the  infant  in  a  golden  vessel,  and  delivered  him 
unto  Indra." 

This  intimate  connection  of  the  theosophies  of  India  and 
Greece  was  originally  (before  the  period  of  direct  commerce) 
kept  up  through  the  medium  of  the  Persian  Magi,  as  the 
classical  writers  themselves  show  by  casual  but  trustworthy 
allusions.  Their  notices  were  till  lately  reckoned,  amongst  the 
other  fictions  of  "  Graecia  Mendax,"  but  better  acquaintance 
with  Sanscrit  and  Pehlevi  records  have  revealed  their  truth. 
*  Exactly  answering  to  the  ancient  Dims,  the  Catholic  Saint. 


For  it  is  now  accepted  as  certainly  proved  by  the  oldest 
portions  of  the  Zendavesta  (the  "  Gathas,"  or  hymns)  that  the 
primitive  religion  of  the  whole  Aryan  race,  previous  to  the 
great  division,  was  a  simple  worship  of  the  Powers  of  Nature. 
This  religion  was  reformed  by  Zoroaster,  who  retained  the 
old  names  for  his  Angels,  but  superadded  the  idea  of  the  One 

Ammian  in  his  account  of  Julian's  Persian  expedition,  gives 
the  following  curious,  though  oddly  blundered,  details  upon 
this  subject  (xxiii.  0).  "  In  these  tracts  are  situated  the  fertile 
lands  of  the  Ma<ji  [in  Media],  concerning  whose  profession  and 
pursuits,  since  we  have  come  upon  them,  it  will  be  fitting 
to  give  here  some  brief  information.  Plato,  that  greatest 
authority  upon  celebrated  doctrines,  states  that  the  Magian 
religion,  known  by  this  mystic  name  of  '  Machagestia,'  is  the 
most  uncorrupted  form  of  worship  in  things  divine.  To  the 
philosophy  of  this  religion,  Zoroastres,  a  Bactrian,  in  primitive 
times,  made  many  additions  drawn  from  the  Mysteries  of  the 
Chaldeans,  as  did  still  later  Ilystaspes,  a  very  learned  prince, 
father  of  Darius.  This  King  Hystaspes,  when  he  was  boldly 
penetrating  into  the  unknown  regions  of  Upper  India,  had  come 
upon  a  certain  wooded  solitude,  the  tranquil  silence  of  which 
is  occupied  by  those  incomparable  sages,  the  Brachmans. 
Instructed  by  their  teaching  in  the  science  of  the  motions  of 
the  world  and  heavenly  bodies,  and  also  in  pure  religious  rites  as 
far  as  he  was  able  to  gather  them — of  the  notions  thus  acquired 
he  transfused  a  certain  proportion  into  the  creed  of  the  Magi. 
The  latter  coupling  these  doctrines  with  their  own  peculiar 
science  of  foretelling  the  future,  have  handed  down  the  whole 
through  their  descendants  to  succeeding  ages.  Thenceforth,  in 
the  course  of  many  generations  to  the  present  time,  a  multitude, 
sprung  from  one  and  the  same  stock,  dedicates  itself  to  sacred 
offices.  It  is  said  they  preserve  unextinguished  the  Sacred 
Fire  which  first  of  all  fell  down  from  heaven,  a  portion  where 
of  used  always  to  be  carried  before  the  kings  of  Asia  as  a  good 
omen.  The  number  of  persons  so  descended  was  at  the  first 
but  small,  and  they  were  exclusively  employed  by  the  Persian 
kings  for  the  performance  of  religious  services.  It  was  con- 


sidered  a  great  offence  to  approach  the  altar,  or  to  touch  the 
sacrifice,  before  a  Magus,  after  reciting  the  appointed  prayers, 
had   poured   upon  it  the  preliminary   libation.     But   through 
gradual  increase  they  are  grown  into  the  name  and  dimensions 
of  a  distinct  people,  and  inhabit  villages  unprotected  by  walls, 
being  allowed  to  follow  their  own  laws,  being  respected  on  ac 
count  of  their  religious  character.    It  was  from  this  race  of  men 
that  the  seven,  as  ancient  history  records,  usurped  the  Persian 
throne  upon  the  death  of  Cambyses,  and  were  crushed  by  the 
conspiracy  of  that  Darius  who  gained  the  kingdom  through  the 
neighing  of  his  horse."     The  worthy,  but  pedantic  old  soldier, 
in  his  anxiety  to  show  off  his  historical  reading,  has  committed 
certain  very  ludicrous  blunders  in  this  account.     The  father  of 
Darius  was  no  "  ancient  king  of  Persia,"  but  merely  governor  of 
that  province   (eVapx°s)    under   Cambyses  (Her.  iii.  70).      His 
name,  derived  from  "  Gushtasp,"  the  planet  Venus,  was  doubt 
less   common   enough  wherever   Magism  was   the    established 
religion.    And  yet  more  ludicrously  does  Ammian  convert  the  one 
Magian  usurper,  Smerdis,  into  seven,  the  actual  number  of  the 
Persian  nobles  who  put  him  down.     Nevertheless,  the  tradition 
has  great  value,  as  proving  the  previous  existence  of  the  Magi 
in  a  community  of  diviners  and  seers  (like  the  ancient  Jewish 
fraternities,  "  Sons  of  the  Prophets,")  and  the  subsequent  modi 
fication    of  their  doctrines  by  the  importation  of  Brahminical 
ideas,  following  upon  the  conquest  of  Indian  provinces.     Such 
being  the  case,  one  need  not  be  surprised  at  finding  Sassanian 
kings  named  after  Hindoo  deities,  like  the  numerous   Varancs 
(from  "Varani,"  Vishnu's  title)  just   as   others   of  their  line 
assume  that  of  the  proper  Persian  god,  Ormuzd,  in  the  form  of 
that  favourite  royal  appellation,  Hormisdas  (Ahoromasdi). 



Following  the  axiom,  "  that  the  body  is  more  than  the 
raiment,"  the  foregoing  chapters  have  been  devoted  to  the 
consideration  of  the  notions  which  our  talismans  have  invested 
with  visible  form.  These  visible  forms,  therefore,  their 
materials,  and  manufacture,  now  come  before  us  for  explanation 
— a  wide  field  for  curious  research,  and  extending  into  many 
diverse  regions  of  Archeology. 

The  genuine  Abraxas-gems,  that  yet  fill  our  cabinets,  came 
originally  for  the  most  part  out  of  Egypt ;  others,  as  their 
differing  style  shows,  from  Asia ;  others  again  from  Syria, 
where  many  Basilidans  had  established  themselves  at  an  early 
period.  Amongst  these  philosophising  semi-Christian  sects  the 
figure  of  Abraxas  was  held  in  high  esteem.  "  They  used  it 
(says  Bellermann)  as  a  Teacher  in  doctrine,  in  obedience  to  whom 
they  directed  their  transcendental  researches  and  mystic 
instruction  ;  as  a  Token  and  a  Password  amongst  the  initiated,  to 
show  that  they  belonged  to  the  same  fraternity ;  as  an  Amulet 
and  a  Talisman,  and  lastly  as  a  Seal  to  their  documents." 

Gnostic  intagli  are  almost  the  sole  productions  of  the  Glyptic 
Art,  during  the  time  it  was  dying  out,  all  through  the  last  two 
centuries  of  the  Western  Empire,  if  we  except  a  few  rude 
figures  of  the  goddess  Roma,  Victories,  and  Eagles  made  for 
legionary  rings.  As  may  easily  be  supposed  the  art  displayed 
in  these  designs  is  at  its  lowest  ebb,  being  itself  a  degenerate 
successor  to  the  debased  Egyptian  school  of  Alexandria.*  The 

*  Their    barbarism,    however,    is  so  rude  a  style  that  one  would  have 

often  in  advance  of  that  of  their  real  placed  its  execution  three  centuries 

period.     A    convincing    example    is  later,  but  for  the  company  in  which 

the  one  found  in  the  great  treasure-  it    was    found.      Another    point    ot 

trove   of    Tarsus,   where   the    latest  interest  was  its  retaining  the  original 

coins  went  no  later  than  Gordiau  III.  setting — a  cable-mounted  frame,  with 

It  was  a  black  hematite,  with  a  four-  loop,  of  massy   gold — proof    of   the 

winged,  sceptre-holding  ^Eon,  reverse  value     placed     upon     its    potency. 

Venus  Anadyomene,  with  her  usual  (Franks  Collection.) 
title  APU)PI<J>PACIC,  scratched  in 


engraving  seems  to  have  been  entirely  executed  by  means  of  a 
coarse  wheel,  like  that  characterising  the  Sassanian  stamp,  then 
commonly  used  in  Persia,  a  country  which,  by  the  bye,  was  the 
source  of  many  of  the   ideas    expressed   in   these    figures   and 
inscriptions.     The  choice  Indian  Sards,  Nicoli,  arid  Amethysts 
which   embellished   earlier   periods,    are    replaced    by   coarser 
materials,  the  native  productions  of  the   countries  which  had 
engendered  the  new  creed,  the  Jasper  of  Egypt  dark  green,  or 
sometimes  mottled  with  yellow  and  red,  the  Plasma,  usually  of 
bad  quality,  passing    from    a   dirty   olive-green   into   common 
Calcedony,  and  quite  as  abundantly  the  fibrous  Hematite  more 
or  less  magnetic.     Indeed  the  opaque  Jasper  and  the  Loadstone, 
those  special  materials  for  signets  at  the  fountains  of  the  Magic 
Art,  Egypt  and  Assyria,  had,  from  time  immemorial,  engrossed 
the    reputation   of    the   most   fitting   vehicles    for    talismanic 
figures.     The   former  was  Pliny's  Molochites,  "opaque,  and  of 
the  colour  of  a    mallow  leaf,  of  innate    power   as  an    amulet 
to   protect    children;"    its    black    variety   was   his   Antipatlics, 
"  recommended  by  the  Magi  as  a  sure  defence  against  witch 
craft   of  every   kind  ; "  whilst   the    ILematite    is   the   Persian 
Kamhahen,  perhaps  the  true  etymology  of  cameo,  a  word  that 
came   into  Europe  in   the    ages   when    every   engraved    stone 
passed  for  a  talisman. 

So  constant  is  this  rule  of  unmitigated  barbarism  that 
Gnostic  types  when  found  well  executed  and  in  fine  stones,  as 
sometimes  is  the  case,  will  on  examination  always  prove  to 
emanate  from  the  Cinquecento  school,  a  period  when  anything 
pertaining  to  Astrology  or  the  Kabala  was  reproduced  in  vast 
abundance  under  the  impulse  of  the  revived  spirit  of  mystic 
speculation.  To  this  and  the  following  century,  must  be 
referred  the  authorship  of  those  large  jaspers,  not  unfrequent  in 
Collections,  presenting  the  terminal  figure  of  Osiris,  the  field 
occupied  with  astrological  cyphers  and  modem  Hebrew  letters. 
Of  these  imitations,  betraying  themselves  by  their  own  excel 
lence,  the  most  conspicuous  was  a  large  Amethyst,  obtained  by 
me  at  Florence,  engraved  with  an  erect  figure  of  the  hawk- 
headed  Phre,  Priapean,  holding  the  Cyiiophalus  upon  his 
hand,  and  standing  on  the  coiled  serpent,  an  intaglio  in  the 

T  2 


best  Eoman  manner,  that  no  era  of  Gnosticism  had  been  capable 
of  producing.* 

Antique  pastes  with  subjects  do  not  exist,  and  for  a  very 
sufficient  reason.  The  material  of  a  talisman  being  quite  as 
essential  to  its  virtue  as  the  sigil  engraved  upon  it  ;  the  mystery 
whereof  the  profound  Camillo  di  Leonardo  shall  hereafter  declare 
in  his  own  words.  Again,  the  genuine  stones  were  in  them 
selves  so  cheap,  and  the  work  upon  them  produced  so  expedi- 
tiously  and  with  so  little  care,  as  to  leave  small  temptation  for 
counterfeiting  them  in  a  baser  substance.  The  only  exception 
that  has  come  under  my  notice  to  the  inferior  quality  of  the 
stones  employed  by  the  Gnostic  engravers  is  the  singular 
Garnet  tablet  of  the  Hertz  Cabinet,  of  which  a  description  will 
be  given  in  its  proper  place,  when  we  come  to  treat  of  inscrip 

The  Lettering  of  the  legenclsf  upon  these  talismans  has  u 
peculiarity  of  execution  that  of  itself  serves  to  identify  almost 
every  stone  belonging  to  the  Gnostic  series.  The  letters  are  all 
formed  by  stralyld  lines,  the  ©,  O,  and  T_,  being  quite  square, 
either  from  the  rudeness  of  the  instrument  employed  to  cut 
them,  or  because  want  of  skill  prevented  the  engraver  from 
attempting  curvilinear  characters,  to  do  which  neatly  requires 
the  utmost  dexterity  and  long  practice,  being  in  fact  the  most 
difficult  task  that  can  be  demanded  from  the  wheel.  For  it  was 
with  this  newly  -in  vented  instrument,  as  the  equality  of  their 
lines  demonstrates,  that  these  ill-shaped  characters  were  faintly 

*  I   had  long   suspected   that  the  t    Stiechel   explains    the   inscrip- 

Cmquecento   period  produced  much  tion   upon  the   shield   borne   by  an 

Gnostic  work  iti  the  ruder  style,  and  Abraxas  figure,  written  thus,    *^  X 

at  length  have   obtained   proof  de-  I  AAV 

monstrative    of    tLe    truth    of    this  ™    ™    more    than    the    customary 

suspcon.     Amongst   a   large  lot  of  f™»  *  that  position  the  fcame  lao 

coarsely-cut  Gnostic  jaspers  of  very  ™th  the   Sign   o     the  Cross   thrice 

recent    work,     my     attention     was  repeated   (to    make  up  the  mystic 

caught    by   one    (an   inscription    of  number>     Seven>        He     4uoteB    ™ 

several   lines)  cut   upon  a  tablet   of  support    of   this    acute   explanation 

that  streaky  agaet  paste  so  popular  ?     B™       PuUished      by     Matter, 

at  that  period,  but  quite  unknown  to  Baring      X4>ENECXH  W>IX,     ex- 

tho  ancients.     The   piece   had   been  Pressing  the  sound   of  the  Hebrew 

highly  polished  and  then  engraved  Peni  ze**  riPia  = 

with  the  wheel  ;  the  design  probably  healed." 
copied  from  a  genuine  stone. 


traced  upon  the  stone.  In  all  likelihood  the  same  artists  were 
the  Alexandrian  glass-workers,  famed  long,  before  for  their 
engraved  vases,  Martial's  "  tepido  toreumata  Nili,"  for  Pliny 
uses  the  significant  expression,  "  vitrum,  aliud  torno  teritur, 
aliud  argenti  more  caelatur,"  "  some  glass  vessels  are  cut  out  by 
means  of  the  drill,  others  carved  in  relief  in  the  same  manner  as 
silver  plate."  The  z  in  these  inscriptions  is  invariably  formed 
by  drawing  a  short  line  across  the  diagonal  of  a  Z,  so  that  in 
rude  work,  it  cannot  be  distinguished  from  the  latter  character. 
These  inscriptions  are  often  found  superadded  upon  the  backs 
of  gems  of  much  earlier  date,  evidently  for  the  purpose  of 
converting  them  into  talismans.  Of  such  conversions  the  most 
remarkable  known  to  me  are,  a  fine  cameo  (Marlborough 
Cabinet)  a  bust  of  Commodus;  on  the  reverse  of  which  has 
been  rudely  cut  the  Abraxas-god  surrounded  by  a  legend, 
unintelligible  though  sounding  like  Greek  words. 


Another  cameo  (Royal  Cabinet)  with  the  helmeted  heads 
regardant  of  Constantino's  two  elder  sons,  has  received  the  very 

unorthodox  addition   of  Anubis,    also    surrounded    bv   a    lon<r 

j  '    & 

legend  in  huge  characters,  so  barbarous  as  to  defy  transcription. 
A  third  (Devonshire  Parure,  No.  79),  a  fine  head  of  Hercules, 
lapis  lazuli,  has  received  the  Gnostic  baptism  by  the  addition 
on  the  back  of  a  scarabeus  -with  expanded  wings  (recognised 
emblem  of  the  Creator),  and  the  word  of  power  ABPAZAZ .  The 
extremely  debased  style  of  all  such  additions  plainly  indicates 
a  period  long  posterior  to  that  of  the  originals;  whilst  the 
position  they  occupy,  necessarily  concealed  when  in  use,  proves 
that  the  whole  object  of  such  improvements  was  the  supernatural 
protection  of  the  wearer. 

The  finest  example  of  Gnostic  conversion  is  an  onyx  cameo 
(Vienna  Cabinet),  representing  some  young  Caesar  under  the 
form  of  Jupiter  Axur,  standing  in  front  face  with  the  thunder 
bolt  in  his  left  hand,  his  right  resting  on  the  sceptre,  the  eegis 
hangs  down  his  back  for  paludamentum,  at  his  feet  the  eagle 
on  one  side  a  trophy  with  seated  captive,  hands  tied  behind ;  all 
in  a  good  style  in  low  relief.  The  talisman-maker  has  cut  a 


line  of  square  characters,  resembling  Palmyrene,  down  each  leg 
from  hip  to  foot,  a  nimbus  of  the  same  round  his  head,  others  on 
the  field :  and,  to  make  all  sure,  has  covered  the  back  of  the 
gem  with  16  lines  in  the  same  abstruse  lettering.  It  is  care 
fully  figured  in  Arneth's  '  Cameen  des  K.  K.  Cabinettes,' 
(PI.  xviii.  2),  who  suggests  Julian  for  its  subject,  without  con 
sidering  that  the  "  Philosopher  "  wore  a  long  beard  during  the 
period  when  such  a  representation  of  him  as  this  was  permissible. 
Besides,  for  the  two  centuries  before  Julian's  times,  Serapis  was 
the  only  type  under  which  the  reigning  emperor  was  allowed 
to  be  complimented,  the  old  Latin  '  Jovis  Axur '  having  grown 
obsolete.  The  hero  of  this  apotheosis  is  much  more  probably 
Titus,  or  even  his  brother.  The  cameo  is  of  respectable  dimen 
sions,  being  2f  inches  high  by  2J  wide. 

As  regards  the  history  of  Glyptics  these  inscribed  gems  have 
a  value  of  their  own,  as  fixing  the  date  when  the  wheel  came 
generally  into  use  in  the  engraver's  atelier ;  for  the  minute 
and  elegant  lettering  of  earlier  times  will  be  found,  when 
examined  with  the  microscope,  to  have  been  incised  in  the  gem 
with  the  diamond  point,  whence  its  perfect  regularity  and 

Of  those  Gnostic  inscriptions  in  general,  Easpe  (Catalogue  of 
Tassie's  Pastes,  p.  38)  has  given  accurate  transcripts,  from  an 
immense  collection  belonging  to  every  shape  and  period  of 
Gnosticism.  Chabouillet  has  more  recently  done  the  same  for 
the  very  large  series  in  the  French  Cabinet,  in  his  valuable 
'  Catalogue  des  Ctimees  de  la  Bib.  Imp.'  p.  282.  In  the  '  Gorla3 
Dactyliotheca,'  (3rd  ed.  1G95),  Nos.  326-486  are  entirely 
Gnostic  and  astrological  designs,  and  include  the  greater  part 
of  those  first  published  by  Chiflct  in  his  'Macarii  Abraxas- 
Proteus,'  ed.  1610.  whose  plates  were  re-engraved  for  the 
purpose  on  a  reduced  scale,  but  with  large  additions,  apparently 
made  by  the  learned  editor  of  the  work,  Gronovius.  But  the 
most  extensive  series  of  actual  representations  of  the  whole 
class  are  the  plates  to  the  Section  '  Les  Abraxas'  of  Mont- 
faucon's  grand  work  '  L'Antiquite  expliquee.'  Many  of  his 
examples  were  drawn  from  the  fine  Cabinet  of  gems  belonging 
to  the  Library  of  St.  Geneviove,  besides  others,  and  very 



interesting  specimens,  from  a  previous  work  by  Capello.* 
Though  roughly  engraved,  they  seem  to  have  been  copied  with 
laudablo  attention  to  accuracy. 

*  Who  professes  to  copy  originals 
iu  the  ancient  Cassel  Cabinet ;  al 
though  many  of  his  types  are  so  un 
paralleled  in  modern  collections  that 
Matter  suspects  them  mere  creations 
of  his  own  fancy.  But  examples  of 

some  of  the  strangest  amongst  them 
have  lately  corne  under  my  own 
notice,  apparently  mediaeval  Arabic 
talismans,  which  Capello,  very 
pardonably,  mistook  for  remains  of 
the  ancient  Gnostics. 

FIG.  12. 



Foremost  in  the  rank  of  Words  of  Power  stands  the  "  Mystery 
of  the  Seven  Vowels,"  so  important  as  to  demand  a  separate 
section  for  its  discussion  with  befitting  reverence.  Though 
inferior  to  these,  great  no  doubt  was  the  virtue  of  those 
interminable  strings  of  letters  that  fill  both  faces  of  many  a 
Gnostic  stone — later  refinements  upon  the  celebrated  'E^eVta 
rpa/A^ara,  as  Clemens  aptly  remarks.  Amongst  these  inter 
minable  formula?  lurk,  no  doubt,  those  potent  spells  composed  by 
Solomon  himself;  by  repeating  which  and  at  the  same  time 
applying  to  the  sufferer's  nose  his  ring  (under  whose  gem  was 
placed  the  herb  prescribed  by  the  same  oracle  of  wisdom)  the 
Jew  Eleazar  drew  out  through  their  nostrils  the  devils  possess 
ing  many  people,  in  the  presence  of  Vespasian,  his  tribunes  and 
chief  officers.  The  sapient  Josephus  adds,  that  to  make  sure  of 
the  exit  of  the  diabolical  occupant,  the  exorcist  commanded  him  to 
overturn  in  his  flight  a  basin  of  water  placed  at  a  considerable 
distance,  which  was  forthwith  done,  to  the  consternation  and 
conviction  of  all  the  heathen  spectators.  The  Ephesian  Spell, 
the  mystic  words  graven  on  the  zone  of  the  Great  Diana,  were 
commonly  used  by  the  Magi  of  Plutarch's  times  for  the  same 

And  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  such  invocations  were  often 
efficacious.  Demoniacal  possession  was  nothing  more  than 
epilepsy  (its  veiy  name,  signifying  possession,  being  derived 
from  that  same  belief) ;  for  Galen,  after  rationally  discussing 
the  natural  causes  of  the  malady,  remarks  that  the  vulgar 
universally  attributed  it  to  the  agency  of  devils.  Now  our 
experience  of  Mesmerism  (so  far  as  there  is  any  reality  in  that 
pet  science  of  charlatans)  clearly  shows  what  inexplicable  effects 
can  be  produced  upon  persons  labouring  under  nervous  derange 
ment  by  words  of  command,  authoritatively  pronounced.  How 
much  greater  the  effect  of  those  words  in  old  times,  when 
uttered  in  an  unknown  tongue  by  a  person  of  imposing  presence, 


and  over  patients  already  filled  with  the  belief  of  his  power  to 
relieve  them !  Hence  the  Casting-out  of  devils  became  the 
grand  staple  of  their  trade  with  all  the  Thaumaturgists,  both 
old  and  new,  of  the  ages  with  which  we  are  dealing.  That  the 
cure  should  be  permanent  was  a  thing  perfectly  immaterial,  it 
sufficed  the  exorcist's  purpose  if  the  manifestation  of  his  power 
should  be  successful  for  the  moment,  to  the  edification  of  the 
awestruck  crowd  of  believers,  and  to  the  confusion  of  the  few 
nationalistic  doubters  amongst  the  crowd. 

Such  spells  gave  power  likewise  over  demons  ranging  about 
unconfined  in  fleshly  prison.  Eucrates,  in  Lucian's  amusing 
4  Philopseudes,'  boasts  that  he  is  so  accustomed  to  meet  thousands 
of  them  roving  about,  that  he  has  come  not  to  mind  them  at  all, 
more  especially  since  "  The  Arabian  has  given  me  a  ring  made 
out  of  the  nail  from  a  cross,  and  taught  me  the  spell  composed 
of  many  Names"  The  last  remark  is  valuable  for  our  purpose : 
it  proves  that  the  legends  in  an  unknown  tongue  on  our 
talismans  are  sometimes  to  be  explained  from  the  Arabic,*  and 
also  may  consist  of  strings  of  titles  of  the  one  deity  invoked. 
Virgil's — 

"  Crines  effusa  sacerdos 

Ter  centum  tonat  ore  dcos,  Erebumque,  Ghaosque, 
Tergeminamque  Hecaten,  tria  virgiuis  ora  Dianaj ; " 

(/En.  iv.  510)— 

distinctly  refers  to  the  same  superstition,  for  Servius  explains 
these  " three  hundred  gods"  in  the  spells  of  Dido's  Massjlian 
sorceress,  as  not  meaning  so  many  different  deities,  but  only  so 
many  epithets  of  Hecate  herself;  whose  very  names  he,  for  the 
same  reason,  fancifully  derives  from  the  numeral  e/carov.  The 
same  idea  yet  survives  in  the  religious  exercise  of  the  devout 
Moslem,  the  mental  repetition  and  reflection  upon  the  Ninety- 
and-nine  Arabic  epithets  of  the  One  Almighty. 

*  In  fact,  the  "  unknown  charac-  (therefore  long  anterior  to  Gnostic 

ters"    sometimes    occurring    in    the  times),   and   neatly    engraved   Hini- 

field   of  these   talismans  are  unmis-  yaritic  legends.       This  character  is 

takeably  Himyaritic  letters,  belong-  perfectly    vertical,     handsome,     and 

ing    to    that   primitive   alphabet   of  well  denned  in  its  differences ;  it  is  a 

Arabia.     Osiander   and   Levy   have  modification   of  the  Palmyrene,  and 

published   gems   bearing   intagli,  of  the  parent  of  the  modern  Ethiopic. 
good   execution,   of    Persian   deities 


The  great  object  of  these  adjurations  was  to  address  the 
Deity  by  the  names  under  which  he  was  known  to  all  the 
nations  of  Earth ;  in  this  way  making  sure  of  addressing  him 
by  the  appellation  wherein  he  most  delighted.  This  is  the 
fundamental  principle  of,  and  sufficient  explanation  of,  the 
entire  class  of  these  talismanic  legends ;  and  of  their  syncretism 
No.  10  of  the  'Magic  Papyrus'  affords  a  most  valuable 
illustration.  "  I  call  upon  thee  that  didst  create  the  Earth,  and 
bones,  and  all  flesh,  and  all  spirit,  that  didst  establish  the  Sea, 
and  that  shakest  the  Heavens,  that  didst  divide  the  Light  from 
the  Darkness ;  Thou,  the  Great,  Directing  Mind,  that  disposest 
all  things,  Eye  of  the  world  !  Genius  of  genii  (8ai>o>v  Sai/Wwv), 
God  of  gods,  the  Lord  of  spirits,  IAO  OYHI,  hearken  unto 
my  voice !  I  call  upon  Thee,  the  Master  of  the  gods,  0  loud 
thundering  Zeus,  0  sovereign  Zeus,  Adonai !  Lord  I  AH  OYHE  ! 
I  am  he  that  calleth  upon  thee  in  the  Syrian  tongue,  the  great 
God  Zaa\ar)p  !</>  <£ou ;  and  do  not  thou  disregard  my  voice  iii 
the  Hebrew  language,  A/3\ava6ava\f3a  A/3pao-iAwa.  For  I  am 
o-L\Oa>xuovx  /WAa/x,  /3/WaAw#  law  law  vtfiovO  (rapLoOap  fiuO  ap/3aO 
law  Iaw<9  o-afiauO  Trayovpyj  payovpr)  ftapovx  ASwvat  EXwat  ta/fyaa/x 
(3ap(3apavu  vav  <n0.  0  lofty-minded,  ever-living  Crown  of  the 
world ;  containing  all,  Sie^o-a/m  er^  fiiov  =  a<f>rj  =  VOVOL  = 
o-ttOv  =  X6t6w7)pvyX  OHAHHfiAI  A  fiHIAO  acnaA  o-aa^aXo-w 
eO^ovp-rjo-ivi  crep.  Aav  \ov  Xovpiy^.  (This  spell)  looses  fetters, 
causes  blindness  (i.e.  makes  one  invisible),  procures  dreams, 
gives  favour,  for  whatsoever  purpose  thou  wishesi." 

One  circumstance,  very  unaccountable,  connected  with  these 
Inscriptions  is  wherefore  the  Pclilcvi  character,  the  national 
writing  of  the  Magi  in  those  times,  should  never  be  used  in 
formula  so  often  embodying  the  doctrines  of  that  profession. 
Neither  are  any  complete  legends  to  be  found  written  in  Punic, 
although  that  character  with  the  last  mentioned  was  at  the 
time  universally  employed,  in  various  modifications,  all  over 
Asia  and  Africa.  In  the  latter  country  Punic  was  not  super- 
s  ided  by  Latin  until  a  very  late  period  of  the  Empire,  for  in  the 
second  century  Apuleius  ('Apology ')  wishing  to  prove  the  neglect 
of  his  stepson's  education  by  the  boy's  uncle  who  had  taken 
charge  of  him  (the  family  belonged  to  the  large  city  Madaura  in 


Numidia),  declares  that  though  arrived  at  the  age  of  sixteen 
he  could  speak  nothing  but  Punic  and  the  little  Greek  he  had 
picked  up  from  his  mother,  "  praeter  Punice,  et  siquid  ad  hue  a 
matre  Graecissat."  "  And  some  years  later,  the  emperor  Severus, 
a  descendant  of  Hannibal's,  had  to  blush  for  his  sister  when  she 
came  from  his  native  place  Leptis  to  Court,  "vix  Latino 
loquens."  It  is  true  the  characters  which  are  often  scattered 
over  the  field  of  these  gems  have  much  the  look  of  Punic; 
others  again  of  Palniyrene  Syriac  ;  whilst  some  are  obviously 
the  same  with  the  strange  Nubian  characters  to  be  seen  in 
abundance  graven  on  the  rocks  at  Silsilis,  upon  the  upper  Nile. 
As  for  the  square  (modern)  Hebrew,  all  works  presenting  them 
are  mere  fabrications  of  the  astrologers  and  Kosicrucians  of 
the  16th  and  17th  centuries.  Hicroglyphical  writing,  though 
naturally  to  be  looked  for  in  the  manufacture  of  A]exandria, 
hardly  occurs  at  all ;  it  is  probable  that  even  its  modification 
the  Demotic  had  long  before  been  superseded  (in  that  capital  at 
least)  by  the  Greek  alphabet.  The  only  exception  known  to 
me  is  the  agate  published  by  Caylus  ('  Eec.  d'Ant.'  viii.  pi,  8), 
presenting  the  common  four-winged  Priapic  genius  in  the 
sacred  boat,  the  reverse  bearing  a  long  vertical  line  of  neatly 
cut  genuine  hieroglyphics.  The  Arabic  "  Kamar  "  Moon,  some 
times  found  in  these  formulas,  illustrates  Pliny's  remark, 
that  the  Magi  ordered  the  ^ame  of  the  Sun  or  Moon  to  be 
engraved  on  emeralds  or  amethysts,  in  order  to  convert  them 
into  amulets  against  witchcraft,  and  giving  success  at  Court. 
An  emerald  (Praun)  of  very  bad  quality,  however,  inscribed 
I  AH  ZABAjQO  ABPAZAZ,  may  represent  the  very  kind  of 
amulet  alluded  to.  But  that  Alexandria  was  the  grand 
fabrique  of  talismans  is  equally  apparent  to  the  mineralogist 
from  the  materials,  as  to  the  archaeologist  from  the  lettering 
employed  in  their  construction.  Nevertheless  it  still  remains 
unexplained  why  the  Magi  should  not  have  written  their  own 
spells  in  the  character  then  solely  current  in  the  vast  dominions 
of  the  Sassanian  kings. 

The  language  of  these  inscriptions  is  never  Latin,  rarely 
Greek,  frequently  Syriac,  but  most  commonly  corrupt  Hebrew. 
For  this  choice  the  sufficient  reason  is  given  by  lamblichus  in  a 


letter  to  Porphyrius,  where  he  expressly  states  that,  "  The  gods 
are  well  pleased  with  prayers  addressed  unto  them  in  the  Egyptian 
or  Assyrian  tongues,  as  being  ancient  and  cognate  languages  to 
their  own,  and  moreover  those  in  which  prayer  was  first  made 
unto  them  ;  and  therefore  they  have  stamped  as  sacred  the  entire 
speech  of  those  holy  nations."  It  is  a  singular  coincidence  that 
Justinus  Kerner,  in  his  extraordinary  work,  '  Die  Seherin  von 
Prevorst '  (in  reading  which  one  continually  fluctuates  between 
ihe  conviction  of  its  being  an  impudent  fiction,  and  the 
uncomfortable  suspicion  that  it  may  be  a  revelation  of  the  pro- 
foundest  tnith),  assigns  a  similar  reason  for  the  writing  used  by 
the  visitant  from  the  spirit-world  so  greatly  resembling  Arabic, 
''because  tliat  had  the  best  claim  to  be  considered  the  primitive 
language  of  mankind."  This  "  Seer  "  was  a  peasant  girl,  worn 
out  by  long  sickness  to  that  degree  as  to  belong  more  to  the  next 
world  than  to  this.  Consequently  she  had  become  sensible  of  the 
presence  of  spiritual  visitors,  and  acted  as  a  medium  of  com 
munication  between  them  and  those  in  the  flesh.  Kerner,  a 
physician,  took  her  into  his  own  house  the  better  to  observe 
these  singular  phenomena,  and  kept  a  regular  diary  of  her  health 
and  of  her  disclosures  during  several  months  until  her  death, 
with  a  minuteness  of  which  only  a  German  is  capable.  He 
writes  evidently  in  all  good  faith,  and,  amidst  heaps  of  nonsense, 
puts  down  some  startling  occurrences  beyond  the  flights  of 
forgery  and  confirmed  by  one's  own  experience. 

But  as  concerns  the  "  Language  of  the  other  world,"  in  every 
country  "  Omne  ignotum  pro  magninco "  has  ever  been  the 
maxim  of  priestcraft,  the  soundness  of  which  has  been  demon 
strated  by  the  experience  of  all  time.  More  particularly  does 
this  apply  to  forms  of  prayer.  Thus  Orpheus  : 

"  Then  whilst  the  cauldron  buhhlcs  o'er  the  flame, 
Address  each  godhead  by  his  mystic  name ; 
Full  well  th'  immortals  all  are  pleased  to  hear 

'  Their  mystic  names  rise  in  the  muttered  prayer." 

Of  such  mystic  invocations  it  will  be  advisable  to  adduce 
examples  from  writers  contemporary  with  their  use,  before 
proceeding  to  the  consideration  of  actual  remains  of  similar 
nature.  Of  the  numerous  specimens  cited,  the  following  are  the 


most  noteworthy.  The  '  Pistis-Sophia'  (§  358)  makes  the  Saviour 
"  standing  upon  the  shore  of  the  sea,  the  ocean,  call  upon  God 
with  this  prayer,  saying,  Hear  me,  0  Father,  thou  Father  of 
all  fatherships,  Infinite  Light,  Ae^iovco  law  Awt  ana  if/LvuOep  Oeptvwi}/ 
Trayovprj  /x,€$/x,o/xaw0  V€i/ao/xa(ju$  /^apa^a^^a  Owfiappa- 
popOKoOopa  leov  5a/3aa>$."  And  again  (§  375) 
in  this  valuable  description  of  the  Gnostic  Sacrament : 
"Then  said  Jesus,  bring  me  fire  and  vine-branches.  And  they 
brought  them  unto  him,  and  he,  placing  upon  them  an  offer 
ing,  set  two  vessels  of  wine,  the  one  on  the  right,  the  other 
on  the  left  of  the  offering.  He  set  before  them  the  offering : 
he  put  also  a  cup  of  water  before  the  vessel  of  wine  which  was 
on  the  right  hand,  and  ho  set  a  cup  of  wine  before  the  vessel  of 
wine  that  was  on  the  left ;  and  he  set  loaves  of  bread,  according 
to  the  number  of  his  disciples  in  the  middle  between  the  cups. 
He  set  likewise  a  cup  of  water  behind  the  loaves.  And  Jesus, 
standing  before  the  offering,  made  all  the  disciples  to  stand 
behind  him,  being  all  clothed  in  linen  garments,  having  all  of 
them  in  their  hands  tlie  number*  of  the  Name  of  the  Father  of  the 
Treasury  of  Light.  And  he  cried  aloud,  saying,  Hear  me,  O 
Father,  Father  of  all  fatherships,  Boundless  Light,  law  louco  Iao> 
acot  tola  i//i,vco$€p  Otpivwij/  i/a)i//i$ep  ve^o/xapa^a  L^ava^va^av  a/xav^i 
of  heaven  !  lo-pat  a/x^i/  a/x^y  aovjSai  j3ai  aTnraar]  a^rjv  a^-rjv  Seppa 
apat  arraoi  afjirjv  afjuqv  crao-apa-aprov  a/Jirjv  a/xr/i/  (JLO.L 
a.[uqv  Lai  LOLL  Tovair  a/JLyv  a^v  /xatv/xapt  fiapir)  /xapet  a/^v  a/x^v 
Again  Irenasus  copies  out  a  formula  "  couched  in  Hebrew  words, 
to  inspire  greater  awe  into  the  Gallic  neophyte  (at  Lugdunum)," 
as  used  by  certain  Gnostics  there  in  administering  baptism  : 
y8acrcre/xa  ^a/xocrcre  POL  cuavo/jia  jaaraSia  povaoa  Kovcrra  f3aj3a(£>op  KoAa- 
X#ai,  "  I  invoke  Thee,  Supreme  over  every  virtue,  the  Light  of 
the  Father  by  name,  the  Good  Spirit,  the  Life,  because  thou  hast 
reigned  in  the  body."  Another  of  their  formulas  was — Meo-o-ia  ov 
(j)ape-y  fa/xe/xi^ai/xev  ^aA-Saiar  pxxre/xeSia  aK0pai/at  i^aora  lrj(rov  Na£apta. 
"  I  do  not  separate  the  Spirit,  the  Head,  and  the  Supercelestial 

*  Meaning,  perhaps,  having  their  fingers  in  such  manner  as  to  indicate 

lingers  arranged  so  as  to  cxpn  ss  this  his  own  numeral,  that  of  the  days  in 

number  ;  for  Pliny  mentions  a  very  the  year. 
old   statue  of  Janus  displaying  the 


Virtue,  the  Merciful  One.    May  I  prosper  in  thy  name,  0  Saviour 
of  Truth." 

But  as  regards  the  expression  of  divine  mysteries  by  means 
of  letters  of  the  alphabet,  Marcus  stands  pre-eminently  first 
amongst  the  Gnostics,  as  the  following  extracts  from  his 
"  Eevelation  "  will  conclusively  attest.  "  The  supreme  Tetrad 
came  down  unto  me  from  that  region  which  cannot  be  seen  nor 
named,  in  a  female  form  because  the  world  would  have  been 
unable  to  bear  their  appearing  in  a  male  figure,  and  revealed 
to  me  the  generation  of  the  universe,  untold  before  either  to 
gods  or  men.  When  first  the  Father,  the  Inconceivable, 
Beingless,*  sexless,  began  to  be  in  labour  he  desired  that  his 
Inemible  should  be  born,  and  his  invisible  should  be  clothed 
with  form.  He  therefore  opened  his  mouth  and  uttered  the 
Word  like  unto  himself.  This  word  standing  before  him 
showed  that  he  was  manifesting  himself  as  the  form  or  type 
of  the  Invisible  One.  Now  the  uttering  of  the  Name  came  to 
pass  in  this  wise.  He  (the  Supreme)  spake  the  first  word  of 
his  name,  the  which  is  a  syllable  of  four  letters.  He  then  added 
the  second  syllable,  also  of  four  letters.  Then  the  third,  com 
posed  of  ten  letters.  Finally  the  fourth,  made  up  of  twelve 
letters.  Thus  the  utterance  of  the  whole  name  consists  of 
thirty  letters,  and  of  four  syllables.  Each  letter  has  a  form- 
pronunciation  and  writing  of  its  own,  but  neither  under 
stands  nor  beholds  that  of  the  whole  Name ;  nay,  not  even  the 
power  of  the  letter  standing  next  to  itself.  Now  these  sounds 
united  make  up  the  Beingless  unbegotten  TEon,  and  these  are 
the  Angels  that  always  behold  the  face  of  the  Father.  Thus 
the  Father  knowing  himself  to  be  incomprehensible  gives  unto 
each  of  the  letters,  called  ^Eons,  its  own  proper  sound,  inas- 

*  The  Kabbalistic  "En-Soph."    In  this    existence    perceptible,   and    to 

this  boundlessness,  or  as  the  En-Soph,  render  himself  comprehensible,   the 

God  cannot  be  comprehended  by  the  En-Soph  had  to  become  active  and 

intellect,  nor  described  by  words,  for  creative.     But   the  En-Soph  cannot 

there   is   nothing  that  c,.n  grasp  or  be   the   direct   Creator,   for    he    has 

define  Him  to  us;  and  as   such  He  neither  will,  intention,  desire,  thought, 

is   a   certain    sense    non-existent,   in  language,  nor  action,  as  these  properly 

because  as  far  as  our  minds  are  con-  imply   limit,   and    belong    to    finite 

corned  that  which  is  perfectly  incom-  brings,    whereas    the     En-Soph     is 

prehensible  does  not  exist.    To  make  Boundless." 


much  as  none  of  them  singly  is  competent  to   utter  the  entire 

The  substance  of  the  revelation  brought  down  to  Marcus  by 
Truth  is  to  be  found  in  the  Kabbala,  which  makes  the  mystic 
names  of  God  lo  consist  of  four,  twelve,  forty-two  and  seventy- 
two  letters  respectively.  The  Kabbalists  go  so  far  as  to 
assert  that  the  forty- two  victims  offered  by  Balaam  in  order 
to  obtain  a  favourable  response,  were  consecrated  to  one  of 
these  great  names.  If  indeed  Moses  was  learned  in  all  the 
wisdom  of  the  Egyptians,  the  magic  virtues  of  numerals  would 
have  formed  an  essential  part  of  his  learning,  as  we  see  from 
the  doctrine  of  Pythagoras,  confessedly  derived  from  Egypt. 
It  looks  very  much  like  as  if  the  framers  of  the  genealogy  of 
Jesus  had  the  same  object  in  view,  when  they  forced  the 
generations  to  the  required  number  by  omitting  three  of  the 
kings  in  the  second  division,  being  able  to  deal  with  the  third 
in  whatever  manner  they  pleased.  On  counting  the  number 
of  the  vowels  that  evidently  have  some  deep  purpose  in  occurring 
without  consonants  on  so  many  talismans  of  the  age  of  Marcus, 
we  should,  I  expect,  often  find  it  tally  with  that  of  one  or  the 
other  of  these  Holy  Names,  "f 

A  subsequent  revelation  of  the  same  Tetrad  to  Marcus, 
serves  to  account  for  the  frequent  appearance  of  the  naked 
woman,  the  Venus  Anadyomene  of  earlier  times,  upon  Gnostic 
monuments.  "  After  having  declared  these  things,  the  Tetrad 
added:  I  will  shew  unto  thee  Truth,  whom  I  have  brought 

*  This    is     a    regular    Talmudic  the  divine  name  offorty-tu-o  letters  is 

notion    as    the   Rabbins    propound.  only   communicated   to   such   as  are 

"  At  first  the  Name  of  twelve  letters  pious,  not  easily  provoked,  not  given 

was  communicated  to  every  one ;  but  to  drinking,  and  are  not  self-opiuion- 

wJien  the  profane  multiplied  it  was  ated.     He  who  knows  that  name  and 

only  communicated  to  the  most  pious  preserves    it   in   purity,   is    beloved 

of  the  priests,  and  these  pre-eminently  above,  cherished  below,  respected  by 

pious  priests  absorbed  it  from  their  every  creature,  and  is  new  to  both 

fellow-priests   in   the   chant.      It   is  worlds."— (Babylon.  Mid.  71  a.), 

recorded  that  Kabbi  Tarphon  said  :  f  This  explains  the  2evya  fiapcpap- 

I  once  weut-up  the  orchestra  in  the  a^es,  "  those  who  stand  before  the 

Temple   after    my    maternal    uncle,  Mount"     so     commonly     following 

and  bending  forward  my  ear   to   a  angelic  names  upon  our  talismans; 

priest   I   heard   how  he  absorbed  it  where  also  the  long  strings  of  letters 

from  his  fellow-priests  in  the  chant.  may   be    designed   to   express   their 

K.  Jehudah  said  in  the  time  of  Rab  ^Eou  unbegotk-n. 


down  from  the  celestial  mansions  that  thou  shouldest  behold 
her  naked,  acknowledge  her  beauty,  hear  her  speaking,  and  be 
astonished  at  her  wisdom.  Look  up  therefore  at  her  head  A 
and  O,  at  her  neck  B  and  ^,  at  her  shoulders  with  her  hands 
F  and  X,  at  her  breasts  A  and  P,  at  her  chest  E  and  Y,  at  her 
back  Z  and  T,  at  her  belly  H  and  2,  at  her  thighs  ©  and  P,  at 
her  knees  I  and  II,  at  her  legs  K  and  O,  at  her  ankles  A  and  a 
at  her  feet  M  and  N.  This  is  the  body  of  Truth,  this  the  form 
of  the  letters,  this  the  character  of  the  writing.  Whereupon 
Truth  looked  upon  me  (Marcus)  and  opened  her  mouth,  and 
littered  a  word,  and  that  word  became  a  Name,  a  name  which 
we  know  and  speak — Christ  Jesus  :  and  having  named  him  she 
held  her  peace."* 

This  "  figure  of  Truth  "  is  made  up,  it  will  be  perceived,  by 
taking  successive  pairs  of  letters  from  each  extremity  of  the 
alphabet ;  perhaps,  thereby  constituting  them  male  and  female, 
and  thus  making  them  types  of  so  many  .ZEons.  All  this 
suggests  a  rational  question,  whether  the  primary  appli 
cation  of  the  name  "  Logos  "  to  the  Divine  Emanation,  was 
not  at  first  a  mere  interpretation  of  the  Kabbinical  Synonym 
"  Name,  or  Word,"  the  respectful  substitute  for  the  ineffable 
Name  Jehovah,  the  Sliem  Hale,  Kodesh;  and  that  later,  the 
secondary  meaning  of  Logos,  "  Reason "  suggested  to  the 
Platonising  Jews  of  Alexandria  its  analogy  to  their  own  Sophia- 
Achamoth,  the  first-born  of  the  Supreme  Cause.  And  finally, 
the  composition  of  this  Holy  Name,  extending  to  thirty  letters, 
illustrates  the  purport  of  that  interminable  polysyllabic  title 
which  runs  either  in  one  unbroken  circle,  or  sometimes  in  the 
outline  of  an  erect  serpent,  around  the  margin  of  so  many 
Gnostic  gems,  and  circumscribes  the  mystic  device  engraved  in 
the  centre.  In  the  latter  arrangement  of  the  inscription,  one  is 
tempted  to  recognise  that  "  Good  and  Perfect  Serpent  "  of  the 

*  Similarly  in  the  Kabbalistic  dia-  the  union  of  the  whole  body.     The 

gram  of  the  Sephiroth,  the  Crown  is  Venus  Anadyomene   so  often    seen 

the  head;  Wisdom,  the   brain;    In-  on     our     talismans     was     probably 

telligence,  the  heart ;  Love,  the  right  adopted    by    the    Gnostics    in    this 

arm;  Gentleness,  the  left  arm;  Beauty,  spiritualised    sense;     and     thereby 

the  chest;  Firmness,  the  right  leg;  still     continues     to     personify i    the 

Splendour,  the  left  leg  ;  Foundation,  virtue,  Truth. 
the  genitals  ;  Kingdom,  or  Shckiiiah, 


Naaseni  —  that  Messias  whose  visible  type  in  the  heavens  their 
eyes,  sharpened  by  faith,  discovered  and  adored  in  the  Constel 
lation  Draco. 

To  come  now  to  the  actual  remains  of  Gnostic  manufacture, 
which  preserve  to  us  formula  of  the  nature  just  considered,  the 
most  important,  to  judge  from  its  frequent  occurrence,  and  the 
evident  care  bestowed  upon  its  engraving,  is  the  one  here 
transcribed.  My  copy  is  taken  from  an  example  formerly  in 
the  State  collection,  probaby  the  finest  talisman  known.  It 
is  a  thick  plaque,  somewhat  heart-shaped,  of  dark  garnet,  2*  X  1  J 
inches  in  its  greatest  dimensions,  bearing  on  the  one  side  14 
lines,  on  the  other  11,  neatly  cut  in  the  Greek  character  in  the 
third  century  but  making  no  distinction  between  the  A  and 
the  A. 

Obverse.  Reverse. 





rr6NBAAc|>APANrHC  €(jJA6YU)€YH 






€00  U) 

Amongst  the  titles  on  the  obverse  several  familiar  names  may 
be  detected,  such  as  Alon,  Sliemesli  Eilam,  Abrasax.  The  long 
style  filling  the  fourth  line  is  clearly  the  correct  spelling  of  the 
abbreviated  Agrammaeamereg  addressed  in  another  part  of  the 
"  Prayers  of  the  Saviour,"  as  the  first  of  the  "  Invisible  Gods." 
The  next  line  Shemgensalpharanges,  "  they  who  stand  before 
the  mount  of  Paradise,"  can  be  no  other  than  the  ^Eons  just 
described  by  Marcus  as  the  "  Angels  who  always  behold  the 
Father's  face  "  :  whilst  in  this  Jewish  hierarchy  of  heaven  the 
old  god  of  Egypt,  Anubis,  oddly  intrudes  himself  under  his 
Coptic  title  of  Ambo. 

*  Probably  meant  aAe^ere  ^ue  "  Defend  me  !  "  —  of  exactly  similar  sound 
in  the  spoken  language. 



Both  inscriptions  agree  literally  with  those  upon  the  large 
oval  calcedony  figured  by  Chiflet  (fig.  69)  except  the  addition 
in  the  letter  of  a  few  words  inclosed  within  a  coiled  serpent 
placed  at  the  top  of  the  obverse.  Out  of  these  inscriptions  his 
friend  Wendelin,  by  taking  the  language  as  good  Greek,  had 
contrived  to  elicit  a  most  orthodox  invocation  to  the  Trinity, 
which  however  was  evidently  far  from  satisfactory  to  the 
sceptical  and  more  sagacious  Canon.  Amongst  the  Townley 
gems  is  a  large  sard,  agreeing  in  all  except  a  few  letters 
with  Chiflet's  specimen  —  convincing  attestation  to  the  supposed 
virtue  of  the  formula.  For  the  purpose  of  comparison  I  insert 
another,  lately  discovered,  engraved  on  a  much  more  minute 
scale  than  any  of  the  preceding  (Whelan's  copy). 


TRY€  IA(x)P€OHAct>ON 

#  #  A€OAIHTOC 










.  .  .  PAB6T6MAI  .  .  .  IHHCi)U)U)YH 

Dark  red  agate,  1  X  £  in.  :  scut  me  by  Mr.  Whelan,  Nov.  25,  1881. 

Doubtless  such  immense  and  overcharged  pieces  of  mystery 
served  in  their  time  the  purpose  of  pocket  prayer  books,  out  of 
which  the  owner  recited  the  due  invocations  at  the  sacred  rites. 
To  some  such  manual  of  devotion,  the  pseudo-Orpheus  possibly 
alludes  by 

"  Prny,  with  the  flowered  Pet  races  in  thy  hand, 
When  hecatombs  before  the  altar  stand." 

The  Orientalist  desirous  of  exercising  his  ingenuity  upon 
the  decyphering  of  these,  for  the  most  part  unexplained  monu 
ments  will  find  an  immense  collection  of  them  in  Raspe  (Nos. 
433-633)  copied  with  scrupulous  accuracy.  The  reason  he  thero 
gives  for  the  attention  he  has  paid  to  a  class  previously  so 


neglected  is  a  very  sound  one.  "  All  these  sects  have  evidently 
borrowed  their  symbols,  and  probably  also  their  respective 
explanations,  from  the  iconology  and  mysteries  of  the  Egyptians 
and  other  nations  of  the  East.  If  as  regards  the  meaning  of 
hieroglyphics  and  symbols  they  had  no  better  information,  the 
'Gnostics  of  Egypt  and  Syria  had  at  least  national  tradition 
to  depend  upon — a  point  assuredly  of  some  weight.  If 
therefore  the  more  recent  sects  of  Gnostics  with  their  sym 
bolical  learning  have  established  new  opinions  and  fresh  modifi 
cations  of  religion  upon  the  basis  of  the  old,  we  are  not  there 
fore  to  conclude  that  they  knew  nothing  about,  and  wantonly 
gave  a  new  meaning  to,  the  symbols  which  they  thus  mis 
applied.  This  is  the  only  rational  point  of  view  in  which  these 
amulets  and  engravings  ought  to  be  studied." 

Easpe's  collection  I  shall  now  proceed  to  supplement  by 
copies  of  several  unpublished  examples — the  most  interesting  that 
have  come  under  my  notice  in  a  long  course  of  study,  and  such 
as  servo  best  to  illustrate  the  theories  proposed  in  the  foregoing 
pages.  And  to  show  the  curious  and  puzzling  nature  of  the 
whole  class,  they  often  present  the  critical  examiner  with  signs 
and  siglee,  now  supposed  the  exclusive  property  of  national 
religions,  the  most  diverse  from  one  another,  as  they  were 
remote  from  the  recognised  metropolis  of  Gnosticism.  Inter 
mingled  with  the  regular  Greek  characters  appear  strange 
signs  analogous  in  form,  often  identical  with,  the  Caste-marks 
of  the  Hindoos,  and  which  in  their  turn  became  the  parents  of 
those  used  by  the  media) val  alchemists  and  Eosicrucians,  and 
(during  the  same  ages)  of  the  true  professors  of  Masonry.  The 
consideration  of  these  Sigla,  of  which  I  have  collected  a  lar^e 
series  belonging  to  all  ages  and  countries,  has  proved  sufficiently 
fruitful  to  supply  muter ials  for  a  separate  and  important  sub 
division  of  this  Treatise.  One  example,  described  under  "  talis 
mans  and  amulets,"  presents  unmistakeable  evidence  of  the  use 
of  Runes  in  the  Alexandrine  studio,  whilst  another,  shortly  to 
be  noticed,  demonstrates  that  the  Gnosis  may  dispute  with 
Hibernia  her  supposed  peculiar  invention  of  the  mysterious 

A    tablet   of  aquamarine   (?)   communicated    to   me   by  the 

u  2 


Kev.  Grevillo  Chester,  bears   the   inscriptions   in  well-formed 
characters  — 


.  .  .  IGPKP  .... 


.    .  AAXAMXABPAC    .    . 

.    .  HTAAOJNAICA    .    . 






A  string  of  titles  ending  with  "  Lord  of  hosts  !  defend  me. 







Sapphirine  calcedony,  the  size  of  a  pigeon's  egg.—  (Forman 

The  concluding  word  <£v'Aa£ov,  "  Do  thou  protect,"  clearly 
evinces  that  this  elegantly  engraved  invocation  was  ad 
dressed  to  some  one  deity  rejoicing  in  many  titles,  and  styled 
"  propitious  "  by  its  opening  iXew. 






A  very  thick  stone  of  sapphirine  calcedony.  This  is  purely 
Jewish,  perhaps  the  ware  of  some  "  Magna  sacerdos  arboris  " 
sold  to  the  Roman  ladies,  for  it  puts  the  buyer  under  the 


protection  of  the  Archangels  "  Michael,  Gabriel,  Raphael,  who 
stand  before  the  Mount  of  Paradise  of  Jehovah." 

A  remarkable  exemplification  of  the  mixture  of  two  opposing 
creeds  is  found  in  the  OPGOPIOYO,  "Light  of  lights,'' 
accompanying  the  figure  of  a  globose  vase  with  bands  hanging 
from  the  neck.  This  is  evidently  "  the  small  golden  vessel 
shaped  like  a  cow's  udder,  containing  the  libations  of  milk " 
mentioned  by  Apuleius  as  carried  in  the  Isiac  procession  by  the 
same  official  who  bore  aloft  the  Hand  of  Justice.  The  gridiron- 
like  object  often  laid  upon  it,  is  the  regular  Egyptian  door-key, 
made  of  wood.  In  one  example  figured  by  Matter  (PL  vi.  6), 
the  key  is  shown  of  the  regular  Roman  form  in  the  same 
position,  which  places  the  meaning  of  the  more  usual  figure 
entirely  out  of  doubt.  This  shows  the  reason  for  KXetSoO^os, 
"  the  keybearer,"  being  a  priestly  title. 

Other  types  purely  Egyptian,  offer  some  curious  improve 
ments  upon  the  old  "  qualia  demens  ^Egyptus  portenta  colat." 
For  example,  one  (Praun)  exhibits  Anubis,  but  now  equipped, 
with  two  heads  and  four  hands  holding  torches  and  daggers ; 
styled  on  the  reverse  HEPA-AMBO-YBAKA-KZIK-YK.  In 
another  (Nelthropp)  the  Cat-headed  goddess,  Taf-Neith  stands 
lotus-crowned,  and  is  addressed  as  KVXBA-KYXBA*-KAXYA- 
BAZAKAX-KX.  Again  Anubis  with  the  superadded  heads 
of  Pan  (Mendes}  and  a  cock  (Phre),  with  arms  outstretched 
in  the  form  of  a  cross;  his  body  supported  upon  the  legs 
of  an  ibis,  has  over  the  heads  respectively  written  the 
initials  0,  l~l,  X.  On  the  reverse  AIHB-U)ncX— CVNO— 
XPA.  But  the  most  curious  composition  of  this  nature 
known  to  me  is  presented  by  a  large  elliptical  mottled  jasper, 
measuring  1^+J  inch,  very  boldly  cut,  and  better  drawn 
than  usual — apparently  a  Solar  talisman  (Mr.  Topham,  Eome). 
The  obverse  shows  a  gryllas  in  the  outline  of  a  cock  having  the 
head  of  Pan,  scorpions  for  tail-feathers,  and  the  whip  of  Sol 
stuck  in  his  rump  to  complete  that  appendage,  standing  upon 
a  serpent — overhead  are  the  sun-star  and  crescent,  on  his 
back  rests  a  tailed  globe  (a  comet  ?)  in  front  A,  in  the  field 
below  the  astral  siglce.  On  the  reverse,  or  (73?)  over 
*  Chaldee,  "  The  Star,  the  Star." 


the  Agathodaemon  serpent  uncoiled,  and  crawling,  a  star  and  A. 
Below  the  serpent,  EAODT  HIHCx),  the  letters  inverted,  then 
another  line  HIVOMCOI.  Below  this  again  the  triple  S 
on  the  bar  that  always  accompanies  the  Agathodaimon, 
IAHIEOJ-IEOVGOH,  reading  thus  in  the  impression.  In  the 
last  word  "  the  Great  leou " — special  title  of  the  Supreme 
Being  in  the  Pistis-Sophia  may  easily  be  detected ;  whilst  the 
triple-headed  deity  previously  described,  very  probably  expresses 
the  conception  of  those  mighty  TptSwa/xeis  $eoi,  who  play  so 
important  a  part  in  the  theology  of  the  same  book  of  wonder. 

The  following  examples  are  the  more  genuine  offspring  of  the 
Kabbala,  consisting  of  letters  alone,  uncontaminated  by  the 
presence  of  the  idols  of  Misraim.  First  for  beauty  of  material 
and  engraving  stands  a  large  citrine  (occidental  topaz)  formerly 
in  the  Praun  cabinet,  now  in  the  Gnostic  Series,  British  Museum. 

On  one  side  is  an  oval  enclosing  HI  (perhaps  denoting  the 
Ogdoad  and  Decad,  the  base  of  Marcus'  scheme  ;  see  Hep.  vi.  52)  ; 
an  eye,  emblem  of  Osiris,  a  square  bisected,  and  A,  which 
hist  letter  may  also  numerically  represent  the  Tetrad  of  the 
same  Doctor. 

The  other  face  of  the  gem  presents, 








The  next  is  a  legend  which,  with  trivial  variations,  frequently 
occurs.  Cay lus  (VI.  PL  11)  gives  it  very  rudely  added,  upon 
the  reverse  of  a  female  portrait.  The  present  copy  is  from  a 
large  calccdony,  somewhat  coarsely  executed,  having  011  its 
other  face  the  triple  S  and  bar  (Praun) — 


A  B  PA  MM  AGO©  H 

The  Hebrew  Patriarch,  figures  in  this  legend,  and  in  many 
more  of  the  same  kind,  as  the  divinely  inspired  founder  of  a 


Gnosis,  a  reputation  he  enjoyed  even  amongst  the  heathen,  who 
put  him  in  the  same  category  with  Orpheus,  first  iiistitutor  of 
Mysteries.  "  Sov.  Alexander  in  larario  suo  —  omnes  sanctiores 
in  quibus  Apollonium,  et  (quantum  scriptor  horum  temporum 
dicit)  Christum,  Abrnham,  et  Orpheum,  et  ejusmodi  caiteros 
habebat."  (Lampridius  29.) 

To  the  same  family  belongs  a  yellow  jasper  (Maskelyne)  dis 
playing  a  perforated  quatrefoil  over  the  name  lACx),  then  the 
mystic  vowels  AEIHOYGOAI,  then  TABACx)0  («/c)  and  on  reverse 
#  MIXAHA#.  The  quatrefoil  is  originally  the  symbol  of  Sitala, 
the  Tenth  Trithakoor,  or  deified  Jaina  saint  ;  whence  it  found  its 
way  along  with  the  other  Buddhistic  machinery,  into  Mediaeval 
symbolism,  in  which  it  resembles  an  angel.* 

Very  remarkable  on  account  of  its  adjuncts,  is  a  green  jasper 
(Traun)  bearing  a  long  neatly-cut  legend,  the  central  portion  of 
which  is  circumscribed  by  two  lines,  cut  by  short  strokes  at 
different  angles,  exactly  after  the  fashion  of  the  Irish  Oghams. 
In  the  latter,  as  is  well  known,  all  the  letters  of  the  liomaii 
alphabet  are  represented  by  the  different  positions  of  very  short 
lines  in  relation  to  one  continuous  line  in  the  middle  ;  and  it  is 
impossible  to  imagine  any  other  purpose  subserved  by  the 
similar  contrivance  on  our  talisman.  The  Ogham  is  supposed  to 
be  an  invention  of  the  first  missionaries  to  Ireland,  it  was  used 
as  late  as  the  Civil  War  by  Lord  Glamorgan  in  his  correspond 
ence  with  Charles  I.  It  is,  however,  very  possible  that  the 
monks  carried  this  simple  stenography  from  liome  to  their 
Celtic  mission.  f 


KPHc|>O  XOYBY... 






*  One    of    the    heaviest    charges  characters  that  came  to  their  kuow- 

against  the  mediaeval   Manichseans  ledge.   Even  the  Ruiric  of  the  farthest 

was  the  adoration  of  an  Octagon,  as  north  added  its  virtue  to  the  Praun 

the  figure  of  God.  hepatic  amulet  to  be  fully  noticed  in 

f  The   talisman-makers    loved   to  its  proper  section. 
press  into  their  service  all  the  strange 


A  minute  figure  of  Abraxas,  green  jasper  (Praun)  takes  a  new 
title  "  Abrachars "  in  the  invocation  ABPAXAPC-AfPAWA— 

Thoth's  caduceus  within  a  wreath,  is  accompanied  by  the 
legend  on  the  reverse  AKPICO<l>r  on  a  brown  calcedony  in  my 

Of  all  Agathodsemon  talismans,  no  more  elegant  specimen 
has  come  to  my  knowledge  than  a  large  emerald-like  plasma 
(Bosanquet)  displaying  the  serpent  "the  Good  and  Perfect 
One  "  erect  above  his  invariable  concomitant  sigla,  and  whom 
the  reverse  propitiates  by  the  beautifully  cut  address  OCOP- 
True  green  jade,  very  convex  on  back  (Rev.  S.  S.  Lewis.)  In 
the  field,  each  side  of  serpent  ICi)|^  .  --  101.  "  With  me,  with 
me  !  "  in  pure  Chaldee.  Reverse  in  two  lines,  round  the  usual 



All  cut  with  unusual  precision  and  neatness  of  work.  The 
legend  has  many  words  in  common  with  Mr.  Bosanquet's 

Jerome's  "Pater  Bromius  "  of  the  Mithraic  Cave  has  pro 
bably  some  share  in  the  title  "  Sabbaoth,"  so  often  coupled  with 
"  Adonai,"  for  Bacchus  rejoiced  in  the  epithet  "  Sabazius," 
derived  from  the  shout  "  Sabbaoi  "  raised  by  the  celebrants  of 
his  Orgies— a  word  identical  with  the  Hebrew  "  Sabi  "  glory  ! 
Certain  sectaries  of  our  own  day  who  bellow  out  the  same  word 
at  their  "  Revivals,"  are  little  aware  what  an  ancient  and 
congenial  authority  they  have  for  their  vociferation. 

"  Adonai,"  our  Lord,  is  converted  by  the  Greek  into  Adoneus, 
a  synonym  for  Pluto,  and  Orpheus,  as  already  quoted,  points 
out  the  identity  of  Bacchus,  Pluto,  and  Sol.  This  is  the  founda 
tion  for  the  ancient  exposition  of  the  Syrian  rite,  the  Mourning 
for  Adonis  ("  The  women  weeping  for  Tharnmuz ")  as  really 
applying  to  the  sun's  loss  of  power  at  the  winter  quarter. 
Adoneus  or  Aidoneus,  becoming  interpreted  according  to  Greek 
etymology,  was  supposed  to  signify  him  "  that  walketh  unseen," 
whence  spring  the  "helmet  of  Adoneus,"  that  rendered  the 


wearer  invisible ;  and   Catullus's  application  of  tho  title  to  the 
intrigue-loving  Caesar. 

"  Perambulabit  omnium  cubilia 
Ut  albulas  columbas  aut  Adoneus." 

The  same  Adonis  had  the  name  "  Sal-Anbo  "  (which  often 
occurs  in  Gnostic  legends)  as  appears  from  tho  statement  in 
Lampridius,  "  that  Heliogabalus  exhibited  Salanbo  with  all  the 
lamentation  and  tossing  of  head  proper  to  tho  Syrian  ceremony,'' 
— whereby  ho  gave  the  omen  of  his  own  impending  fate. 

The  Delphic  E  has  already  been  noticed — but  its  importance 
demands  further  particulars  of  its  history,  which  have  been 
preserved  by  Plutarch  in  his  curious  treatise  upon  the  subject. 
The  Greeks  with  their  usual  fondness  for  explaining  all 
mysteries  rationistically,  considered  the  letter  as  the  simple 
numeral,  Five,  set  up  in  the  Temple  to  denote  the  original  and 
proper  number  of  the  far-famed  "  Wise  Men ; "  but  which  in 
later  times  had  been  raised  to  seven,  by  the  addition  of  two 
more  who  had  small  claims  to  the  honour.  The  legend  went 
that  these  Five  Wise  Men,  to  commemorate  the  accidental  meeting 
of  them  all  in  Delphi  at  the  same  festival,  had  dedicated  the 
numeral  carved  in  wood,  which,  decaying  through  age,  tho 
Corinthians  replaced  by  a  facsimile  in  bronze ;  which  last  was 
finally  transmuted  by  Livia  Augusta  into  another  of  gold,  as 
more  consistent  with  the  dignity  of  the  god  of  the  place,  whose 
son  her  husband  claimed  to  be,  and  whose  received  image  ho 
represented  in  his  features. 

Others,  more  profoundly,  interpreted  the  letter  as  represent 
ing  by  its  proper  sound  in  the  Greek  alphabet  tho  declaration 
E!,  "  Thou  art "  as  addressed  to  the  Godhead — thus  making 
it  equivalent  to  the  title  6  oil/,  "  the  living  God,"  so  frequently 
given  to  Jehovah. 

But  it  is  much  more  consistent  with  the  simplicity  of  antique 
times,  to  understand'the  figure  as  merely  standing  for  the  number 
Five,  a  number  sacred  for  itself,  not  for  its  reference  to  the  fabled 
sages  of  a  later  period.  The  idea  of  its  virtue  may  have  come 
from  an  Indian  source,  where  it  is  the  cause  of  the  five-headed 
shape  assigned  to  Brahma.  From  India  it  would  find  its  way  to 


Delphi  in  company  with  the  Gorgon-heads,  themselves  masks 
of  Bhavana  the  Destroyer,  which  guarded  the  actual  oracle — a 
singular  connexion,  noticed  by  Euripides  in  his  '  Ion.'  But  it 
should  be  remembered  that  the  Hyperboreans,  reputed  founders 
of  the  Oracle,  were  placed  between  the  Caspian  and  the  frontiers 
of  India.  The  Omphalos  itself  "  shaded  with  garlands,  and  en 
compassed  with  Gorgoiis  "  was  no  other  than  the  Brahminical 
Lingam,  as  its  figure  demonstrates,  whether  as  repictured  in 
the  early  vase  paintings  when  embraced  by  Orestes  seeking 
sanctuary  there  from  the  pursuing  Eumenides,  or  with  Apollo 
seated  thereon,  stamped  on  the  money  of  the  Seleucidae — direct 
descendants  of  the  god.  In  form  reduced  to  an  obtuse  cone,  the 
emblem  had  nothing  obscene  in  appearance,  its  hidden  meaning 
being  a  matter  of  revelation  to  the  initiated  few.  The  same 
conically-shaped  stone  was  the  sole  representative  of  Venus 
in  her  most  ancient  temples — Paphos  for  example.  Again  that 
earliest  of  all  statues  of  Apollo,  the  Ainycla3an,  described  by 
Pausanias,  was  a  veritable  Hindoo  Lat — a  bronze  column  50 
cubits  high,  to  which  later  art  had  added  a  head,  hands  holding 
bow  and  spear,  and  toes  (d/cpot  TroSes).  But  his  throne,  in  the 
middle  of  which  the  idol  stood  erect,  was  an  after-thought  of 
the  best  times  of  Greece,  covered  with  elaborate  figures  and 
reliefs,  the  work  of  Bathyeles,  or  of  Myron,  with  his  scholars. 

And  in  truth  this  very  lunar-shaped  6  seems  to  belong  to  the 
same  class  of  Indian  importations,  and  to  have  been  originally 
a  mere  Caste-mark — indeed,  if  placed  horizontally  u>,  it  becomes 
ut  once  the  badge  of  the  sectaries  of  Vishnu.  What  strongly 
confirms  this  explanation  is  the  fact,  that  this  symbol  had  been 
consecrated  at  Delphi  many  centuries  before  that  shape  of  the 
letter  came  into  the  Greek  alphabet — a  change  only  dating  from 
the  age  of  Antony  and  Cleopatra,  upon  whose  medals,  struck  in 
Asia  Minor,  the  lunar-shaped  6  is  first  observable. 

In  the  earliest  dawn  of  Grecian  philosophy  we  find  Pytha 
goras*  bull  i  ing  his  whole  system  upon  the  mystic  properties  of 

*  Who  is  constantly  affirmed  to  manas,    eoruni    ergo    Brackmamim 

have  visited  India,  Apuleius  stating  Gymnosophistas      adiisse."  —  ('  Flo- 

of  him,  '•  Sed  nee  his  artibus  anirni  rida.') 
expletum  mox  Chuldseas,  inde  Brach- 


Numbers,  and  declared  by  tradition  to  have  been  taught  the 
science  in  Egypt ;  nay  more,  Plato  himself  has  penned  in  his 
Republic  a  certain  section  in  the  same  line,  worthy  of  any 
Alexandrian  Kabbalist.  In  our  own  day,  with  the  Sikhs  to  hold 
a  "  Punch,"  or  council  of  Five,  was  the  formal  mode  of  delibera 
ting  upon  all  matters  of  State.  And  inasmuch  as  the  most 
serious  things  have  a  ludicrous  side,  this  sacred  Numeral  only 
preserves  its  reputation  amongst  ourselves  from  haying  given 
the  name  to  the  well-known  beverage,  by  reason  of  the  five 
ingredients  that  go  to  its  concoction— perhaps  too,  because  its 
brewing  was  the  inevitable  result  of  the  coming  together  of 
the  same  number  of  Englishmen  in  the  times  when  our  language 
was  enriched  by  so  many  loans  from  the  Bindostanee.* 

A  remarkable  feature  in  the  theogony  of  A^alentinus  is 
curiously  illustrated  by  a  Praun  Calcedony,  elegantly  engraved, 
and  mounted  in  a  gold  frame  by  some  later  Oriental  owner, 
who  justly  deemed  the  gem  a  talisman  of  uncommon  power. 
"  The  Father  at  last  sent  forth  a  mighty  /Eon,  called  the  Cross, 
and  who  contained  within  himself  all  the  other  thirty  /Eons. 
The  same  was  likewise  denominated  Terminus,  inasmuch  as  lie 
served  for  Boundary  between  the  Fulness  (Pleroma)  and  the 
Deficiency  (Hysteroma)"  Our  gem  presents  the  Egyptian  Tan, 
as  a  Deus  Terminus,  topped  with  a  human  head,  and  surrounded 
by  a  continuous  legend  composed  of  vowels  interspersed  with 
rare  consonants;  probably  expressing  the  thirty  /Eons  con 
tained  within  the  sigil's  self.  On  the  base  of  the  Terminus 
is  the  legend  NIXAPOriAHC,  often  occurring  on  talismans. 
The  same  words  are  found  at  the  foot  of  a  cruciform  trophy, 
above  which  is  the  Christian  X  upon  a  stone  in  the  French 
Cabinet  (No.  2222)  also  followed  by  IU)A  upon  the  back  of  a 
gem  (silex)  published  in  the  '  Gottingische  Anzeiger,'  Nos.  35  a,  I, 
which  clearly  emanates  from  Mithraic  notions,  for  it  represents 
the  usual  lion-headed,  serpent-girt  man,  a  torch  in  one  hand,  in 
the  other  a  sword,  serpent,  and  crown  of  victory,  soaring  aloft 
from  the  back  of  a  lion,  under  which  lies  a  prostrate  corpse. 

*  For  example  caste  and  dam.  The       which   ignorance   softens  into  curse. 
latter  is  the  probable  source  of  the       Similarly  used  is  rap,  the  smallest  of 
common  English  expression  that  em-       the  Swiss  money, 
phasises  the  small  value  of  a  thing, 


A  very  curious  instance  of  the  employment  of  Gnostic  figures 
in  the  art  of  Medicine  is  offered  by  the  stone  which  Matter  has 
published  (PL  II.,  C.  4).  The  obverse  displays  the  Agatho- 
dsemon  serpent  placed  between  Phre  (Sol)  and  a  female  in  the 
act  of  adoration.  Overhead  are  the  mystic  Vowels ;  below  the 
undershaped  vase,  already  noticed,  placed  upon  a  low  altar, 
the  whole  encompassed  by  a  legend  in  some  unknown  tongue. 
But  the  other  side  explains  in  lucid  Greek  the  object  of  the 
composition.  TACCON  THN  MHTPAN  THC  A6INA  61C  TON 
IAION  TOnONOTON  KYKAON  TOY  HAIOY,  "Place  the  womb 
of  such  or  such  a  one  into  its  proper  region,  O,  the  circle  of  the 
sun."  Matter,  in  his  explanation,  has  fallen  into  a  ludicrous 
mistake,  by  interpreting  ^rpav  as  ^repa  he  converts  the 
words  into  a  prayer  for  the  soul  of  the  mother  of  a  certain 
Dina !  But  the  real  translation  shows  that  the  gem  was  made 
for  any  purchaser,  to  be  worn  as  a  preservative  against  the 
"  prolapsus  uteri,"  a  female  complaint  very  common  in  ancient 
times,  owing  to  the  abuse  of  the  hot  bath,  so  relaxing  to  the 
internal  muscles,  and  also  to  the  general  employment  of 
"  abortiva,"  whenever  thought  desirable.  In  fact  the  very 
definite  expression  of  the  object,  MHPIKON,  uterine,  is  found 
on  other  gems,  and  places  the  correctness  of  the  attribution  of 
the  former  one  quite  out  of  doubt. 

The  "  circle  of  the  sun  "  means  the  navel,  which  marks  the 
natural  position  of  the  organ  concerned,  for  the  navel  in  the 
microcosm  was  supposed  to  concide  with  the  sun  in  the  universe. 
This  idea  produced  the  far-famed  hallucination  of  the  Byzantine 
anchorites,  respecting  the  mystical  Light  of  Tabor,  which  shone 
upon  the  devotee  in  virtue  of  long-continued  fasting,  and 
unintermitted  fixing  of  the  eyes  upon  the  region  of  the  navel, 
whence  at  length  it  streamed  forth,  as  from  a  focus,  the  "  truo 
creation  of  an  empty  brain  and  an  empty  stomach."* 

*  A    neatly  engraved  ring-stone,  names  can  be   deciphered  on  these 

hfematite,    lately   communicated    to  talismans  they  are  always  those  of 

me,  has  a  line   of   several  of    the  women.     A    Praun    gem,    similarly 

common  siglae,  followed  by  two  more  opening  with  a  line  of  siglae  and  the 

containing    IA(x>    A  PI  HA    BIKTO-  names  lao  and  Gabriel,  was  made 

PIN  A,  "  Jehovah,  Lion  of  God  (pro-  for  a  certain  Sabinia  Quinta. 
tect)    Victorina!"      When    proper 


Another  circumstance  bearing  upon  this  employment  of  the 
sigil  is  that  Isis,  the  peculiar  goddess  of  maternity,  is  often 
figured  in  Eoman  sculpture,  holding  up  in  her  hand  a  conical 
object,  pouch  shaped,  exhibiting  a  triangular  orifice.  This 
object  some  have  taken  for  the  Persia  plum;  much  more 
probably  does  it  represent  the  organ  in  question,  the  most 
natural  and  expressive  symbol  of  that  divinity's  peculiar 
function.  In  her  mystic  coffer  were  carried  the  distinctive 
marks  of  both  sexes,  the  lingam  and  yoni  of  the  Hindoos.  Their 
Isis,  Parvati,  who  in  this  character  takes  the  name  of  Deva 
"  the  goddess  "  pre-eminently,  bears  in  her  hand  for  distinctive 
badge  the  yoni,  or  bhaga,  often  a  precious  stone  carved  into 
that  shape.  Similarly  her  consort,  Siva,  carries  the  lingan  or 
phallus.  For  example,  the  Nizam's  diamond,  the  largest  stone 
of  its  kind  known  certainly  to  exist,  exhibits  evident  traces  of 
the  native  lapidary's  clumsy  endeavours  to  reduce  the  native 
crystal  to  the  proper  shape  for  the  hand  of  the  great  goddess. 
Ugly  omen  to  happen  under  a  female  reign,  this  diamond  was 
accidentally  broken  in  two  just  before  the  outbreak  of  the  Sepoy 
re  volt. 

Deva's  Mark,  as  borne  upon  their  foreheads  by  Parvati's 
sectaries,  is  formed  by  three  strokes,  the  two  outside  white  or 
yellow,  the  centre  always  red.  It  is  interpreted  as  represent 
ing  the  womb,  methra,  of  Bhavani  (another  of  Parvati's  names) 
out  of  which  proceeded  all  that  exists.  The  close  relationship 
between  the  Egyptian  and  Hindoo  goddesses  cannot  fail  to 
strike  the  observer  ;  Isis  carries  the  very  same  attributes  with 
Parvati — the  kid  and  cobras — upon  the  talisman — published  by 
Caylus  (IV.,  PI.  16).  But  the  Egyptian  goddess,  having  but 
one  pair  of  hands,  is  forced  to  clasp  in  each  the  several  attributes 
borne  singly  by  her  many-handed  Indian  prototype. 

A  singular  union  of  two  contrary  deities  in  one  body,  is 
presented  by  a  hematite  (Praun),  representing  Anubis,  who, 
besides  his  proper  jackal's  head,  is  equipped  with  another, 
nianed  on  the  neck,  and  unmistakably  that  of  an  ass;  as 
Typhon,*  the  evil  one,  was  depicted ;  moreover,  one  of  the  feet, 

*  The  ass  was  sacred  to  Typhon.  Egyptian  legend  that  this  deity  fled 
Plutarch  (De  Iside,  31)  quotes  an  from  the  "  Battle  of  the  Gods  '  upon 



too,  of  the  figure  is  clearly  hoofed,  so  as  to  leave  no  doubt  as  to 
the  ownership  of  the  second  head.  The  same  discordance  of 
characters  is  still  further  set  forth  by  what  he  bears  in  his 
hands,  the  two  of  Anubis  holding  up  torches,  the  two  of  the 
malignant  Typhon,  swords.  This  odd  combination  probably 
expressed  the  same  idea  as  did  the  Anubis  seen  by  Apuleius, 
who  exhibited  at  one  time  a  face  black  as  the  night,  at  another 
golden  as  the  day,  in  order  to  express  his  functions  exercised 
both  in  heaven  and  in  hell.  The  reverse  bears  an  inscription 
containing  the  Coptic  name  of  the  god,  HE  PA— AM  BOO— YBAIA— 

the  back  of  an  ass  for  over  sevun 
days'  space  without  stopping,  until 
he  came  into  Judrca,  where  he  begat 
two  sons,  Ilierosolymus  aiid  Pala)s- 

tinus.  Sir  G.  Wilkinson  has  met 
(although  but  rarely)  with  the  figure 
of  an  ass-headed  deity,  or  demon,  in 
Egyptian  sculptures. 



TQI    NIKQNTI    AQZn    AYTdl    cJ>Al~EIN 
AOin    AYTQ    YHcUON    AEYKHN    KAI    EHI 
O    OYAEIS    EfNQ    El    MH    O    AAMBANQN. 



THE  inscriptions  in  Greek  characters  upon   Gnostic  talismans 
are  frequently  interspersed  with  mystic  figures,  formed  out  of 
straight  lines  set  at  right  angles  to  each  other,  and  intermingled 
with  dots.     These  lines  Bellermann  plausibly  enough  supposes 
to   represent   the    "sacred   lots,"    of  the   same   nature   as   the 
celebrated  sortes  Antiates,  held  in  the  hands  of  the  much-con 
sulted  Fortuna  of  Antium.     In  their  usual  form  these  lots  were 
only  little  sticks  and  balls,  taken  up  by  the  handful  from  an  urn, 
and  thrown  at  random  on  the  ground.     The  diviner  examined 
the  patterns  thus  produced  by  their  casual  collocation,   and 
predicted  the  future  from  them  according  to  the  rules  of  his 
art.     Bellermann  goes  on  to  suppose  that  the  figures  on  our 
talismans  represent  certain  configurations  of  the  lots,  regarded  as 
peculiarly  lucky  to  the  consulter.    This  explanation  is  supported 
by  the  Geomancy  of  the  modern  Arabs,*  where  lines  drawn  at 
haphazard  on  the  sand  by  a  stick  held  between  the  fingers  are 
interpreted  by  persons  professing  that  method  of  divination. 
Our  own  divination,  by  means   of  tea-grounds,  is   carried  on 
upon  the  same  principle,  the  fortuitous  arrangement  of  the 

*  "  Each   tribe    either    found    or  of  Hebal,  of  red  agate,  holding  in  his 

introduced  in   the   Caaba   their  do-  hand  seven  arrows,  without  heads  or 

mestic    worship;    the    temple    was  feathers,  the  instruments  and  symbols 

adorned  or  defiled  with  360  idols  of  of   profane    divination."—   Gibbon, 

men,   eagles,    lions,    and  antelopes;  chap.  42.) 
and  most  conspicuous  was  the  statue 


particles  producing  to  the  experienced  eye  definite  pictures  and 
letters  of  the  alphabet. 

These  Siglse,  however,  may  possibly  have  had  another  origin. 
The  regular  badge  of  the  Magus,  as  prescribed  in  the  Yendidad, 
is  a  bundle  of  divining-rods — three,  seven,  or  nine  in  number. 
Hence  the  rebuke  of  Hosea  :  "  My  people  ask  counsel  of  sticks, 
and  their  staff  declareth  it  unto  them."  These  same  divining- 
rods  placed  upon  the  altar  are  commonly  represented  upon  the 
Magian  signets,  bearing  for  official  type  the  Mobed  at  his 
devotions;  and  may  therefore  be  supposed  to  have  passed 
down  to  the  talisman-makers  of  later  times.* 

That  others  amongst  these  angular  forms  are  numerals  is 
certain  from  the  nature  of  the  case,  and  from  Horapollo's 
express  declaration  that  the  Egyptians  represented  10  by  the 
figure  r,  and  100  by  the  same  four  times  repeated  in  the  form  of 
a  square,  thus  £].  Ten  being  the  "  perfect  number  "  of  the  Valen- 
tinian  creed  (whose  fountain-head  was  Alexandria),  its  frequent 
appearance  amongst  the  religious  formulas  of  the  sect  is  naturally 
to  bo  looked  for.  The  primitive  Egyptian  numerals  were  of 
the  simplest  kind,  but  their  abbreviated  combinations  ultimately 
became  distinct  symbols  for  the  different  days  of  the  month, 
and  out  of  these  the  Arab  astrologers  concocted  their  own 
system.  This  circumstance  affords  reason  for  another  solution— 
that  some  of  these  sigla3  indicate  the  particular  days  connected 
with  the  astrological  intention  of  the  talisman,  j 

And  besides  all  these,  there  is  every  probability  that  these 
sigla3  include  actual  cuneiform  letters,  belonging  to  the  Assyrian 
alphabet,  but  their  forms  somewhat  corrupted  by  the  semi- 

*  The  ancient  Teutons  practised  f  Some   of    these   siglse    may  be 

the    same   method   of    divining   fu-  recognised  in  the  inscriptions  in  an 

ture  events.     A  shoot  of  a  fruit  tree  unknown  character,  cut  in  the  hard 

was    cut    into    pieces,    each    being  sandstone  rock,  and  very  numerous 

distinguished     by     certain     marks,  about  Silsilis,  Upper  Nubia,  where 

notis  quibusdam,  probably  meaning  they  accompany  figures  of  elephants, 

"  Eunes."   The  consulter  threw  them  giraffes,  and   ostriches— all  animals 

down  at  random   on   a  white  cloth,  long  since  extinct  in  that  country, 

with  eyes  turned  to  heaven  he  took  Specimens  were  published   by  Gre- 

up  three  separately,  and  interpreted  ville  Chester  in  the  '  Archaeological 

the  response  from  the  inscriptions  Journal'  for  1864,  p.  274. 
upon  them, — (Tacitus.  Germ,  x.) 


Greek  wizard,  who  employed  them  in  ignorance  of  their  true 
nature.  The  Assyrian  language  being  considered  as  late  as 
tho  times  of  lamblichus  peculiarly  grateful  to  the  heavenly 
Powers,  what  more  reasonable  than  that  some  at  least  of  these 
invocations  should  continue  to  be  couched  in  their  original 
cyphers  ?  Be  it  remembered,  the  cuneiform  character  was  the 
national  one  of  the  whole  Persian  empire  down  to  the  Macedonian 
conquest,  and  must  have  been  preserved  in  religious  usages 
long  after  that  event  by  the  Magi.  They,  at  least,  were  a  very 
unlikely  class  to  trouble  themselves  about  the  Greek  alphabet 
or  Greek  literature,  professing,  like  the  Talmudists,  a  pious 
horror  for  both.  This  is  well  exemplified  on  the  restoration  of 
the  native  dynasty  under  the  Sassanians ;  Greek,  employed  for 
four  centuries  by  the  Parthian  line,  is  at  once  expelled  from 
the  coins  by  the  Pehlevi  character,  true  daughter  of  the 
primitive  cuneiform.  There  is  moreover  one  all-sufficient 
reason  for  seeking  the  origin  of  these  inexplicable  siglse  at 
Babylon :  they  constituted  a  religious  stenography.  The 
Babylonians  "  attached  to  each  god  a  certain  numeral,  which  may 
be  used  in  the  place  of  his  proper  emblem,  and  may  even  stand 
for  his  name  in  an  inscription, "  (Eawlinson,  *  Anc.  Monarchies,' 
iii.,  466).  To  give  those  of  the  principal  deities  : 

First  Triad :  Ami  =  60 ;  Bel  =  50 ;  Hoa  =  40. 

Second  Triad  :  Moon  =  30 ;  Sun  =  20 ;  Air  =  10. 

Beltis,  or  Mylitta  =  15  ;  Nergal,  or  Mars  =  12  ;  Xiu,  or  Saturn  =  10. 

Of  the  other  planets  the  numerals  have  not  been  discovered  ;  but 
their  names  are,  Nebo,  Mercury;  Merodach,  Jupiter;  Ishtar, Venus. 
The  great  gods  are  Ann,  Pluto  ;  Bel,  Jupiter ;  Hoa,  Neptune. 
Their  consorts  are,  respectively,  Anat,  Beltis,  Davkana.  The 
minor  gods  are,  Sin,  or  Hurke,  answering  to  the  later  Lunus 
Deus ;  San,  the  Sun ;  Vid,  the  ^Ether.  Their  respective  consorts 
are,  "  The  Great  Lady  ";  Gula,  or  Anahit ;  Tula,  or  Shula.  The 
Pythagoreans  had  a  symbolism  of  the  same  nature,  denoting 
Minerva  by  an  equilateral  triangle,  Apollo  by  unity ;  Strife,  by 
the  numeral  two ;  Justice,  by  three,  and  the  Supreme  Being  by 
four  (Plat.  De  Is.  et  Os.  75).*  I  find  a  very  strong  confirmation 

*  In  the  Egyptian  Ritual  papyrus,       Hermes  by     is  mystic  name  of  the 
Thoth  is  addressed  as  "  the  second       god  A." 

x  2 


of  my  belief  that  the  Gnostic  Powers  were  similarly  designated 
by  their  numerals,  in  Raspe's  gem,  No.  G01,  where  C€Nf€N  is 
inscribed  in  the  exergue  under  a  serpent  coiled  into  a  cartouche 
containing  several  of  the  siglse  under  consideration.  Now  this 
legend  (to  be  explained  farther  on)  is,  when  written  in  full, 
always  followed  by  the  names  of  the  Archangels,  whence  it 
may  justly  be  inferred  the  same  names  are  still  here,  but 
represented  in  their  mystic  form.* 

"  The  Great  Names  "  constitute  the  very  essence  of  every 
Gnostic  spell.  To  begin,  therefore,  with  their  consideration  is 
obviously  the  most  appropriate  and  propitious  mode  of  ap 
proaching  this  part  of  our  work — pandere  res  alta  terra  et 
caligine  mersas.  There  are  three  titles  perpetually  occurring, 
and  consequently  to  be  supposed  denoting  beings  of  the  highest 
importance  in  the  Gnostic  hierarchy  of  heaven.  Their  meaning 
was  unknown  until  the  fortunate  discovery  of  the  grand  Yalen- 
tiriian  gospels.  The  Pistis-Sophia  informed  us  (§  361)  that  they 
are  the  holy  Names  of  the  Three  TpiSura/Aeis,  who  are  lYANTAX- 
AINXEOTX,  a  Power  emanating  from  whom  resides  in  the 
planet  Mars;  BAINXGOCUX,!  in  Mercury;  and  niCTIC  CO<J>IA, 
in  Verms.  Above  this  Triad  is  one  still  higher,  the  "  Three 
Unseen  Gods,"  AT  PA  MM  AX  A  MA  PEP,  BAPBHAU)  (the  Heavenly 
Mother  of  Jesus),  and  BAEAAH  (§  359). 

The  "  Five  Words "  written  upon  the  shining  vesture 
sent  down  to  Jesus  at  His  glorification  (§  16)  were  ZAMA 

*  The  Turks  represent  tlie  Great  ning-swift-footed-one."  This  papy- 

Nanie  AllaU  by  an  oval  crossed  rus,  now  in  the  British  Museum, 

\\itli  intersecting  lines,  which  is  was  bought  of  Atanasi,  Swedish 

often  seen  stamped  on  their  old  Consul  at  Alexandria :  who  sold 

armour,  for  an  amulet.  Now  this  several  others  of  the  game  nature  to 

very  mark  occurs  in  the  Gnostic  set,  the  Leyden  Library.  All  are  sup- 

and  it  is  more  than  probable  that  its  posed  to  have  been  found  together 

true  meaning  is  preserved  in  the  in  a  catacomb  at  Thebes,  and  to 

Turkish  tradition.  have  formed  the  stock  of  some 

f  In  Good  win's 'Ma  c  Papyrus'  magician  of  the  second  century  of  our 

the  Serapean  Divination  (No.  1)  era,  as  the  handwriting  leads  us  to 

names  this  Power:  "Appear  and  infer.  Goodwin  edited  the  Brit. 

give  heed  unto  him  who  was  mani-  Museum  specimen  for  the  Cambridge 

fested  before  Fire  and  Snow,  ~Qa.iv-  Antiquarian  Society  in  1852,  and 

Xo>o>x,  for  Thou  art  he  that  did  enriched  it  with  notes  giving  in- 

make  manifest  Light  and  Snow,  valuable  assistance  to  all  who  study 

Terrible  -  eyed-thunderiug-and-light-  Gnostic  remains. 


ZAMA  WZZA  PAXAMA  U)ZAI  — "  The  robe,  the  glorious  robe 
of  my  strength."  The  same  revelation  furthermore  imparts 
to  the  faithful  the  mystic  names  of  the  planets.  "  Hearken 
now,  I  will  tell  unto  you  the  Incorruptible  Names  of  the 
Planets,  which  bo  CJPIMOTG,  Saturn;  MOTNIXOTAcJXjJP, 
Mars;  TAP  RET  A  NOT*,  Mercury;  XU)!I,  Venus;  XU)NBAA, 
Jupiter.  These  be  the  incorruptible  names  of  the  same " 
(§  362).  Of  these,  the  names  from  each  Triad  are  to  be 
recognised  upon  talismans,  BAINXU)U)Cx)X  most  commonly 
of  all ;  but  no  example  of  these  planetary  appellations  has 
hitherto  come  to  my  knowledge. 

The  Naaseni  (says  Hippolytus)  taught  that  the  universe 
could  not  hold  together  unless  the  names  of  the  Great  Ones 
(TO,  peycQrf)  were  uttered.  These  were  KATAKAT,  ZATAAZAT, 
ZEHZAP.  "  The  first  is  the  name  of  the  Adamas  who  is 
above  ;  the  second,  of  him  who  is  below ;  the  third  of  the  Jordan 
that  floweth  upwards."  "Above  are  Mariamne  the  Sought- 
after,  and  Jothor  the  great  and  wise;  and  Sephora  she  that 
seeth  ;  and  Moses."  According  to  the  text-book  of  another  sect, 
the  Peratae,  XOOZZAP  is  the  Power  whom  the  ignorant  and 
profane  call  Neptune:  KAP4>AKOZHMOXEP  is  the  Steward 
of  the  East:  EKKABAKAPA  of  the  West;  called  by  the 
vulgar  the  Curetes.  APIBA  is  the  Euler  of  the  Winds;  ZGOK- 
AAM,  or  Osiris,  rules  the  twelve  hours  of  the  night ;  ENTCx),  or 
Isis,  those  of  the  day  :  her  sign  is  the  Dog-star.  BHNA  is  Ceres, 
or  the  Left-hand  Power  of  God,  presiding  over  nutrition  ;  MHN 
is  the  Right-hand  Power  that  presides  over  the  fruits  of  the 
earth.  In  the  same  doctrine,  chozzar,  called  by  the  ignorant 
Neptune,  "  who  converts  into  a  sphere  the  dodecagonal  pyramid, 
and  paints  with  many  colours  the  gate  of  that  pyramid,"  has 
Five  Ministers,  ACT,  AOAI,  OTH,  OTHAB;  the  name  of  the 
fifth  being  lost.  Hence  it  is  probable  that  the  strings 
of  vowels,  so  often  found  on  these  stones,  may  contain  the 
names  of  elementary  genii  similarly  expressed. 

Origen  (viii.  58)  quotes  Celsus  to  the  effect,  that  the  Egyptians 
made  six-and- thirty  (or  more)  demons  or  aetherial  powers  preside 
over  the  several  parts  of  the  body,  giving  some  of  their  names, 
Chumis,  Chuachumes,  Knat,  Sichat,  Bou,  Eroti,  Eribiou, 


Eomanor,  and  Eeianoor:  "Whoever  therefore  prefers  being 
in  health  to  sickness,  and  happiness  to  trouble,  ought  to  pay 
all  possible  honour  to  these  Powers."  Origen  therefore  accuses 
Celsus  of  attempting  to  divert  men  from  the  worship  of  the  one 
God  to  that  of  six-and-thirty  daemons,  only  known  to  Egyptian 
magicians,  because  he  cannot  understand  how  "the  Name  of 
Jesus,  pronounced  by  the  truly  faithful,"  can  cure  the  sick  and 
those  possessed  by  devils ;  the  evidence  for  which  is  far  stronger 
than  that  of  the  effect  of  the  names  of  Chnumis,  Sichat,  and  the 
rest  of  the  Egyptian  catalogue.  In  another  place  (i.  22)  he 
shows  it  was  not  Moses  only  that  knew  the  name  of  Abraham 
and  his  friendship  with  God,  for  that  others  (pagans)  use  the 
words  "the  God  of  Abraham"  when  they  are  driving  out 
devils.  And  again  the  Egyptians  use  in  their  rites,  from  which 
they  promise  wonderful  effects,  the  names  of  Abraham,  Isaac, 
Jacob,  and  Israel.  Also  (iv.  33)  Origen  mentions  the  use  of 
the  form  "  The  God  of  Abraham,  the  God  of  Isaac,  the  God  of 
Jacob "  in  incantations,  and  that  the  same  is  often  to  be  met 
with  in  books  of  Magic.  He  adds  that  the  formula  "  The  God 
of  Abraham,  the  God  of  Isaac,  who  didst  overwhelm  the 
Egyptians  and  the  King  of  the  Egyptians  in  the  Eed  Sea," 
was  in  common  use  against  demons  and  the  Powers  of  Evil. 
All  this  goes  to  prove  that  the  talismans  inscribed  with  the 
name  of  Chnumis  and  the  other  thirty-five  daemons  named  (who 
now  by  this  assistance  may  be  hereafter  recognised)  were  of  a 
medicinal  character,  whereas  those  with  "Abraham,"  equally 
common,  were  more  properly  of  the  nature  of  talismans. 

In  the  Book  of  Enoch  the  Archangel  Uriel  gives  us  the 
mystic  names  of  the  two  great  luminaries  :  "  The  names  of  the 
Sun  are  these,  one  Aryares,  the  other  Tornas.  The  Moon  hath 
four  names:  the  first,  Asonga;  the  second,  Ebla;  the  third, 
Benase ;  and  the  fourth,  Erai." 

The  Pistis-Sophia  (§  125)  furnishes  the  adept  with  the  key 
to  the  most  important  of  the  numerical  cyphers.  "  These  be 
the  Names  that  I  will  give  unto  thee,  even  from  the  Infinite 
One  downwards.  Write  them  with  a  sign  (cypher?  )  that  the 
sons  of  God  may  manifest  (understand  ?  )  them  out  of  this  place. 
This  is  the  Name  of  the  Immortal  One,  AAA  UJUKD.  And  this 


is  the  name  of  the  Voice  through  whoso  means  the  Perfect  Man  is 
moved,  RT.  These  likewise  are  the  interpretations  of  the  names  of 
the  Mysteries.  The  first  is  AAA,  the  interpretation  thereof  <£><!>*. 
The  second  which  is  MMM,  or  which  is  U)CjOU) ;  the  interpreta 
tion  whereof  is  AAA.  The  third  is  YTY,  the  interpretation 
whereof  is  OOO.  The  fourth  is  <b<b<b,  the  interpretation  whereof 
is  NNN.  The  fifth  is  AAA,  the  interpretation  whereof  is  AAA, 
the  which  is  over  the  throne  AAA.  This  is  the  interpretation 
of  the  second  AAAA,  which  is  AAAAAAAA,  and  the  same  is  the 
interpretation  of  the  whole  Name." 

To  pass  from  the  cyphers,  where  all  is  guess  work,  to  the 
actual  inscriptions,  engraved  legibly  enough  in  the  Greek 
character,  but  presenting  us  with  what  Jerome  aptly  terms 
mere  "tormenta  verborum."  Many  of  the  more  common 
formulas,  Bellermann,  by  the  aid  of  Hebrew,  Coptic,  and 
Syriac,*  has  satisfactorily  explained ;  of  others  his  interpreta 
tions  are  manifestly  absurd.  AMAPTEA  seems  to  be  the  Chaldee 
Amarchel,  a  president.  ANOX  XOA  XNOTBIC,  "  I  am  All  the 
Good  Spirit,  or  the  Universal  genius  of  good."  AIN  ©APPAI. 
"  The  eye  shall  behold."  AAONAI  AANTAAA,  "  Lord  !  Thou  art 
the  Lamb."f  XGJCA  MIAA000  exactly  represents  the  Hebrew 
words  signifying  "  He  hath  seen  the  Pleroma." 




is  rendered  by  Stiechel  "  Salama  zebaam  jatzael "  =  "  Peace  unto 
the  army  of  these  "  (of  the  celestial  ^Eons)  !  This  agrees  with 

*  Prof.  Stiechel,  in  his  essay  '  De  words  cJ>pACIC,  4>ACIC,  IACIC, 

Gemma  Abraxea  nondum  edita,'  "  Declaration,"  "  Manifestation," 

Jeuae,  1848,  has  acutely  and  satis-  "  Healing,"  is  always  attached  to  a 

factorily  elucidated  some  very  im-  figure  of  Venus  Anudyomeue,  and 

portant  formula?,  giving  a  key  to  the  admits  of  the  translation  '•  Mountain 

whole  class.  The  necessity  for  em-  of  Light."  The  Venus  therefor** 

ploying  Oriental  languages  in  spells  seems  adopted  here  for  the  "  Virgin 

is  curiously  illustrated  by  Hippolytus'  of  Light,"  who  holds  so  high  a  place 

statement,  that  the  magicians  of  his  in  the  celestial  hierarchy  of  the 

time  used  to  write  the  answers  to  Pistis-Sophia.  At  any  rate  the 

the  questions  proposed  to  their  sense  of  APCOPI,  "Mountain  of 

demons,  partly  in  Hebrew,  partly  in  Light,"  strongly  favours  this  accep- 

Greek  letters.  tation. 

t  AP  OJPI,  followed  by  the  Greek 


the  benediction  pronounced  by  the  Marcosians  in  administering 
the  holy  unction,  "  Peace  be  unto  all  upon  whom  this  holy 
Name  rests !  " 

Some  of  these  inscriptions  display  an  evident  affectation  of 
obscurity  by  their  transposition  of  parts  of  the  same  word  from 
one  line  to  another,  the  only  key  to  which  is  the  observing  the 
different  sizes  of  the  characters  employed,  and  taking  those  of 
the  same  size  as  belonging  to  the  "  disjecta  membra  "  of  the 
same  word.  A  most  instructive  example  of  this  artifice  is 
supplied  by  the  legend  cut  on  the  reverse  of  a  magnificent 
Serapis  head  (Wood),  which  reads  thus : 






This  will  only  be  translatable  if  transposed  as  follows:  IABATAOP  . 
0ONATHC  .  AAIAAM  .  APBA0  .  lACx).  "  Jehovah,  the  Pure  yEther, 
the  Fire,*  for  ever,  the  Four,  lao,"  where  "  the  Four  "  signifies 
the  Tetrad,  so  conspicuous  in  the  Theogony  of  Marcus.  This 
legend  seems  much  of  the  same  nature  as  the  Greek  one  cut 
on  a  piece  of  copper  (communicated  to  me  by  Prof.  Ch. 
Babington)  :  6  Sia  TTOLVTWV  Novs,  cu$r/p,  Trvp,  Trvev^ta,  eAcoetv  eAweti/ 
(Elohim).  The  only  word  in  the  first  legend  not  reducible  to 
Hebrew  is  Qovar,  but  it  seems  to  correspond  to  the  "./Ether  *'  of 
the  copper  piece,  APAANA  ©AMAKA  ZAABANA  XAMKIM,  "Our 
Light,  let  thy  goodness  grant  unto  us  a  full  lap  "  :  whence  the 
object  of  such  a  talisman  would  seem  to  be  the  procuring  of 

ANAKAA  A  KA  A  AGO)  I  GO  I,  "Pursue  then  (my  foes)  unto 
destruction,  0  Lord,"  is  found  very  appropriately  engraven  on 
the  reverse  of  a  sphinx,  the  recognised  emblem  of  power  and 

*  A  B  P A  M ,  which  often  occurs  in  f  H  C  represents  the  Hebrew  word 

these  legends,  may  perhaps  refer  to  for  "  Fire  "  :  and  this  explanation  is 

the  Kabbinical   "  Seir-Anpen,"  the  confirmed   by  the   TO  <i>U)C  HYP 

Primitive    Man,   made    up    of   213  4>AOH    accompanying  a  figure  of 

numbers,  the  numerical  value  of  the  Phre  on  a  gem  elucidated  by  Froeh- 

Hebrew  letters  in  the  name.  ner  in  his  '  Byrsa,'  part  i. 


BAPIA  ZAZTA  IAU),  "  Jehovah  the  Creator,  the  Destroyer.' 
Chaldee  slightly  corrupted. 

IA0AI,  "The  providence  of  God." 

MAO  A  HE,  "  The  honour  of  God." 

PEOTHAE,  "  The  will  of  God." 

XCUMI,  "  The  power  of  God." 

ZBU)    "  Wisdom." 

These  Coptic  words  thus  designate  the  Five  Emanations 
from  the  Godhead  —  viz.,  Phronesis,  Logos,  Nous,  Dynamis, 

''  enlightening  mine  eye," 


"  enlightening  me," 
Meireni  M'ireni 

If  HNAMEPU)  and  MAPCOHNI  are  really  the  same,  it  will  be 
conclusive  against  ii,  where  the  eni  is  an  affix.  The  form  then 
might  be 

TXID  iyy 

Query  what  of  the  U)  ? 

101  placed  on  each  side  of  the  Chnuphis  serpent  engraved 
in  green  jade  (S.  S.  Lewis)  is  correct  Hebrew  for  k'  With  me," 
which  gives  an  appropriate  sense  if  understood  as  a  prayer  for 
the  constant  presence  of  the  protecting  Spirit. 

MEZ  XANAAU),*  "The  Messiah  be  propitious  unto  me." 

MAPU)HNI,*  "  Enlighten  mine  eyes." 

K  ATA  A  K  AT.  The  Basilidan  name  for  the  Saviour  is  written 
by  Epiphanius  K  ATA  A  K  ATX,  who  ridicules  it  as  an  expression 
taken  from  Isaiah  (xxviii.  10)  without  any  regard  to  the 

*  The  Syrian  Alexander  Sevcrus  converted    into   "Maria."     HNAM- 

expresses  his  indignation  at  the  sight  EPU),  which  often  accompanies  the 

of  a  certain  notorious  rogue,  Arabi-  figure  of  the  Cynocephalus,  seems  to 

anus,  coming  to  Court,  by  exclaiming  be   equivalent  to  the  phrase  in  the 

"  O  Marna,  O  Jupiter,"  &c.,  where  text  :  and  as   that  beast  belongs  to 

his  native  "  Our  Lord  "  he  renders  Thoth,  god  of  Imoicledge,  this  inter- 

by  "  Jupiter,"  for  the  benefit  of  his  pretation  has  at  least  appropriateness 

Kornan    hearers.       This    word    the  in  its  favour. 
monkish  transcribers  very  naturally 



real  meaning  of  the  words.  Bellermann,  however,  thinks 
he  has  found  a  more  sensible  derivation  for  the  title  in  Arabic, 
signifying  "  Strength  upon  strength,"  that  is,  the  "  All- 
powerful"  ;  or  else  in  the  Coptic  KAB,  "  a  lamp,"  and  so  implying 
"  The  burning  and  the  shining  Light." 

MOT0,  "Mother,"  Plutarch  informs  us  (De  Is.  et  Os.),  was  a 
title  given  to  Isis.  This  word  contains  a  plain  allusion  to  the 
earth,  "  lutum  Prometheum,"  whence  Man  was  taken.  MOT0 
and  |  EOTA  are  translated  by  Sanconiathon  as  "  Hades  "  and 
"  Only-begotten,"  the  offspring  of  the  Phoenician  Cronos. 

MOOT  for  the  Coptic  NOTT,  "God." 

MAI  MTM  TXATM  GDI,  "Being,  Fount,  Salvation,  Food, 
lao  "  :  implying  that  lao  is  the  source,  food,  life,  and  salvation 
of  the  soul. 

OPOOPIOT0,  "  Light  of  Light."* 

TAAA  APAIU)  OUAPAOPO  NTOKO  NBAI,  "Protector,  Creator, 
rule,  speak,  0  Lord,"  is  a  very  common  formula. 

ZEZEMEN  BAPANTHN  lACx),  written  with  many  variations, 
and  followed  by  the  names  of  the  great  Angels,  has  been 
ingeniously  deciphered  by  a  learned  Hebraist  (Rev.  E.  Sinker) 
as  representing  the  sound  of  "  Shengab  hor  anje  Jehevoh," 
"  They  that  stand  before  the  Mountain  of  God/'  that  is,  the 
Angels  of  the  Presence,  j 

XAIA,  "  Life,"  is  seen  on  a  field  of  the  Eoman  gem  bearing  two 
figures  of  Providentia,  with  the  Sun  and  Moon  on  the  field 
overhead  (Major  Pearse). 

Three  Greek  characters  often  occur  in  juxtaposition — viz.,  the 
E  set  on  its  back,  a  vertical  line  crossed  by  two  horizontal 
strokes,  and  Z.  They  stand  for  the  numerals  5,  3,  and  7,  the 
Triad,  Pentad,  Ileptad — lucky  and  sacred  numbers  in  the 
religious  notions  of  the  East.  For  the  same  reason  the  inscrip 
tions  on  our  gems  will  be  found  to  be  arranged  for  the  most 
part  in  either  three,  five,  or  seven  lines.  This  also  accounts  for 
the  name  lao  being  often  written  with  its  elements  repeated 

*  This  legend   always   goes  with  ye(y}&  apavynv  law. 
the   udder-shaped  vase  of  the  Isiac  »    pjjy    in    3J3G?    '"I  'D  'J 

rites.  fftyei/  flap  eV%€ 



COAIAOJ,*  for  the  sake  of  obtaining  the  venerated  numeral,  five. 
And,  again,  by  introducing  another  vowel,  H,  the  Holy  Name  is 
repeated  under  five  different  forms,  HAI.AIH.HICxJ.AIGO.IAU). 

The  Priest  officiating,  commonly  figured  in  these  designs,  wears 
upon  his  head  the  "  calantica,"  a  square  of  purple  cloth  whence 
spring  two  flamingo  feathers ;  a  badge  which  made  Trrepo'^opos 
a  synonym  for  the  Egyptian  priesthood.  The  staff  in  his 
hand,  emblem  of  his  office,  has  the  serpent  coiled  five  times 
about  it.  This  "  sceptrum  sacerdotal  e "  furnishes  the  true 
explanation  of  the  meaning  of  many  ancient  insignia,  beginning 
with  Moses'  wand,  then  the  club  of  ^Esculapius,  and  closing 
with  its  derivative  the  rod  in  the  spiral  of  3SS  that  so 
constantly  goes  with  the  Agathoda3mon  serpent  upon  the 
Chnuphis  gems. 

As  for  the  geometrical  figures  so  often  introduced,  they  may  be 
supposed  to  have  had  much  the  same  import  here  as  in  the 
formulas  of  the  Eosicrucians,  who  obtained  these  with  other 
Gnostic  paraphernalia  probably  by  tradition  from  the  Arabs  ; 
for  their  pretended  founder,  the  Great  Unknown  A.  S.,  is 
declared  to  have  acquired  his  small  learning  at  the  College  of 
Damascus.  In  their  system  the  Square  stands  for  the  Four 
Elements  ;  the  Triangle  for  the  body,  the  spirit,  and  the  life  : 
and  also  for  Sun,  Moon,  arid  Mercury.  The  last  Triad 
Paracelsus  interprets  by  salt,  sulphur,  vmcltsilver — the  three 
radical  forces  of  Nature  according  to  his  system.  The  PJiombus 
represents  the  Orphic  Egg,  out  of  which  issued  the  whole 

Phoenician  Numerals  may,  from  the  very  nature  of  the  case,  be 
looked  for  amongst  the  marks  that  cannot  be  referred  to  the 
Greek  alphabet.  The  notation  was  simplicity  itself :  one  to  nine 
being  expressed  by  vertical  strokes,  so  many  times  repeated  j 
ten  by  a  horizontal  one ;  twenty  by  two  such  parallel  to 
each  other,  sometimes  slightly  curving  together.  In  the 

*  Stiechel  has  a  very  ingenious  I  EGO  AIM  =  vivit  existens. 

explanation   of  this   permutation  of  AICOOVEV  —  isque  est  luo 

vowels  ;  he  makes  it  express  different  A I  H  A  H I  (x)  H  =  existeus  vivit. 

tenses  of  the  Hebrew  verb  to  exist,  OOAIHOYE  =  isque  lao 
thus — 


Palmyrene   notation  five  has  a  special  cypher,  a   sloping  line 
upon  which  in  the  middle  stands  another  at  right  angles. 

It  was  to  be  expected  that  Samaritan  characters  should  make 
their  appearance  upon  the  productions  of  a  religion  of  which  the 
reputed  founder  was  a  Samaritan,  whose  professed  followers 
also  formed  an  important  sect  as  late  as  the  times  of  Hippoly- 
tus.  Stiechel  interprets  the  reverse  legend  on  his  above-quoted 
gem  as  having  its  commencing  words  written  in  this  alphabet : 
thus — 

AV     Z      =   qui  tenet. 

VI  =    signum  sat. 

PAct>ACx)     ==    ejus  sanat. 
PPI~V<t>CjL)    =   exorcista  corpus. 

TAB  PI  I      =    facilitates. 

IHIAII        =   et  vitam. 
III!  =    fiat!  fiat! 

He  also  points  out  that  the  important  word  "  Au(}i"  =  sign  or 
token,  is  written  in  these  legends  in  four  different  ways : 
0VO,   EVO,   EIW,  VIE. 

It  is  possible  tliat  in  certain  legends  the  letters,  taken  in  an 
order  known  to  one  having  the  key,  would  give  a  definite 
meaning;  and  this  suspicion  is  supported  by  the  reversing  of 
some  of  the  characters.  Certain  it  is  that  the  Donatists 
adopted  such  a  device  in  order  to  disguise  their  proscribed 
war-cry  from  the  victorious  Catholics.  A  door-lintel  at 
Tebessa  exhibits  the  well-known  formula  thus — 




to  be  read  by  the  brethren  "  Deo  laudes  dicamus."     A  second 
lintel  bears  the  same  in  monogram. 

The  most  famous  spell  of  all,  ABRACADABRA,  is  first 
mentioned  by  Serenus  Sammonicus,  the  most  learned  Roman 
of  his  times,  and  physician  to  Caracalla,  to  whom  he  dedicated 
his  poetical  '  Guide  to  Health,'  entitled  '  De  Medicina  prsecepta 
saluberrima.'  This  work,  remarks  Spartian,  was  the  favourite 
study  of  the  unfortunate  Cassar,  Geta,  for  attachment  to  whose 
cause  this  true  son  of  Apollo  was  afterwards  put  to  death 
by  the  imperial  fratricide.  Severus  Alexander  also,  "  who  had 
known  and  loved  Serenus,"  greatly  admired  his  poetry,  putting 


him  on  a  level  with  Horace,  as  Lampridius'  expressions  seem 
to  intimate.  This  high  authority  orders  the  word  to  be  written 
out  in  the  form  of  an  inverted  cone,  and  declares  it  of  virtue 
against  all  diseases. 

"  Thou  shalt  on  paper  write  the  spell  divine, 
Abracadabra  called,  in  many  a  line; 
Each  under  each  in  even  order  place, 
But  the  last  letter  in  each  line  efface. 
As  by  degrees  the  elements  grow  few 
Still  take  away,  but  fix  the  residue, 
Till  at  the  last  one  letter  stands  alone 
And  the  whole  dwindles  to  a  tapering  cone. 
Tie  this  about  the  neck  with  flaxen  string; 
Mighty  the  good  'twill  to  the  patient  bring. 
Its  wondrous  potency  shall  guard  his  head — 
And  drive  disease  and  death  far  from  his  bed." 

The  belief  in  the  virtue  of  this  recipe  flourished  through  the 
Middle  Ages.  It  seems  alluded  to  in  the  •  Dialogue  on  Masonry,' 
ascribed  by  Leland  to  Henry  VI. ;  for  amongst  "  the  things  that 
Masons  conceal"  is  "  the  winrjynge  of  the  faculty e  of  Alrac  "  : 
perhaps  signifying  the  possession  of  this  mystical  arrangement 
of  letters :  unless,  indeed,  one  chooses  to  suspect  in  this 
"facultye"  a  deeper  sense,  some  traditionary  knowledge  of  the 
ancient  Abraxas  religion.  Again,  De  Foe  mentions  how  people 
commonly  wore  the  word  written  in  the  manner  above  pre 
scribed,  as  a  safeguard  against  infection  during  the  Great 
Plague  of  London. 

As  for  the  etymology  of  the  word,  the  most  satisfactory  yet 
offered  is  the  compound  of  the  Hebrew  Ha-Braelmli,  "  blessing," 
and  Dobara,  "  speak  "  ;  meaning  the  "  Blessing  of  the  Mystic 
Name  " — that  is,  utter  the  Tetragrammatou,  invoke  the  Holy 
Name  of  Jehovah,  itself  the  mightiest  of  charms.* 

It  is  very  remarkable,  considering  its  high  repute,  that  no 
Gnostic  stone  bearing  such  an  inscription  should  be  known 
to  exist.  On  the  other  hand  that  normal  address  to  lao, 
ABAAN0AAABA,  "  Thou  art  our  Father!  "  is  so  found  on  talis- 
manic  jaspers  arranged  in  the  exact  pattern  recommended  by 

*  By  the  mere  utterance  whereof      to  cast  out  devils  from  all  who  ap- 
the  philosopher  Theosebius,  though       plied  to  him  for  aid. 
unacquainted  with  magic,  was  able 


Serenus  for  the  paper  spell,  and  probably  so  done  in  compliance 
with  his  directions.  One  is  strongly  tempted  to  discover  in 
this  same  Ha-Brachah  the  real  origin  of  the  equally  famous 
title  "  Abraxas."  The  Greek  letters,  constantly  in  use  for 
numerals,  at  once  presented  their  numeric  value  in  every  word 
to  the  practised  eye  of  the  Kabalist. 

The  celebrated  letter  of  Christ  to  Abgarus  was  (according  to 
Cedrenus)  sealed  with  the  initials  of  the  seven  Hebrew  words, 
whose  Greek  interpretation  was  ®co?  ®eo$ev  Oav^a  Otiov. 
At  the  mere  sight  of  the  seal  the  king  was  healed  of  his 
gout  and  of  his  black  leprosy,  all  but  a  slight  trace  upon 
the  face  remaining  to  be  cleansed  by  the  waters  of  baptism. 
Cedrenus'  Greek  reads  like  a  popular  formula,  and  may  serve  to 
explain  the  legend  on  the  reverse  of  an  Abraxas  gem  in 
my  possession,  IXOEOGOHIAIACx),  as  to  be  read  'I^o-ous  XpKrro? 
@eos  CK  ©COT}  law,  "  Jesus  Christ,  God  of  God,  Jehovah." 
This  inscription  encloses  the  letters  IH  placed  conspicuously 
in  the  centre,  and  which  probably  represent,  as  nearly  as 
the  t\vo  discordant  alphabets  allow,  the  Hebrew  letters  Jod, 
He,  the  Kabalistic  name  of  the  Tikkan,  "  Express  Image,"  or 
First  Emanation  of  the  Godhead. 

The  Crescent  and  Seven  Stars,  amongst  which  are  scattered 
the  mystical  Seven  Vowels,  has  for  reverse  this  formula  :  — 



Its  first  line,  but  written  AX0IU)<t>l,  is  cut  in  beautiful 
characters  on  the  reverse  of  a  caduceus  within  a  wreath.  Sinker 
reads  it  as  >S>  ipy,  Essence,  Beauty:  probably  the  rest  arc 
names  of  virtues.  It  is  inconceivable  that  the  Sephiroth  — 
mightiest  spell  of  all—  should  be  omitted  in  these  gems.  It  is 
made  up  of  the  Ten  attributes  of  Jehovah  —  viz.,  The  Crown, 
Wisdom,  Prudence,  Security,  Magnificence,  Goodness,  Glory, 
Victory,  Fortitude,  Kingdom.  There  is  consequently  a  pro 
bability  that  these  Names  often  lurk  in  the  phonetic  Hebrew, 
enveloping  all  in  darkness.  We  have  for  guide  the  analogy  of 
the  present  Arab  talismans,  consisting  of  the  ninety-nine 
epithets  of  Allah  written  on  a  scroll. 



Diodorus  Siculus,  when  enumerating  the  different  legislators 
of  antiquity,  says,  "  Amongst  the  Jews  Moses  pretended  that 
the  god  surnamed  lao  gave  him  his  laws  "  (i.  94).  And  this  is 
elucidated  by  the  remark  of  Clemens  Alexandrinus,  that  the 
Hebrew  Tetragrammaton,  or  Mystic  Name,  is  pronounced  IAOT- 
and  signifies  "He  that  is  and  shall  be."  Theodoret  states  that 
the  same  four  letters  were  pronounced  by  the  Samaritans  as 
I  ABE  (Jave)  ;  by  the  Jews  as  I  AH.  Jerome  (upon  Psalm  viii.N- 
says,  "  The  Name  of  the  Lord  "  amongst  the  Hebrews  is  of  four 
letters,  lod,  He,  Van,  He,  which  is  properly  the  Name  of  God, 
and  may  be  read  as  IAHO  (Idho)  (that  is  in  Latin  characters), 
which  is  held  by  the  Jews  for  unutterable.  The  author  of  the 
'  Treatise  on  Interpretations  '  says,  "  The  Egyptians  express 
the  name  of  the  Supreme  Being  by  the  seven  Greek  vowels 
IEHHOTA":*  which  sufficiently  explains  the  mighty  potency 
ascribed  to  this  formula  by  the  inspired  author  of  the  '  Pistis- 
Sophia,'  and  equally  so  its  frequent  appearance  upon  the 
talismans  now  under  consideration, 

Eabbi  Tarphon  (Tryphon),  who  could  remember  the  Second 
Temple,  noticed  that  the  Ineffable  Name,  though  occurring  a 
hundred  times  in  the  course  of  the  daily  service,  was  "  rather 

*  According  to  the  Talmud,  the  Dante  alludes  to  a  curious  tradi- 

Name  of  God,  which  was  communi-  tion  that  the  name  of  God,  revealed 

cated  only  to  the  most  pious  of  the  to  Adam,  was  I,  which  succeeding 

priesthood,  was  composed   of  twelve       times  changed  into  Eli: 

letters.    And  upon  our  talismans  the  «  pria  ch'  io  scendessi  all'  infernale 

vowels  inclosing  I AO  are  often  found  ambascia, 

repeated    so    as    to   make    up   that  I  s'appellava  in  terra  il   somnio 

number ;  whence  it  may  be  inferred  ~  Beue, 

that  their  union  represents  the  same  fascia'61      **    ^'^    ^     "" 

ineffable  sound.  In  the  same  passage  ELI  si  chiamo ;  poi,  e  cio  conviene, 

mention  is  made  of  another  Name  of  Che    1'  uso    dei    mortali   e    come 

God,  consisting  of  forty-two  letters,  fronda, 

which  in  its  turn  may  serve  to  ac-  In  ramo,  die  sen  va,  ed  altra  viene." 

count  for  the  lines  of  often-repeated  (  Parad-'  xxvi.  133). 

vowels  similarly  to  be  met  with. 


warbled  than  pronounced."  A  precious  hint  this,  as  indicating 
how  the  Gnostic  strings  of  boneless  vowels  give  an  approxima 
tion  to  the  audible  and  yet  unuttered  sound.  Since  the 
destruction  of  the  Temple,  the  Name  has  never  been  heard  in 
prayer,  or  pronounced  aloud.  It  is  communicated,  indeed,  to 
every  Rabbi,  after  his  ordination,  but  not  in  full.  One  half  of  it 
is  told ;  the  rest  he  is  left  to  make  out  for  himself. 

The  first  idea  of  an  "  Ineffable  Name,"  and  all  its  inherent 
virtues,  evidently  came  to  the  Egyptians  (from  whom  the  Jews 
borrowed  it)  from  the  Hindoo  doctrine  respecting  the  title 
AUM, — itself,  like  the  AIO,  trilateral — representing  the  Triad, 
Brahma- Vishnu-Siva :  A  standing  for  the  Creator,  U  for  the 
Preserver,  M  for  the  Destroyer.  The  connection  between 
Indian  and  Egyptian  mythology  is  certain,  however  difficult  to 
account  for,  the  names  of  the  principal  deities  in  the  latter 
having  the  appearance  of  pure  Sanscrit.  Thus  Isis  signifies  in 
that  tongue  the  Mistress  ;  Tat  and  Sat,  Virtue  and  Power  ;  Serapis, 
Sripa,  the  Blood-drinker ;  Nila,  Blue-icatcr,  &c.  The  original 
identity  of  the  two  religious  systems  no  one  can  doubt  who  has 
intelligently  studied  the  monuments  of  each  :  but  which  country 
instructed  the  other  ? 

The  balance  of  probabilities  is  strongly  in  favour  of  India, 
the  confinement  of  the  peculiar  system  within  the  narrow 
limits  of  Egypt  betokening  an  importation  by  a  colony  from 
some  very  remote  source.  Traces  of  a  very  ancient  intercourse 
between  the  two  countries  are  discernible,  though  very  dimly, 
in  history.  The  Periplus  of  the  Eed  Sea  mentions  that  as  late 
as  Caesar's  time  the  townEndeemon  on  thatcoast  was  the  entrepot 
where  the  Indian  and  Egyptian  traders  used  annually  to  meet. 
In  prehistoric  times  therefore  it  is  conceivable  that  Brahminical 
missionaries  may  have  laboured  amongst  the  aborigines  of  the 
Valley  of  the  Nile.  This  religious  analogy  manifests  itself  in 
the  meanest  details,  in  the  sacred  titles  as  well  as  attributes. 
For  example,  as  the  Brahmins  teach  tint  each  of  the  letters 
A,  U,  M  envelops  a  great  mystery,  so  does  the  Pistis-SopJiia 
('Prayers  of  the  Saviour,'  §  358)  interpret  the  |,  A,  O,  as  the 
summary  of  the  Gnostic,  or  Valentinian,  creed.  "  I  signifies  . 
All  goctli  out ;  A,  All  returneth  within  ;  n,  There  sliall  be  an  end  of 


ends  " :  thus  expressing  the  grand  doctrines  of  the  Emanation, 
the  Return,  and  the  Annihilation,  or  rather  reabsorption,  of  the 

To  turn  now  to  Greece — in  the  same  way  as  Abraxas  is  no 
other  than  a  numerical  title  of  the  Solar  god,  so  does  loo 
actually  make  its  appearance  as  an  epithet  of  the  same 
divinity.  Macrobius  (Sat.  i.  18),  whilst  labouring  to  prove  that 
the  Sun-worship  was  in  truth  the  sole  religion  of  Paganism, 
under  whatever  name  it  was  disguised,  gives  a  notice  very 
much  to  our  purpose.  The  Apollo  of  Claros,  when  consulted  as 
to  the  true  nature  of  the  god  called  'laos,  gave  the  following 
response  : — 

"  The  sacred  things  ye  learn,  to  none  disclose, 
A  little  falsehood  much  discretion  shows; 
Regard  laos  as  supreme  above, 
In  winter  Pluto,  in  spring's  opening  Jove, 
Phoebus  through  blazing  summer  rules  the  day, 
Whilst  autumn  owns  the  mild  laos'  f  sway." 

Here  we  find  lao  expressly  recognised  as  the  title  of  the 
Supreme  God  whose  physical  representative  is  the  Sun.  Again 
we  have  Dionysos  or  Bacchus  added  to  the  list  by  Orpheus,  who 

"Jove,  Pluto,  Phoebus,  Bacchus,  all  are  One." 

A  distinct  recognition  this  of  the  grand  principle  of  Brahmin  - 
ism — that  all  the  different  deities  are  but  representations  of  the 
different  attributes  of  the  One.  The  same  truth  is  curiously 
expressed  upon  a  talisman  (Hertz  collection)  which  at  the 
same  time  sets  forth  the  triune  nature  of  the  Supreme  Being 
whose  visible  type  is  the  Sun.  It  is  a  heart-shaped  piece  of 
basalt  engraved  with  seated  figures  of  Ammon  and  Ea  (the 
Zeus  and  Helios  of  the  Greeks),  with  the  sacred  Asp  erect 
between  them.  The  reverse  bears  the  invocation  neatly  cut 
in  characters  of  the  third  century — 

*  This  has  a  remarkable  analogy  f  a&fiv  'low,  where    the    epithet 

with   the  Brahminical  definition  of       seems  suggested  by  the  name  Abraxas 
God  as  "  the   Self-existing,  Eternal,       so  generally  coupled  with  it. 
Supreme  Being,  who  is  the  Cause  of 
everything,   and   into   whom    e very- 
tiling  is  finally  absorbed"? 


"There  is  One  Bait,  One  Athor,  their  power  is  one  and  the 
same,  there  is  One  Achori.     Hail  Father  of  the  universe,  hail 
God  under  three   forms  ! "      Concerning   the   three   figures   a 
word  is  necessary  in  explanation  of  their  titles.     As  for   the 
hawk-head  Ea,  Horapollo  gives  for  reason  of  the  type  ;  "  The 
hawk   stands   for   the    Supreme  Mind,  and  for  the  intelligent 
soul.     The  hawk  is  called  in  the  Egyptian  language  '  Baieth,' 
from  ~bai  soul,  and  etli  heart,  which  organ    they  consider   the 
seat  or  inclosure   of  the  soul."     A  sufficient  explanation  this 
for  the  shape  in  which  the  talisman  is  formed.     Achoreus,  the 
virtuous   priest-councillor   of  the  last   of  the   Ptolemies   (see 
Lucan),  derives  his  name  from  the  sacred  serpent  here  invoked. 
That  lews  was  recognised  by  the  Greeks  as  an  epithet  for 
the    Sun   in    the   autumnal     quarter    has    been    shown   from 
Macrobius.      The    philosophical    interpreters    of    the   ancient 
mythology  discovered  in  Dionysos  also  a   mere  type  of  the  same 
luminary.     "  One  is  Zeus,  Hades,  Helios,  and  Dionysos."     And 
Serapis  is  substituted  for  the  last  in  an  oracle  quoted  by  Julian  : 
nor  must  it  be  forgotten  that  the  main  object  of  Macrobius  in 
the    above-quoted    dissertation   is  to  prove,  that    Serapis  is  a 
representative   of  the  various   powers  of  the    Solar   deity  all 
combined   in   one   figure.     Again,   to    the   yame   effect,    comes 
Virgil's  famous  apostrophe — 

"  Yos,  0  clarissima  mundi, 
Lumina  labentem  qui  ccelo  ducitis  annum, 
Liber  et  alma  Ceres!" 

where  "  Bacchus "  and  "  Ceres "  do  no  more  than  interpret 
Osiris  and  Isis,  the  Sun  and  Moon.  Here  lies  the  reason  for 
equipping  Bacchus  with  horns  in  some  of  his  statues. 

"  Accedant  capiti  cornua  Bacchus  eris,"  ^ays  Sappho  to 
Phaon.  For  in  Hebrew  a  radiated  and  a  horned  head  is  ex 
pressed  by  the  same  word.  When  Moses  came  down  from  the 
Mount,  "cornuta  erat  facies  ejus,"  according  to  the  version 
of  the  Yulgate;  and  on  the  strength  of  this  mistranslation 
Christian  art  hath  ever  graced  the  Jewish  lawgiver  with  these 

In  this  very  title  lao  undoubtedly  lies  the  origin  of  the 
universal  persuasion  of  the  ancients  that  the  Jehovah  of  the 


Jews — whose  name  was  thus  expressed  in  Greek  letters — was 
no  other  than   the  Egyptian  Bacchus.      For  this  notion  they 
found  strong  support  in  the   Golden  Vine  which   formed  the 
sole  visible   decoration  of  the  Temple  ;    in  the  "  blowing  the 
trumpets   at   the    New    Moon,"    and    the    custom    of    keeping 
the    Feast   of    Tabernacles    in    huts    made    of  leafy   boughs, 
accompanied  with  many  of  the  ceremonies  used  at  the  Grecian 
Dionysia  :   "  Quia  sacerdotes  eorum  tibia  tympanis  concinebant, 
hedera  vinciebantur,  vitisque   aurea   templo   reperta "    (Tacit. 
Hist.  v.  5.)      This  opinion  as  to  the  real  nature  of  the  Jewish 
worship  Tacitus  quotes  as  the  one  generally  held  by  the  learned 
of  his  own  times,  although  he  cannot  bring  himself  to  accept 
it  as  satisfactory — although  merely  on  the  grounds  that  the 
gloomy  arid  unsocial  character  of  the  religion  seemed  to  dis 
prove  its  relationship  to   the   merry  worship  of  the  "  god  of 
wine,"    the   only  character   in  which    the   Romans  recognised 
Bacchus.      Nevertheless   this   ancient   theory   has   found   sup 
porters   in   modern     times,    notably    in    the    overlearned   Dr. 
Stanley,    rector    of    St.     George    the    Martyr,    who    (without 
giving   much   scandal  to    his  own  easy-going  generation)  ad 
vocated  this  heterodox  opinion  in  an  elaborate  treatise  which 
puts  to  shame  the  boldest  flights  of  the  '  Essays  and  Reviews,' 
or  even   the   interpretations  of  our   indiscreet   apostle  to  the 
Zulus.     Ludicrously  enough,  the  German  Jews  still  celebrate 
the  Feast  of  Purim,  and  the  Fall  of  Haman,  by  getting  as  royally 
drunk  as  their  means  afford,  and  thus  to  the  present  day  do 
their  best  to  perpetuate  the  old  Roman  aspersion.    Amongst  the 
later  Gnostics,  indeed,  some  rites  were  unmistakably  borrowed 
from  the  Bacchanalia,  singularly  modified  by  Christian  doctrine. 
Epiphanius   relates   (Ha3res.  xxxvii.)  how  that  "they  kept  a 
tame  serpent  in  a  chest  or  sacred  ark,  and  piled  loaves  upon  a 
table  before  the  same,  and  then  called  upon  the  serpent  to  come 
forth.      Whereupon,    opening   of    himself  the   ark,    he   would 
come  forth,  mount  upon  the  table,  and  twine  about  the  loaves, 
which   they   broke    in    pieces,   and    distributed    amongst    the 
worshippers,   calling   this   their    'Perfect   Sacrifice'  and  their 
*  Eucharist.' " 

Another   explanation   as   to   the  true  character  of  the 

Y  2 


named  lao  must  not  be  passed  over  in  silence,  however  little 
foundation  it  may  have  in  truth,  seeing  that  it  is  supported  by 
the  authority  of  the  learned  historian  of  Gnosticism,  Jacques 
Matter.  The  Moon  to  the  Egyptians,  as  to  the  Orientals  of 
to-day,  was  of  the  masculine  gender,  and  was  designated  by  the 
phonetic  name  Aali  or  loJi.  Thoth  was  sometimes  identified  with 
this  deity;  and  therefore  Thoth's  emblem,  the  ibis,  accompanied 
with  the  crescent,  bears  the  legend  loh,  "  because  (says  Plutarch) 
Mercury  attends  the  Moon  in  her  journey  round  the  earth  in 
the  same  way  as  Hercules  doth  the  Sun."  When  Thoth,  Tat, 
appears  as  Mercury  he  has  the  head  of  an  ibis;  but  in  his 
character  of  the  Moon-god,  or  Dens  Lumis,  he  shows  the  face  of 
a  man  supporting  the  lunar  crescent  enclosing  the  sun's  disk 
and  surmounted  by  a  double  plume. 

Hence  came  the  notion  mentioned  by  Plutarch,  that  "  the 
Egyptians  call  the  Moon  the  Mother  of  Creation,  and  say  it  is 
of  both  sexes "  :  and  to  the  same  effect  Spartian  (Caracalla, 
vii.)  explains  that  the  Egyptians  in  the  mysteries  (mystice) 
call  the  Moon  a  male,  though  designating  it  a  female  in  ordinary 
speech.  He  adds  that  the  people  of  Carrhal  (famed  for  its  great 
temple  of  Deus  Lunus)  hold  that  "  whatsoever  man  thinks  the 
moon  should  be  called  of  the  feminine  gender  shall  pass  his 
life  a  slave  unto  women,  whereas  he  that  holds  it  to  be  a  male 
deity  shall  rule  over  his  wife  and  be  secured  against  all  female 
treachery."  A  very  sufficient  reason  this  for  the  fondness  of 
Spartian' s  contemporaries  for  wearing  in  their  signet  rings  the 
vcra  effigies  of  the  Carrhene  god,  a  youth  in  a  Phrygian  cap, 
his  bust  supported  on  the  crescent  that  gives  his  name.  This 
elegant  effeminate  lunar  genius  is  in  truth  no  other  than  the 
modernized  and  tasteful  version  of  the  griin  old  Assyrian 
"  Sin,"  pictured  in  the  Ninevitish  monuments  as  an  aged  man 
leaning  on  his  staff  as  he  floats  through  the  heavens  on  the 
crescent,  presenting  a  ludicrous  resemblance  to  our  popular  idea 
of  the  "  Man  in  the  Moon."  A  blue  calcedony  in  my  possession 
fully  illustrates  Plutarch's  title  of  "Mother  of  Creation."  It 
exhibits  a  perfect  hermaphrodite  figure  wearing  the  Egyptian 
head-dress,  and  squatting  down  so  as  more  clearly  to  display 
its  bisexual  nature  :  below  creeps  a  snail  surmounted  by  a 


butterfly,  the   well-understood  emblems  of  laseiviousness  and 
life,  the  fount  of  propagation. 

All  this  brings  us  to  Matter's  theory  (based  on  a  statement 
of  Origen's),  that  lao,  Adonai,  Sabaoth  signified  the  genii  of  the 
Moon,  the  Sun,  and  the  Planets — being  far  inferior  in  power 
and  even  antagonistic  to  Abraxas,  who  is  the  aetual  representative 
of  the  Supreme  Source  of  Light.  Matter  therefore  explains  the 
warlike  attitude  in  which  the  Abraxas-god  is  regularly  depicted 
as  declaring  his  office  of  scaring  away  the  Adversary,  or 
demon,  lao,  who  is  expressed  by  his  name  alone,  placed  in  the 
lowest  part  of  the  scene,  to  denote  his  inferiority.  But  the 
authority  of  the  monuments  themselves  is  more  than  sufficient 
to  upset  such  an  interpretation  of  the  meaning  given  to  them 
by  the  actual  manufacturers.  The  doctrine  mentioned  by 
Origen  was,  it  cannot  be  denied,  that  of  the  more  recent  sect, 
which  set  itself  above  all  old  Egyptian  or  Hebrew  tradition  : 
but  it  most  assuredly  was  not  of  the  immense  body  of  primitive 
Kabbalistic  Gnostics  who  excogitated  and  put  their  trust  in  the 
sigils  that  they  have  bequeathed  to  us  in  such  fantastical 
profusion.  These  talisman -makers  evidently  held  Thoth  and 
Moses  in  equal  reverence  :  they  had  nothing  to  do  with  the 
Valentinians,  who  had  an  obvious  motive  for  exalting  their 
newly-invented  invisible  Tetrad,  by  so  immeasurably  degrading 
below  it  the  most  venerated  names  of  the  old  religion.  The 
Valentinians  were  Greeks  by  education,  really  drawing  their 
inspiration  from  Pythagoras  and  Plato,  and  only  too  well 
pleased  with  the  opportunity  of  venting  their  natural  spite 
upon  the  most  cherished  ideas  of  the  Alexandrine  Kabbalists, 
the  grand  fabricants  of  our  talismans,  those  veritable  "  Pierres 

The  Pistis-Soplda  continually  introduces,  as  a  most  important 
actor  in  its  scenes  of  the  judgment  and  purification  of  the 
soul,  "the  great  and  good  lao,  ruler  of  the  Middle  Sphere," 
who  when  he  looks  down  into  the  places  of  torment  causes  tho 
souls  therein  imprisoned  to  be  set  at  liberty.  The  very 
collocation  of  the  words  on  our  talismans  clearly  denotes  that 
Adonai,  Sabaoth,  are  equally  with  Abraxas  the  titles  of  lao,  who 
is  the  god  actually  represented  by  the  symbolical  figure  these 


words  accompany.  What  else  would  be  the  motive  for  their 
collocation  in  a  prayer  like  this  (on  a  gem  published  by  Matter 
himself)—"  lao,  Abraxas,  Adonai,  Holy  Name,  Holy  Powers,* 
defend  Vibia  Paulina  from  every  evil  spirit "  ?  And,  again,  these 
same  names  perpetually  occur  united  together,  and  followed  by 
the  address  ABAANA0ANAABA,  "  Thou  art  our  Father"  ;  CGM€C 
6IAAM,  "Eternal  Sun";  a  mode  of  adoration  that  could  not 
possibly  have  been  applied  to  beings  of  a  discordant,  much  less 
of  an  antagonistic,  nature  to  each  other.  Besides,  if  Abraxas 
were  the  opponent  and  ultimate  destroyer  of  lao,  it  would  have 
been  absurd  to  put  the  names  of  the  two  in  such  close  union, 
the  latter  even  taking  precedence;  each,  too,  being  equally 
invoked  in  the  accompanying  prayer,  and  honoured  with  the 
same  epithets  of  majesty.  Moreover  the  composite  figure,  or 
Pantheus,  which,  as  all  writers  agree,  represents  the  actual  god 
Abraxas,  is  much  more  frequently  inscribed  with  the  name  I  AGO 
tli an  with  ABPACAZ  ;  and  nevertheless,  though  the  former  name 
stands  alone,  it  is  followed  by  the  same  glorification,  "  Thou  art 
our  Father,"  &c.,  as  when  the  two  names  are  engraved  in 
juxtaposition.  It  is  moreover  quite  opposed  to  all  the  rules  oi 
symbolism  to  represent  the  one  actor  in  a  scene  by  his  proper 
figure  or  emblem,  and  to  indicate  the  other  by  the  simple  letters 
of  his  name  :  and  equally  repugnant  to  common  sense  to  depict 
the  figure  of  the  god  with  the  name  of  his  adversary  placed  in 
the  most  conspicuous  portion  of  the  tableau.  The  absurdity  is 
as  great  as  though  in  Christian  art  one  should  paint  a  Crucifix 
with  Satan's  name  in  the  place  of  the  holy  I  .  N  .  R  .  I  ,  and 
give  for  explanation  the  hostility  of  the  two  personages.  And 
lastly,  it  has  been  already  shown  that  the  numerical  or  Kabbal- 
istic  value  of  the  name  Abraxas  directly  refers  to  the  Persian 
title  of  the  god,  "  Mithras,"  Euler  of  the  year,  worshipped  from 
the  earliest  times  under  the  apellation  of  lao.  Matter  himself 

*  A    parallel   to    this   form   still  one  object  of  adoration  by  heaping 

exists  m  the  Turkish  amulet  com-  upon  him  a  multitude   of  honorific 

posed  of  the  ninety-and-nine  epithets  titles  expressive  of  his  various  attri- 

of  Allah   written   on   a  paper,  and  butes.     Amulets  of  this  and  various 

believed   to   possess  wondrous    pro-  other  kinds  are  regularly  sold  at  the 

tcctive    po\ver.      The    spirit    of    all  mosques. 
Oriental   religions   is  to   glorify  the 


publishes  (PI.  iii.  2)  a  gem  that  should  have  convinced  him  of  his 
error,  had  he  not  overlooked  the  force  of  its  legend.  The  type  is 
Horus  seated  on  the  lotus,  inscribed  ABPACAZ  lACx) — an  address 
exactly  parallel  to  the  so  frequent  EIC  ZETC  CAPAHI  on  the 
contemporary  Heathen  gems  ;  and  therefore  only  to  be  trans 
lated  by  "  Abraxas  is  the  One  Jehovah." 

The  "  Great  Name  "  with  its  normal  titles  is  often  to  be  observed 
interpolated  by  a  Gnostic  hand  upon  works  of  a  better  period 
and  creed,  but  whose  subjects  were  fancied  analogous  to  the 
ideas  conveyed  by  the  lao  Pantheus :  such  as  Phoebus  in 
his  car,  the  Lion — House  of  the  Sun,  the  Sphinx  emblem  of 
royalty,  and  the  Gorgon's  Head  of  the  Destructive  Force,  or  of 
Providence.*  But  the  most  interesting  of  such  adopted  types 
that  has  come  to  my  knowledge,  as  unmistakably  pointing  out 
the  deity  really  understood  by  the  name  Abraxas,  is  a  work 
discovered  by  myself  amongst  the  miscellanea  of  a  small  pri 
vate  collection  (Bosanquet).  In  this  we  behold  the  familiar 
Pantheus  with  head  of  cock,  cuirassed  body,  and  serpent-legs 
brandishing  the  whip  and  driving  the  car  of  Sol,f  in  the 
exact  attitude  of  its  proper  occupant,  Phoebus.  In  the  exergue 
is  the  salutation  CABACx),  "  Glory  unto  th(  e  "  :  011  the  reverse, 
in  a  cartouche  formed  by  a  coiled  asp — precisely  as  the  Hindoos 
write  the  Ineffable  Name  AUM — are  engraved  the  titles  I  AGO 
ABPACAZ,  attesting  that  one  deity  alone  is  meant,  and  that 
one  to  be  the  Kuler  of  the  Sun. 

*  The  holy  name  has  often  been  cited     (section     "Abraxas    gems  "). 

added  to  iutagli  of  a  foreign  nature  The    god   is  giving  the  benediction 

merely  for  the  sake  of  turning  them  with   his   right   hand,   and  holds  a 

into  talismans :  for  example,  on  the  sceptre   in   his   left.     Upon  another 

reverse  of  a  heliotrope  with  Victory,  coin  of  the  same  emperor  and  mint 

inscribing  a  shield  (K.  S.  Williams,  he   is   seated    on    the   Earn,  clearly 

Utica,  U.S.).  meaning  the  Sun  in  that   sign,  and 

f  Exactly  as  Serapis  (also  a  type  perhaps  having   no  deeper  meaning 

of  the  Sun-god)  makes  his  appear-  than   the  date  of  the   month  when 

ance  upon   an  Alexandrian   coin  of  coined. 
Hadrian's,  which   has  been  already 



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  unmis 
takably  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  Eev.  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 
mediaeval  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. 



The  interpretation  of  Gnostic  legends  and  the  nature  of  the 
deity  to  whom  they  were  addressed  have  been  thus  far  the  sub 
jects  of  our  inquiry :  the  next  step  is  to  search  contemporary 
writers  for  information  as  to  the  special  purpose  for  which  the 
talismans  so  enriched  were  originally  manufactured.  The 
motive  for  placing  in  the  coffin  of  the  defunct  illuminate  these 
"  words  of  power  "  graven  on  scrolls  of  lead,  plates  of  bronze, 
the  gems  we  are  considering,  and  doubtless  to  an  infinitely 
greater  extent  on  more  perishable  materials,  derives  much  light 
from  the  description  Epiphanius  gives  (Hair,  xxxvi.)  of  the 
ceremony  whereby  the  IIeracleonita3  prepared  their  dying 
brother  for  the  next  world.  They  sprinkled  his  head  with  water 
mingled  with  oil  and  opobalsamum,  repeating  at  the  same  time 
the  form  of  words  used  by  the  Marcosians  in  baptism,  in  order 
that  his  Inner  Man,  thus  provided,  might  escape  the  vigilance  of 
the  Principalities  and  Powers  whose  domains  he  was  about  to 
traverse,  and  mount  up  unseen  by  any  to  the  Pleroma  from  which 
he  had  originally  descended.  Their  priests  therefore  instructed 
the  dying  man  that  as  he  came  before  these  Powers  he  was 
to  address  them  in  the  following  words  :  "  I,  the  son  from  the 
Father,  the  Father  pre-existing  but  the  son  in  the  present  time, 
am  come  to  behold  all  things  both  of  others  and  of  my  own,  and 
things  not  altogether  of  others  but  belonging  unto  Achamoth 
(Wisdom),  who  is  feminine  and  hath  created  them  for  herself. 
But  I  declare  my  own  origin  from  the  Pre-existing  One,  and  I 
am  going  back  unto  my  own  from  which  I  have  descended." 
By  the  virtue  of  these  words  he  will  elude  the  Powers,  and  arrive 
at  the  Demiurgus  in  the  eighth  sphere,  whom  again  he  must 
thus  address :  "  I  am  a  precious  vessel,  superior  to  the  female 
power  who  made  thee,  inasmuch  as  thy  mother  knoweth  not 
her  own  origin,  whereas  I  know  myself,  and  I  know  whence  I 
am ;  and  I  invoke  the  Incorruptible  Wisdom  who  is  in  the 
father  and  in  the  mother  of  your  mother  that  hath  no  father, 


nay,  not  even  a  male  consort,  but  being  a  female  sprung  from 
a  female  that  created  thee,  though  she  herself  knows  not  her 
mother,  but  believes  herself  to  exist  alone.  But  I  invoke  the 
mother."  At  this  address  the  Demiurgus  is  struck  with  con 
fusion  (as  well  he  might  be),  and  forced  to  acknowledge  the 
baseness  of  his  origin  :  whereupon  the  inner  man  of  the  Gnostic 
casts  off  his  bondage  as  well  as  his  own  angel,  or  soul, 
which  remains  with  the  Demiurgus  for  further  use,  and 
ascends  still  higher  into  his  proper  place.  For  every  man  is 
made  up  of  body,  soul,  and  inner  man,  this  last  being  the  more 
spiritual  nature.  This  same  belief  was  the  popular  one  of  the 
Jews,  as  appears  from  Rhoda's  exclamation  at  the  unhoped-for 
reappearance  of  Peter,  whom  she  supposed  already  put  to  death. 

The  Achamoth  here  mentioned  is  the  Sephandomad  of 
Zoroaster,  the  Wisdom  of  the  later  Jews — so  fully  described  by 
the  pseudo-Solomon  under  that  title  (vii.  25).  "  She  is  the 
Spirit  of  the  virtue  of  God,  the  pure  emanation  of  the  brightness 
of  the  Almighty,  the  brightness  of  the  eternal  Light,  the  mirror 
without  spot  of  his  majesty,  the  image  of  his  goodness."  "  Wis 
dom  hath  made  her  house  upon  seven  pillars."  The  naked  woman, 
or  Venus  Anadyouieiie,  so  often  seen  on  these  gems,  is  the  same 
idea  expressed  by  the  ancient  Greek  type.  One  given  by  Caylus 
(*Reo.  d'Ant.'  vi.  PI.  21)  explains  its  destination  in  terms 
sufficiently  clear,  despite  their  corrupt  Byzantine  orthography  : 
CKOTIN,  "Jehovah,  Sabaoth,  Lord,  come  and  deliver  me  from 
the  darkness  of  Hell !  " 

Could  the  long  legends  covering  so  many  of  these  jasper  tablets 
be  interpreted,  most  probably  their  purport  would  be  found  of 
the  same  nature  with  the  just-cited  Heracleonitan  passport  for 
the  Pleroma :  it  were  but  a  natural  precaution  on  his  friends' 
part  to  supply  the  deceased  brother  with  a  correct  copy  of  such 
long-winded  involved  professions  of  faith,  and  which  otherwise 
would  be  extremely  apt  to  escape  his  memory ;  the  more 
especially  as  being  only  confided  to  him  by  his  spiritual  guides 
when  he  was  already  at  the  last  gasp. 

Of  the  practice  itself,  the  origin  undoubtedly  lay  in  the  very 
ancient  Egyptian  rule  of  placing  in  the  mummy  cases  those 


elaborate  «*  Litanies  of  the  Dead  "  of  which  so  many  have  come 
down  to  our  times  :*  papyrus  scrolls  containing  the  prayers  to 
be  addressed  by  the  soul  to  each  god  whose  "  gate  "  it  has  to 
traverse  on  its  way  to  final  rest.  To  prevent  mistakes,  the 
portrait  of  each  deity  is  prefixed  to  the  column  of  prayers 
due  to  him,  and  this  same  arrangement  is  found  in  the 
leaden  scrolls  belonging  to  the  heterogeneous  doctrine  of  the 

The  same  custom  yet  holds  its  ground  in  India,  probably 
its  pristine  source.  Tavernier  notices  that  the  Brahmins 
placed  on  the  breast  of  the  corpse  seven  pieces  of  paper, 
inscribed  with  the  prayers  to  be  uttered  by  the  soul  as  soon  as 
released  from  its  corporeal  envelope  by  the  flames  of  the  funeral 

The  gem-talismans  that  remain  in  such  varied  abundance  are 
themselves  recognised  in  the  few  surviving  writings  of  the 
Gnostic  teachers.  The  Pistis-Soplda  is  full  of  allusions  to  the 
Seals  and  Numbers  of  the  different  ^Eons  and  the  other  Powei  s,J 
and  with  the  repeated  promise  of  the  Saviour  to  reveal  these 
all  unto  his  hearers ;  a  promise  which,  unfortunately,  is  not 
fulfilled  in  the  book  as  it  has  come  down  to  us.  Nevertheless 
the  very  allusion  sufficiently  declares  the  sense  in  which  we  are 
to  understand  the  C4>PAriC  so  frequently  to  be  seen  on 
the  talismans.  The  motive  for  providing  the  defunct  believer 

*  "  Papyri,  it  is  well  known,  were  excavating  in  Egypt ;  and  has  been 
frequently  kept  in  readiness,  with  published  with  facsimile.  But  the 
blank  spaces  for  the  names  and  finest  example  known  is  the  one 
occupation  of  the  deceased :  the  preserved  in  the  Soane  Museum, 
papyrus  in  fact  formed  part  of  the  hitherto  unpublished, 
regular  funeral  appliances.  They  t  The  Lord  Taraka,  if  duly  pro- 
were  of  three  classes,  namely  Ritual,  pitiated,  wyill  breathe  into  the  dying 
Boolts  of  Transmigrations,  and  Solar  man's  ear  a  mantra  or  charm  of  such 
Litanies,  or  descriptions  of  the  power  as  will  secure  him  a  safe 
passage  of  the  soul  through  the  passage  to  heaven. 
earth  in  the  solar  boat.  These  J  "  Then  they  bring  the  soul  before 
highly  curious  MSS.  contain  minute  the  Virgin  of  Light,  and  it  showeth 
descriptions  of  all  the  regions  through  unto  the  Virgin  her  own  seal,  her 
which  the  soul  was  supposed  to  pass  own  form  of  defence,  &c."  This 
after  death." — C.  \V.  Goodwin.  A  very  illustrative  portion  of  the  teach- 
MS.  of  this  kind,  written  in  the  ing  of  Valentinus  is  found  in  the 
fourth  century  before  our  era,  was  Pistis-Sophia. 
found  by  the  Prince  of  \Vales  when 


with  a  good  supply  of  these  imperishable  credentials  is 
sufficiently  explained  by  the  "  Scheme  of  the  Ophites  "  (pub 
lished  by  Origen),  which  details  the  prayers  to  be  addressed  to 
the  Seven  Planetary  Powers  by  the  released  soul,  in  its  upward 

The  prayer  to  Ildabaoth  contains  this  indication  :  "  0  princi 
pal  Spirit  of  the  Pure  Intelligence,  Perfect  Work  in  the  eyes  of 
the  Father  and  of  the  Son,  in  presenting  unto  thee  in  this  seal 
the  sign  of  Life  open  the  gates  closed  by  thy  power  unto  the 
world,  and  freely  traverse  thy  domain." 

Again,  in  saluting  lao  (here  taken  from  the  Lunar  Genius)  : 
'  Thou  that  presides!  over  the  Mysteries  of  the  Father  and  of 
the  Son,  who  sliinest  in  the  night-time,  holding  the  second  rank, 
(he  first  Lord  of  Death  !  in  presenting  thee  with  this  thine  own 
symbol  swiftly  pass  through  thy  dominions." 

To  Sabaoth  :  "  Receive  me,  on  beholding  this  pure  symbol 
against  which  thy  Genius  cannot  prevail ;  it  is  made  after  the 
image  of  the  type  ;  it  is  the  body  delivered  by  the  Pentad." 

To  Orai  (Venus)  :  "  Let  me  pass,  for  thou  seest  the  symbol  of 
thy  power  annihilated  by  the  sign  of  the  Tree  of  Life."  (Is 
this  sign  the  Cross,  as  Matter  supposes,  or  the  actual  tree 
occasionally  to  be  found  on  Gnostic  gems  ?)  And  it  must  be 
remembered  that  the  primary  meaning  of  symbolum  is  the  im 
pression  of  a  signet,  which  makes  it  more  probable  that  such  is 
the  sense  in  which  the  word  is  used  in  all  these  passages.  It 
may  further  be  conjectured  that  in  this  conversion  of  the 
symbolum  into  a  passport  to  heaven  originated  the  theological 
use  of  the  word  to  signify  a  creed  or  summary  of  the  articles  of 

This  same  service  of  talismans  in  the  next  world  is  clearly 
recognised  in  the  Pistis-Sophia  (§  293),  where  Mary  Magdalene 
gives  this  curious  version  of  the  business  of  the  tribute-penny  : 
"  Thou  hast  said  that  the  soul  giveth  an  account  of  itself,  and 
likewise  a  seal  unto  all  the  Rulers  that  be  in  the  regions  of  King 
Adamas,  and  giveth  the  account  the  honour  and  the  glory  of  all 
the  seals  belonging  unto  them,  and  also  the  hymns  of  the  king 
dom  of  Light.  This  therefore  is  the  word  which  thou  spakest 
\N  lien  the  stater  was  brought  unto  thee,  and  thou  sawcst  that  it 


was  of  silver  and  likewise  of  copper.*  Thereupon  thou  didst  ask, 
Whose  is  this  image  ?  and  they  answered,  Of  the  King.  Then 
when  thou  sawest  that  it  was  of  silver  and  also  of  copper,  thou 
saidest :  Give  the  part  which  is  the  King's  unto  the  King,  and 
the  part  which  is  God's  unto  God.  The  which  mean eth  this: 
After  that  the  soul  hath  received  the  Mystery  it  giveth  an 
account  of  itself  unto  all  the  Eulers  and  unto  the  dominion  of 
King  Adamas,  and  also  giveth  the  glory  unto  those  that  pertain 
to  the  Light.  And  thy  saying  that  it  shone,  when  thou  sawest 
it,  of  silver  and  copper,  it  is  the  image  and  likeness  of  the  soul. 
The  power  of  the  Light  which  is  therein,  the  same  is  the  fine 
silver :  but  the  Counterfeit  of  the  Spirit  (Conscience)  is  the  material 

The  grand  doctrine  of  Gnosticism  was  this  :  The  soul  on  being 
released  from  the  body  (its  prison-house  and  place  of  torment) 
has  to  pass  through  the  regions  of  the  Seven  Powers ;  which  it 
cannot   do    unless    impregnated    beforehand    with   knowledge: 
otherwise  it  is  seized  upon  and  swallowed  by  the  dragon-formed 
Euler   of  this   world,    Satan  Ophiomorphos,  and    voided  forth 
through  his  tail  upon  earth  again,  where  it  animates  a  swine  or 
some  such  beast,  and  repeats  its  career  once  more.     But  should 
it  be  filled  with  knoivledge,  it  eludes  the   Seven  Powers,  and 
tramples  upon  the  head  of  Sabaoth  ("  of  whom  they  say  he 
hath  the  hair  of  a  woman  ")  and  mounts  up  unto  the  eighth 
heaven,  the  abode  of  Barbelo,  the  Universal  Mother,  and  who 
according  to  the  Pistis-Sophia  is  the  celestial  Mother  of  the 
Saviour.     Epiphanius  quotes  from  the  Gospel  of  Philip  another 
formula,    intended    to   extort   a   free   passage    from   the    same 
Planetary    Genii:    "The   Lord   hath  revealed    unto   me   what 
words  the  soul  must  use  as  it  ascendeth  up  into  heaven,  and 
how   it   must   make   answer  unto   each   one    of    the   Celestial 
Virtues.     'I  have  known  myself,  I  have  collected  myself  from 
all  parts,  neither  have  I  begotten  sons  unto  the  Ruler  of  this 
world,  but  I  have  plucked  up  the  roots,  and  gathered  together 
the  scattered  members.     I  know  thee  who  thou  art,  for  I  am 

*  A     curious     remark,     pointing       tetradrachm  of  imperial  times  being 
clearly  to   Alexandria  as  the  place        very  base  silver  indied. 
where  this  Gospel  \vas  written,  its 


on^  from  above.'  But  if  convicted  of  having  left  any  offspring 
id pon  earth,  the  soul  is  detained  there  until  it  shall  have 
collected  all  and  attracted  these  into  itself." 

This  "  Self- Collection  "  was  only  to  be  effected  through  the  ob 
servance  of  perpetual  chastity,  or  rather  (inevitable  compromise) 
the  practice  of  the  various  unnatural  vices  that  regularly  spring 
from  such  an  article  of  faith.  If  however  a  woman  of  the 
congregation  should  through  want  of  precaution  allow  herself 
to  become  pregnant,  the  Elders  produced  abortion,  took  the 
foetus  and  pounded  it  up  in  a  mortar  along  with  honey,  pepper, 
and  other  spices  and  perfumery.  Then  this  "  congregation  of 
swine  and  dogs  "  assembled ;  and  every  one  dipping  his  finger 
into  the  mess,  tasted  thereof.  This  they  called  their  Perfect 
Passover,  saying  :  "  We  have  not  been  deceived  by  the  Ruler  of 
concupiscence,  but  have  gathered  up  again  the  backsliding  of 
our  brother."  The  very  plain-spoken  Epiphanius  gives  exact 
particulars,  not  to  be  put  into  a  modern  tongue,  of  the  mode  in 
which  the  faithful  observed  in  one  sense  their  vow  of  perpetual 
chastity,  without  renouncing  the  joys  of  Venus.  This  he 
illustrates  by  the  singular  explanation  then  current  of  the 
ancient  myth  of  Saturn's  devouring  his  own  offspring,  against 
which  interpretation  and  the  practice  thereon  founded,  even 
Clemens  had  found  it  needful  to  warn  the  orthodox  two  centuries 


To  exemplify  the  punishment  ordained  for  having  done  the 
work  of  the  Demiurgus  by  leaving  offspring  upon  earth,  the 
Ophites  told  a  wild  legend  how  that  Elias  himself  was  turned 
back  from  the  gates  of  heaven,  although  to  his  own  conscience  a 
pure  virgin,  because  a  female  demon  had  gathered  up  of  his 
seed  during  his  sleep,  and  formed  infants  therewith,  which  to 
his  unutterable  confusion  she  then  and  there  produced  in 
testimony  of  his  sin.  Hence  springs  the  medieval  notion  of  the 
Succuboe,  nocturnal  temptresses  of  the  continent ;  although  these 
were  supposed  to  do  the  work  of  their  father  the  Devil  in  a 
different  way,  by  procuring  him  the  needful  supplies  for  his 
amours  with  the  witches,  to  whom  he  stood  in  the  ex-officio 
relation  of  paramour. 

All  this  is  in  strict  accordance  with  what  is   found   in    the 


fragments  of  the  "  Gospel  to  tho  Egyptians  "  ;  for  Clemens 
(Stromata  iii.)  quotes  therefrom  this  dictum  of  the  Saviour's  : 
"  When  Salome  asked  the  Lord  how  long  shall  Death  prevail? 
He  answered  unto  her,  So  long  as  ye  women  do  bring  forth  chil 
dren.  Wherefore  she  said,  Then  I  have  done  well  in  not  bearing 
children,  seeing  that  there  is  no  necessity  for  generation.  To 
which  the  Lord  answered,  Feed  upon  every  herb,  but  that 
which  hath  bitterness,  eat  thou  not.  Again  when  Salome  asked 
when  the  things  should  be  known  concerning  which  she  in 
quired,  the  Lord  answered,  When  ye  shall  not  need  a  covering 
for  your  nakedness  ;  when  the  two  shall  become  one,  the  male 
with  the  female,  neither  male  nor  female."  It  is  to  these  over 
strained  rules  of  morality  that  St.  Paul  alludes  when  he  ex 
postulates  with  the  Colossians  (ii.  20)  asking  them,  "  Why  are 
ye  subject  to  ordinances  (or  rather,  make  laws  for  yourselves 
without  any  warrant),  namely,  touch  not  (women),  taste  not 
(flesh),  handle  not  (things  unclean)." 

From  the  consideration  of  the  value  and  use  of  these  Gnostic 
Symbols  in  the  world  to  come,  we  are  naturally  led  to  inquire 
in  what  manner  they  were  employed  by  their  owners  in  this. 
The  meaning  of  the  word  itself  has  gone  through  many  tran 
sitions.  "Symbolism"  properly  signified  the  contribution  of 
each  member  towards  the  expenses  of  a  Greek  drinking-party. 
For  this  purpose  each  pledged  his  signet-ring  to  the  caterer 
and  afterwards  redeemed  it  by  paying  his  quota  of  the  bill. 
For  this  reason  Plautus  transfers  the  name  of  symboluin  to  the 
ring  itself.  The  signet  being  considered  the  most  trustworthy 
of  all  credentials,  the  word  came  to  signify  any  token  serving 
for  the  purpose  of  a  credential.  For  example,  Caylus  figures 
(Rec.  V.  pi.  55),  a  bronze  right-hand,  the  natural  size,  inscribed 
on  the  palm  ZTMBOAON  HPOZ  OTEAATNIOTZ,  "Credentials 
to  the  Yelaunii"  (a  Gallic  tribe  whose  seat  was  round 
Antibes).*  The  wrist  at  the  section  is  closed,  forming  a  base, 

*  The  best,  as  well  as  the  most  two  fishes,  placed  side  by  side,  with 

interesting  example  of  a  symbolism  a  palm-branch  between  them ;  the 
extant,  is  the  one  figured  by  Caylus,  I 

without  any  conception  of  its  value  reverse  is  inscribed  AA€A<t>OT. 
(PI.  87,  i.)-  It  is  an  ivory  disk,  two 

inches   in   diameter,   engraved  with  The-well  known  emblems  show  this 


so  that  the  hand  could  stand  upright  of  itself.  A  pair  of 
clasped  hands,  symbol  of  faith  (still  called  in  Italy  fede\  was 
the  common  present  from  one  nation  or  army  to  another  on 
making  alliance :  "  Miserat  civitas  Lingonum  veteri  institute 
dono  legionibus  dextras  hospitii  insigne"  (Tac.  Hist.  i.  54). 
From  the  nature  of  the  case  such  presents  must  have  been 
made  in  the  precious  metals,  and  consequently  none  have  been 
preserved.  This  connexion  of  ideas  shows  plainly  why  in 
ecclesiastical  language  symbolum  stands  for  a  profession  of 
faith,  a  creed,  i.e.  gr.  "  Symbolum  Apostolicum."  And  so  "by 
degrees  the  word  degenerated  into  its  present  sense  of  any 
token  denoting  an  idea,  more  especially  a  religious  one. 

Emblem  again  has  passed  through  equal  vicissitudes.  At 
first,  a  little  silver  chasing,  intended  for  letting  into  plate  as 
an  embellishment  of  the  surface — which  the  term  e/x^A^/xa 
neatly  expresses — the  designs  being  always  mythological,  its 
name  remained,  after  the  fashion  had  expired,  to  denote  any 
representation  of  that  nature.  There  is,  however,  a  distinction 
in  the  real  meaning  of  emblem  and  symbol ;  the  former  expressing 
by  actual  representation,  the  latter  by  hieroglyphs,  the  idea 
they  convey.  Thus  the  emblem  of  Victory  is  a  winged  female 
holding  a  palm  ;  the  symbol  of  Victory  is  the  palm  by  itself. 

The  BAMBINO — the  favourite  idol  of  the  women  of  Rome — 
bears,  in  its  type  and  decoration,  the  most  convincing  of  all 
testimony  as  to  the  real  source  of  the  religion  in  whose 
pantheon  it  plays  so  prominent  a  part.  It  is  a  wooden  figure, 
about  two  feet  high,  now  passing  for  the  vera  effigies  of  the 
Infant  Jesus ;  but  to  any  eye  acquainted  with  Indian  art,  an 
unmistakable  copy  of  the  Infant  Buddha.  The  figure,  in 
almost  full  relief,  stands  in  front  face,  with  arms  crossed  on 
the  breast,  and  holding  the  lotus  flower  in  the  one  hand,  in  the 
regular  attitude  of  the  Hindoo  god.  But  the  most  striking 
feature  in  the  design  is  the  shape  of  the  background,  which  has 
no  prototype  in  Roman  art,  but  is  cut  into  the  so-called  "  pine- 

ticket  to  have  been  the  pass  of  some  as  his  introduction  to  the  faithful  in 
"  Brother  in  Christ  Jesus,"  in  the  whatever  part  he  might  require  their 
primitive  ages  of  the  Church,  serving  help. 


apple  "  outline,  which  invariably  accompanies  the  sacred  images 
of  India.  On  the  head  is  a  crown,  in  the  Oriental  style,  and 
the  close-fitting  garment,  reaching  from  neck  to  ankle,  and  now 
passing  for  the  swaddling-clothes  of  the  baby,  is  profusely 
studded  with  precious  stones— the  offerings  of  a  later  time.  The 
very  tradition  as  to  its  place  of  manufacture  supplies  an  inkling 
of  the  truth  ;  for  it  is  said  to  be  the  work  of  a  monk  at 
Jerusalem,  and  carved  out  of  one  of  the  sacred  olive-trees.  The 
pious  artist  must  have  been  inspired  by  the  sight  of  the  Indian 
prototype,  for  the  resemblance  is  far  too  close  to  be  accidental,  if 
indeed,  the  whole  affair  be  not  another  instance  of  a  "  christened 

The  very  nature  of   things    renders    it  a  necessity  for  the 
members  of  every  secret  society  to  possess  means  for  mutual 
recognition    that   shall   escape   the   observation   of    the   outer 
world.     The   partakers   of  the    Eleusinian   Mysteries,  appear, 
from  certain  allusions  in  the  classics,  to  have  been  furnished 
by  their  sponsors  with  something  of  the  kind.      The  refusal 
to  wear  a  garland  at  a  feast  was  accepted   as   the  «gn  of  a 
Mithraic  brother.     Certain  it  is  that  our  popular  notion  about 
the  "Masonic    Grip"  was   equally  current   as  applied  to  the 
Gnostics  in  the  times  of  Epiphanius.     "  On  the  arrival  of  any 
stranger  belonging  to  the  same  sect,  they  have  a  sign  given  by 
the  man  to  the  woman,  and  vice  versa.     In  holding  out  the  hand 
under  pretence  of  saluting  each  other,  they  feel  and  tickle  it 
in  a  particular  manner,  underneath  the  palm,  and  by  that  means 
discover  whether  the  new-comer  belongs  to  the  same  society. 
Upon  this,  Lowever  poor  they  may  be,  they  serve  up  to  him  a 
sumptuous   feast,  with  abundance  of  meats  and  wine.      And 
after  they  are  well  filled  the  host  rises,  leaving  his  wife  behind, 
bidding  her,   '  Show  thy  charity  unto  this  our  brother,' "  &c., 
carrying  out  his  hospitality  to  an  extent  that  in   our  selfish 
times   no   one   can    expect   to   meet  with    unless   amongst  the 

As  may  well  be  supposed,  these  symbola  are  Avidely  diffused  ; 
for  Gnosticism  was  more  than  co-extensive  with  the  empire  of 
Koine,  and  long  survived  her  fall.  Besides  our  guns,  plates  of 
bronze  and  lead  (and  oven  of  gold  in  the  remarkable  example 


found  near  Carnarvon),  and  rude  copper  medallions,  engraved 
with  similar  devices,  are   constantly  disinterred  from  ancient 
cemeteries,  where  they  had  so  long  protected  the   repose  of 
their  original  possessors.     Of  that  rarer  class,  the  medallions, 
the  most  interesting   known    to   me,  was  found  in  Provence 
(Praun  Cabinet).     It  shows  in  intaglio  the  Abraxas    god,  for 
reverse,  the  triple  Hecate,  executed  with  considerable  spirit: 
types  well  illustrating  the  syncretistic  nature  of  the  creed  by 
this   union   of  an   ancient   and   a   newly-devised   type.     The 
sepulchre  of  Maria,  wife  of  the  most  orthodox  Honorius,  con 
tained,  amongst  a  variety  of  amuletic  figures  (or  perhaps  toys — 
little  animals,  mice,  &c.),  carved  in  crystal   and  agate,  a  gold 
plate,  inscribed  with  the  names  of  the  "Angels  of  the  Presence." 
On  account  of  the    great  interest   of  this  discovery,   I    have 
inserted  a  complete  translation    of  Fauno's  account,  the  only 
description   ever  penned  of  the  rifling  of  an  imperial  tomb. 
And  when  Bishop  Seffred's  coffin  (deceased  1159)  was  opened 
in   Chichester  Cathedral,  upon    his  bony  finger    still   lay  the 
episcopal  ring,  set  with  an  Abraxas  jasper,  no  doubt  recom 
mended  to  him  in  life  and   death  by  the  numerous  virtues  so 
particularly  set  forth  by  Camillus  Leonardi.      When  did  the 
belief  in  the  virtue   of   these  talismans  really  expire?      The 
Young  Pretender,  with  the  superstition  inherent  in  his  family, 
had  sought  to  enlist  in  his  service  the  mighty  Abraxas  himself 
for  his  ill-starred   expedition.      In    his   baggage,   captured    at 
Cullodcii  by  General  Belfort,  was   found  a  bloodstone,  set  in 
silver  as  a  pendant,  engraved  with  the  well-known  Pantheus. 
and   for   reverse   the    naked    Venus,    Acliamotli,    legend    ATITA 
(Figured  by  Walsh,  pi.  7). 

Provence  is  yet  a  fruitful  source  of  these  interesting  memorials 
of  the  wide-spread  theosophy.  Gnosticism  from  the  beginning 
took  root  and  flourished  in  Southern  Gaul,  as  the  elaborate 
treatise  of  Ireneeus  attacking  it,  as  no  newly-invented  thing, 
very  clearly  demonstrates.  Its  success  was  probably  due  to  the 
close  affinity  of  its  leading  doctrines  to  the  Mithraic  and  original 
Druidical  systems  previously  reigning  there.  Later  still,  in  the 
middle  of  the  fourth  century,  a  new  form  of  Gnosticism,  broached 
by  Piriscllian,  Bishop  of  Avila,  who  was  put  to  death  for  his 


pains  by  the  British  emperor  Magnus  Maximus.  Gibbon's  note 
upon  the  unlucky  heresiarch  is  so  characteristic  of  his  style  that 
I  cannot  forbear  quoting  it  :  "  The  bishopric  of  Avila  (in  Old 
Castile)  is  now  worth  20,000  ducats  a  year,  and  is  therefore 
much  less  likely  to  produce  the  author  of  a  new  heresy."  That 
Spain  also  had,  long  before  Priscillian's  preaching,  received  and 
warmly  embraced  that  of  Basilides,  although  so  far  removed 
from  its  fountain-head,  is  apparent  from  a  passage  in  Jerome's 
29th  letter  to  Theodora  :  "  Our  friend  Licinius,  when  that  most 
foul  heresy  of  Basilides  was  raging  throughout  Spain,  and  like 
a  pestilence  and  murrain  was  devastating  all  the  province 
between  the  Pyrenees  and  the  Ocean,  held  fast  the  purity  of  the 
Christian  faith,  far  from  receiving  Amargel,  Barbelo,  Abraxas, 
Balsamus,  the  ridiculous  Leusiboras,  and  the  other  such-like 

That  Britain  had  to  some  extent  received  the  same  doctrines, 
the  Carnarvon  gold  plaque  is  sufficient  evidence.  And  its 
existence  throws  light  upon  the  singular  fact  mentioned  by 
Matthew  Paris,  that  when  Eadred,  in  collecting  building 
materials  for  Ins  conventual  church,  was  pulling  up  the  Roman 
foundations  of  Verulamium,  he  came  upon  a  little  cupboard, 
"  armariolum,"  in  the  thickness  of  an  immense  wall  containing 
scrolls  in  an  unknown  tongue.  At  last  a  very  aged  monk, 
Unwona  by  name,  made  them  out  to  be  written  in  the  ancient 
British  language,  and  containing  invocations  to  the  gods  formerly 
worshipped  in  the  place.  But  Verulamium  was  so  entirely 
Roman,  as  far  as  its  public  edifices  were  concerned,  that  the 
use  of  the  native  language  in  any  documents  accompanying  the 
foundation  of  a  temple  is  in  the  highest  degree  improbable  ;  the 
regular  Gnostic  Greek  would  be  equally  puzzling  to  the  old  Saxon 
monk,  and  his  explanation  was  a  safe  cloak  for  his  ignorance. 
The  late  period  of  the  Roman  occupation,  when  Gnosticism 
most  flourished,  will  account  for  the  preservation  of  "  scrolls  " 
(parchment  no  doubt)  through  the  few  centuries  intervening 
before  the  abbotship  of  Eadred. 

It  is  more  than  probable  that  such  doctrines  lurked  un 
noticed  amongst  the  native  Gallo-Romans,  during  the  times  of 
the  Arian  Gothic  kings,  and  did  no  more  than  revive  into  the 

z  2 



flourishing  Manicheism  of  the  Albigenses  in  the  twelfth 
century.  The  fact  of  these  sectaries  having  received  the  same 
share  of  persecution  from  Catholics  as  the  "Waldenses  them 
selves  is  not  alone  sufficient  to  prove  them  equally  good 
Protestants  with  the  latter;  though  that  is  now  taken  for 
granted,  especially  by  expounders  of  the  Apocalypse,  when 
hard  put  to  it  to  find  the  required  "  Two  Witnesses "  against 
the  Scarlet  Lady. 

Gnosticism  has  left  traces  of  itself,  whether  by  direct  or 
indirect  descent  amongst  those  mysterious  sects  of  the  Libanus, 
the  Druses  and  Anseyrets.  As  late  as  Justinian's  reign,  ac 
cording  to  Procopius,  no  fewer  than  a  million  Polytheists, 
Manicheans  and  Samaritans  (the  last  also  a  sect  of  Gnostics)* 
were  exterminated  in  Syria  alone,  during  the  systematic  perse 
cution,  so  long  carried  on  by  this  pedantic  bigot.  As  that 
region  soon  afterwards  fell  under  the  more  tolerant  Caliphs,  who 
never  troubled  themselves  about  the  religion  of  their  subjects, 
provided  their  tribute  were  punctually  paid,  these  doctrines 
may  very  well  have  come  down  in  some  sort  to  our  days, 
considering  the  secluded  position  of  the  people  holding  them, 
and  the  tenacity  of  life  possessed  by  every  well-defined  system 
of  religious  ideas. 

*  And  the  most  ancient  of  all,  for  they  claimed  Simon  Magus  for  their 



The  several  grades  in  the  Gnostic  Theogony,  through  all  of 
which  the  soul  had  to  pass  before  it  could  attain  to  supreme 
perfection,  are  briefly  set  before  us  in  this  passage  of  the  Pistis 
Sophia  (247)  :— 

"  And  when  the  Saviour  had  said  all  these  things  unto  His 
disciples,  Andrew  came  forward  and  spoke  :  '  Lord,  be  not 
wroth  with  me,  but  have  compassion  upon  me  and  reveal  the 
mystery  of  the  word  which  I  will  ask  Thee,  otherwise  it  is  a 
hard  thing  in  my  sight  and  I  understand  it  not.'  Then  the 
Saviour  answered  and  said  unto  him :  4  Inquire  what  thou 
wouldst  inquire  and  I  will  declare  the  same  unto  thee,  face 
to  face,  and  without  a  parable.'  Then  Andrew  answered  and 
said  :  '  Lord,  I  wonder  and  marvel  greatly  how  men  that  be 
in  this  world,  when  they  are  departed  from  out  of  this  body 
of  Matter,  and  have  gone  out  of  the  world,  how  shall  they 
pass  through  these  .firmanents,  and  all  these  rulers,  and  lords, 
and  gods,  and  all  these  Great  Invisible  Ones,  and  all  these 
that  belong  to  the  Middle-space,  and  those  that  belong  to 
the  place  of  them  upon  the  right  hand,  and  all  the  great 
emanations  of  the  same,  so  that  they  may  come  within 
(beyond)  them  all,  so  that  they  may  inherit  the  kingdom  of 
Light?  This  business,  therefore,  Lord,  is  full  of  trouble  in  my 
sight.'  When  Andrew  had  thus  spoken,  the  spirit  of  the 
Saviour  was  moved  within  Him,  and  he  cried  out  and  said  : 
'  How  long  shall  I  bear  with  you,  how  long  shall  I  suffer  you  ! 
Do  you  then  not  understand  at  all,  and  are  ye  still  ignorant  ? 
Know  ye  not  and  do  ye  not  understand  that  ye  are  all  angels, 
and  archangels,  and  rulers,  and  lords,  and  gods,  and  the  other 
Powers,  and  the  glory  thereof;  you  from  yourselves  and  in 
yourselves  in  turn,  proceeding  out  of  one  mass,  and  one 
matter,  and  one  being,  and  all  proceeding  out  of  one  confusion.* 

*  Kepacruos,  i.e.  the  mixture  of  which  it  was  the  object  of  the 
the  Light  Divine  with  brute  Matter,  Saviour's  coming  to  rectify. 


And  by  the  commandment  of  the  First  Mystery  this  confusion 
must  needs  be,  until  the  great  emanations  of  Light  and  the 
glory  of  the  same  shall  have  cleansed  it;  and  they  shall 
cleanse  it  not  of  themselves,  but  through  the  compulsion  of 
the  Great  Ineffable  One.  And  they  have  not  received  torments, 
neither  have  they  changed  their  places  at  all,  neither 
have  they  despoiled  themselves,  nor  transformed  themselves 
into  various  figures,  neither  have  they  been  in  the  last 
affliction.  For  this  cause  chiefly  ye  are  the  dregs  of  the 
Treasury -house,  and  ye  are  the  dregs  of  them  that  pertain  to 
the  right  hand,  and  ye  are  the  dregs  of  the  great  Invisible 
Ones,  and  of  all  the  Eulers,  and  in  a  word  ye  are  the  dregs  of 
them  all.  And  ye  were  in  great  sorrows,  and  afflictions,  and 
transformations,  and  in  sundry  shapes  of  this  world;  and  by 
reason  of  these  sorrows,  ye  were  in  agony  and  fought  with 
this  world  and  all  the  Matter  that  is  therein,  and  ye  did  not 
slacken  your  hands  in  fighting  against  it  until  ye  had  found 
out  the  mysteries  of  the  kingdom  of  Light,  which  rendered 
you,  who  fought,  a  pure  Light,  and  ye  were  made  the  pure 
Light.' " 

All  which  implies  the  grand  idea  that  Man,  although  made 
of  inferior,  though  cognate  stuff,  to  the  Angelic  Powers,  is 
susceptible,  through  the  attainment  of  knowledge,  of  a  perfection 
superior  to  theirs. 


Gnostic  symbols,  with  their  uses  in  this  life  and  in  that  to 
come  have  thus  far  been  the  subject  of  our  investigation  ;  which 
naturally  leads  us  to  consider  the  ideas  that  their  devisers 
entertained  of  the  constitution  of  the  next  world  and  of  the 
nature  of  the  soul  itself.  As  to  the  former  of  these  deeply 
interesting  questions,  the  Gnosis  specially  laboured  to  afford  the 
exactest  information  to  its  disciples ;  and  in  this  class  the  one 
preserved  by  Origen  (in  Celsum  vi.),  leaves  nothing  to  be 
desired  in  point  of  fulness,  and  may  confidently  be  accepted  as 
the  most  authoritative  of  all  such  celestial  cartes  de  route. 


This  learned  Father  had,  by  some  means  or  other,  become 
possessed  of  a  parchment  chart  on  which  were  depicted  the 
successive  stages  of  the  soul's  heavenward  journey,  with  the 
several  Powers  *  it  must  encounter  in  its  flight,  and  the  proper 
invocations  (specimens  of  which  I  have  already  given) 
whereby  it  should  extort  permission  to  traverse  their  do 
minions.  This  chart  was  known  to  the  faithful  as  the 
"Schema,  or  Diagramma,  of  the  Ophites."  Amongst  these 
invocations  the  one  addressed  to  lao,  genius  of  the  moon,  is 
peculiarly  important  as  illustrating  the  use  of  the  most 
numerous  class  of  the  talismans  we  are  considering.  "  0  thou 
that  president  over  the  mysteries  of  the  Father  and  of  the  Son, 
lao  who  shinest  in  the  night,  who  holdest  the  second  place,  the 
First  Lord  of  Death,  who  makest  part  of  that  which  is  without 
God !  In  presenting  to  thee  thine  own  memorial  (or  likeness) 
as  a  token  (or  passport)  I  swiftly  traverse  thy  domain  after 
having  conquered  through  the  Word  of  Life  that  which  was 
born  of  Thee."  The  MSS.  read  rov  I&LOV  VTTO  vovv  <™//,j3oAov, 
which  has  no  meaning,  but  can  only  be  the  corruption  of 
rryv  ISiav  vTrovo'iav,  a  word  often  used  by  Plutarch  in  the  sense  of 
symbol.  Now  what  else  could  this  "  memorial  "  of  lao  be  but 
his  own  image  engraved  in  gems?  This  deity  is  btyled  "  Lord 
of  Death,"  because  the  moon  (Isis)  presides  over  the  birth, 
development  and  change,  of  which  death  is  the  necessary  con 
sequence,  of  things  terrestrial. 

*  This  was  merely  an  adaptation  have  had  a  Chaldsoan  origin,  even 
to  the  new  notions  of  the  sect  of  the  more  a.icient  than  the  Egyptian, 
old  Egyptian  ritual  always  placed,  Lane-Fox  and  others  have  translated 
entire  or  in  part,  within  the  mummy-  a  tahlet  giving  an  account  of  the 
case,  and  entitled,  "  The  Book  of  descent  of  the  goddess  Ishtar  into 
the  Gates,  concerning  the  manifesta-  Hades,  "  the  Land  of  no  Keturn." 
tion  unto  the  Light."  These  Gates,  The  Lord  of  Earth  gives  her  a  green 
leading  to  the  palace  of  Osiris,  were  bough  of  the  If  tree,  and  she  passes 
one-aad-twenty  iu  number,  and  were  successively  through  the  Seven  Gates, 
guarded  each  by  its  particular  deity,  surrendering  at  each  in  order,  her 
to  be  duly  addressed  in  his  turn.  crown,  ear-rings,  head-jewels,  front- 
The  papyrus  of  Petamenoph,  other-  lets,  finger  and  toe-rings,  and  neck- 
wise  Ainmuiiius  (d.  under  Hadrian),  lace.  The  Lord  of  Hades  gives  her 
has  been  admirably  explained  and  a  cup  of  the  Water  of  Life,  and  she 
translated  by  Champollion,  and  pub-  returns,  receiving  back  her  jewels  in 
lished  in  Caillaud's  'Voyage  a  the  same  order  in  which  she  gave 
Meroe,'  iv.  p.  22.  Or  the  belief  may  them  up. 



Of  the  theory  therein  embodied,  much  was  evidently  derived 
from  the  same  source  as  the  Neo-Platonic  doctrine  concerning 
the  planetary  origin  of  the  soul's  faculties,  which  shall  be  related 
further  on.  The  chart  itself  was  founded  on  that  essential 
doctrine  of  Gnosticism,  that  the  soul,  released  from  the  body, 
mounted  upwards,  eager  for  absorption  into  the  Infinite  God 
head,  or  "  Boundless  Light,"  that  summum  bonum  of  Oriental 
aspiration  (the  Buddist  Nirwana  "  perfect  Repose,  the  Epicu 
rean  Indolent  ia  ")  ;  but  on  its  way  WHS  obliged  to  traverse  the 
successive  regions  of  the  planets,  each  ruled  by  its  presiding 
genius.  These  genii  were  of  a  nature  somewhat  material,  and 
therefore  malignant,  and  in  this  respect  corresponding  to  the 
Seven  Devs,  Ahrimaii's  ministers,  who  according  to  Zoroaster 
are  chained  each  to  his  own  planet.  To  obtain  the  indispensable 
permission  of  transit,  a  different  adjuration  to  each  Power  was 
required ;  all  which  have  been  already  given  from  Origen's 
copy  of  the  Chart.  Their  names  were  put  down  therein,  as 
Adonai,  genius  of  the  Sun,  lao  of  the  Moon,  Eloi  of  Jupiter. 
Sabao  of  Mars,  Orai  of  Venus,  Astaphai  of  Mercury,  and 
Ildabaoth  of  Saturn.* 

All  these  names  are  to  be  read,  more  or  less  commonly,  upon 
our  talismans,  although  probably  used  there  in  a  different  sense 
from  that  accepted  by  the  author  of  the  Diairramma.  The 
Jewish  angels  Michael,  Gabriel,  Surid,  Raphael,  Thantabaoth, 
and  Erataoth,  were  likewise  inscribed  as  names  of  the  genii 
presiding  over  the  constellations,  the  Bear,  Serpent,  Eagle, 
Lion,  Dog,  Bull.  These  notions  are  manifestly  of  Magian 
root,  acquired  by  the  Jews  during  the  long  period  that  their 
country  was  a  province  of  the  Persian  Empire,  and  had  grown 
into  an  essential  article  of  religion. 

St.  Paul  found  it  needful  to  warn  his  flock  against  the 
"  worshipping  of  Angels ;  "  nevertheless,  the  adoration  and  the 
multiplication  of  their  names  went  on  augmenting  to  that 
pitch,  that  a  Council  held  under  Pope  Zachary  reduced  them,  as 
objects  of  worship  to  three  only,  Michael,  Gabriel,  Raphael. 

*  The  Kitual  above  cited  contains  the  defunct  to  the  guardians  of  the 
regularly  eight  invocations  addressed  same  numher  of  regions  over  whom 
to  Thoth,  recommending  the  soul  of  he  is  the  president. 


This  retrenchment  of  the  heavenly  host  was  endorsed  by  a 
capitulary  of  Charlemagne's  issued  from  Aix-la-Chapelle.  In 
the  Diagram  under  consideration,  Michael  was  typified  by  a 
lion,  Suriel  by  an  ox,  Raphael  by  a  serpent,  Gabriel  by  an 
eagle,  Thantabaoth  by  a  bear,  Onioth  or  Zartaoth  by  an  ass. 

The  reward  promised  to  the  Angel  of  the  Church  at  Thyatira 
(Rev.  ii.  28),  "  And  I  will  give  him  the  Morning  Star," 
seems  to  be  connected  with  the  same  belief  in  the  Planetary 
Presidents.  Dante,  in  his  Paradiso,  going  doubtless  upon 
old  tradition,  makes  Mercury  the  abode  of  spirits  moved  to 
glorious  deeds  in  life  by  the  love  of  fame;  Venus,  of  true 
lovers  ;  Luna,  of  theologians;  Mars,  of  martyrs  for  the  Faith  ; 
Jupiter  of  good  princes;  Saturn  of  such  as  have  led  a  con 
templative  and  recluse  life. 

The  above-quoted  names  of  the  Planetary  Genii  were  in  the 
Jewish  religion  either  titles  and  attributes  of  the  Most  High, 
or  else  of  his  chief  ministering  spirits ;  but  in  the  Gnostic 
Scheme  they  had  been  degraded  from  their  high  estate,  and 
reduced  into  secondary  deities  of  a  mixed  nature,  partaking 
of  good  as  well  as  of  evil,  yet  all  equally  anxious  to  win  souls 
from  Abraxas,  the  proper  lord  and  creator  of  the  universe. 
The  only  explanation  for  such  a  misapplication  of  the  sacred 
titles  is  a  very  brief  one;  these  semi-Buddhist  philosophers 
who  found  the  root  of  all  evil  in  Matter,  and  consequently  in 
the  material  creation,  employed  these  old  hallowed  names  to 
denote  the  agents  of  the  Creator,  who  on  account  of  this  their 
office  were  regarded  as  mere  demons ;  and  by  an  exactly  similar 
process  they  are  found  misappropriating  the  most  sacred  names 
of  the  Christian  revelation.  But  of  this  blasphemous  perversion 
and  wanton  desecration  of  the  ancient  terminology  no  trace  is 
to  be  discovered  upon  our  talismans,  their  makers  belonging  to 
the  Kabbalistic  School  of  Alexandria,  which  reconciling  Moses 
with  Zoroaster,  continued  to  employ  these  appellations  in 
their  primary  time-honoured  sense. 

The  source  of  this  notion  concerning  the  Planetary  Rulers 
can  be  traced  very  far  back.  The  power  of  Ildabaoth,  or 
Saturn,  and  his  sons  over  the  soul,  as  well  as  the  astrological 
notion  about  the  influence  of  the  stars  over  man's  destiny,  are 



clearly  part  and  parcel  of  what  the  Alexandrian  Platonists  had 
taught  concerning  the  planetary  origin  of  the  soul  and  its 
faculties,  thus  expounded  by  Macrobius  (Som.  Scip.  i.  12)  : 
"  The  soul  on  its  descent  from  the  One  and  Indivisible  source 
of  its  being  in  order  to  be  united  to  the  body,  passes  through 
the  Milky  Way  into  the  Zodiac  at  their  intersection  in  Cancer 
and  Capricorn,  called  the  Gates  of  the  Sun,  because  the  two 
solstices  are  placed  in  these  signs.  Through  Cancer,  the  '  Gate 
of  Man,'  the  soul  descends  upon  Earth,  the  which  is  spiritual 
death.  Through  Capricorn,  the  '  Gate  of  the  Gods,'  it  reascends 
up  into  heaven;  its  new  birth  taking  place  upon  its  release 
from  the  body.  So  soon  as  the  soul  has  left  Cancer  and  the 
Milky  Way,  it  begins  to  lose  its  divine  nature,  and  arriving 
at  Leo  enters  upon  the  first  phase  of  its  future  condition  here 
below.  During  its  downward  progress,  the  soul,  at  first  a 
sphere  in  form,  is  elongated  into  a  cone,  and  now  begins  to  feel 
the  influence  of  Matter,  so  that  on  joining  the  body  it  is 
intoxicated  and  stupefied  by  the  novel  draught.  This  condition 
is  typified  by  the  Crater  of  Bacchus  placed  in  the  heavens 
between  Cancer  and  Leo. 

"  The  soul  thus  descending,  as  it  passes  through  each  sphere 
receives  successive  coatings,  as  it  were,  of  a  luminous  body,  and 
is  furnished  at  the  same  time  with  the  several  faculties  it  has 
ta  exercise  during  its  probation  upon  Earth.  Accordingly,  in 
Saturn,  it  is  supplied  with  reason  and  intelligence ;  in  Jupiter, 
with  the  power  of  action  ;  in  Mars,  with  the  irascible  principle  ; 
in  the  Sun,  with  sensation  and  speculation  ;  in  Venus,  with 
the  appetites;  in  Mercury,  with  the  means  of  declaring  and 
expressing  thoughts  ;  in  the  Moon,  with  the  faculty  of  generating 
and  augmenting  the  body."  Hence,  as  the  Planets  contain  all 
the  elements  that,  so  to  speak,  make  up  the  Inner  Man,  the 
genii,  their  rulers  ("  Lords  of  Death,"  as  Valentinus  calls  them), 
exercise  their  tyranny  over  the  soul  through  the  medium  of 
these  faculties,  so  long  as  the  soul  is  encrusted  with  their  con 
tributions  during  its  imprisonment  in  the  body. 

It  is  curious  to  compare  with  this  Grecian  theory  the 
"  Doctrine  of  the  Servants,  of  Saturn,"  dwellers  in  the  farthest 
North  (unmistakably  a  fragment  of  Druidical  lore),  preserved  to 


us  by  Plutarch  in  his  treatise  'On  the  Face  in  the  Moon.' 
They  taught  that  in  the  generation  of  man,  the  Earth  supplied 
the  body,  the  Moon  the  i/^x>7,  the  Sun  the  vovs.  What  the 
i//vx?7  is  to  the  body,  the  same  is  the  voCs  to  the  i//vx?J.  This 
composite  nature  undergoes  a  double  death.  In  the  first, 
Demetor,  whose  companion  is  the  Earthly,  or  Supernal,  Hermes, 
forcibly  separates  the  i/^x??  (animal  soul)  from  the  body.  This 
soul,  after  a  certain  penance  in  the  Middle  Sphere,  in  order  to 
purify  it  from  the  pollution  of  the  flesh,  is  caught  up  into  the 
Moon,  and  passes  through  the  Earth's  shadow  during  an  eclipse, 
after  a  probation  proportionate  in  length  of  time  unto  its 
deserts ;  whereas,  the  wicked,  if  they  try  to  enter  before  their 
purification  be  completed,  are  scared  away  by  the  terrific  Face. 
The  good  abide  in  the  Moon,  in  the  enjoyment  of  perfect 
tranquillity,  and  becoming  Sat/xoi/e?  or  genii,  busy  themselves 
with  the  regulation  of  human  affairs  upon  earth,  rendering 
oracles  and  similar  services  to  mankind.  But  should  these 
beatified  spirits  misconduct  themselves,  they  are  put  again  into 
a  human  body,  and  sent  down  to  Earth.  (This  is  the  very 
doctrine  of  Manes,  who  made  the  light  of  the  Moon  to  depend 
upon  the  brightness  of  the  blessed  one  therein  resident;  a 
theory  which  Epiphanius  triumphantly  overthrows  by  asking 
how  the  luminary  was  supplied  during  the  eight  centuries 
that  elapsed  between  the  Creation  and  the  death  of  Adam  ?) 

But  after  a  certain  time,  the  i/o{k  aspires  to  reascend  to  its 
fountain  head  the  Sun,  whereupon  Persephone,  with  her  col 
league  the  Celestial  Hermes,  separates  it  with  gentleness  and  by 
slow  degrees  from  the  grosser  i/^x7?-  This  is  the  Second  Death  : 
the  vovs  flying  up  to  the  Sun,  but  the  i/a;x?/  remaining  in  the 
Moon  in  a  dreamy  sort  of  existence,  until  gradually  absorbed 
into  her  substance,  exactly  as  the  Earth  gradually  absorbs  into 
herself  the  remains  of  the  body.  Calm  and  philosophic  souls 
are  easily  absorbed ;  but  active,  passionate,  erotic  natures  with 
great  difficulty  ;  they  wander  about  in  midspace,  divested  of 
the  vows,  becoming  Tityi  and  Typlioncs  ;*  throwing  confusion 

*  Names  of  the  chief  giants  who  as  that  in  the  Book  of  Enoch  : 
warred  against  Jupiter.  The  legend  "  And  the  Giants  who  were  born  of 
clearly  comes  from  the  same  source  the  spirit  and  of  flesh  shall  be  called 


into  oracles,  as  the  so-called  Typhon  does  at  Delphi,  until  in 
the  end  they  likewise  are  drawn  back  and  attracted  into  the 
substance  of  the  Moon. 

Justinus  Kerner,  in  his  treatise  '  Die  Seherin  von  Prevorst,' 
improving  upon  the  old  notion,  most  ingeniously  anatomises 
the  Inner  Man,  and  makes  him  to  consist  of  three  members, 
Seele,  Nerven-Geist,  Geisi.  The  Nerven-Geist,  or  nervous 
energy,  being  of  a  grosser  nature,  continues  united  with 
the  Seele  after  its  separation  from  the  body,  rendering  it 
capable  of  becoming  visible  to  the  living  in  the  form  of  an 
apparition,  and  enabling  it  in  other  ways  to  affect  material 
objects,  to  make  noises,  move  about  articles  of  furniture,  in 
short,  to  commit  the  various  annoyances  comprehended  under 
the  term  "  es  spukt."  And  here  be  it  observed  the  commonness 
of  such  visitations  in  Germany  is  amusingly  exemplified  by  the 
necessity  of  having  an  impersonal  verb  to  express  them  ;  just  as 
we  say  "  it  rains,"  "  it  blows,"  so  do  the  more  sensitive  Germans 
say  "  it  ghosts."  According  to  its  previous  training  in  life,  this 
composite  being  requires  more  or  less  time  to  dissolve,  the 
Seele  alone  being  immortal ;  and  consequently  the  Teutonic 
spectres  as-ume  a  more  and  more  diminutive  form  as  their  time 
of  probation  wears  away.  Analogous  to  this  is  Plato's  explana 
tion  of  the  aclmoidedged  facts  of  spirits  haunting  tombs  :  having 
been  immersed  during  her  union  with  the  body  in  gross  sensual 
pleasures,  the  soul  becomes  equally  unable  and  unwilling  to 
abandon  her  old  companion  and  dwelling-house  before  the  same 
be  totally  consumed. 

To  the  above-quoted  theories  explaining  the  nature  of  the 
soul,  and  its  final  destination,  the  recent  discovery  of  that 
precious  monument  of  Gnosticism,  the  Pistis-Sophia  enables  us  to 
add  a  third,  infinitely  more  complete  in  all  its  details.  This  last 

evil  spirits  upon  earth  ;  and  on  earth  shall  they  be  called.    The  habitation 

shall    he    their    habitation.        Evil  of  the  spirits  of  heaven  shall  be  in 

spirits  shall  proceed  from  their  flesh  heaven,  but  upon  earth  shall  be  the 

because     they    were    created     from  habitation  of  terrestrial  spirits  who 

above ;   from  the  holy  watchers  was  are   born  on  earth.     The   spirits  of 

their  beginning  and  primary  founda-  the  giants  shall  Le  like  clouds  which 

tion.    Evil  spirits  shall  they  be  upon  shall  oppress,  corrupt,  fall,  contend, 

earth,  and  the  spirits  of  the  wicked  and  bruise  upon  earth." — (xv.  8.) 


revelation  improves  upon  the  Neo-Platonic  doctrine  by  making 
the  astral  genii  "the  Rulers  of  the  Sphere  "  (Zodiac)  create  the 
soul  from  their  own  substance  "  out  of  the  tears  of  their  eyes 
and  the  sweat  of  their  torment,"  animated  with  a  spark  of  that 
Divine  Light  which  has  not  yet  been  totally  extracted  from 
their  fuller  nature.  For  these  Zodiacal  Lords  evidently  answer 
to  the  rebellious  Angels  of  the  Jews,  and  the  Seven  Devs  of  the 
Magi,  in  fact  the  whole  treatise  represents  the  religious  ideas  of 
the  latter,  more  closely  than  of  any  other  system. 


(Pist.-Soph.  282).  "  And  when  the  Saviour  had  spoken  these 
things,  he  continuing  in  his  discourse  said  unto  Mary  :  Now, 
therefore  Mary,  hear  concerning  the  thing  whereof  thou  askest 
of  me,  Who  is  it  that  constraineth  man  to  commit  sin?"     Now 
therefore  when  (the  parents)  have  begotten   the  child,  when 
there  exists  in  him  a  small  power,  and  a  small  soul,  and  a  small 
"  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  "  (conscience)  ;*  in  a  word,  all  the  three 
in  him  being  small  together.     No  one   of  them  understaiideth 
anything  at  all,  whether  it  be  good  or  evil,  by  reason  of  the 
weight  of  the  heavy  oblivion  (of  the  former  life)  that  holdeth 
them  ;  the  body  likewise  being  small.     And  the  child  eateth  of 
the  meats  of  the  world  of  the  Eulers.     And  the  soul  gathereth 
to  itself  out  of  the  portion  of  the  soul  that  is  concealed  in  these 
meats,  and  the  Counterfeit  of  the  spirit  gathereth  to  itself  out  of 
the  portion  of  evil  that  resideth  in  the  meats  and  in  the  lusts 
thereof;  the  body,  likewise,  gathereth  the  insensible  Matter  that 
is  in  the  meats.     But  the  Fate  herself  taketh  not  out  of  the 
meats,  inasmuch  as  she  is  not  mixed  up  with  them,  but  in  what 
shape  she  came  into  the  world,  in  the  same  she  continueth.  And 
little  by  little,  the  power,  the  soul,  and  the  counterpart  of  the 
spirit  grow  to  their  full  stature,  and  each  one  thereof  is  sensible 
after  its  own  kind.f     The  power  is  sensible  to  seek  after  the 
Light  above  ;  the  soul  is  sensible  to  seek    after  the  place  of 
Righteousness   of  the   mixture,   which   same   is  the   place   of 

*  'AVTI/JH/J.O}'  TTvev/jLaros.  t  I.e.  adapted  by  its  constitution. 


confusion ;  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  also  seeketh  after  all 
wickedness  and  lusts  and  sins;  and  the  body  is  sensible    to 
nothing  save  how  it  may  draw  strength  out  of  Matter,  thus  the 
three  are   forthwith    sensible,  each  one  according  to  its  own 
nature,  and  the  contentious  ones  (epiSaioi)  also  send  ministers 
who  shall  follow  them  in  order  to  bear  witness  against  all  the 
eins  that  they  may  commit,  to  regulate   the  manner  in  which 
they  shall  punish  them  when  they  come  up  for  judgment,  the 
counterfeit  of  the  spirit  also  thinks  upon  and  is  sensible  to  all 
the  sins  and    the   evils    that   come    near  to  that   soul,   which 
proceedeth  from  the  Rulers  of  the   Great  Fate,  and  bringeth 
them  into  the  soul.*     But  the  inner  power  seeketh  after  the 
Place  of  Light,  and  all  the  godhead,  whilst  the  counterfeit  of 
the  spirit  turneth  the  soul  awry,  and  constraineth  it  to  work  all 
its  own  unlawful  deeds,  and  all  its  passions,  and  all  its  wicked 
ness  continually  ;  and  it  abideth  a  different  creature  from   the 
soul,  and  is  an  enemy  to  the  soul,  and  causeth  it  to  commit  all 
these  sins  and  wickednesses  ;  and  also  stirreth  up  the  ministers 
of  contention,  to  bear  witness  against  the  sins  that  it  is  about  to 
cause  the  soul  to  commit.     And  it  cometh  to  pass  that  it  resteth 
not  day  or  night,  and  it  troubleth  the  soul  in  dreams  and  iu  the 
lusts  of  this  world,  and  maketh  it  to  lust  after  all  the  things  of 
this  world  ;  in  a  word,  it  urireth   the  soul  to  do  all  the  things 


that  the  Rulers  have  laid  before  it,  and  it  is  at  war  with  the 
soul,  contriving  that  it  shall  do  the  things  it  would  not.  Now 
therefore  tliis  is  the  enemy  of  the  soul  and  constraineth  it  to  do 
all  kinds  of  sins  ;  and  when  it  conies  to  pass  that  the  time  of  that 
man  is  accomplished,  then  cometh  his  Fate,  which  driveth  that 
man  unto  the  death  appointed  him  by  the  Rulers,  and  by  means 
of  the  bonds  wherewith  men  are  tied  by  Destiny.  Then  come  the 
contentious  Receivers  to  conduct  that  soul  out  of  the  body;  and 
after  that  these  Receivers  go  about  with  the  soul  through  all  the 
regions  shewing  unto  it  the  ./Eons  of  the  world,f  whilst  the  coun 
terfeit  of  the  spirit  and  fate  follow  after  that  soul :  but  the  power 

*  The  Platonic  "divinso  particuU  earth,  according  to  Valentinus. 

aurse";     the   extrication   of    which  t  The  sense  seems  to  require  the 

from   the  confusion,  i^iy^a,   was  the  translation,  "exhibit  the   soul  unto 

real  object  of    Christ's  descent   on  the  JEons." 


that  was  in  it  goes  up  unto  the  Virgin  of  Light.  And  after  those 
three  days  the  Receivers  lead  that  soul  down  from  above  into 
the  hell  of  Chaos,  they  deliver  it  unto  the  tormentors  (and  the 
Receivers  return  again  into  their  own  places),  who  punish  the 
same  according  to  the  measure  of  its  sins  as  ordained  by  the 
Archons  for  the  discharge  of  souls.  And  the  counterfeit  of  the 
spirit  becomes  the  guard  over  the  soul,  appointed  over  it, 
convicting  it,  in  one  place  of  punishment  after  the  other,  of  the 
sins  which  it  hath  committed,  and  it  leadeth  the  soul  into  the 
region  of  the  Archons  of  the  Middle  space.  And  when  it  hath 
arrived  in  their  presence,  they  lead  it  unto  the  Mysteries  of  Fate, 
and  if  they  find  them  not  (sealed  upon  the  soul),  they  seek  after 
their  own  share ;  and  those  Archons  punish  the  soul  according 
to  its  sins,  according  to  its  deserts ;  of  those  punishments  I  will 
declare  the  form  unto  you  in  the  *  Emanation  of  the  Universe.' 
But  after  it  has  come  to  pass  that  the  time  of  the  soul's  different 
punishments  is  accomplished  in  the  prisons  of  the  Archons  of  the 
Middle-space,  then  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  leadeth  the  soul 
upwards  out  of  all  their  regions,  and  bringeth  it  before  the  light 
of  the  Sun,  according  to  the  commandment  of  the  Primal  Man* 
IEOT,  and  bringeth  it  before  the  judge,  the  Virgin  of  Light. 
And  she  trieth  that  soul ;  and  in  case  she  shall  find  it  to  be 
sinful,  she  planteth  within  the  same  (a  particle  of)  the  power  of 
her  own  light,  according  unto  its  station  in  life,  its  body,  and  its 
share  of  sensibility.  Then  the  Virgin  of  Light  putteth  her  seal 
upon  that  soul  and  delivereth  it  unto  one  of  her  Receivers,  who 
will  see  that  it  be  placed  in  a  body  befitting  the  sins  that  it 
hath  committed  (in  a  former  life).  And  verily  I  say  unto  you 
she  shall  not  let  the  soul  be  released  from  the  changes  of  its 
bodies  (various  metempsychoses),  until  it  shall  have  accomplished 
its  uttermost  cycle  in  the  shapes  whereof  it  may  be  deserving ; 
of  all  which  I  will  tell  you  the  form,  and  likewise  the  form  of 
the  several  bodies  into  which  they  shall  place  the  souls, 
according  to  the  sins  of  each. 

"  But  if  it  be  a  soul  that  hath  not  obeyed  the  counterfeit  of  the 
spirit  in  all  its  doings,  but  is  righteous,  and  hath  received  the 
mysteries  of  Light  that  be  in  the  First  Court,  or  those  that  be  in  the 
*  The  Seir  Anpin  of  the  Eabbis. 


Second  Court,  or  those  in  the  Third  which  is  the  innermost  part 
(adytum) — when  the  time  of  that  soul  in  the  body  is  accomplished, 
and  when  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  followeth  after  that  soul, 
together  with  fate,  whilst  the  soul  is  on  the  road  that  leadeth  on 
high,  and  before  it  is  far  distant  therefrom,  it  uttereth  the 
mystery  for  the  breaking  *  of  all  the  seals  and  all  the  bonds  of 
the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  wherewith  the  Archons  have  bound 
it  unto  the  soul.  And  it  having  uttered  those  words,  the  bonds 
of  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  are  loosed  so  that  it  ceaseth  to 
persecute  that  soul,  and  lets  it  go  according  to  the  commandment 
given  unto  it  by  the  Archons  of  the  Great  Fate,  who  said  unto 
it :  Let  not  that  soul  go  free,  unless  it  shall  utter  unto  thee  the 
mystery  for  the  breaking  of  the  bonds  wherewith  we  have 
bound  thee  unto  it.  Thereupon  the  soul,  thus  set  free,  leaves 
fate  behind  unto  the  Archons  of  the  way  of  the  Middle-space, 
and  destroys  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  leaving  it  for  the 
Archons  in  the  place  wherein  they  had  bound  it  (at  first)  unto 
the  soul ;  and  in  that  moment  it  becometh  a  great  flood  of  light, 
shining  exceedingly  ;  and  the  Receivers  who  had  fetched  it  out 
of  the  body  are  afraid  of  that  light,  so  that  they  fall  down  upon 
their  faces,  and  the  soul  is  made  as  it  were  a  wing  f  of  light,  and 
passeth  through  all  the  regions  of  the  Archons,  and  through  all 
the  courses  of  the  Light,  until  it  entereth  into  the  place  of  its 
own  kingdom  for  which  it  hath  received  the  mystery. 

"  But  if  it  be  a  soul  that  hath  received  the  mystery  in  the 
First  Court,  which  is  the  outer  part,  and  after  receiving  and 
performing  the  mystery  and  being  converted  shall  again  have 
sinned,  and  when  its  time  in  the  body  is  accomplished,  and  the 
Receivers  come  to  fetch  it,  and  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  and 
fate  pursue  it  by  reason  of  the  seals  and  bonds  wherewith  it  hath 
been  bound  together  with  them  by  the  Archons — then  if  the  soul 
whilst  yet  in  the  way  of  its  pursuers  should  utter  the  mystery 
that  breaketh  those  seals  and  bonds,  forthwith  they  are  all 
loosed  and  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  ceases  to  follow  after  the 

*  I.e.  the  formula,  perhaps  the  perhaps  to  the  ancient  emblem  of 

"  mystery  of  the  seven  vowels,''  so  the  human-headed  bird  used  in  the 

highly  lauded  elsewhere.  same  sense. 

t  I.e.  a  winged  thing ;    referring 


soul.  And  the  soul  leaves  its  pursuers  behind,  for  none  of  them 
have  their  own  power,  but  the  soul  keeps  its  own  power.  Then 
the  Receivers  that  belong  to  the  mystery  which  the  soul  hath 
received  come  and  snatch  it  away  from  the  contentious  Receivers, 
and  these  return  to  do  the  business  of  the  Archons  in  the  occupa 
tion  of  fetching  away  souls.  But  the  Receivers  of  the  soul,  who 
pertain  to  the  Light,  themselves  become  a  wing  of  light  to  that 
soul,  and  a  vesture  of  light  unto  it.  And  they  lead  it  not  into 
Chaos,  because  it  is  not  lawful  to  lead  a  soul,  that  hath  obtained 
the  mysteries,  into  Chaos ;  but  they  bring  it  into  the  road  of  the 
Archons  of  the  Middle-space.  And  when  they  are  come  before 
the  Archons  of  the  Middle-space,  the  Archons  depart  out  of  the 
way  of  that  soul,  being  in  great  fear,  and  in  cruel  burning,  and 
in  divers  shapes,  in  a  word  being  in  great  fear  unto  which  there 
is  no  measure.  And  in  that  moment  the  soul  utters  the  mystery 
ot  its  defence  before  them ;  and  they  fall  upon  their  faces  out  of 
fear  of  the  mystery  and  of  the  defence  which  it  hath  uttered. 
And  the  soul  leaves  with  them  their  fate*  saying  unto  them :  Take 
to  yourselves  your  fate,  I  am  not  coming  into  your  place  from 
henceforth,  I  am  made  a  stranger  unto  you  for  ever,  I  am  coming 
into  the  place  of  my  own  inheritance.  And  after  the  soul  hath 
said  this,  the  Receivers  of  the  Light  fly  away  with  it  on  high,  and 
bring  it  before  the  ^Eons  of  Destiny,  giving  it  the  proper  speech 
of  defence  for  the  place  and  the  seals  thereof,  and  the  soul  shews 
to  them  the  counterfeit  of  the  spirit  and  utters  the  mystery  that 
sundereth  the  bonds  wherewith  they  had  bound  them  both 
together,  saying  to  them :  Take  to  yourselves  your  counterfeit 
of  the  spirit,  henceforth  I  come  not  in  your  place,  I  am  made  a 
stranger  unto  you  for  ever.  And  it  shews  them  the  seal  of  each 
and  the  form  of  defence.  Then  the  Receivers  fly  away  with 
the  soul  and  bring  it  through  all  the  JEons,  shewing  ths  seal, 
and  the  defence,  in  all  the  regions  of  King  Adamas,  and  of  all 
the  Rulers  of  the  places  of  the  left  hand  (which  defences  and 
seals  I  will  declare  to  you  when  I  explain  to  you  the  emanation 
of  the  mystery).  Then  they  bring  the  soul  before  the  Virgin 
of  Light,  and  it  giveth  to  the  Virgin  her  own  seal,  defence,  and 

*  Viz.,  the  separate  portion  of  its  composition    implanted  in   it   by  these 
Archons  at  its  birth. 

2   A 


the  glory  of  hymns,  and  the  Virgin  of  Light  with  the  seven 
other  Virgins  examine  that  soul — all  of  them,  that  they  may  all 
find  their  own  marks,  their  own  seals,  their  own  baptisms,  and 
their  own  unctions  upon  it.  (292)  Then  the  Virgin  of  Light 
sealeth  that  soul,  and  the  Receivers  of  Light  baptize  the  same 
and  give  unto  it  the  spiritual  unction.  And  each  of  the  Virgins 
of  Light  sealeth  it  with  her  own  seal.  Furthermore  the  Re 
ceivers  deliver  it  over  to  the  great  Sabaoth,the  Good  One,  who 
is  hard  by  the  gate  of  Life  in  the  region  of  those  pertaining 
unto  the  right  hand,  whom  they  call  'the  Father';  and  the 
soul  rendereth  unto  him  the  glory  of  his  hymns,  of  his  seals, 
and  of  his  justification.  Then  the  great  good  Sabaoth  sealeth 
it  with  his  own  seals,  and  the  soul  rendereth  the  knowledge, 
and  the  glory  of  hymns,  and  the  seals  belonging  to  the  whole 
region  of  those  that  pertain  unto  the  right  hand.  These  also 
all  seal  it  with  their  own  seal ;  and  Melchisedek,  the  great 
gatherer  of  Light — who  is  in  the  region  of  those  pertaining 
to  the  right  hand— also  sealeth  that  soul.  Then  Melchisedek's 
gatherers  also  seal  it  and  lead  it  into  the  Treasury  of  Light,  and 
the  soul  rendereth  glory  and  honour  and  their  proper  seals  in 
all  the  regions  of  Light.  Then  those  pertaining  to  all  the 
regions  of  the  Treasury  of  Light  seal  it  with  their  own  seals, 
and  so  it  entereth  into  the  place  of  its  inheritance." 


(261)  "  Then  stood  forth  Mary  and  said,  Lord,  as  concerning 
just  men  and  perfect  in  all  righteousness  ;  such  a  man  in  whom 
there  is  no  sin  at  all,  shall  they  torment  him  with  all  these 
judgments  and  punishments,  or  shall  they  not  ?  Or  shall  they 
carry  such  a  man  into  the  kingdom  of  heaven  or  not  ? 

"  The  Saviour  answered  and  said  unto  Mary,  The  just  man  per 
fect  in  all  righteousness,  that  hath  never  committed  sin,  but  yet 
hath  never  obtained  any  one  mystery  of  Light,  when  his  time 
cometh  for  departing  out  of  the  body,  straightway  there  shall 
come  for  him  the  Gatherers  belonging  to  that  one  of  the  great 
Triple  Powers  who  is  the  greatest  amongst  them,  in  order  that 


they  may  take  away  that  soul  from  the  Contentious  Gatherers, 
and  during  three  days  they  shall  go  about  with  that  soul  amongst 
all  the  creatures  of  the  world  (i.e.  throughout  all  creation). 
After  the  three  days  they  shall  lead  him  down  into  Chaos,  so 
that  they  may  deliver  him  out  of  *  all  the  punishments  there 
in,  and  out  of  the  judgments,  and  they  shall  bring  him  unto  all 
the  judgment-places,  but  no  flame  of  Chaos  shall  afflict  him 
greatly ;  (2G2)  nevertheless  they  shall  in  some  wise  afflict  him 
for  a  little  space,  but  speedily  shall  they  have  compassion  upon 
him,  and  draw  him  up  out  of  Chaos  so  as  to  take  him  out  of  the 
Road  of  the  Middle-space,  and  from  all  the  Rulers  thereof. 
And  these  shall  not  punish  him  with  their  cruel  torments,  but 
the  flame  of  their  regions  shall  afflict  him  in  some  measure; 
and  after  they  have  brought  him  into  the  unmerciful  place 
AXOANABAZ  they  shall  not  torment  him  with  the  cruel  torments 
therein,  but  they  shall  keep  him  there  a  little  while,  and  afflict 
him  in  some  measure  with  the  heat  of  the  torments  of  that 
place.  But  they  shall  quickly  have  compassion  upon  him,  and 
bring  him  forth  out  of  all  those  places,  neither  shall  they  lead 
him  by  the  way  that  goeth  from  out  of  the  yEons,  for  fear  lest 
the  Rulers  of  the  ^ons  should  hold  him  too  firmly,  but  they 
shall  conduct  him  by  the  path  of  the  Sun's  light,  in  order  to 
bring  him  before  the  Virgin  of  Light.  And  she  doth  try  that 
soul  that  she  may  find  it  free  from  sin,  and  she  ordereth  it  not 
to  be  carried  unto  the  Light  because  the  mark  of  the  Kingdom  of 
Light  is  not  upon  it ;  but  she  sealeth  it  with  a  special  seal,  and 
takes  care  that  it  be  put  into  a  body  of  righteousness  belonging 
to  the  jEons.  (263)  This  man  will  be  good,  so  that  he  will 
obtain  the  seals  of  the  mysteries  of  the  Light,  and  inherit 
the  kingdom  for  ever  and  ever. 

"  But  if  he  shall  have  sinned  once,  twice,  or  thrice,  they  shall 
reject  that  soul,  sending  it  back  again  into  the  world  according 
to  the  form  of  the  sins  that  it  may  have  committed  ;  the  form 
whereof  I  will  declare  unto  you  hereafter.  But  verily,  verily 
I  say  unto  you,  that  even  the  righteous  man  that  hath  committed 
no  sin  at  all  cannot  be  brought  into  the