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Aramaic inscriptional evidence of a child-snatching demon appears on a silver lamella (metal-leaf sheet) from Palestine and two incantation bowls dating to the 5th or 6th century; on these she is called Sideros (Greek for iron, a traditional protection for women during childbirth).
Under various names, she continues to appear in medieval Christian manuscripts written in Greek, Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, Romanian, Slavonic, Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew.
Redundant naming is characteristic of magic charms, "stressing," as A. Barb noted in his classic essay "Antaura,"My first and special name is called Gyllou; the second Amorphous; the third Abyzou; the fourth Karkhous; the fifth Brianê; the sixth Bardellous; the seventh Aigyptianê; the eighth Barna; the ninth Kharkhanistrea; the tenth Adikia; (…) several of these names suggest recognizable Greek elements and can be deciphered as functional epithets: Petasia, "she who strikes"; Apleto, "boundless, limitless"; Paedopniktria, "child suffocator." Byzo is a form of Abyzou, abyssos, "the Deep," to which Pelagia ("she of the sea") is equivalent.
Gello is named also in works by the polymaths John of Damascus (7th–8th century) and Michael Psellos (11th century), the latter of whom notes that he has found her only in "an apocryphal Hebrew book" ascribed to Solomon Because etymology in antiquity was interpretive and phonic, and not based on scientific linguistics, the Greeks themselves might have heard the root gel-, "grin, laugh," in the sense of mocking or grimacing, like the expression often found on the face of the Gorgon, to which Barb linked the reproductive demons in origin.'Fonder of children than Gello' is a saying applied to women who die prematurely (aôrôs), or to those who are fond of children but ruin them by their upbringing.
Centuries later, in Augustan Rome, Ovid describes the practice of protecting doorways with buckthorn after the birth of a child to ward off striges, winged female demons who were thought to suck the blood of newborns.
that Gello also killed pregnant women and their fetuses.
The Homeric epics allude to the unmarried dead, who are excluded from the Underworld and might harm the living.
The patriarch John of Damascus, in the treatise Peri strygnôn ("Regarding striges"), records a belief among the "common people," still current in his day, that ghosts called gelloudes or striges flew nocturnally, slipped into houses even when the windows and doors were barred, and strangled sleeping infants.I will strangle [their] children, or I will let them live for a while and then kill them' … By making Gello a virgin and Lamia and Mormo mothers who had lost their children, myth reiterated the message that a Greek woman's life was defined by successful reproduction and that women who failed to live up to this goal belonged in the dark and marginal world of the restless dead rather than in the human world. Greek tradition was also normative in that it censured the real acts of killing a child or impeding reproduction.By going further, however, and describing these ghosts as envious — by virtually making them personifications of envy — tradition also censured the envy itself.Allatios also records, but does not condone, the hanging of red coral or a head of garlic In Byzantine sources, the adversary of Gello is often St.Sisinnius or Sisoe, whose defeat of her is his most renowned deed.