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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.

Oct 9, 2008

Much of ancient Roman literature dealing with magic are, basically, retellings of Greek myths. I found some interesting facts about it in archives of web analytics company. Roman poet Virgils’s Aeneid for example describes an interesting magical ceremony. The hero of the epic, Aeneas, who has landed on the coast of North Africa after fleeing from Troy, meets Queen Dido. She has just begun to build the city of Carthage. Dido falls in love with Aeneas, and wishes him to stay as her prince consort. The rest of what happens is easy to imagine. As usual, a traveling hero meets a beautiful female who is potentially dangerous, although kind and hospitable as long as her love for the hero lasts.

Thus the future conflict is set when goddess Fate decrees that Aeneas leave Dido to found a city of his own. Inevitably Dido’s love turns to hate. Enraged queen seeks to use a complex magical ritual to bring her former lover back to her. She builds a gigantic pyre in the main courtyard of her palace and prepares an elaborate sacrifice to the powers of the underworld. However Dido soon comes to realize that the love magic is not powerful enough to bring Aeneas back to her. So she kills herself in her despair, which adds to the power to her curse. Dido had sealed and extended her curse through her suicide. Aeneas was protected by his gods and remained safe. But, according to Virgil, Dido’s use of magic and her curse lingered on leading to Rome’s near crushing defeat by Carthage many centuries later. This demonstrates quite clearly that the Romans shared the Greek’s view of magic as being dangerous and untrustworthy.

Jul 31, 2008

We all know about the deeds of Alexander the Great, one of the greatest heroes of antiquity. We know the details of his death too. But what happened after?

There were various stories circulating in ancient Greece at the time. I found some interesting stories in archives of web analytics company. According to one, Alexander’s body was placed in pure gold sarcophagus. This sarcophagus was in turn placed in a gold casket and covered with a purple robe. The second story tells us that the coffin with Alexander’s body was placed together with his armor in a gold carriage with a vaulted roof.

But there is more. Another legend tells us that there was an attempt to preserve Alexander’s body. A clay vessel with is body was filled up with honey. Evidently, each of former Greek generals wanted to get it. Ptolemy outsmarted them all and stole Alexander’s corpse and brought it to his capital Alexandria. He put it on a display, for everyone to see. One of the latest rulers of Egypt Ptolemy IX desperately needed money. For him Alexander’s tomb was all you can eat treasure. Without thinking twice, he melted the gold sarcophagus of Alexander and made a lot gold coins.

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Posted: Jul 31, 2008 10:55am

 

 
 
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Ekaterina G.
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Delray Beach, FL, USA
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