Roman rings against the evil eye

Since ancient times, man has conferred certain properties on some objects. magical based on superstitions and natural facts that were not fully understood. The two main types would be amulets and talismans.

Although these two words are sometimes considered to be synonymous, they actually have some differences. An amulet is an object that protects against a specific evil, while a talisman, in addition to protecting, is supposed to have some kind of additional magical power.

Amulets were especially abundant in the Roman world, which is why many have been found in archaeological sites and have entered the collecting market thanks to platforms such as Catawiki, one of the main online buying and selling centers for fans of antiques.

Roman ring against the evil eye / photo GaCollectibles on Catawiki

Roman amulets are linked to both Roman religion and magic, which is why they were normally used in contexts outside the religious sphere. They were based on the association of some types of gems and precious stones with certain gods, but also of specific objects, such as earrings, pendants and rings, made of gold, silver or bronze.

Thus, already in the days of the Roman Republic, the use of jewelry was regulated by law. The laws of the Twelve Tables, in 450 BC, limited the amount of jewelry that could be buried with the deceased. And in 215 BC the Lex Oppia it forbade Roman women to carry more than half an ounce of them. The idea that modest dress was a virtue lived on for a long time in the Roman world. At the same time that he considered men who wore jewelry as effeminate, as sources such as Pliny the Elder indicate.

However, amulets were excluded from this conception, especially protection rings against the evil eye, which were very common in both children and adults. The one auctioned today by Catawiki, from the 1st-2nd century AD, has the essential characteristics of this type of object, made of bronze and with a simple eye-shaped design.

Roman ring against the evil eye / photo Williamsons on Catawiki

Because they were not intended to be worn on the hand like a normal ring, but to be hung on a chain around the neck and generally hidden from view. Its mission was to protect its bearer from the bad influence of envious, evil or unpleasant people.

Sometimes they were used bullae to hide inside and transport the amulet. These bullae They were pendants or medallions that were placed on male children nine days after their birth, and inside which the amulet was placed. They normally continued to wear them until they were 16, when they became Roman citizens.

The girls did not wear bullae otherwise lunulesa crescent-shaped amulet that they only stopped using on the eve of their marriage.

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