Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/178

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150 The Cimaruta :

29, we find both moon and serpent combined in the same amulet, we can only assume that the work was executed by a generation of workmen ignorant of the antagonism between the separate emblems.

There have been many traditions woven around the serpent. In his Sanskrit names drig visha or drishti visha ( = "having poison in the eye") we have indications of his supposed power of killing at a glance, and in the Greek name o0i?, of supernatural vision. These attributes would make him an argus-eyed antagonist, and one to deal death to the powers exercising fascination.

1 am strongly of the opinion that there is a close relation between the inclusion of the emblem of the healing art among the cimaruta emblems and its presence in certain early illustrations of medicinal herbs. Several of the plants depicted in the Herbarium Apuleii Platonica, printed in Rome soon after 1480,^ are represented as being closely connected with serpents, scorpions, and other animals, which for the most part are the venomous animals against whose bites or stings the herbs were useful.^ The serpent of the cimaruta may therefore in one sense be regarded as akin to a shop sign, like the red serpentine stripe on the barber's pole,^ meaning that the charm, like the barber, is efficacious even in the case of serpent-bite.

It is well known that Isis as the sign of her profession of a lady-doctor wore an asp crown, but, on the other hand, in an Egyptian wall painting, she is piercing the serpent through the head, reminding us of the original enmity between its seed and the woman.

I have not been able to trace any oriental or classical

^ J. F. Payne, On the Herbarius. ( Trans. Bibliogr, Soc. , vi. ).

2 A similar tendency is exhibited in the coloured drawings of Verbena and the serpents in the 12th century Bodleian Herbal cited supra, p. 138, «. 3 ; and also in many 15th century Italian MSS., of which Canon. Misc. 408 and 500, and Bodl. MS. Add. A. 23 in the Bodleian Library, are examples.

^ The survival of the serpent-entwined staff of Aesculapius.