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Dardanus

(1,277 words)

Author(s): Scheer, Tanja (Rome) | Harrauer, Christine (Vienna) | Inwood, Brad (Toronto) | Schwerteck, Hans (Tübingen) | Leppin, Hartmut (Hannover)
(Δάρδανος; Dárdanos). [German version] [1] Son of Zeus Son of Zeus, who of all his mortal sons loved this one the most (Hom. Il. 20,215; 304), and either a mortal mother or the Atlantid Electra/Elektryone (Hes. fr. 177/80 MW; Hellanic. FGrH 4 F 23). Eponymous hero of the  Dardani, who lived on Mt Ida, and in Homer are linked with the Trojans and frequently synonymous with them. D. is the progenitor of the Trojan ruling dynasty. Possibly mentioned in the Ilioupersis, he originates from Arcadia, where he is supposed to have been born in a cave (Ilioupersis fr. 1 PEG I; Str. 8…

Astra(m)psychus

(397 words)

Author(s): Harrauer, Christine (Vienna)
[German version] (Astrapsucus). Legendary magician whom the Lydian Xanthus (according to Diog. Laert. prooem. 2) numbered amongst the famous μάγοι like Ostanes, Gobryas and Pazatas from the time prior to Alexander's arrival in Persia. A. was still regarded as the writer of texts on the subject in the Byzantine period: two dream books in verse, and an astrological text [1], but especially a book of oracles which was widely read well beyond antiquity, the Sortes Astrampsychi. Although written in c. AD 300 (probably in Egypt), this latter work, in an accompanying letter to Pt…

Agnostos Theos

(610 words)

Author(s): Harrauer, Christine (Vienna)
[German version] (ἄγνωστος θεός; ágnōstos theós, ‘unknown god’ ). The ever increasing uncertainty resulting from the advances of syncretism (esp. with oriental gods) as to a deity's effective spheres of influence, extent of power and forms of appearance can be seen in the manner and extent of the appellations of that deity. For people who began to feel themselves ever more helpless with regard to the divine, even polyonymic formulas appeared to be in need of additional support, so that they would not…

Abrax­as

(358 words)

Author(s): Harrauer, Christine (Vienna)
[German version] (Ἀβρασάξ, Ἀβράξας, Latin Abraxas). Magical power, created by speculation using number mysticism (seven letters, numerical value: 365) probably associated with Egyptizing Gnosis. Etymologically unsolved, usually assigned to Hebrew arba(s) [1]; possibly in connection with forming of phrases such as Abra(cad)abra [2. 67 f.]. Documented as from the 2nd cent. BC. According to Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 1,24,7) and Hippolytus (haer. 7,26,6; cf. Ps.Tert. Adv. Haer. 1,5) the Gnostic Basileides saw in Abraxas the all-encom…

Akephalos

(322 words)

Author(s): Harrauer, Christine (Vienna)
[German version] (Ἀκέφαλος). Headless, ambivalently interpreted demonic figure of Greek popular belief from antiquity into modern times, comparable to the headless spectres of the superstitions of the rest of Europe [1]. Negatively viewed, the ἀκέφαλοι are spirits of the Dead from the group of the ἄωροι, the ‘untimely deceased’, whose circumstances of violent death, through accident or beheading (hence also called βίαιοι, βιαιοθάνατοι), caused them to appear as especially evil spectres. A. is ther…