The belief that poetry had special properties beyond its artistic features was very deep
rooted in Ancient Greece; it was already attested in the Odyssey when the prodigious
recovery of Odysseus by an ἐπῳδή – “song, charm” (Od.19.457) – is narrated.
In Antiquity, the special properties of poetry were explained, on the one hand, by the mystic strength of the musical cadence, and, on the other hand, by the divine power which took part in its composition. The poet, as an inspired person, was not very different from the “enthused” diviner. Moreover, the divine power that inspired the verses remained in them.
Therefore, it is not surprising that some ancient Greek ritual formulas had metrical form and that Greco-Egyptian ritual practitioners found in poetry a great way to reinforce the power of their magical practices. These metrical pieces, usually composed in hexameters or iambic rhythms, are known by modern scholars as “magical hymns.”
You can find my work on magical hymns below:
- 2020 “The paradox of a ‘magical hymn’. Reviewing the poetic compositions of the Greek magical papyri”, in J. E. Sanzo, A. Mastrocinque, M. Scapini (eds.), Ancient Magic: Then and Now. Stuttgart, Steiner Franz Verlag, pp. 257-286. ISBN: 978-3-515-12796-7
- 2017 Edición y comentario de los himnos a Apolo, Helio y el dios supremo de los papiros mágicos griegos. PhD Dissertation. University of Valladolid (Spain).
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