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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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A breast ornament worn (by men and women) for protection for defense.


"Aegis" has entered modern English to mean a shield, protection, or sponsorship originating from the habitual costume of Ancient Libyan women that was worn by the goddess Athena as a vestige of religious traditions that spread by 4000 B.C. from Libya to the cultures of Crete, Minoan Greece, and early Helladic Greece. It likely was a protective covering in which a religious artifact or symbol was carried and protected with an image of the Gorgon. After becoming introduced into early Greek culture the association was continued among the later deities arising in the Ancient Greek pantheon, including on the mythological protective shields of Athene and Zeus. The name has been extended to many other entities, and the concept of a protective shield is found in other mythologies, while its form varies across sources.

The concept of doing something "under someone's aegis" means doing something under protection of a powerful, knowledgeable, or benevolent source. The word aegis is identified with protection by a strong force with its roots in Classical mythology, specifically Greek myth adopted by the Romans; there are parallels in Egyptian mythology and in Norse mythology as well. During the Ptolemaic Dynasty, the Greek word aegis was applied to the Egyptian item traditionally associated with Bast, the lioness deity shared by the Ancient Libyans (who also may have carried a warrior goddess tradition to Greece).

From: Wikipedia

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