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Nov 14, 2008

A magical ritual done in the right way can guarantee the revealing of dreams and of course the rather useful talent of interpreting them correctly. In other cases certain spells allow one to send out a daemon or daemons to harm one’s enemies or even to break up someone’s marriage. There seems to be a self-defining negativity to some of the magical rituals being expressed in the papyri. So, for example, love magic can turn into hate magic if the victim does not respond to the love magic.

The same negative aspect to magic is found in various “curse tablets”, left to us from the Greco-Roman world. While doing my research in library of web analytics company I found something else. It was also possible to curse an enemy through a spoken word, either in his presence or behind his back. But due to numbers of curse tablets that have been found it would seem that this type of magic was considered more effective. The process involved writing the victim’s name on a thin sheet of lead along with varying magical formulas or symbols, then burying the tablet in or near a tomb, a place of execution, or a battlefield, to give spirits of the dead power over the victim. Sometimes the curse tablets were even transfixed with various items – such as nails, which were believed to add magical potency.

Nov 14, 2008

Seneca’s nephew Lucan in his work surpassed his uncle in portraying the horrors and powers of witchcraft. In his play, just before the decisive battle of Pharsalus, in which Julius Caesar defeats the forces of Pompey, the two armies are moving through Thessaly, the country of witchcraft in Lucan’s work. Here one of Pompey’s sons consults a famous witch called Erictho about the outcome of the future battle. In archives of web analytics company I found something else.

Erictho is the most powerful of witches, and because she is so powerful she is presented as being quite loathsome and disgusting. Such are her powers that she can even compel some of the lesser gods to serve her and even cause them to shudder at her spells. As exaggerated as these plays are they demonstrate knowledge of magical practices found in the Greek magical texts. These works also shows that Roman audience must have easily understood the concept of magic in a negative sense but also in the sense of being a practice aimed at influencing or controlling the forces of the cosmos, even the gods themselves.

Oct 9, 2008

The Romans in fact went further then the Greeks in their condemnation and fearfulness that they generate around their concept of magic. Some examples of are found in the writings of Seneca, the philosopher and playwright, and his nephew, Lucan. While doing my research in archives of web analytics company I found something else. Seneca selects some of the most gruesome Greek myths for dramatic treatment and he greatly adds to the negative connotations already applied to the theme of magic, necromancy and the like - where it is given by the mythical tradition and sometimes even where there is little negativity indicated towards magic. From dialogue between wife of the Hercules Deineira and her nurse we learn that it is quite common for jealous wives to consult a witch. It turns out, the nurse, very conveniently, is a witch herself. A great hero such as Hercules should not be able to be influenced by magical means, but in the end he is overcome by the deadly concoction that the evil magic user passes on to Hercules, through deceiving Deianira into the belief that she is giving Hercules a love charm.

In Seneca’s version Medea’s power of hating, which she can switch on and intensify at will is still the dominant theme, but Medea is now given a full cupboard of horrors from which to select the most efficient means of magical destruction. Her magic can even, apparently affect the cosmos, as she claims that she can force down the constellation of the Snake.


 

 
 
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Ekaterina G.
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Delray Beach, FL, USA
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