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DT 1st cent. Indeed, as more and more magical texts are deciphered and published, we have begun to realize how stereotyped such expressions are, and we are able to see that many have been copied from handbooks, often with very few changes over the centuries—except, of course, the names of the victim and the practitioner. Thus even when dealing with actual magical texts we need always remember that these spells, no less than lyric poems and tragic choruses, are to a large degree shaped by generic conventions and expectations; they tell us as much or as little about the psychic state of the scribes, practitioners, and clients who used them as ancient literary texts tell us about the individual neuroses of their authors.

For surveys of Greek literary allusions and references to magic generally see Riess b , , and ; Eitrem ; and Tupet , all of whom I have used exten- sively for what follows.

Greek Eros and Philia Love Magic

Petropoulos and Faraone —; see section 3. For Pandora, see section 3. The fragment does not describe the effect of these apples on the young woman, but Hellenistic sources state explicitly that they kindled erotic desire in the girl, an assumption that apparently underlies the use of specially charmed apples, quinces, pome- granates, and other fruit to strengthen marital affections of brides-to-be, both in early Greek myth and in actual wedding ceremonies. Dedo 32, Page 51—69 and Parry Plutarch Moralia a implicitly makes this assumption when he cites the Circe episode as a cautionary example for why brides should not use love potions on their husbands; see section 3.

In a discussion of love magic Xenophon Memorabilia 2. Parry notes the same equation in a Hellenistic epigram. Page and Faraone b 91—92 n.

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In Chapter 3 I discuss later scenes on a small terracotta relief and gemstones that may have been used in some form of love magic. Hesiod frag. See Faraone — and section 3. Sappho frag. See Archibald Cameron and , Segal —, Burnett —, Petropoulos , Faraone b —, and section 4. Alcman frag. See West — for discussion. Pythian 4. See Faraone a and section 2. Faraone a and section 3. Sophocles The Root-cutters frag. See Pharr — and Graf — for discussion.

Andromache — Burnett and Kovacs 13—28, esp. Dionysius I of Syracuse married two women on the same day, a Locrian named Doris and a Syracusan named Aristomache, both of whom came to live in his palace. See Plutarch Dion 3. Commentators have, however, generally missed the practice alluded to in the exceedingly opaque last line, which probably refers to a magical ritual in which the hairs or threads of two people are magically intertwined with the hope of similarly joining the two individuals in love.

The symbolic joining of two individuals is common in later magic: a third-century c.

Goff 48— For ousia used elsewhere in literary love spells, see Apuleius Metamorphoses 2. Athenaeus 62e—64b and e—f has a wide-ranging discussion, peppered with quota- tions from Attic comedy. Menander frag.

Let's Read Ancient Spells: A PGM love spell from ancient Greece

For the use of the rhombos, see Eupolis Baptai frag. For the iunx see his Lysistrata , discussed in section 4. In each poem a lovesick women enacts an elaborate incantation designed to force her way- ward lover to return to her. The prose authors of antiquity offer less evidence for the use of love magic, but they are not silent about it. Oratory provides us with occasional but important glimpses of such activities. Amphiaraus frag.

Iunx: AP 5. Magic girdle zonion : AP 5. Dedo 38—39 discusses a lost poem of Catullus that apparently also imitated a love charm. Eitrem is the classic discussion; see also Tavenner 33—35 and Tupet — Antiphon 1. Demosthenes Derenne — and argued that both charges may have been true, an argument revived by Versnel See the index of individual passages.

Cornelius Nepos frag. Lloyd —, Preus , and Scarborough — His sources seem to have included native Egyptian and Mesopotamian writings, and his works were widely excerpted by Pliny and others. Christian philosopher Sextus Julius Africanus wrote in a simi- lar vein an eclectic work called Kestoi in twenty-four books, a miscellany of magical and medical recipes and observations. In publicly performed genres like epic recitation, oratory, or drama such references must have been easily recognizable to most of the audience, but they can be quite cryptic to the modern reader, who must supplement them with archae- See Brashear —13 for summary and bibliography.

Brashear and Dickie forthcoming. Thee The title Kestoi seems to refer to the Kestos himas of Aphrodite note 12 above and probably should be translated as Magic Bands or Magic Girdles see Chapter 3 note 4. For dating and authorship see most recently Fowden 87—88 n. David Bain is launched on a new and superior edition of the Cyranides, which takes into account many more manuscripts. Beckh Fortunately, there is an abundance of such nonliterary data, beginning with the late eighth-century b.

Since the focus of these binding spells is on the restraint of the victim,53 they are occasionally used in agonistic situ- ations that involve love—for example, when people try to bind or restrain their rivals in love. Rather it is designed to reduce the competition, by inhibiting the words, the actions, and even the sexual performance of a rival.

Thus, for example, three fourth-century b. Greek binding spells appear to be written by women who wish to West and Faraone b. Gardiner 66 no. Latin spells are included in DT and have been surveyed further by Besnier , Garcia- Ruiz , and in the appendix to Solin PGM and SM are the most important corpora.

Kagarow , Preisendanz , and Faraone a provide general discussions. Petropoulos — and Faraone a 13— May he Dionysophon indeed not take another woman other than myself, but let me alone grow old by the side of Dionysophon and no other woman. This slang usage is found in Hellenistic epigrams and persists in modern Greek; see Robert , Shipp —, Cameron —, and Petropoulos DTA See Voutiras for this translation, which corrects Faraone a For Greek text and this translation, see Voutiras I thank Professor Voutiras for kindly giving me access to his ongoing work on this text.

Willemson — See note 25 above. See, e. Thus, in a recently published lead tablet from late fourth-century b. Jordan no. DT Latin spell written in the Roman alphabet with a border of nonsensical Greek letters around it , Latin spell written in the Roman alphabet with the names of the demons written in Greek , Latin spell written entirely in the Greek alphabet , and same.

Amulets and Talismans

Rives —, esp. For example, DT quoted earlier , seems to have been copied out ahead of time with the appropriate blanks left for personal names. For further evidence for scribes in third-century Carthage working from Greek handbooks, see Jordan d — three Greek curses against charioteers follow same formulary and b — the same Greek formula being used in Beirut and Carthage; in the latter case, the scribe apparently knew no Greek.

Fowden — and Brashear — Petropoulos Galen Smith for discus- sion. On the importance of the gemstones, see Eitrem , M. Smith , and Schwartz Burkert 7—9. This level of generalization is not, of course, unproblematic. See Finley 62 and —, and my discussion of the synchronic approach in section 1. Faraone a 14—15, Graf , Brashear —14 and —46, and Faraone b 96— The Greeks were not, of course, without a sense of humor.

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Review of Ancient Greek Love Magic

I would argue that in both cases the poets are simply putting practical tools magi- cal amulets and ointments into the hands of literary characters usually gods or heroes , much the same as they dress them in clothes typical of the period or arm them with familiar human weapons. I might contrast the use in a modern literary text of an unremarkable device of practical technology for example, a fax machine or a telephone with a fantastical conceit, such as a large invisible rabbit named Harvey or an elixir that brings eternal youth.

The bibliography is staggering and still growing; see Brashear —48 n. Thus in this volume I follow the recent trend in ignoring the distinction altogether for Medierranean cultures before the advent of the Christian Roman empire; compare, e. Smith 13—20, and Brooten — Pindar Pythian 3. Again, I start negatively, by excluding any detailed investigation of antaphrodisiacs78 or other spells that are used to bind or impede love,79 as both fall more easily into the category of inhibitory magic.

The most common and best-known forms of love magic are, of course, those that one person uses to make another person desire or love him or her. Each city-state had its own pantheon of deities and its unique repertoire of rituals, and there were rarely any professional or hereditary priesthoods as in Egypt or the Near East that rigorously enforced religious principles or jealously guarded their own prerogatives by resisting innovation; see Burkert 8 and — Parker — notes that it is a delicious paradox at least to modern scholars that traditional polytheisms are subject to constant change; this is one of their most important traditions.

The Greeks and Romans were well aware of the ability of certain herbs to suppress sexual desire and even sexual dreams. Thus, e. Pliny claims similar power for lettuce seed See Leick — for a Mesopotamian ointment of magnetite and oil designed for a similar purpose.

Philia (Greco-Roman magic)

Faraone b. Hipponax frag.

Aristophanes Acharnians — Theophrastus HP 9. SM See Riess a 83 n. For saturion, see Dioscorides MM 3. Satires 2. Pliny offers many other examples: terebinth Pliny NH For the magical use of materials from sexually excited animals, see Leick — in Mesopotamia and Kieckhefer 34 and 36 in medieval Europe. In his discussion of the materials listed above in notes 88—90, Pliny says that nearly all of them are useful for exciting sexual desire e.

He does specify, however, that both arugula and saturion increase desire in the male Martial 3.


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The Cyranides suggests the use of arugula mixed with spices and honey for a large and pleasurable erection 1. Medical writers claimed that the condition of satyriasis continual and painful erection occurred in places like Crete where men had too much saturion in their diet; see Gourevitch — Julius Africanus Kestoi 3.

Geoponica For Mesopotamia, see Leick n. See, too, Delatte and Derchain — no.