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Ouroboros
(189 words)

[German version]

(Οὐροβόρος; Ourobóros). Snake biting its own tail, frequently used as a symbol by ancient alchemists but also appearing frequently in Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri (PGM 7, col. 17; cf. PGM 1,145f.; 12,203f.; 12,274f.; 36,184). It represents the unity of all forces and processes in the cosmos. By investigating a single matter accurately one understands everything: the macrocosm is reflected in the microcosm. The formula that explains the symbol is evidently meant to express the principle that the exist…

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Käppel, Lutz (Kiel), “Ouroboros”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 19 January 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e1226100>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510



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