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date: 23 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article points out the problems of identifying ancient magic and outlines connections between medical, magical, and religious practices. The central problem for any student of Greek magic is that the term mageia, from which people ultimately derive ‘magic’, only emerges in the latter half of the fifth century BCE, whereas the evidence for practices and substances that were understood to be magical, as well as for individuals who were thought to be magicians, existed prior to the birth of the term. Mageia means on the one hand the ‘activity of a magos’ and, on the other, ‘magic’ in the looser sense defined by the Hippocratic author of On the Sacred Disease and Plato.

Keywords: ancient magic, medicine, religious practice, Greek magic, mageia, magicians, Sacred Disease, Plato

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