Magic in the Ancient Greek World
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Original and comprehensive, Magic in the Ancient Greek World takes the reader inside both the social imagination and the ritual reality that made magic possible in ancient Greece.
- Explores the widespread use of spells, drugs, curse tablets, and figurines, and the practitioners of magic in the ancient world
- Uncovers how magic worked. Was it down to mere superstition? Did the subject need to believe in order for it to have an effect?
- Focuses on detailed case studies of individual types of magic
- Examines the central role of magic in Greek life
and Steiner 2001: 119–20. 173 Asclepius 24, 38. 174 See Geffcken 1916–19: 309. 175 See, e.g., Anacreon 55.6–7 West; Theognis 1275–79; and Greifenhagen 1957: 7–34. 176 Galen 18.2.19 Kühn. 177 E.g., Felton 2001. 178 E.g., DT 234.14–17, 235.9–10, 237.8–11, all from Carthage, probably third century ce. 179 So Versnel 1998: 246. 180 Notably Faraone 1999. 181 Daniel and Maltomini 1990–92, no. 47 182 E.g., Daniel and Maltomini 1990–92, no. 46.23, 50.64. 183 But cf. Attic DT 75b.2 (wν[τερα] ), restored.
cult site. The extensions of his person in these instances may reach not only to the physical geography of his site, but also to the rituals performed in his honor, the dreams he conveys to those who incubate at his tomb, as well as to the whole array of communicative acts that take place between him and his devotees on their pilgrimages.25 It is also interesting to consider how a culture conceives of personhood as illustrated specifically in their magical behavior, which may or may not conform
extreme unction). Because these sacraments looked like magic they called into question the Catholic church’s cardinal distinction between magic, which was relegated to the Devil and his servants, and miracles, which were alone reserved for God and his agents. Hence Protestant writers tendentiously employed the ancient Roman terms, along with a host of newer medieval creations, to attack their Catholic adversaries. This complex and fascinating history, which need not directly concern us and which
38 38 A Framework for Greek Magic naturalistic reasoning to which he anticipates his audience will appeal. However, in his effort to discredit the ritual specialists he mischaracterizes their responses as illogical when, in fact, there is a coherent logic behind them. The first point our author seems to miss is that the diagnoses of divine origin for epilepsy are in effect a form of Greek divination. There are many different types of Greek divination, and of course it would take us too far
Timaeus drew upon the Greek and Greco-Egyptian tradition of using Homeric verses in magic or divination. Thus both the Roman graffito and Timaeus’ epistolary Homeric citation, when viewed in light of the magical and divinatory use of Homeric verses in the second or third century ce, are best understood not as literary but as ritualized gestures. Neoplatonic Theurgy and Homer We may be able to appreciate the broader context into which the magical use of Homeric verses fits if we look to certain