Kalasiris, necromancy, and Egyptian magic in Heliodoros' Aithiopika

Kalasiris, necromancy, and Egyptian magic in Heliodoros' Aithiopika (Dr Marina Escolano-Poveda, University of Liverpool – Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

5:00pm - 6:00pm / Tuesday 19th November 2019 / Venue: Seminar room 6, Rendall Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Department / Series: Classics and Ancient History Seminar Series
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The Egyptian priest Kalasiris of Heliodoros’ Aithiopika is one of the most complex characters in the ancient Greek novels. While many studies have been devoted to him from the fields of classics and ancient philosophy, no in-depth analysis of Kalasiris has been pursued from the field of Egyptology so far. In this lecture I will analyse two passages of the Aithiopika: Kalasiris’ description of the two types of Egyptian wisdom in 3.16.3–4, and the necromantic ritual of the old woman of Bessa in 6.14–15. I will then compare the presentation of Egyptian magic and necromancy in these passages with two descriptions of necromancy in Demotic literature: the reanimations of the scribe of the divine book in the beginning of the Fight for the Armor of Inaros, and of the wife and son of Naneferkaptah in Setne I. By means of this comparison I will demonstrate that the difference in Kalasiris’ dichotomy between the two types of Egyptian wisdom does not reside in the magical practices themselves, but in the degree of initiation of their practitioners and the nature of their motivations.