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Hexametrical Incantations As Oral And Written Phenomena

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses hexametrical incantations as both oral and written phenomena, beginning with the growing evidence that the Greeks from the fifth-century onwards used such incantations for a variety of purposes. Variations in these texts point to an even older, and now invisible, oral pre-history. The inscribed lead amulets, on the other hand, are themselves obvious testimony to an entirely new phenomenon: the special power of these same incantations once they are preserved in writing. The closing comments of the chapter deal with a discussion on how one of the Sicilian amulets emphatically calls attention to itself as a text that is powerful precisely because it is written down.

Keywords: ancient Greeks; hexametrical incantations; lead amulets; oral phenomena; written phenomena



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