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The Getty HexametersPoetry, Magic, and Mystery in Ancient Selinous$
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Christopher A. Faraone and Dirk Obbink

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199664108

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199664108.001.0001

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The Ephesia Grammata: Genesis of a Magical Formula

The Ephesia Grammata: Genesis of a Magical Formula

(p.71) 4 The Ephesia Grammata: Genesis of a Magical Formula
The Getty Hexameters

Alberto Bernabé

Oxford University Press

Clemens and Hesychius transmit a powerful spell, called Ephesia grammata, composed of six nonsense words. ἄσκι, κατάσκι, λίξ/αἶξ, τϵτράξ, δαμναμϵνϵύς, αἴσιον/αἴσια. The Getty Hexameters and other hexametric spells contain words of the formula, which have sense in their context. Two tendencies can be established in the evolution of the spells: (a) the tendency to shorten them, and (b) the tendency to make the phonic devices predominant, to the detriment of the semantic ones, in such a way that formerly meaningful words become nonsense voces magicae. At the end of such a process only six words were chosen, either because they were keywords of the original spells or because they were phonetically charming for magic purposes. Some data allow relating the Ephesia grammata to Orphic circles and to Parmenides.

Keywords:   Ephesia grammata, hexameters, magic, spells, Orphism, charms

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