<i>Homo Fictor Deorum Est</i>: Envisioning the Divine in Late Antique Divinatory Spells

Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

in The Gods of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637980
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670758 | DOI:
Homo Fictor Deorum Est: Envisioning the Divine in Late Antique Divinatory Spells

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This chapter starts by examining the fact that for most of Greek history, gods’ visits to humans were hard to discern--one never could be sure when or if a god were present, even within divinatory settings, when one would most expect that to be the case. It then moves on to contrast this with the situation found in later antiquity, particularly as expressed by divinatory rituals described by magical and theurgic texts. In these cases, the practitioner not only knew exactly what the visiting god or angel or daemon would look and sound like, but often was able to request that it manifest itself in a specific form. The paper explores these points by focusing particularly on four different types of divinatory experiences described by these texts: direct encounters (sustaseis, autopsiai), photagogia (leading in of divine light), lecanomancy and lychnomancy (divining by flames and water) and dreams.

Keywords: Spells; Magic; Theurgic texts; Dreams; Divination; Encounters with the divine; Angel; Daemon; Lecanomancy; Lychnomancy

Chapter.  7719 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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