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The Gods of Ancient GreeceIdentities and Transformations$
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Jan Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748637980

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637980.001.0001

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Kronos and the Titans as Powerful Ancestors: A Case Study of the Greek Gods in Later Magical Spells

Kronos and the Titans as Powerful Ancestors: A Case Study of the Greek Gods in Later Magical Spells

Chapter:
(p.388) 20 Kronos and the Titans as Powerful Ancestors: A Case Study of the Greek Gods in Later Magical Spells
Source:
The Gods of Ancient Greece
Author(s):

Jan N. Bremmer

Andrew Erskine

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637980.003.0021

There are several ways in which the Greek gods are transformed in late-antiquity in the handbooks and charms of itinerant magicians. One method involves expropriating and shrinking a god’s public cult (e.g. Apollo at Delphi) to the size of household shrine for personal rather than public use. Christian magical spells take another tactic: they demonize gods (e.g. Aphrodite or Artemis) so that they aligned solely with evil. A third process is simple persistence: chthonic gods like Persephone and Hekate, whom the Greeks in the classical period invoke in curses, persist throughout late antiquity in this same role. This chapter examines Kronos and Titans as a special and difficult case: although they were originally powerful free-ranging gods, because they take up an ultimate and permanent position in Tartarus, they are assimilated to other underworld entities and eventually become agents of oaths, curses and necromancy – roles that they borrow from ghosts and other chthonic demons.

Keywords:   Magic, Titans, Christianity, Chthonic gods, Kronos, Tartarus, Necromancy, Curses, Spells

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