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thraic Abraxas did prevail among the contemporaries of Telephus is sufficiently shown by the occurrence on a coin of Hippostratus, as noted by Lieut. Cunningham, of a figure having the most striking of the Abraxead attributes ; I am the more inclined therefore to believe that the resent discovery will to further illustration of the presence of a Basilidean worship, the types of which have hitherto been inexplicable on the coins which present them.
Another, and a very curious instance of analogy between the usage and superstitions of the ancient inhabitants of Khorassan and the classic nations of Europe, is exhibited in the annexed plate. The figure No. 1, is a magnified drawing of the gem, (No. 2,) placed below it. It is one of a set of impressions sent to me by the late Edward Conolly, who was killed in action in the Kohistan near Kabul. The drawing is faithfully copied from his own, which is accompanied by these remarks :—
"As the original of this is very small, a drawing on a larger scale is forwarded of the Inscription. We cannot tell whether it be Syriac, or what; the letters seem to be — (illegible) and to bear no resemblance to Pehlevi. The unavoidable scantiness of our marching libraries must serve," he observes further on, "as excuse for ■ these meagre, and unimportant notes."
I was discouraged from publishing a plate of the impressions of the gems which accompanied the above, from an idea that these would prove of little interest, from the impossibility in most instances of drawing more than conjectural inferences from their subjects. Looking
Eber. Gems, No. 442. Abraxas: a figure of Mars upon his head; IA(2 below him ; on the reverse IAQ ABPAXA2, inversed.
Eber. Gem, No. 443. Abraxas: with the addition of stag's horns, of which Bayer gives a solar allusion to seven stars below him: I A£2 on "lc shield; the words
(inversed) PAIN XIOIOIOX about him. (?)
Eber. Gem, No. 444. Abraxas: lion-headed with a sword in place of the scourge: on the reverse the word riTANTOPHRTA, (inversed) translated, "fortiiml hi is martia, et gigantia."
Other Basilidean emblems occur on gems in this collection, but none but those of Abraxas. Should gems be found of a similar character iu Central Asia, these hinti may lead to their identification.
at them, however, as I often did, in the hope of chancing upon some plausible theory regarding them, I remembered to have observed in a small illustrated edition of Virgil, (Knapton, and Sandby, London, 1750, 2 vols, duod.), which is I believe rare, the representation of a gem, having a subject almost similar to that of Conolly's, a hand holding an ear. On referring to the book, I found the gem I was in search of, PI. VII. Vol. I., the original being in the Florentine Museum.* The only very marked difference observable between the gems is that the Oriental artist has added to the lobe of the ear, what is apparently intended for a massive ornament; the relative position of the hands in the two gems raries slightly, but there can be no doubt that the sentiment is identical. The meaning of the sign cannot be better given than by extracting Faber's Notes upon it, (Fabri Thesaurus, in voc. Auris.J
Aurem. vellere: tVimitVtl CttltatjUin fcMYlttII G. avertir reprimander. Virg. eel 6.3.
Vellit & admonuit;" Sen, 4 de Benef. 36. "Aurem nuhi pervellem," iff) Uull lttit'0 tjllUft I5«10 <©f)t 0Cf)?Cit)£n G. Je m6a souviendrai en terns et lieux. Tractum ab attestantibus qui attestanti imam auriculam tangebant, cum hoc verbo, "Memento." Propterea quod auris memoria sacra sit, ut ad Virg. 1. c. Servius annotat. Plin. 11. 45 " Est in aure ima memoriae locus quem tangentes attestantur." Ac vidisse se Muretus 1 Var. Sect. 12. 5, testatur veteres nummos sereos, in quibus viri duo insculpti erant, quorum unus alteri aurem vellebat; in orbem autem wiptum erat. MNHMONEYE—«« (Fab. Thes. vol. i. p. 281.)"
It is indeed a curious fact to find a symbol, which Virgil alludes to and Pliny explains, represented on a gem found in Khorassan, and that with a degree of graphic fidelity not unequal to what is displayed in one of the precious relics of the Florentine Museum, yet illustrated by the illegible characters of an unknown language! The most interesting point is of course the occurrence of these characters in conjunction with a sign to which the word they form must have distinct explanatory reference, and but one of two inferences can be drawn; either that the word MNHMONEYE occurs written in these characters on the gem, or
* The note in the work I cite from is, "Gemma ex Museo Florent. Tom. 'I. T»b. 22. in qua mania aurem imam vellens, Spect. eel. 6. v. 3."
that a corresponding admonition to connect this symbol with the memory of a duty, or of an obligation, is conveyed by them in the language, whatever it was, of which they were the vehicle. My readers will observe, that I have not given these letters in the plate of the gem in its natural size, and I much regret my inability to do so; it is owing partly to the lithographer's having failed to copy them with exactness, and partly to the annoying fact, that none of the four impressions which I have of the gem, contains the whole inscription in perfection. The gem, like many of those found in Khorassan and Afghanistan, is cut on a convex surface, which enhances the difficulty of distinguishing any marginal impressions, and the wax on which poor Conolly has taken it off, is invariably of the worst description. Thus it is only by taking the characters piecemeal from the several impressions, that I can verify the reading given on the enlarged drawing of the original. The letters are not dissimilar to those found on other gems from Afghanistan, impressions of which are in my possession, and the most remarkable of which are of a decidedly Mithraic character.
It is idle almost to hazard conjecture, as to the language which was expressed in these letters. A sort of affinity may be perhaps discovered between the Syriac character and this, but in the present stage of our ignorance, nothing can be advanced on the subject beyond the vaguest conjecture. We have established, however, that the language, whatever it was, either allowed of the adoption of Greek words into it, which were expressed in its peculiar character; or that, adopting Greek habits and superstitions, those who spoke this language translated into their own tongue the apothegms or admonitory expressions, which accompanied particular symbols in vogue among a Grecian, or Grecised people. Should circumstances admit of further research, this clue to possible discovery will be valuable. In the mean time, not even the most ingenious and acute could, I fear, derive definite conclusions from the meagre facts before us. We have, however, seen a Champollion unravel the mysteries of ^Egyptian hieroghyphies; a Prinsep decypher by a comparative process of, at first, apparently hopeless difficulty, the unknown characters of more than one unspoken language; a Rawlinson verify the accounts of the Father of History, by his reading of the cuneiform records of Persepolis: hence therefore I confidently believe that, should further material for the comparison on a scale sufficiently extensive be discovered in this unknown character, the elucidation of many historical difficulties by the ascertainment of the value of the letters, and the consequent determination of the language they expressed, is very possible, and is very much more than probable.
My own task is accomplished, if by the brief remarks above made, and by the curious analogies brought forward, I shall have succeeded in awakening the attention of competent enquirers to the subject. Few, it is true, have opportunities in this country of devoting time to the study of such subjects. Many though have the means of forming collections, which however indiscriminately made, will furnish the material and the means for enquiry. I sincerely trust, that no man able to appreciate the importance of such an investigation, and more particularly, that no member of the Asiatic Society, will fail to avail himself of every occasion to further it. |X|
Observations on the Genus Spathium. By M. P. Edgeworth, Esq.
Happening to meet with two species of Aponogeton (Roxb.) in this neighbourhood, I compared them with the generic character of Spathiom in Endlicher's Genera Plantarum, to which they are referable. I observed that he describes the embryo as unknown, and therefore, especially directed my attention to that point. By Endlicher, the genus is referred to Saurureae, I am therefore not a little surprised on examining the S. undulatum, to find it distinctly monocotyledonous, with a large fleshy cotyledon embracing a plumule of unusual size and development. On examining the seed of S. monastachys, however, I found a very different structure, a homogeneous mass, in which I could find no trace of an embryo; but on causing the seeds to germinate,* which they do freely in water kept in a cup, I discovered that this homogeneous mass is in reality the cotyledon and the plumule, which after an interval of some days developes itself through a slit at the base of the hornshaped cotyledon.
The Sp. undulatum likewise germinated readily. The only other point to be noticed now, is, whether these two plants are referable to one and the same genus, while so marked a difference exists in the embryo. The one with the plumule of unusual size, (equalled only by the developement of that part in Nelumbium,) and the foliaceous cotyledon—the other with its plumule invisible even at the commencement
• I owe this experiment to Dr. Falconer's kindness.
of germination, and its solid cotyledon—while there are the minor differences of the relvaceous foliage and caducous bracts of the former, as contrasted with the herbaceous foliage and persistent bracts of the latter. There is, moreover, a slight difference in the pollen of the two plants, that of the former being exactly and acutely elliptic, and assuming a globular form under the influence of acid or iodine ; that of the latter gibbously ovoid, and not influenced in the same manner by the iodine solution or acid.
From the description of Aponogeton pusillum in Roxburgh's F. 1. and the section of the fruit of A. echinetum, in his Cor. Plants, t. 81, I should judge that they would have the same characteristics as the A. undulatum. They may perhaps be found to be intermediate, in which case the two species I have examined may be fairly considered as the extremes of a single genus. From the general habit, and the position of the bracts of Endlicher resembling that of half a floral envelope, for which reason I term them sepals in the description, the place of this genus would appear to be next to Potamogeton among the Naides.
I have subjoined an amended generic character, and fuller descriptions of the two species I have examined.
Spathium Loureiro. Endlich. Gen. 1826, p. 267.
Floris hermaphroditi, in spadice cylindraceo pedunculato spatha monophylla caduca cincto spiraliter dispositi sessiles. Sepala duo peteloidea sub-opposita. Stamina sex, hypogynaa ; filamenta libera subulate patentia persistentia, anthers bilocularis lateraliter dehiscentes.
Ovaria tria (vel. 4 ?) rostris erectis, stigmate apicale, minutum obliquum ; ovula basi aifixa 2-6, ascendentiae. Follicular 3 (4 ?) introrsum dehiscentes, 1-3 sperms, semina erecta ovate; testa duplici, exteriore herbacea, interiore membrancea, vel evanida. Embryo exalbuminosus macropodus, erectus, ascendens, anatropus cotyledine magno, vario, plumula varia.
Sp. monostachys. Foliis petiolatis lineari, oblongis basi subcordatis emersis herbaceis. Floribus in spadice dense confertis sepalis persistentibus.
Rhizoma tuberosum radicibus crassis filamentosis ad apium rhizomatis. Folia petiolata, petiolis subtrigonis basi membranaceis interioria amplectcntibus, folia lineari, obliquus obtrusis, basi subcordatis, vel junioribus cuneatis, 5 nerviis, vcnis transversalibus.