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The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation: Including the Demotic Spells: Texts (Volume 1) Paperback – January 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0226044477 ISBN-10: 0226044475 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226044475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226044477
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Once again, a very powerful book, an excellent source for those researching the pagan occult arts, and not to be approached by the frivolous.
Julian Rose
As for practicing magicians -- everyone should know that you can't just use someone else's book of spells, you need authorization and personal instruction!
Ian M. Slater
If you desire to use this collection of texts in this manner, then you will need to make a thorough study of the various texts in this collection.
Brother MOLOCH 969

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
According to the introduction to this volume, among other competent sources, one of the more interesting shocks to the delicate sensibilities of nineteenth-century classical scholars was delivered by papyri from Greco-Roman Egypt. The serene and rational "classical" Greeks of their (mainly German) imaginations turned out to be human beings with messy fears, desires, hatreds, and jealousies, and a willingness to turn to magic (ugh!) to obtain their ends. There they were, in Greek, actual "magical papyri" -- spell books, that is, not so much documents purporting to be potent agents in themselves, in the old Egyptian manner of ritually empowered images and paintings.

A common reaction: Let's keep it a secret!

It didn't work. A younger generation of scholars (also mainly, but not entirely, German) began mining the texts for information on daily life (astrological papyri proved more helpful) and religion (more successfully) in late antiquity. Texts scattered in museums and published, if at all, in a variety of journals, had to be assembled and properly edited. Some early efforts were exemplary, some problematic (and some both). It sometimes seemed as if a curse had been laid on the enterprise. Early deaths, the First World War, and economic chaos delayed the publication of a carefully edited volume of collected papyri (Greek passages only). The second volume survived World War II only in proof copies. Meanwhile, more papyri turned up, and the project had to be re-done.

One of the more fortunate results of this delay is the present volume, a careful translation of the Greek papyri containing magic spells, along with the Demotic (late Egyptian in a native "shorthand") and Coptic (late Egyptian in a mostly Greek-derived script) passages in the same manuscripts.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Of all of the works on Magic in the ancient and modern worlds I have read, this volume ranks among the highest. Readers who are interested in or who practice magic in any way, shape, or form should find this a refreshing break from so-called "New age" and "Neo-pagan" romanticisms. A fantastic sourcebook for the scholar and the practioner (espescially in a market dominated by Celtic and Middle Ages influences), this work presents scores of translated texts with minimal (yet precise) commentary and a fine glossary of the more obscure terms. This book represents a rare glimpse into the magical lives of real people in the Ancient world- which in the end , reveals how distorted, predjudiced and misinformed much of the present day attitudes regarding the subject of Magic and belief systems in the Ancient World can be.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brother MOLOCH 969 on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Much has already been said about this phenomenal collection of texts and I would be redundant to merely repeat much of what I find intriguing. However with that said, I have been delving into this phenomenal text since a fellow Evocational Magics practitioner turned me onto it. There's quite a bit of useful information for those who are practitioners of the arts of Summoning Spirits via Evocation.

If you desire to use this collection of texts in this manner, then you will need to make a thorough study of the various texts in this collection. There are specific passages that work very well as incantations for summoning the 72 Spirits listed in the Goetia, the first book of the Lemegeton. Further the rite of the Headless One is included in this text without modification and that too is an excellent addition to the arsenal of the working karcist.

Overall you will find a lot of useful lore and knowledge in this manual. Get it. Study it. Put it into use.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Archon474 on November 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Other reviews have successfully commented on the exhaustive scholarly endeavor that resulted in this book. The book is a rare window into a lost world of the syncretic and eclectic milieu of Hellenized Egypt and the magical paradigm thereof.

The main corpus of the book is broken down into "spells" and various other information that would have been of use to a "magician" of the times. Some entries are beautiful works in their own right, such as PGM IV 2785-2890 "A Prayer to Selene".

Other entries are an unfortunately violent display of the attitude of the times, such as PGM III. 1-164 which suggests drowning a cat and reciting a spell to the "cat faced god" and then shoving a section written parchment up the cat's rectum and another down the deceased cats throat before preceding with the rest of the lengthy (and incomplete) spell. Luckily there are not too many (useless) selections like this that are violent and require sacrificing animals. The entries and "spells" are obviously from a plethora of sources and therefore represent a wide selection of practices of the time. However you should know that you will come across a few disturbing entries such as the forementioned one.

Many of the spells are incomplete due to deterioration of the papyrus itself. However there are enough complete and interesting entries to make the book absolutely worthwhile as a "window" to the past attitudes of Hellenized magical Egypt.

The most amusing entry in my opinion must be PGM IV. 2125-39:
"A restraining seal for skulls that are not satisfactory for use in divination, and to prevent them from speaking or doing anything whatsoever of the sort.
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