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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The following chapter explores the contributions of papyri to the study of ancient Greek religion under three headings: documentary texts, Orphic materials, and the Greek magical papyri. All three sections analyse texts that illustrate the rich amalgam of religious ideology and ritual practice in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt: the first two sections focus on a petition revealing the dissemination of the cult of the Dea Syria, the famous decree of Ptolemy Philopator on the Orphestelestai, and one of the most important specimens of Orphica, P. Gurôb 1. The more extensive section on the magical papyri considers two spells which illustrate the more ‘agonistic’/‘aggressive’ style of magic and the more ‘revelatory’ type. These are, however, not airtight categories. The spells share similar technologies and methods, invoking a rich, multicultural underworld hierarchy and mobilizing the souls of the ‘restless dead’ to effect the goals of magical ritual and logos.

Keywords: Dea Syria, magic, Orphica, papyri, ritual, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, underworld, restless dead

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