Abstract

This paper explores the concepts of nature, cause, and agency as they define Greek magical practice in the Classical period. I seek first to demonstrate that the authors of the Hippocratic and Platonic attacks on magic share basic assumptions about nature and divinity with the magical practitioners themselves. Next, I situate magic within the mechanical, teleological, and volitional modes of Greek causal explanation, demonstrating how these modes can overlap in the explanation of a magical event. Finally, I consider figurines as a test case for concepts of causality in magical action. I argue that figurines, like Greek statues generally, are viewed as social agents capable of causing events to happen in their vicinity. Once we situate the figurines within a network of social relations, new explanations can be derived for the practice of binding and abusing them.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2575-7199
Print ISSN
2575-7180
Pages
pp. 17-49
Launched on MUSE
2003-05-16
Open Access
No
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