The Ring as a Symbol

The ring as an emblem of fidelity, a denotation of eternity, and representative of the Deity

The ring was generally the emblem of fidelity in civil engagements; and hence, no doubt, its ancient use in many functions and distinctions. A ring denoted eternity among the Hindoos, Persians and Egyptians; and Brahma, as the creator of the world, bears a ring in his hand. The Egyptian priests in the temple of the creative Phtha (Vulcan of the Greeks) represented the year under the form of a ring, made of a serpent having its tail in its mouth--a very common shape of ancient rings. Although Jupiter is often figured with attributes of mighty power, yet he is seldom coupled with a mark of eternity. There is, however, a gem (an aqua-marine, engraved in hollow) of this deity holding a ring as the emblem of eternity (see image).

Pythagoras forbade the use of the figures of gods upon rings, lest, from seeing their images too frequently, it should breed a contempt for them.

It has been attempted to connect with a ring the consecration of a circle, as emblematical of the Deity. Over the door of a Norman church at Beckford, in Gloucestershire, England, is a rude bas-relief, representing the holy cross between the four beasts, used as symbols of the Evangelists. The "human form divine" appears to have been beyond the sculptor's power; he has made a ring. The others are an eagle, lion, and bull.


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