Did You Sleep Ok?

Contemporaneous with any number of erotic epigrams collected in the Greek Anthology are the spells, rituals, and hymns of the Magic Papyri from Greco-Roman Egypt.

As these examples show, the epigrams and magic spells sometimes have nearly identical concerns: disrupting the beloved’s sleep or manipulating her dreams. Both epigram and magic spell seem a form of consolation for the frustrations of unrequited love.  Yet I think it can be said of the epigram that it disciplines the sentiment with meter. 

The magic spell, in contrast, seems an ongoing and futile acting-out. Also, the magic spell has this contradictory character: the lover bewitched by the beloved’s natural charms (her beauty, mind, character, or what have you) must resort to the supernatural to bewitch her in turn. The supernatural might represent awesome power, but its invocation underscores the insufficiency, the relative poverty, of the lover’s own means (his beauty, mind, character, or what have you). And of course the lover’s overvaluation of the beloved is also on display: he thinks only the gods are a match for her! 

Magic‌ ‌Spell‌ ‌to‌ ‌Appear‌ ‌in‌ ‌Dreams‌ ‌(PMG.‌ ‌VII.407-10)‌ ‌

If‌ ‌you‌ ‌wish‌ ‌to‌ ‌appear‌ ‌to‌ ‌someone‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌night‌ ‌in‌ ‌dreams,‌ ‌say‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌lamp‌ ‌which‌ ‌is‌ ‌lit‌ ‌
everyday,‌ ‌and‌ ‌say‌ ‌it‌ ‌often:‌ ‌“Let‌ ‌such-and-such‌ ‌woman,‌ ‌whom‌ ‌such-and-such‌ ‌bore,‌ ‌ ‌
see‌ ‌me‌ ‌in‌ ‌her‌ ‌sleep—now!‌ ‌now!‌ ‌quick!‌ ‌quick!”‌ ‌ ‌


Meleager‌ ‌(Greek‌ ‌Anthology‌ ‌5.174)‌ ‌ ‌

You’re‌ ‌asleep,‌ ‌Zenophila,‌ ‌soft‌ ‌flower.‌ ‌ ‌
Now,‌ ‌if‌ ‌only‌ ‌I‌ ‌were‌ ‌wingless‌ ‌Sleep‌ ‌
Penetrating‌ ‌your‌ ‌eyelids,‌ ‌stopping‌ ‌him‌ ‌
Who‌ ‌charms‌ ‌even‌ ‌Zeus‌ ‌from‌ ‌visiting‌ ‌you.‌ ‌ ‌
Then‌ ‌I‌ ‌alone‌ ‌would‌ ‌possess‌ ‌you.‌ ‌

Magic‌ ‌Spell‌ ‌to‌ ‌Cause‌ ‌Sleeplessness‌ ‌(PMG‌ ‌XII.‌ ‌376-380)‌ ‌

Taking‌ ‌a‌ ‌live‌ ‌bat‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌right‌ ‌wing,‌ ‌write‌ ‌with‌ ‌myrrh‌ ‌the‌ ‌figure‌ ‌below.‌ ‌On‌ ‌the‌ ‌left‌ ‌wing‌ ‌
engrave‌ ‌the‌ ‌7‌ ‌names‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌god‌ ‌and‌ ‌also‌ ‌this:‌ ‌“Let‌ ‌such-and-such‌ ‌woman‌ ‌whom‌ ‌
such-and-such‌ ‌bore‌ ‌be‌ ‌sleepless‌ ‌until‌ ‌she‌ ‌consents.”‌ ‌And‌ ‌with‌ ‌that,‌ ‌release‌ ‌the‌ ‌bat‌ ‌
again‌ ‌.‌ ‌.‌ ‌.and‌ ‌she‌ ‌will‌ ‌die‌ ‌from‌ ‌sleeplessness‌ ‌within‌ ‌7‌ ‌days.‌ ‌ ‌


Callimachus‌ ‌(Greek‌ ‌Anthology‌ ‌5.23)‌ ‌

May‌ ‌you‌ ‌sleep,‌ ‌Conopium,‌ ‌just‌ ‌as‌ ‌you‌ ‌ ‌
Make‌ ‌me‌ ‌sleep‌ ‌at‌ ‌your‌ ‌cold‌ ‌doorstep.‌ ‌
May‌ ‌you‌ ‌sleep,‌ ‌unjust‌ ‌woman,‌ ‌just‌ ‌as‌ ‌you‌ ‌ ‌
Make‌ ‌the‌ ‌man‌ ‌who‌ ‌loves‌ ‌you‌ ‌sleep.‌ ‌ ‌
Even‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌dreams‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌a‌ ‌stranger‌ ‌to‌ ‌mercy.‌ ‌
The‌ ‌neighbors‌ ‌show‌ ‌compassion,‌ ‌but‌ ‌you,‌ ‌
Not‌ ‌even‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌dreams.‌ ‌ ‌
But,‌ ‌soon‌ ‌enough‌ ‌grey‌ ‌hair‌ ‌will‌ ‌remind‌ ‌you‌ ‌
Of‌ ‌all‌ ‌this.‌ ‌

Magic‌ ‌Spell‌ ‌to‌ ‌Appear‌ ‌in‌ ‌Dreams‌ ‌(PMG.‌ ‌VII.407-10)‌ ‌

     ᾿Εάν τινι ἐθέλῃς [ἐ]μφανῆναι διὰ νυκτὸς ἐν ὀνείροις, λέγε πρὸς τὸν λύχνον τὸν καθημερινόν, λέγε πολλάκις· ‘χειαμωψει: ερπεβωθ: ἰδέτω με ἡ δεῖνα, ἣν ἡ δεῖνα, ἐν τοῖς  ὕπνοις, ἤδη ἤδη, ταχὺ ταχύ.’ καὶ κοινά, ὅσ’ ἂν βούλῃ.

(note:‌ ‌I’ve‌ ‌excluded‌ ‌the‌ ‌indecipherable‌ ‌magic‌ ‌words‌ ‌with‌ ‌which‌ ‌the‌ ‌incantation‌ ‌begins)‌ ‌ ‌

Meleager‌ ‌5.174‌ ‌

εὕδεις‌,‌ ‌‌Ζηνοφίλα‌,‌ ‌‌τρυφερὸν‌‌ ‌‌θάλος‌.‌ ‌‌εἴθ᾽‌‌ ‌‌ἐπὶ‌‌ ‌‌σοὶ‌‌ ‌‌νῦν‌ ‌ ‌
ἄπτερος‌‌ ‌‌εἰσῄεινὝπνος‌‌ ‌‌ἐπὶ‌‌ ‌‌βλεφάροις‌,‌ ‌ ‌
ὡς‌‌ ‌‌ἐπὶ‌‌ ‌‌σοὶ‌‌ ‌‌μηδ᾽‌‌ ‌‌οὗτος‌,‌ ‌‌ὁ‌‌ ‌‌καὶ‌‌ ‌‌Διὸς‌‌ ‌‌ὄμματα‌‌ ‌‌θέλγων‌,‌ ‌ ‌
φοιτήσαι‌,‌ ‌‌κάτεχον‌‌ ‌‌δ᾽‌‌ ‌‌αὐτὸς‌‌ ‌‌ἐγώ‌‌ ‌‌σε‌‌ ‌‌μόνος‌.‌ ‌ ‌

Magic‌ ‌Spell‌ ‌to‌ ‌Cause‌ ‌Sleeplessness‌ ‌(PMG‌ ‌XII.‌ ‌376-380)‌ ‌

‌᾿Αγρυπνητικόν.‌ ‌λαβὼν‌ ‌νυκτερίδαν‌ ‌ζῶσαν‌ ‌ἐπὶ‌ ‌τῆς‌ ‌δεξιᾶς‌ ‌πτέρυγος‌ ‌ζωγράφησον‌ ‌ζμύρνῃ‌ ‌τὸ‌ ‌ὑποκείμενον‌ ‌ζῴδιον,‌ ‌ἐπὶ‌ ‌τῆς‌ ‌ἀριστερᾶς‌ ‌τὰ‌ ‌ζ′‌ ‌ὀνόματα‌ ‌κατάγραψον‌ ‌θεοῦ‌ ‌καὶ‌ ‌ὅτι·‌ ‌‘ἀγρυπνείτω‌ ‌ἡ‌ ‌δεῖνα,‌ ‌ἣν‌ ‌δεῖνα,‌ ‌ἕως‌ ‌συνφωνήσῃ.’‌ ‌καὶ‌ ‌οὕτως‌ ‌αὖ‌ ‌αὐτὴν‌ ‌ ἀπόλυσον.‌ ‌ἐν‌ ‌ἀποκρούσει‌ ‌δὲ‌ ‌αὐτὸ‌ ‌ἀποτέλει‌ ‌τριταίας‌ ‌οὔσης‌ ‌τῆς‌ ‌θεοῦ,‌ ‌καὶ‌ ‌ἄυπνος‌ ‌τελευτήσει‌ ‌μὴ‌ ‌διαμηκύνασα‌ ‌ἡμέρας‌ ‌ζ′.‌ ‌ ‌

Callimachus‌ ‌5.23‌ ‌

οὕτως‌‌ ‌‌ὑπνώσαις‌,‌ ‌‌Κωνώπιον‌,‌ ‌‌ὡς‌‌ ‌‌ἐμὲ‌‌ ‌‌ποιεῖς‌ ‌ ‌
κοιμᾶσθαι‌‌ ‌‌ψυχροῖς‌‌ ‌‌τοῖσδε‌‌ ‌‌παρὰ‌‌ ‌‌προθύροις‌ ‌ ‌
οὕτως‌‌ ‌‌ὑπνώσαις‌,‌ ‌‌ἀδικωτάτη‌,‌ ‌‌ὡς‌‌ ‌‌τὸν‌‌ ‌‌ἐραστὴν‌ ‌ ‌
κοιμίζεις‌:‌ ‌‌ἐλέου‌‌ ‌‌δ᾽‌‌ ‌‌οὐδ᾽‌‌ ‌‌ὄναρ‌‌ ‌‌ἠντίασας‌.‌ ‌ ‌
γείτονες‌‌ ‌‌οἰκτείρουσι‌:‌ ‌‌σὺ‌‌ ‌‌δ᾽‌‌ ‌‌οὐδ᾽‌‌ ‌‌ὄναρ‌‌ ‌.‌ ‌‌ἡ‌‌ ‌‌πολιὴ‌‌ ‌‌δὲ‌ ‌ ‌
αὐτίκ᾽‌‌ ‌‌ἀναμνήσει‌‌ ‌‌ταῦτά‌‌ ‌‌σε‌‌ ‌‌πάντα‌‌ ‌‌κόμη‌.‌ ‌

Helen Van Meene. #151. Untitled.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

“A Wolf…Chases Christ into the Rivers”: Some Latin Magnetic Poems

A friend of mine (not a classicist) found a vintage Latin Magnetic Poetry set and gave it to me.  It’s not so much for Latinists as it is for English-speakers familiar with Latin: it’s got all the familiar phrases from law (habeas corpus) and Catholicism (in nomine patris) and general fancy talk (caveat emptor).

I decided to give it a go, and see what syntactically coherent sentences and phrases I could put together in classical-ish Latin. I set myself the rule of using every word in the kit, and not reusing any word that wasn’t duplicated in the kit.  Don’t bother scanning them, as they’re not metrical, but who’s to say they aren’t Saturnians?

Photograph of Magnetic Poetry, in Latin: 18 small clusters of tiny white rectangular magnets with Latin text printed in black.  The rest of this blog post consists of a transcript of that text, with translations and a tiny bit of commentary.  The translations are colloquial rather than literal, but T. H. M. believes he can justify his colloquialisms (at least as long as every journal and book editor he's run into aren't the arbiter!).

some Magnetic Poetry, in Latin, assembled during a frantic semester teaching Latin Prose Composition

Some of them sound like they could plausibly have been written or at least thought by an actual historical Roman:

ars firma uitae est scientia in libris
life’s reliable skill is book-knowledge

homini est nihil beati
humankind has no share of happiness

Magna Mater omnes forma mala amat
the Great Mother loves everyone who has a bad body

uidi populum
facile errare
et labi ad bellum

I’ve seen the populace
easily going astray
and slipping towards war

aurea uox mea non est pura
my golden voice is not pure

sic ego rebus maximis gratias non emeritus sum
that’s why I haven’t earned thanks for my super-great accomplishments

Some had a feeling of banter that could, if you squint real hard, fit in a comedy of Plautus:

amor ab ipso bono
quem hominem amas;
te uici, Maria

I’m loved by the very nobleman
whom you love;
I’ve beaten you, Maria

idem sum
de quo delirium est
I’m the very guy
everyone’s crazy about

tu Brute carpe artes pauperes salis
dum gratia patris fiat tibi absurdo

you, Brutus, pick out the impoverished arts of wit
so long as you’ve got your dad’s good will, you ridiculous man

aue homo quid in curriculum uadis
de quo non bene cogito?

hey, dude, why are you wandering onto the racetrack
that I don’t think well of?

Others entered the danger zone, of either hanky panky or sacrilege:

ueni ad opus sub toga filii proximi
I got to work underneath the toga of the boy next door

coitus habeas tremens ante nauseam
may you, trembling, have sex to the point of nausea

pax alma mirabilis
pacifici Satanas domini beati
toto anno aureo
in cetera terra beata

the wondrous nourishing peace
of the peace-bringing blessed lord, o Satan,
within the entire golden year
in the remaining blessed land

nosce unum partum e culpa dei:
filius caueat de te pater
et de poena dura
et nomine minimo delicti

recognize one born out of God’s mistake:
the Son is on guard against you, Father,
and against harsh punishment
and against the slightest name of criminal action

But the best ones took me into the realm of the bizarre:

lupus bipes Christum in flumina sequitur
minima cum cura

a wolf walking on its hind legs chases Christ into the rivers
he don’t give a fuck

alter emptor lupi mortui exit e gloria populi
the dead wolf’s other buyer has lost the good reputation of the public

uiam inueniam
aut bona faciam absentia
nulla fide

I’ll find a way—
or I’ll make all my property disappear
with no regrets

mortem malo
sed corpus magnum uirile ago
per uitam
annum perpetuum

I prefer death
but I drag my giant manly body
through life
for an endless year

And in case it wasn’t clear what the whole Magnetic Poetry set was trying (with middling results) to do, notice that one standalone magnet at the top of the photo:
LATIN.

I managed to use every single word in the kit, which means this page has the sum of all Latin Magnetic Poetry options — so now it’s your turn to mix & match. Post your handiwork in the comments!

T. H. M. Gellar-Goad is Associate Professor of Classics and Zachary T. Smith Fellow at Wake Forest University. He is author of Laughing Atoms, Laughing Matter: Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura and Satire, and co-organizer of Feminism & Classics 2020 (err…2021? 2022?). Send quibbles, emendations, and scandalized expressions of dismay to him at thmgg@wfu.edu.

The Truth Who Thunders

Magical Papyri, Preis. 5.147-152

“…I am the truth,
The one who hates that there is injustice
In the world. I am the one who strikes lightning
And thunders. I am the one whose sweat
Falls as rain to the earth where it is useful..”

… ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀλήθεια,
ὁ μισῶν ἀδικήματα γίνεσθαι
ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἀστράπτων
καὶ βροντῶν. ἐγώ εἰμι, οὗ ἐστιν
ὁ ἱδρὼς ὄμβρος ἐπιπίπτων ἐ-
πὶ τὴν γῆν, ἵνα ὀχεύῃ…

Image result for darkwing duck

The Work of Magic, the Work of Love

Plotinus Enniad 4.4

“How does magic work? It works by sympathy and by the innate harmony of things that are similar and the disharmony of things that are opposite. It also works through the richness of the many powers which contribute to a living thing.

Many things are attracted and enchanted without anyone casting a spell. The real magic is the Love and the Strife which is in the Totality. This is the first wizard and that is the first potion-master—it is by observing this that people come to use his potions and spells on each other.

Because loving is innate and whatever inspires love compels people towards one another, a force of magical erotic art has developed. Some people apply different magical potions to others which pull them together and possess an erotic force. They join different spirits together, as if they were interweaving plants rooted some distance apart.”

Τὰς δὲ γοητείας πῶς; ἢ τῇ συμπαθείᾳ, καὶ τῷ πεφυκέναι συμφωνίαν εἶναι ὁμοίων καὶ ἐναντίωσιν ἀνομοίων, καὶ τῇ τῶν δυνάμεων τῶν πολλῶν ποικιλίᾳ εἰς ἓν ζῷον συντελούντων. καὶ γὰρ μηδενὸς μηχανωμένου ἄλλου πολλὰ ἕλκεται καὶ γοητεύεται· καὶ ἡ ἀληθινὴ μαγεία ἡ ἐν τῷ παντὶ φιλία καὶ τὸ νεῖκος αὖ. καὶ ὁ γόης ὁ πρῶτος καὶ φαρμακεὺς οὗτός ἐστιν, ὃν κατανοήσαντες ἄνθρωποι ἐπ᾿ ἀλλήλοις χρῶνται αὐτοῦ τοῖς φαρμάκοις καὶ τοῖς γοητεύμασι. καὶ γάρ, ὅτι ἐρᾶν πεφύκασι καὶ τὰ ἐρᾶν ποιοῦντα ἕλκει πρὸς ἄλληλα, ἀλκὴ ἐρωτικῆς διὰ γοητείας τέχνης γεγένηται, προστιθέντων ἐπαφαῖς φύσεις ἄλλας ἄλλοις συναγωγούς καὶ ἐγκείμενον ἐχούσας ἔρωτα· καὶ συνάπτουσι δὲ ἄλλην ψυχὴν ἄλλῃ, ὥσπερ ἂν εἰ φυτὰ διεστηκότα ἐξαψάμενοι πρὸς ἄλληλα.

This made me think more than a little of Empedocles:

Empedocles, fr. 17.23-33

“Come, listen to my stories: for learning will certainly improve your thoughts.
As I said before when I declared the outline of my speeches,
I will speak a two-fold tale. Once, first, the one alone grew
Out of many and then in turn it grew apart into many from one.
Fire, and Water, and Earth and the invincible peak of Air,
Ruinous strife as well, separate from these, equal to every one,
And Love was among them, equal as well in length and breadth.
Keep Love central in your mind, don’t sit with eyes in a stupor.
She is known to be innate to mortal bodies,
She causes them to think of love and complete acts of peace,
Whether we call her Happiness or Aphrodite as a nickname….”

ἀλλ’ ἄγε μύθων κλῦθι· μάθη γάρ τοι φρένας αὔξει·
ὡς γὰρ καὶ πρὶν ἔειπα πιφαύσκων πείρατα μύθων,
δίπλ’ ἐρέω· τοτὲ μὲν γὰρ ἓν ηὐξήθη μόνον εἶναι
ἐκ πλεόνων, τοτὲ δ’ αὖ διέφυ πλέον’ ἐξ ἑνὸς εἶναι,
πῦρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ γαῖα καὶ ἠέρος ἄπλετον ὕψος,
Νεῖκός τ’ οὐλόμενον δίχα τῶν, ἀτάλαντον ἁπάντηι,
καὶ Φιλότης ἐν τοῖσιν, ἴση μῆκός τε πλάτος τε·
τὴν σὺ νόωι δέρκευ, μηδ’ ὄμμασιν ἧσο τεθηπώς·
ἥτις καὶ θνητοῖσι νομίζεται ἔμφυτος ἄρθροις,
τῆι τε φίλα φρονέουσι καὶ ἄρθμια ἔργα τελοῦσι,
Γηθοσύνην καλέοντες ἐπώνυμον ἠδ’ ᾿Αφροδίτην·

Merlin in a medieval manuscript of a compilation of texts of astronomy by Alfonso the Wise (c. 1400)

The Erotic Madness That Has No Cure

Plutarch, Dialogue on Love Moralia 759 b-c

“When erotic madness grabs a hold of a person truly and sets him on fire, there’s no poetry, no magic spell, nor any change of place that can restore. So people lust when present and long when absent and pursue at day or prowl around outside doors at night. They invite pretty people over when sober and sing about them while drinking. Someone has also said that the poetic fantasies are waking dreams because of their intensity—but this is more true of the notions of lovers who speak with people as if they are present, embrace them, or even rebuke them.”

τὴν δ᾿ ἐρωτικὴν μανίαν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καθαψαμένην ἀληθῶς καὶ διακαύσασαν οὐ μοῦσά τις οὐκ ἐπῳδὴ θελκτήριος οὐ τόπου μεταβολὴ καθίστησιν· ἀλλὰ καὶ παρόντες ἐρῶσι καὶ ἀπόντες ποθοῦσι καὶ μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν διώκουσι καὶ νύκτωρ θυραυλοῦσι, καὶ νήφοντες καλοῦσι τοὺς καλοὺς καὶ πίνοντες ᾄδουσι.

“Καὶ οὐχ ὥς τις εἶπεν αἱ ποιητικαὶ φαντασίαι διὰ τὴν ἐνάργειαν ἐγρηγορότων ἐνύπνιά εἰσιν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον αἱ τῶν ἐρώντων, διαλεγομένων ὡς πρὸς παρόντας, ἀσπαζομένων, ἐγκαλούντων.

Image result for medieval manuscript love magic
Harley 4431 f. 128

The Erotic Madness That Has No Cure

Plutarch, Dialogue on Love Moralia 759 b-c

“When erotic madness grabs a hold of a person truly and sets him on fire, there’s no poetry, no magic spell, nor any change of place that can restore. So people lust when present and long when absent and pursue at day or prowl around outside doors at night. They invite pretty people over when sober and sing about them while drinking. Someone has also said that the poetic fantasies are waking dreams because of their intensity—but this is more true of the notions of lovers who speak with people as if they are present, embrace them, or even rebuke them.”

τὴν δ᾿ ἐρωτικὴν μανίαν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καθαψαμένην ἀληθῶς καὶ διακαύσασαν οὐ μοῦσά τις οὐκ ἐπῳδὴ θελκτήριος οὐ τόπου μεταβολὴ καθίστησιν· ἀλλὰ καὶ παρόντες ἐρῶσι καὶ ἀπόντες ποθοῦσι καὶ μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν διώκουσι καὶ νύκτωρ θυραυλοῦσι, καὶ νήφοντες καλοῦσι τοὺς καλοὺς καὶ πίνοντες ᾄδουσι.

“Καὶ οὐχ ὥς τις εἶπεν αἱ ποιητικαὶ φαντασίαι διὰ τὴν ἐνάργειαν ἐγρηγορότων ἐνύπνιά εἰσιν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον αἱ τῶν ἐρώντων, διαλεγομένων ὡς πρὸς παρόντας, ἀσπαζομένων, ἐγκαλούντων.

Image result for medieval manuscript love magic
Harley 4431 f. 128

Potions and Spells: Crimes and their Legal Names

Quintilian, 7.3.10

“A different kind of question arises when the argument depends on a word which comes from a written text. This does not happen in courtrooms unless the words shape the legal outcome: is killing oneself a homicide? Is the one who compels a tyrant to kill himself a tyrannicide? Are magical spells like poisoning?

The matter is clear. Suicide is not understood as being the same as killing another person; it is not the same thing to kill a tyrant and compel him to die. Spells are not the same thing as mortal poison. The issue is whether they should be referred to with the same legal name.”

Diversum est genus cum controversia consistit in nomine quod pendet ex scripto, nec versatur in iudiciis nisi propter verba quae litem faciunt: an qui se interficit homicida sit, an qui tyrannum in mortem compulit tyrannicida, an carmina magorum veneficium. Res enim manifesta est sciturque non idem esse occidere se quod alium, non idem occidere tyrannum quod compellere ad mortem, non idem carmina ac mortiferam potionem, quaeritur tamen an eodem nomine appellanda sint.

20120224-Magical_book_Kircherian_Terme.jpg
Spell book?

Weird Uses of Weasels

Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 39.16

“There are two kinds of weasels: one is wild and the two differ in size. The Greeks call this one ictis. The gall of both is useful against asps, but poisonous to others. The other weasel, however, wanders in our homes and, as Cicero explains, moves its young on a daily basis and changes its nest, chasing snakes. Its meat, preserved in salt is given in a weight of one denarius and mixed in three cyathi of liquid to those who have been bitten. Otherwise, its stomach is stuffed with coriander and, once dried, drunk with wine. A weasel kitten is even better for this than the weasel itself.”

XVI. Mustelarum duo genera, alterum silvestre; distant magnitudine, Graeci vocant ictidas. harum fel contra aspidas dicitur efficax, cetero venenum. haec autem quae in domibus nostris oberrat et catulos suos, ut auctor est Cicero, cottidie transfert mutatque sedem, serpentes persequitur. ex ea inveterata sale denarii pondus in cyathis tribus datur percussis aut ventriculus coriandro fartus inveteratusque et in vino potus, et catulus mustelae etiam efficacius.

Related image
Aberdeen Book of Kells ,Folio 23v 

 

The Work of Magic, the Work of Love

Plotinus Enniad 4.4

“How does magic work? It works by sympathy and by the innate harmony of things that are similar and the disharmony of things that are opposite. It also works through the richness of the many powers which contribute to a living thing.

Many things are attracted and enchanted without anyone casting a spell. The real magic is the Love and the Strife which is in the Totality. This is the first wizard and that is the first potion-master—it is by observing this that people come to use his potions and spells on each other.

Because loving is innate and whatever inspires love compels people towards one another, a force of magical erotic art has developed. Some people apply different magical potions to others which pull them together and possess an erotic force. They join different spirits together, as if they were interweaving plants rooted some distance apart.”

Τὰς δὲ γοητείας πῶς; ἢ τῇ συμπαθείᾳ, καὶ τῷ πεφυκέναι συμφωνίαν εἶναι ὁμοίων καὶ ἐναντίωσιν ἀνομοίων, καὶ τῇ τῶν δυνάμεων τῶν πολλῶν ποικιλίᾳ εἰς ἓν ζῷον συντελούντων. καὶ γὰρ μηδενὸς μηχανωμένου ἄλλου πολλὰ ἕλκεται καὶ γοητεύεται· καὶ ἡ ἀληθινὴ μαγεία ἡ ἐν τῷ παντὶ φιλία καὶ τὸ νεῖκος αὖ. καὶ ὁ γόης ὁ πρῶτος καὶ φαρμακεὺς οὗτός ἐστιν, ὃν κατανοήσαντες ἄνθρωποι ἐπ᾿ ἀλλήλοις χρῶνται αὐτοῦ τοῖς φαρμάκοις καὶ τοῖς γοητεύμασι. καὶ γάρ, ὅτι ἐρᾶν πεφύκασι καὶ τὰ ἐρᾶν ποιοῦντα ἕλκει πρὸς ἄλληλα, ἀλκὴ ἐρωτικῆς διὰ γοητείας τέχνης γεγένηται, προστιθέντων ἐπαφαῖς φύσεις ἄλλας ἄλλοις συναγωγούς καὶ ἐγκείμενον ἐχούσας ἔρωτα· καὶ συνάπτουσι δὲ ἄλλην ψυχὴν ἄλλῃ, ὥσπερ ἂν εἰ φυτὰ διεστηκότα ἐξαψάμενοι πρὸς ἄλληλα.

This made me think more than a little of Empedocles:

Empedocles, fr. 17.23-33

“Come, listen to my stories: for learning will certainly improve your thoughts.
As I said before when I declared the outline of my speeches,
I will speak a two-fold tale. Once, first, the one alone grew
Out of many and then in turn it grew apart into many from one.
Fire, and Water, and Earth and the invincible peak of Air,
Ruinous strife as well, separate from these, equal to every one,
And Love was among them, equal as well in length and breadth.
Keep Love central in your mind, don’t sit with eyes in a stupor.
She is known to be innate to mortal bodies,
She causes them to think of love and complete acts of peace,
Whether we call her Happiness or Aphrodite as a nickname….”

ἀλλ’ ἄγε μύθων κλῦθι· μάθη γάρ τοι φρένας αὔξει·
ὡς γὰρ καὶ πρὶν ἔειπα πιφαύσκων πείρατα μύθων,
δίπλ’ ἐρέω· τοτὲ μὲν γὰρ ἓν ηὐξήθη μόνον εἶναι
ἐκ πλεόνων, τοτὲ δ’ αὖ διέφυ πλέον’ ἐξ ἑνὸς εἶναι,
πῦρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ γαῖα καὶ ἠέρος ἄπλετον ὕψος,
Νεῖκός τ’ οὐλόμενον δίχα τῶν, ἀτάλαντον ἁπάντηι,
καὶ Φιλότης ἐν τοῖσιν, ἴση μῆκός τε πλάτος τε·
τὴν σὺ νόωι δέρκευ, μηδ’ ὄμμασιν ἧσο τεθηπώς·
ἥτις καὶ θνητοῖσι νομίζεται ἔμφυτος ἄρθροις,
τῆι τε φίλα φρονέουσι καὶ ἄρθμια ἔργα τελοῦσι,
Γηθοσύνην καλέοντες ἐπώνυμον ἠδ’ ᾿Αφροδίτην·

Merlin in a medieval manuscript of a compilation of texts of astronomy by Alfonso the Wise (c. 1400)

Magical Monday: A Homeric Simile and Puppy Sacrifice

Odyssey 9.287-293

“So I was speaking, but [the Kyklops] did not answer me because of his pitiless heart.
But then he leapt up, shot out his hands at my companions,
Grabbed two together, and struck them against the ground
Like puppies. Brains were flowing out from them and they dyed the ground.
After tearing them limb from limb, he prepared himself a meal.
He ate them like a mountain-born lion and left nothing behind,
The innards, the meat, and the marrow-filled bones.”

Image result for Ancient Greek dog

ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δέ μ’ οὐδὲν ἀμείβετο νηλέϊ θυμῷ,
ἀλλ’ ὅ γ’ ἀναΐξας ἑτάροισ’ ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἴαλλε,
σὺν δὲ δύω μάρψας ὥς τε σκύλακας ποτὶ γαίῃ
κόπτ’· ἐκ δ’ ἐγκέφαλος χαμάδις ῥέε, δεῦε δὲ γαῖαν.
τοὺς δὲ διὰ μελεϊστὶ ταμὼν ὁπλίσσατο δόρπον·
ἤσθιε δ’ ὥς τε λέων ὀρεσίτροφος, οὐδ’ ἀπέλειπεν,
ἔγκατά τε σάρκας τε καὶ ὀστέα μυελόεντα.

My perplexity over this passage provides a good example of how Twitter can be used for good. Last year, I asked a question about killing puppies got some great responses. One found a later passage that deals with puppies and has some interesting thematic resonance with Odysseus’ development:

Several mentioned that this is a typical way to deal with unwanted puppies:

https://twitter.com/Jen_Dodgson/status/856583596416548864

And several respondents also made nice points about the helplessness of the puppies in the image.

I think that all of these ideas are essential to a full interpretation of this passage. But, I do wonder if, in addition, we should consider ancient Greek practices of puppy sacrifice. I know that the following accounts are later, but what if we imagine the simile used here as evoking ideas of purification through sacrifice?

Plutarch, Roman Questions 280 c

“Nearly all the Greeks made use of the dog in sacrifice and some still do today, for cleansing rituals. They also bring puppies for Hekate along with other purification materials; and they rub down people who need cleansing with the puppies.”

τῷ δὲ κυνὶ πάντες ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν Ἕλληνες ἐχρῶντο καὶ χρῶνταί γε μέχρι νῦν ἔνιοι σφαγίῳ πρὸς τοὺς καθαρμούς· καὶ τῇ Ἑκάτῃ σκυλάκια μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων καθαρσίων ἐκφέρουσι καὶ περιμάττουσι σκυλακίοις τοὺς ἁγνισμοῦ δεομένους 

Plutarch, Romulus 21.10

“The Greeks in their purification bring out the puppies and in many places use them in the practice called periskulakismos [‘carrying puppies around’]”

καὶ γὰρ ῞Ελληνες ἔν τε τοῖς καθαρσίοις σκύλακας ἐκφέρουσι καὶ πολλαχοῦ χρῶνται τοῖς λεγομένοις περισκυλακισμοῖς·

Pausanias, Laconica 15

“Here, each of these groups of youths sacrifice a puppy to Enyalius, god of war, because they believe that it is best to make this most valiant of the domesticated animals to the bravest of the gods. I don’t know any other Greeks who believe it is right to sacrifice puppies to the gods except for the Kolophonians. For the Kolophonians sacrifice a black female puppy to the goddess of the Crossroad. The sacrifices of both the Kolophonians and the Spartan youths take place at night.”

ἐνταῦθα ἑκατέρα μοῖρα τῶν ἐφήβων σκύλακα κυνὸς τῷ Ἐνυαλίῳ θύουσι, θεῶν τῷ ἀλκιμωτάτῳ κρίνοντες ἱερεῖον κατὰ γνώμην εἶναι τὸ ἀλκιμώτατον ζῷον τῶν ἡμέρων. κυνὸς δὲ σκύλακας οὐδένας ἄλλους οἶδα Ἑλλήνων νομίζοντας θύειν ὅτι μὴ Κολοφωνίους· θύουσι γὰρ καὶ Κολοφώνιοι μέλαιναν τῇ Ἐνοδίῳ σκύλακα. νυκτεριναὶ δὲ ἥ τε Κολοφωνίων θυσία καὶ τῶν ἐν Λακεδαίμονι ἐφήβων καθεστήκασιν.

Plutarch, Roman Questions 290 d

“Indeed, the ancients did not consider this animal to be clean either: it was never sacrificed to one of the Olympian goes, but when it is given to Hekate at the cross-roads, it functions as part of the sacrifices that turn away and cleanse evil. In Sparta, they sacrifice dogs to the bloodiest of the gods, Enyalios. In Boiotia, it is the public cleansing ritual to walk between the parts of a dog that has been cut in half. The Romans themselves, during the Wolf-Festival which they call the Lupercalia, they sacrifice a dog in the month of purification.”

Οὐ μὴν οὐδὲ καθαρεύειν ᾤοντο παντάπασιν οἱ παλαιοὶ τὸ ζῷον· καὶ γὰρ Ὀλυμπίων μὲν οὐδενὶ θεῶν καθιέρωται, χθονίᾳ δὲ δεῖπνον Ἑκάτῃ πεμπόμενος εἰς τριόδους ἀποτροπαίων καὶ καθαρσίων ἐπέχει μοῖραν. ἐν δὲ Λακεδαίμονι τῷ φονικωτάτῳ θεῶν Ἐνυαλίῳ σκύλακας ἐντέμνουσι· Βοιωτοῖς δὲ δημοσίᾳ καθαρμός ἐστι κυνὸς διχοτομηθέντος τῶν μερῶν διεξελθεῖν· αὐτοὶ δὲ Ῥωμαῖοι τοῖς Λυκαίοις, ἃ Λουπερκάλια καλοῦσιν, ἐν τῷ καθαρσίῳ μηνὶ κύνα θύουσιν.

Twitter brought another example from Festus

https://twitter.com/CorpusCynicum/status/1024017651788640256

https://twitter.com/CorpusCynicum/status/1024017739529302016