Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/180

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The Cimaruta:

only give heed to the emblems of the sun-god or to those of Aesculapius, but it is the votaries of the moon-goddess who will perhaps find most in support of their presumption. Others, bent on finding relics of phallic worship, will so interpret more emblems than the occasion demands.

All my searches in museums for links between the cimaruta and the phallic amulets which were so common in Roman times, have led us to the conclusion that the cimaruta is not, as has sometimes been suggested, a descendant of any of them, but is essentially of separate origin. But, no doubt owing to the universality with which such amulets were worn, certain phallic elements were used at an early period to strengthen the rue charm, and they may have been inherited from the cult of Isis at Pompeii. In most cimarute the phallus is represented in the form of the hand or the horn.

Perhaps the charm had a material origin in an ancient practice of holding in the hand a sprig of rue culled from the plant, and later a dried sprig may have been attached by a mount to a chain or ribbon worn round the neck. Its efficacy is recorded by Aristotle, and the application of a herb at child-birth is quite in accordance with the old Persian lore concerning the seven fruits that charm away evil influence at parturition, and to which the fatal seven Hathors turn. The change from the materia medica itself to its symbolic representation in a more durable material is a very familiar one, and in the present case was possibly suggested by other arborescent amulets of quite another derivation, like the one engraved upon a green Assyrian cylinder now in the Hague Museum, and figured by Lajard in his Culte de Mithra (Plate 27, Fig. 7). The amulet, which is represented near a crescent moon, is like a three-branched spray of olive, and is to be interpreted as a local representation of the cosmic tree (PI. XI.).

The earliest cimarute, in short, may have been inspired by emblems of a tree-cult and have thus acquired other