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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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Homo Fictor Deorum Est: Envisioning the Divine in Late Antique Divinatory Spells

Homo Fictor Deorum Est: Envisioning the Divine in Late Antique Divinatory Spells

(p.406) 21 Homo Fictor Deorum Est: Envisioning the Divine in Late Antique Divinatory Spells
The Gods of Ancient Greece

Jan N. Bremmer

Andrew Erskine

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter starts by examining the fact that for most of Greek history, gods’ visits to humans were hard to discern--one never could be sure when or if a god were present, even within divinatory settings, when one would most expect that to be the case. It then moves on to contrast this with the situation found in later antiquity, particularly as expressed by divinatory rituals described by magical and theurgic texts. In these cases, the practitioner not only knew exactly what the visiting god or angel or daemon would look and sound like, but often was able to request that it manifest itself in a specific form. The paper explores these points by focusing particularly on four different types of divinatory experiences described by these texts: direct encounters (sustaseis, autopsiai), photagogia (leading in of divine light), lecanomancy and lychnomancy (divining by flames and water) and dreams.

Keywords:   Spells, Magic, Theurgic texts, Dreams, Divination, Encounters with the divine, Angel, Daemon, Lecanomancy, Lychnomancy

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