It is very welcome that A. Mastrocinque (above) has re-opened the dossier relating to the Pergamon Zaubergerät, first published by R. Wünsch almost a century ago. The discovery in 1977 of a very similar ‘triangle’ in the Maison du Cerf at Apamea seemed to confirm Wünsch's account of the kit as the equipment required to perform a type of divination very similar to that described in Hilarius' confession relating to the seance of A.D. 371. My remarks are not directly concerned with the possible theurgic background of the Pergamon kit, though I admit I am rather sceptical of it. I wish rather to take the opportunity to reconsider the kit as a whole, in the light of the find from Apamea.
The problem is easily outlined. Rhetorically, Wünsch's commentary leads up to a kind of revelation, the disclosure of the true sense of the kit as whole. In the last major section of his account, Wünsch discussed each object in turn, noting the use of similar objects in diverse magical contexts. For his interpretation the crucial apparatus was the inscribed disc, which has 24 fields in the three outer circles, that is, the number of letters in the Greek alphabet. That implied an alphabet-oracle, and it was then easy to point to Ammianus' already famous report. It is his story of the ‘wizard at work’ that caught the imagination of his readers, the story of the polished stones used as protective amulets, the ring hung from the nail over the circular disc, which was moved by the handle to create words or sentences from the signs inscribed on its surface. But if one looks closely at the disc, it is very difficult (indeed, in my view impossible) to credit that it could have served as an alphabet-oracle or anything similar. If so, does the disc belong to the triangular support at all? Can the other appliances be understood differently from the way Wünsch suggested? My argument is that we might read much of his own commentary as undercutting the final disclosure that depends so heavily on Hilarius, and that we should revert to his own initial conception of an ensemble, a group of instruments with a variety of ritual uses. Indeed, there are reasons for thinking that the individual items were not conceived as a group, but rather assembled over time from various sources as a collection. I incline to understand the ensemble as not so much a ‘kit’ as a rag-bag collection.