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Amulētum

περίαπτον, περίαμμα, φυλακτήριον). A charm worn by a human being, or even by an animal, to avert evil or secure good fortune. The word is from the Arabic hamâlet, meaning “that which is suspended.” Amulets are as old as the Homeric μῶλυ ( Od. x. 305); but appear to have been introduced into Rome from the East under the early Empire. The word is first used in Pliny (Pliny H. N. xxxvii. 124). They consist of gems or stones, metals (e. g. copper, iron, gold); plants (e. g. laurel, hellebore, fig); animals and parts of animals (e. g. the spider, the bat, the dog's gall, the ass's testicles, wolf's fat); parts and secretions of the human body (e. g. the blood of gladiators, the eyetooth of a corpse); and artificial shapes often obscene. These were attached to a chain or belt passed over one shoulder and under the other. See Pliny, Bk. H. N. xxxvii.; O. Jahn, Ueber den bösen Blick in Berichte der sächsischen Gesellschaft (1855); C. W. King, Precious Stones and Metals; Marquardt, Röm. Altert. vi. p. 104; Labatut in Daremberg and Saglio, s. h. v.; and the articles Bulla; Fascinum; Phalerae; Malus Oculus.

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