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Magic Topic 1

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  1. Magic Topic 1 Definitions

  2. What is magic? • Frazer, The Golden Bough, 1900 • Magic is a technique that aims to manipulate impersonal forces

  3. According to Frazer, Magical thought … depends on a belief that • objects and individuals • act on each other at a distance, • through a secret ‘fellow-feeling’ (‘sympathy’)

  4. LAW OF SYMPATHY (SYMPATHETIC MAGIC)  Law of Similarity Law of Contact (Homeopathic Magic) (Contagious Magic)

  5. Magic (acc. to Frazer)  Theoretical Practical  “Science”“Art”  Positive Magic Negative Magic Sorcery Taboo

  6. How does magic differ from religion? • Tylor (1871), Primitive Culture: • Magic does not entail belief in spiritual beings • Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious life (1951) • Religions involve communities, magic concerns individuals

  7. How does magic differ from religion? • Malinowski, Magic, Science, and Religion (1948) • Religions have intangible, long term goals, magic concrete and practical

  8. Magic and Greek thought The sources of knowledge

  9. Knowledge is based on • Intuition — Sensory perception • BCE BCE • Heraclitus (7th-6th) • Parmenides (5th) • Philolaus (5th BCE) Empedocles (5th) • Plato (5th - 4th BCE) Aristotle (4th)

  10. Magic 2: THE SOURCES

  11. Sources • 1. Literary Descriptions • 2. Inscriptions • 3. Visual Material (rare) • 4. Papyri • 5. Curse Tablets

  12. 1. Literary Descriptions • Theocritus, Vergil, Apuleius

  13. 4. Papyri • Small pieces of papyrus transmitting the formulae for charms and spells, including binding spells, defixiones, which correspond to the lead curse tablets • Long texts including collections of recipes for healing, exorcism, and divination rituals.

  14. 5. Tabulaedefixionum

  15. Magic 3 NAMING THE SORCERER

  16. Greek words for ‘sorcerer’ • GOES • AGURTES • MAGUS • MANTIS

  17. GOES • Linked to ‘goos’ (funeral lament) • Associated with ecstasy, divination and healing rites • Used to describe ritual in Homer • Denotes a man who can resuscitate the dead in Aeschylus.

  18. APULEIUS THE SORCERER

  19. Apuleius of Madaurus (2nd C.E.) • Platonic philosopher, defended himself in a formal trial against the accusation of magic • The outline of his speech comes down to us in his Apologia sive de magia

  20. Line of defense General: • Apuleius is as a good citizen. • Appeals to the proconsul’s knowledge of Plato and quotes the definition of magi as specialists in religious matters.

  21. specimens of poisonous sea-slug • Accusers: the name of the creature was similar to that of female genitalia and therefore would have been used in erotic magic • Apuleius: I was writing a book on fish.

  22. Divination • Accusers: Apuleius performed incantations over a young boy in a secret place at a small altar, with only a few friends present. • Apuleius: the details his accusers provide were so inaccurate that they cannot be true.

  23. Exorcism • Accusers: he performed exorcism = he is a magician • Apuleius: I acted as a physician

  24. Possession of ritual objects • Accusers: the objects prove that his is a magician • Apuleius: the objects ate linked to mystery cults he had been initiated in.

  25. He performed exorcism. (He acted as a physician). • He possessed ritual objects (linked, he claims, to mystery cults he had been initiated in). • Nocturna sacra were performed in his house. • He worshipped an ebony statuette representing a superhuman power linked with the world of the dead, which he referred to as the king (basileus). (well, he commissioned one to be made of boxwood but a friend decided to surprise him and paid the craftsman for ebony.)

  26. How to become a sorcerer?

  27. HECATE

  28. in Hesiod (7th BCE) • Originally goddess of fertility and prosperity • A daughter of the Titans, independent from the Olympian gods • Nurse of young creatures (like Artemis)

  29. Classical period and later • Linked to the Underworld depicted with a blazing torch • Accompanied by fierce hounds • Goddess of the crossroads • Skilled in the arts of black magic

  30. Cross-roads • To the Romans Hecate was “Trivia” of the crossroads • Received offerings of food called Hecate's suppers

  31. MYTHICAL SORCERERS often have divine ancestry

  32. Circe in theOdyssey • turns Odysseus’ crew into animals

  33. orchestrates his descent to the underworld

  34. is the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun

  35. Medea • Who new how to resuscitate the dead was a grand-daughter ofHelios.

  36. Others obtain magic objects from gods • For example, Jason according to Pindar (5th BCE) • obtained the jynx from Aphrodite herself, in order to face Medea

  37. Others obtain magic objects from gods • Odysseus received moly from Hermes.

  38. In practice… • magical powers were sought through quasi religious ceremonies, strongly reminiscent of mystery cults

  39. MAGIC & MYSTERY CULTS • used the same vocabulary: • ‘mysterion’ = religious and magical ceremony • ‘synmystai’ = ‘the initiates’

  40. MAGIC & MYSTERY CULTS • shared at least three important features: • 1) Secrecy • 2) Direct contact with the divine • 3) Complex rituals and initiation

  41. Mysticism • = ‘direct contact with the divine’ • Plato: the sorcerer = ‘spiritual man’daimonios

  42. Ecstasy • = ‘being put out of one’s place’ joy of having transgressed the boundaries of the human condition • was sought both by followers of Bacchus and by the magi (Lucius in Apuleius’Metamorphoses)

  43. Difference • In his contact with the divine, the magus more often seeks a solitary experience

  44. PART 1 PREPARE TO MEET YOUR PARHEDROS

  45. Keep the rites secret and abstain from sexual intercourse for seven days. • Purity will distinguish you from ordinary human beings.

  46. Drown a falcon (symbol of the Sun) in the milk of a black cow mixed with honey. • The murder of a sacred animal will place you outside the law.

  47. Take the bird + two of your fingernails + your hair