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Assuming The Mantle Of The Gods: ‘Unknowable Names’ And Invocations In Late Antique Theurgic Ritual

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author discusses and explores the subtle interplay between language and oral performance which is reflected in the use of 'unknowable' names within theurgy. Also, the author details some parallels with the use of 'unknowable' names within some wider ritual contexts within the religious and cultural milieu of late antiquity. Iamblichus' discussion of the unknowable names describes them as the secret, hidden names of the gods. These names were thought to transcend speech, discourse and logic: their non-discursive nature was said to evoke the paradoxical nature of the gods. The oral component of the names is important, since methods of intonation and utterance were transmitted secretly through an oral tradition. Thus, the 'unknowable names' reflect a subtle interplay between language and oral performance in the theurgic ritual praxis of late antiquity.

Keywords: antiquity; Gods; Iamblichus; invocations; language; names; oral performance; religious; theurgy



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