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Magic, Magi

(7,505 words)

Author(s): Wiggermann, Frans (Amsterdam) | Wandrey, Irina (Berlin) | Graf, Fritz (Columbus, OH) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Thür, Gerhard (Graz) | Et al.
I. Ancient Orient [German version] A. General The magic of the ancient Orient and of Egypt is based on a view of the world that runs counter to that of religion. In the world-view of magic, men, gods and demons are tied to each other and to the cosmos by sympathies and antipathies, whereas in the religious world view everything is created by the gods for their own purposes; the relations between men and the cosmos are the result of deliberate actions of the gods. In the practice of religion, however, b…

Ahoros

(502 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (ἄωρος; áōros). ‘Untimely’, used as adjective and noun, known in the magical papyri as a designation of a soul that died before its time (ἄωρος). Ahoros in this usage also appears in literary texts (Aesch. Eum. 956; Eur. Or. 1030); ahoros or synonyms (πρόμοιρος, ἀωρόμορος) are also found in grave inscriptions of all periods [1. 14; 2]. In general ahoros relates to death before puberty, marriage or childbirth ([1. 47-83]; cf. Od. 11,36-41; Verg. Aen. 6,426-29; Pl. Resp. 615c; PGM IV 2732-5). Living people could command the ahoros to carry out various tasks, includi…

Oracula Chaldaica

(463 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] The term Oracula Chaldaica describes those Greek poems in dactylic hexameters which were allegedly uttered by Hecate and possibly also other deities, either directly to a man known by the name of Julian [4] the Chaldean, who had invoked them, or via a divinely possessed medium acting for Julian. The poems were written in archaizing style which imitated both Homer and other older oracles. Although they date from the late 2nd or early 3rd cent. AD, the name Oracula Chaldaica was not…

Demons

(2,953 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Macuch, Maria (Berlin) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia Mesopotamia did not develop a generic term for demons. A large number of immortal beings was known that each had their own name and acted as servants of the gods and as enemies or helpers of humans. They did not have cults of their own. Since demons were only able to exercise their limited powers, which manifested themselves in physical and psychological illnesses, with the approval of the gods, they were part of the existing world order. Thus, in the Babylonian tale …

Iynx

(278 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Haase, Mareile (Toronto)
(ἴυγξ; íynx). [German version] [1] Demon related to the genesis of the world Iynx (‘sounding’, cf. ἰύζω/ iýzō) refers to 1. a bird, 2. a humming wheel used in magical rites, and 3. a demon in  theurgy who is associated with the origin of the world and mediates between humans and gods. In myth the bird is transformed from a seductive nymph, the daughter of Echo or Peitho and perhaps  Pan (Callim. Fr. 685; Phot. and Suda, s.v. I.), or from a woman who competed with the Muses in singing (Nicander in Antoninus Liberalis 9). The wheel and the bird were important in the Greek love-spell in myth…

Orphicae Lamellae

(428 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (Orphic gold leafs). A number of Greek texts on thin gold foil from grave finds; the Latin expression has become established since [1]. A critical edition of most of the texts known until 1997 (18 in total) can be found in [2]. The texts contain instructions and information to guide the soul of the dead on its way through the underworld and to guarantee its preferential treatment by the gods of the same place. They are called 'Orphic' because early scholarship, knowing significant…

Gello

(160 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (Γελλώ; Gellṓ) designates the spirit of a girl who died single, which kills unmarried or pregnant women and small children; it is first mentioned in Sappho (fr. 178 L.P. = 168 V.) [1]; G. is also the name of a mythological creature with these characteristics (Suda s.v.). It was still feared in the Byzantine period (Johannes Damascenus Perì Stryngôn, PG 94, 1904 C; Psellos Dihḗgesis perì Gellṓs [2]), something that has survived to the present day in rural Greece [3]. G. has often been associated with  Lamia and  Mormo, two similar spirits, and the strix. Rites to fend off G…

Gate, deities associated with

(314 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] The three most important Greek deities associated with gates (for Rome see  Ianus,  Carna) were  Hecate (and  Artemis, who was closely associated with her),  Hermes and  Hercules. Hecataea (small statues or shrines to Hecate) were to be found in front of the gates of private houses and in front of city gates (Aeschyl. TrGF 388; Aristoph. Vesp. 804, Hsch. s. v. προπύλαια). Corresponding with this is the association between Hecate and additional liminal places, particularly road-forks ( tríhodoi), which is in turn connected with her role as protector from t…

Megaera

(131 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (Μέγαιρα/Mégaira, ‘the envious one’, Lat. Megaera). Name of one of the Erinyes ( Erinys; Apollod. 1,3f.; Cornutus 10; Verg. Aen. 12,845-847; Lucan. 1,572-577, 6,730; Stat. Theb. 1,712; more in [1. 123]), perhaps also a name for the destructive power of personified envy in general and the evil eye in particular (Orph. Lithika 224f., cf. Orph. Lithika kerygmata 2,4). A 3rd century AD altar with a votive inscription to M. has been found in Pergamum. Votive offerings may have been made with the aim of warding off envy [2]. Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) Bibliography 1 E. Wüs…

Mormo

(160 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (Μορμώ/ Mormṓ). A female spirit, principally used to frighten children (Theocr. 15,40 with schol.; Plat. Phd. 77e; Str. 1,2,8; schol. Aristides p. 41 Dindorf = 1,5), in this role often interchangeable with Gello, Lamia [1] and strix (a nocturnal bird which sucked the blood out of children). Her other name, Mormolýkē or Mormolykía, suggests she was imagined as a wolf, though Theocr. 15,40 (with schol. ad loco) associates her with a horse and Erinna 26f. implies she could change shape. According to myth M. was a woman from Corinth who devoured at first her own…

Iphigenia

(906 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
(Ἰφιγένεια; Iphigéneia). [German version] A. Myth Daughter of  Agamemnon and  Clytaemnestra (Procl. Cypriorum enarratio, 55-62 EpGF S.32; Aesch. Ag.; but cf. Stesich. fr. 191 PMGF and Nicander fr. 58 = Antoninus Liberalis 27, where Theseus and Helena are her parents and Clytaemnestra merely adopts I.), sister of  Orestes,  Chrysothemis [2] and  Electra [4]. Although she was promised to marry Achilles [1], Agamemnon, on the advice of Calchas, sacrificed her to Artemis to allow the Greeks' departure for Troy, which had been delayed by an unnatural calm. Aulis is most commonly refer…

Underworld

(3,318 words)

Author(s): S.LU. | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | B.CH. | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Käppel, Lutz (Kiel) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia Myths, Epics, Prayers and Rituals of the 2nd and 1st millennia BC, in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, describe the location and nature of the Underworld, along with the circumstances under which its inhabitants live. This domain, located beneath the surface of the earth and surrounded by the primeval ocean called Apsȗ, is known in Akkadian as erṣetu (Sumerian: ki), a term that can refer both to the surface of the earth and to the Underworld. There are other terms for certain characteristics of this region. The Underworl…

Erinys

(713 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (Ἐρινύς; Erinýs). Etymology uncertain (Chantraine 2,371, cf. [1; 2. 83-4]). E. is already mentioned in  Linear B (KN 200 = Fp 1, 208 = V 52, cf. Fs 390; [1]) in connection with other deities such as Zeus, Athene, Paeon and Poseidon. Later, the name appears both in the singular as well as in the plural (‘Erinyes’). Mostly, the Erinyes are daughters of Night (Aesch. Eum. 69; 322 et passim) or they originate from drops of blood shed during Uranus' castration (Hes. Theog. 185), which indicates their connection with crime within a family, in particul…

Kleidouchos

(163 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (κλειδοῦχος; kleidoûchos, ‘Holder of the keys’) referred to the person who had the keys to the house (Eur. Tro. 492), or the priest or priestess who held the keys to the temple (Aesch. Supp. 291). Some cults assigned a symbolic significance to this function (on Carian Hecate cults [1; 2]). Sometimes kleidoûchos was an epiclesis of a deity as well, in particular of Hecate in her soteriological role in the mysticism of late antiquity (such as Procl. In Platonis rem publicam vol. 2, 212,7 Kroll; Orph. H. 1,7; more in [2]). Kleidoûchos was also the Pythagorean term for the …

Dead, cult of the

(3,539 words)

Author(s): S.LU. | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Prayon, Friedhelm (Tübingen) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Doubordieu, Annie (Paris) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia The cult of the dead in Mesopotamia is documented in written as well as archaeological sources. In the written sources, the term kispum is used for the act of supplying the dead with food and drink (monthly or bimonthly). An important part of the ritual was the ‘calling of the name’ [3. 163] ─ kispum thus served to ensure not only the existence but also the identity of the dead in the  Underworld. In the absence of the cult of the dead, the Underworld changed into a dark, inhospitable place. The living also had an inter…

Theurgy

(934 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (θεουργία/ t heourgía), from Greek 'divine' ( theîos) and 'work' ( érgon): 'divinely oriented actions'. During the first few cents. AD, there arose a number of religious movements that combined elements of Platonic philosophy, practices drawn from traditional cult, and newer doctrines that adherents claimed were revealed to them directly by the gods. One of the most influential of these movements was Theurgie, which emphasized worshipping the gods through ritual. Theurgie was said to have been founded by a certain Julian, who came to be known as 't…

Demonology

(1,854 words)

Author(s): Baltes, Matthias (Münster) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Habermehl, Peter (Berlin)
[German version] A. Definition Demonology is the philosophical doctrine of the daímones ( Demons) ─ intermediate beings between gods and men ─ that the Platonic Academy first systematically developed subsequent to the problem posed by the Socratic daimónion (δαιμόνιον). Baltes, Matthias (Münster) [German version] B. Preplatonic It is not possible to reconstruct a systematic Pre-platonic demonology although later philosophers, e.g., Aetius (1,8,2), Aristoxenus (fr. 34), Aristotle (fr. 192 Rose) and Plutarch (De Is. et Os. 360e), believed th…

Iphinoe

(96 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] (Ἰφινόη; Iphinóē). Name of various heroines in myth and cult: one was a daughter of the Megarian king  Alcathous [1] at whose grave girls offered libations and locks of hair before marriage (Paus. 1,43,3f.), another was a daughter of king  Proetus (Apollod. 2,29) who died when Melampus tried to cure her and her sisters of madness. She may have been honoured with rites during the Argive Agrigonia. (Hsch. s.v. Agrania). Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) Bibliography W. Burkert, Homo Necans, 1972, 189-200 K. Dowden, Death and the Maiden. Girls' Initiation Rites in…

Lamia

(900 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Kramolisch, Herwig (Eppelheim) | Wirbelauer, Eckhard (Freiburg)
[German version] [1] Female spirit (Λάμια; Lámia). A female spirit who specialized in attacking children (Duris, FGrH 76 F 17; Diod. Sic. 20,41,3-5; Str. 1,2,8; [1. ch. 5]). In this function, L. was often confused with Gello, Mormo and the Strix. In later sources, L. also seduces and destroys attractive men (Philostr. VA 4,25; cf. Apul. Met. 1,17). Her name is etymologically related to laimós (‘maw’), which is an expression of her all-consuming hunger (cf. Hor. Ars P. 340; Hom. Od. 10,81-117 on Lamus, the king of the cannibalistic Laestrygones; lamía is also a designation for ‘shark’…

Oracula Chaldaica

(444 words)

Author(s): Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[English version] Mit dem Begriff O.Ch. werden griech. Gedichte in daktylischen Hexametern bezeichnet, welche angeblich von Hekate und vielleicht auch anderen Gottheiten entweder direkt zu einer unter dem Namen Iulianos [4] der Chaldäer bekannten Figur gesprochen werden, der sie angerufen hatte, oder über ein von Iulianos eingesetztes göttlich besessenes Medium. Die Gedichte sind in archaisierender Sprache verfaßt, die sowohl Homer als auch ältere Orakel nachahmt. Obwohl sie aus dem späten 2. oder…
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