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Drawing Down the MoonMagic in the Ancient Greco-Roman World$
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Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691156934

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691156934.001.0001

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Relationships with the Divine: Prayer and Magic

Relationships with the Divine: Prayer and Magic

6 Relationships with the Divine: Prayer and Magic
Drawing Down the Moon

Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Princeton University Press

This chapter distinguishes between magical prayer and religious prayer. Previous scholars have often differentiated magical prayer in terms of its coercive attitude, in contrast to a supplicative attitude of “real” religious prayer, but such a distinction ignores the subtleties of the rhetorical strategies of all of these prayers. The rituals for contacting the gods—the prayers and sacrifices and other kinds of offerings—work according to the same kinds of logical structures in the evidence labeled “magic” as in non-magical evidence. At the heart of the process is an idea of a reciprocal relation between mortal and deity, in which the mortal offers tokens of respect and honor that please the god, while the god supplies some aid that is beyond human capacity. The most notable differences in the magical materials lie not in the attitude with which the mortal approaches the deity or even in the ends for which the mortal is pleading, but rather in the dynamics of the relationship—the emphasis on the present moment and the deployment of strange elements to reinforce the extraordinary nature of the rite.

Keywords:   magical prayer, religious prayer, rituals, sacrifices, mortal, deity, magic

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