the magic virtues of the images and talismans were liable to wane and
pass away, was taught by Albertus Magnus, who likened these powers to
those of animate objects which were also transitory. When the period
fixed by heaven had come to an end, the power of the image would be
broken and it would be useless, cold and dead. This, in his opinion,
accounted for the fact that many talismanic figures failed to display
any efficacy, although they had done so in ancient times.43 In the "Book of Thetel," as quoted by Konrad von Megenberg,44 one of the engraved gems is described as follows:
man seated upon a footstool, crowned, and stretching forth his hands to
the heavens. Beneath him are four men appearing to support the stool.
Take mastic and terebinth (turpentine) and put them under the stone in
a silver finger-ring, having twelve times the weight of the stone in
the ring. If this be placed beneath the head of a sleeping person, he
dreams of what he longed for when awake.
curious statement that the metal ring was to weigh twelve times as much
as the stone, seems to indicate an influence of the superstition in
regard to the number twelve.
Londesborough Collection contains a ring which represents a toad
swallowing a serpent. This was evidently used as an amulet and the
design seems to have some connection with the curious superstition that
a serpent, to become a dragon, must swallow a serpent.
Gaffarelli, " Curiositates inaudite," Hamburgi, 1706, p. 112; Latin
trans, citing Alberti, "De mirabilibus," tr. 3, cap. 3.
44 Konrad von Megenberg, " Buch der Natur," ed. by Dr. Franz Pfeiffer, Stuttgart, 1861, p. 472.