Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World by Matthew W Dickie, Matthew W. Dickie

By Matthew W Dickie, Matthew W. Dickie

This research is the 1st to collect the facts for the lifestyles of sorcerors within the old global; it additionally addresses the query in their id and social origins. The ensuing research takes us to the bottom of Greek and Roman society, right into a global of wandering holy women and men, conjurors and wonder-workers, and into the lives of prostitutes, procuresses, charioteers and theatrical performers.This interesting reconstruction of the careers of witches and sorcerors permits us to determine into formerly inaccessible parts of Greco-Roman lifestyles. Compelling for either its element and readability, and with an awfully revealing breadth of proof hired, will probably be a necessary source for someone learning old magic.

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Long before there is any evidence of philosophers or doctors trying to give definition to the notion of magic, the disparate practices, lacking any common thread to tie them together, that were later held to constitute magic were already being treated as of a piece, were already exposed to the same moral condemnation to which they were later subjected, were already viewed as being at odds with accepted religious practice and were already thought to be able to upset the normal course of nature. That would seem to be sufficient evidence to posit the emergence in the fifth century of a concept with a close resemblance to our concept of magic.

There is no hint, in short, that her actions are invested with the same significance that the actions of magicians are invested with at a later date. 22 There is even less reason to believe that Agamede was in the eyes of the poet a sorceress. What she was to his way of thinking was almost certainly an expert in the cutting of roots, a rhizotomos. Hermes will also have displayed the same expertise. References to what later ages would certainly have seen as magic-working are also to be found in other forms of poetry.

38 The first question to be asked in connection with it is whether it makes sense to have a man of the time of Heraclitus speak in these terms or whether its language is wildly anachronistic. Bacchoi and lenai are both terms for followers of Dionysus. There does not seem any very good reason to suppose that bacchoi and lenai were unknown to Heraclitus and that he could not have mentioned them in the same breath as initiation into the mysteries. As for magoi, although there is not a scrap of evidence for their appearance either in Western Asia Minor or in the wider Greek world in the latter part of the sixth century BC, it is a fair guess that men claiming to be Iranian fire-priests turned up in the Greek cities of Asia Minor in the aftermath of Persia’s expansion into Ionia and Aeolia at the beginning of the second half of the sixth century BC.

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