Ἑλληνικοὶ μαγικοὶ πάπυροι ἤ: ἀρχαία θρησκεία

Εἶναι μιὰ συλλογή ἀπὸ ἑλληνόγλωσσους παπύρους ἀπὸ τὴν Αἴγυπτο. Ἂν κάτι δείχνουν, εἶναι ὅτι ἡ ἀρχαία θρησκεία ὅπως τὴν ἀντιλαμβανόταν ὁ μέσος ἄνθρωπος ἐκείνης τῆς ἐποχῆς, δὲν ἦταν οἱ ὑψιπετεῖς θεωρίες τῶν συγχρόνων του φιλοσόφων οὔτε οἱ φαντασιώσεις πολλῶν σημερινῶν ἄθεων (κάθε πολιτικῆς τάσης), ποὺ ἐντέλει ἀντιεπιστημονικὰ – πολεμικὰ ψάχνουν γιὰ ἕνα ἀντίπαλο δέος στὸν Χριστιανισμό (δὲν τοὺς καλύπτει ὁ Διαφωτισμός), ἀλλὰ κάτι πιὸ σκοτεινό. Χάρη στὶς ἀλλεπάλληλες καταστροφὲς τῶν μαγικῶν κειμένων ἀπὸ μορφωμένους Πολυθεϊστὲς (π.χ. Αὔγουστος) ἀλλὰ καὶ Χριστιανούς, δημιουργήθηκε –ἁπλὰ χάρη σὲ ὅσα προχριστιανικὰ κείμενα ἀπέμειναν– μιὰ στρεβλὴ εἰκόνα τῆς παγανιστικῆς Ἀρχαιότητας, ὡς ἐποχῆς ὀρθολογιστῶν καὶ διανοουμένων. Ἂς μὴν ξεχνᾶμε ὅτι στὸν παγανισμὸ δὲν ὑπῆρχαν δόγματα ἢ κανόνες ποὺ ἀπαγόρευαν τὴν μιὰ ἢ τὴν ἄλλη δοξασία, γι’ αὐτὸ καὶ ἡ μαγεία (ἐξαιρουμένης τῆς φαρμακείας) ἦταν κανονικότατο τμῆμα τῆς ἀρχαίας θρησκείας, συγκεκριμένα τῆς λαϊκῆς ἀρχαίας θρησκείας.

such literature is extremely important for the understanding of what people are really thinking and doing in a particular time, geographical area, or cultural context. Magical beliefs and practices can hardly be overestimated in their importance for the daily life of the people. The religious beliefs and practices of most people were identical with some form of magic, and the neat distinctions we make today between approved and disapproved forms of religion-calling the former «religion» and «church» and the latter «magic» and «cult» did not exist in antiquity except among a few intellectuals.

Thus the suppression of this magical literature has deprived us of one of our most important sources of ancient religious life. Modern views of Greek and Roman religions have long suffered from certain deformities because they were unconsciously shaped by the only remaining sources: the literature of the cultural elite, and the archeological remains of the official cults of the states and cities. […]

It is known that philosophers of the Neopythagorean and Neoplatonic schools, as well as Gnostic and Hermetic groups, used magical books and hence must have possessed copies. The Greek magical papyri are, however, original documents and primary sources. Their discovery is as important for Grcco-Roman religions as is the discovery of the Qumran tests for Judaism or the Nag Hanunadi library for Gnosticism […] throughout these sources we find citations of hymns, rituals, formulae from liturgies otherwise lost, and little bits of mythology called historiolae. These older materials are now embedded in a secondary contest, but by careful application of the methods of literary criticism they are often recoverable […]

Another interesting problem is posed by the fact that this material from Greco-Roman Egypt contains many sections that are Greek in origin and nature.» How did this older Greek religious literature find its way into Egypt? We do not, and probably never shall, know. In this older material, the Greek gods are alive and well. But Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, and others are portrayed not as Hellenic and aristocratic, as in literature, but as capricious, demonic, and even dangerous, as in Greek folklore. The gods and their activities resemble those in the popular myths and local cults, as reported by mythographers or by Pausanias. Therefore, strange as it may sound, if we wish to study Greek folk religion, the magical papyri found in Egypt are to be regarded as one of the primary sources.

H. Dieter Betz, Introduction to the Greek Magical Papyry, στό: H. Dieter Betz (ἐκδ.), The Greek Magical Papyri in transalation, including the demotic spells, Chicago 1986, σσ. xli – xlv.

Ἀλλὰ ἂς δοῦμε ὁρισμένα κείμενα.

In «King Pitys’ spell that leads (ἀγωγή) over any skull cup (σκύφος)» (IV. 1928-2005), the magician is instructed to recite a spell to Helios, in order that he may, as expressed, «give me power over this spirit that died a violent death (βιοθάνατον πνεῦμα), from whose dead body (σκῆνος) I hold this (skull cup)» (IV. 1947—50). Here the magician wants to have the power of the spirit of the dead body which, as we shall see, he intends to resurrect. […]  in a spell from the thirteenth magical handbook there is the only explicit implication of the PGM spells on that issue, as indicated in the title, «Resurrection of a dead body» («ἔγερσις σώματος νεκροῦ») (XIII.277-283). Here the magician conjures the «spirit» (πνεῦμα) roaming in air to enter the dead body, «fill it with the breath of life» (ἐνπνευμάτωσον), empower and resurrect it, and make it walk. This is an example of the magical process of ἐνπνευμάτωσις («filling with spirit»).

E. Pachoumi, Resurrection of the Body in the «Greek Magical Papyri», Numen 58.5/6 (2011), 729-740.

pgm lxvi

 

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