Theophanies are a structural element of every religion and are based, partly, on the effort to reinforce the religious credo of believers — the appearance of a god before the eyes of a human proves his existence and his power — and, partly, on the need of humans to reassure their faith, always seeking proofs. Probably the earliest description of a theophany is in the Epic of Gilgamesh but certainly the most impressive is the Homeric narration of the encounter between Athens and Ulysses under a tree, where they talk and laugh like old friends.
However, testimonies of theophanies can be also found on the margin of official religion, in the field of magic. The difference here is that god does not appear voluntarily but is compelled by the power of the magic rituals to reveal himself and serve human desires. In this paper, I intend to unfold the PGM (Papyri Graecae Magicae) collection, and, bearing in mind its magico-religious syncretistic character and the multi-cultural and multi-religious environment of its Greco-Roman Egyptian origin, to describe the magical procedures aimed at the appearance of the god and then to analyze their underlying similarities and compare them with the “official” theophanies, in order to detect repeated motifs, influences or problems.
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Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
2020 Volume 60
Magyar Tudományos Akadémia
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary, Széchenyi István tér 9.
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