The Curse of the Wishing Well

  It is not difficult for people who travel frequently to notice such a phenomenon. No matter where the scenic spot is, as long as there are fountains and pools, especially those with moving legends, the bottom of the pool will always be covered with dense coins. Sometimes I just happen to see such a scene, a devout man holds a coin in his hand, silently makes a good wish in his heart, and then throws the coin into the water, only to hear a muffled “dong” and a circle on the water. Circle ripples, people’s wishes seem to be as fulfilled as this ripple.
  There is such a wishing pool in the ancient Roman baths in Bath, England. The circular pool is about 1.5 meters deep. A closer look shows that most of these coins are modern products, mainly British coins, occasionally mixed with foreign coins, which are naturally left by tourists who come here. The person who made the wish may not have thought that in the Roman-British period, the clear water of this side was actually filled with the venom of resentment, and the dissatisfied people threw lead plates or coins engraved with curses into the spring, praying for the holy spring enshrined here. The goddess Sulis Minerva takes revenge on those who have hurt her.
  The goddess of the holy spring of Bath, Sulis Minerva, is actually the product of the combination of ancient Roman mythology and Celtic tribal beliefs. When the ancient Romans came to Bath, they discovered that the local Celtic tribes worshipped a goddess “Sul”. “Su” in Celtic means “crack, open hole”, and is usually used to refer to the place where the hot spring flows out, which the ancients believed to be the junction of yin and yang. Sulis naturally became the goddess in charge of hot springs. The image of this goddess was very familiar to the ancient Romans, because there was a similar goddess in their homeland, that is, Minerva, who was in charge of wisdom and healing. The goddess Minerva in ancient Roman mythology actually corresponds to Athena in ancient Greek mythology. She was born from the head of the god Jupiter, in charge of wisdom, and is also the protector of art, trade, medicine and other fields. The ancient Romans creatively combined the two goddesses, thus giving birth to the holy spring goddess of Bath, Sulis Minerva. A golden head of the goddess Sulis Minerva, found in 1727, is preserved in the Roman Baths Museum in Bath, and is considered one of the most iconic Roman-British artworks. According to the staff of the museum, this head has six layers of gold plating. It may be that the temple dedicated to the goddess burned charcoal all the year round. After a long time, a layer of black dirt will adhere to the golden statue. In order to maintain the brilliance of the god, people need to The statues are regularly polished and re-gilded. At that time, only priests and temple staff could enter the room dedicated to the goddess, and many pilgrims never had the chance to see the goddess in their entire lives. Today, the goddess heads placed in museums have long lost their original luster, and they are irradiated under the sun. Under the bright light of the lamp, the traces of mottled damage can be seen at a glance. However, the calm and gentle face of the goddess makes people feel a kind of peace in the heart, so it is not difficult to understand how people in the Roman-British period prayed to the goddess with a pious heart.
  Worshippers from all over the world are usually not allowed to enter the temple dedicated to the goddess, but they have their own way of “communicating” with the gods. In the Roman-British period, water was regarded as a medium for communication with the gods. Worshippers came to the holy spring to write their wishes and curses on lead plates, or drop a coin directly into the water, hoping that through this A way for Goddess Sulis to hear her prayers and help her to fulfill her wishes. 18 Celtic coins, 12,595 Roman coins and 130 inscribed lead plates have been unearthed in the Holy Spring ruins in Bath, most of which are engraved with curses, asking the goddess to punish those who have hurt themselves people. On one of the lead sheets was written: “The man who stole my bronzes is utterly hateful, and I leave him to the god Sulis, whether women or men, slaves or free men, boys and girls. ”
  If you can write the name of the target of revenge, the curse will come more quickly and effectively, and if you are not sure who the target of revenge is, people will often list a bunch of suspects’ names for the goddess “reference”. Impressively, these curses are often only about small things, such as plowshares, jars, bathrobes, cloaks and other small objects, the biggest loss of which may be “six silver coins”. In stark contrast to the small value of these objects is the viciousness of these curses, as written on a lead plate: “If anyone steals Severius’ plowshare, I beg him to die at the temple. “As the museum introduces, this is “the life of ordinary people, the things that ordinary people have lost and the anger of ordinary people.” Under the fierce curse is a strong sense of private property and a desire for justice. Maybe they will never know whether the goddess Sulis Minerva has “revenge” for themselves, but in any case, the wish vented their hearts. Indignant, strengthened people’s belief in “reward for good and evil”. From a certain point of view, this is a power outside the law, and it is the pursuit of fairness and justice for “ordinary people”.
  A curse is a message to the goddess. In order to ensure that the goddess can fully understand her intentions, it becomes necessary to hire a professional ghostwriter who will use the most appropriate language to express the victim’s wishes. In the Roman Baths Museum in Bath, there is such an exemplary lead plate, which reads: “Solinus wrote to Sulis Minerva: I respect your power and majesty, my bath Robes and cloaks have been stolen, don’t let the person who did the bad thing sleep or be healthy, be it a man or a woman, a slave or a free man, unless he comes to plead guilty and give everything back Come to your temple.” However, archaeologists have found that the writing on these lead plates is often very poor and not entirely Latin, and some of the lead plates even seem to be drawn crookedly by people who do not know how to write. This can’t help but lead us to a bold conjecture. In the Roman-British period, although there were professional “ghost writers”, the high cost was enough to discourage most commoners, so they chose to “paint a gourd according to the same”, Carve your own wishes, stroke by stroke, according to someone else’s lead. Through these naive handwriting, we seem to see those people who are lying beside the holy spring, sweating profusely but earnestly engraving lead plates. For the cost, they also have to use their own way to make their voices heard by the goddess.
  These sounds recorded on lead plates traveled through time and are now valuable material for historians studying Roman-British social life. Even the earliest evidence of the spread of Christianity in Bath is a curse inscribed on lead, a man petitioning the goddess Sulis to punish a man who robbed him, “whether he be a pagan or a Christian”.