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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: Logos Orphaïkos or Apolline Alexima Pharmaka?

The Ephesia Grammata: Logos Orphaïkos or Apolline Alexima Pharmaka?

Chapter:
(p.96) (p.97) 5 The Ephesia Grammata: Logos Orphaïkos or Apolline Alexima Pharmaka?
Source:
The Getty Hexameters
Author(s):

Radcliffe G. Edmonds

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199664108.003.0006

The Getty tablet provides explicit information about the mysterious hexameter verses that become in later tradition the ephesia grammata. These ephesia grammata show no evidence of connection with a mystery cult, whether attributed to Orpheus, devoted to the Idaean Dactyls, or even connected with Demeter and Kore. Rather, the successive uses of the formula suggest that the earliest connection of the formula is to Apollo Paieon, who prescribed the verses as protective magic, alexima pharmaka. The immortal verses that Paieon chants to mortals in the fourth century bce end up in the fourth century ce as ‘the Orphic spell’, a supplementary charm to prevent a binding spell from being broken. The examples of and testimonies to the ephesia grammata, both the hexameter verses and the set of words, show the transformation from explicitly labeled alexima pharmaka to the meaningless hocus-pocus words that nevertheless retain the sense of warding magic.

Keywords:   ephesia grammata, Orphic, protection, warding-off, magic, Paieon, Apollo, hexameter

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