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E02277: Greek amulet from Oxyrhynchos (Middle Egypt) mentions *Phokas (martyr of Antioch, S00413) as protecting a house against reptiles; datable to the 6th century.

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posted on 2017-01-26, 00:00 authored by gschenke
P.Oxy. 7 1060:

This amulet is written to protect a house from reptiles and other evils, with the typical features of magical texts, before a new sentence introduces the saint and his feast day. The text following line 10 is lost.

Lines 9–10 read as follows:

ὁ ἅγιος Φωκᾶς ὧδέ ἐστιν
Φ[α]μενὼθ ιγ ἰνδ(ικτίωνος) τρίτης

'Saint Phokas is here, Phamenoth 13 of the third indiction, …'

The full text of the amulet, complete with the visual effect formula showing letters gradually disappearing as the evils should, as well as invoking various names, reads as follows:

+ Τὴν θύραν τὴν Ἀφροδίτην
φροδιτην ροδιτην οδιτην
διτην ιτην την {τ}ην {η}ν ωρωρ
φωρφωρ Ἰαὼ σαβαὼθ ἀδονὲ
δενοσε σκορπίε αρτερησιε,
ἀπάλλαξον τὸν οἶκον τοῦτον
ἀπὸ παντὸς κακοῦ ἑρπετοῦ
<καὶ> πράγματος ταχὺ ταχύ.
ὁ ἅγιος Φωκᾶς ὧδέ ἐστιν
Φ[α]μενὼθ ιγ ἰνδ(ικτίωνος) τρίτης
τ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

'The door, Aphrodite, phrodite, rodite, odite, dite, ite, te, e, -, Hor, Hor Phor Phor, Iaoh Sabaoth Adonai, I bind you, artemisian scorpion. Free this house of every evil reptile annoyance, at once, at once! Saint Phokas is here, Phamenoth 13 of the third indiction. …'

(Text: A.S. Hunt, trans.: M. Meyer, slightly modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Phocas, martyr at Antioch, ob. 303/312 : S00413

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet Liturgical texts - Amulets


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Oxyrhynchos Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



The papyrus was found at Oxyrhynchos and is now housed at the The John Rylands University Library in Manchester. The text has been dated on palaeographical grounds.


As the editor of this text, Hunt, already noted, the Phokas of this amulet must have been Phokas, the martyr of Antioch on the Orontes, and not the better known *Phokas of Sinope (S00052), since the amulet was specifically for protection from reptiles, and since Gregory of Tours (writing in faraway northern Gaul) tells us that this Phokas' shrine had a reputation for curing snake bites (E00651). The date mentioned here, 13th of Phamenoth, corresponds to 9 March which is around the time of the saint's feast day (5 March), when one presumably also took to safeguarding one's house by ritually blocking the entrance against reptiles entering it. The written amulet pronouncing the presence of the saint at the house in question would presumably protect it by being placed somewhere near the entrance.


Edition: Hunt, A.S., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. VII, Published by the Egypt Exploration Society in Graeco-Roman Memoirs (London, 1910), 213–214. Translation: Meyer, M., "25. Amulet to protect the entrance to a house from vermin," in: M. Meyer and R. Smith (eds.), Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power (Princeton, 1994), 48–49.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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