Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/161

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Its Structure and Development. 137

branches of the charm will be seen to be divided into segments, in very fair imitation of flower-buds or seed-pods copied by unscientific craftsmen. In this connection a comparison with the old engravings of the herbalists will prove instructive {cf. Gerard, Herbal, p. 12, PL XL). On the whole, when we consider how easily a conventional design may depart from scientific truth when repeated by men who never saw the real thing in their lives, it is a matter for surprise rather than the reverse that there should be any trace at all of the rue-sprig in the conventional cimaruta.

Unmutilated silver cimarute representing the rue-sprig without extraneous emblems are rare at the present day ; but a bronze amulet found at Bologna (PI. XI.) is of this type, and, like the modern forms of the charm, the three main branches with twigs ending in small swellings are conspicuous.

Lest it should be thought that too much importance is attributed to the three-fold branching, which may be but an accidental arrangement, I must remind my readers that this branching has been considered by some to have a more recondite significance. Mr. Elworthy {Evil Eye, p, 348) observes that he "can come to no other con- clusion than that the three branches are typical of Diana triformis or of her prototypes," but as the alternate character of the branching is true to nature, I hesitate to see the diva triformis in this triplicity.

We now pass to the consideration of the peculiar quali- ties of rue which have given rise to the use of silver images of it to counteract fascination.

Rue, or " herb of grace," has always hf.d a widespread medicinal reputation. Eighty-four maladies were known to be treated by it in Pliny's day. Judges of Assizes no less than the contemporaries of Aristotle believed in its efficacy ; a bunch of the herb sufficed to keep gaol-fever from the august bench; a tuft, worn as an amulet was thought to disarm the power of witchcraft. Even weasels.