Wednesday, May 20, 2015


The Devil Made Me Do It

Jerry Toner, Popular Culture in Ancient Rome (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009), p. 126, with endnote on p. 217:
Flatulence was thought by some to be caused by demons.19

19 Euseb. Praep. Evang. 4.22.
The passage in question is actually 4.23 of Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, in which Porphyry (fragment 326F Smith; tr. E.H. Gifford) is quoted:
Our bodies also are full of them [i.e. demons], for they especially delight in certain kinds of food. So when we are eating they approach and sit close to our body; and this is the reason of the purifications, not chiefly on account of the gods, but in order that these evil daemons may depart. But most of all they delight in blood and in impure meats, and enjoy these by entering into those who use them.

For universally the vehemence of the desire towards anything, and the impulse of the lust of the spirit, is intensified from no other cause than their presence: and they also force men to fall into inarticulate noises and flatulence by sharing the same enjoyment with them.

καὶ τὰ σώματα τοίνυν μεστὰ ἀπὸ τούτων· καὶ γὰρ μάλιστα ταῖς ποιαῖς τροφαῖς χαίρουσιν. σιτουμένων γὰρ ἡμῶν προσίασι καὶ προσιζάνουσι τῷ σώματι, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ ἁγνεῖαι, οὐ διὰ τοὺς θεοὺς προηγουμένως, ἀλλ' ἵν' οὗτοι ἀποστῶσιν. μάλιστα δὲ αἵματι χαίρουσι καὶ ταῖς ἀκαθαρσίαις καὶ ἀπολαύουσι τούτων εἰσδύνοντες τοῖς χρωμένοις.

ὅλως γὰρ ἡ ἐπίτασις τῆς πρός τι ἐπιθυμίας καὶ ἡ τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ὀρέξεως ὁρμὴ ἀλλαχόθεν οὐ σφοδρύνεται ἢ ἐκ τῆς τούτων παρουσίας· οἳ καὶ εἰς ἀσήμους φθόγγους καὶ φύσας ἀναγκάζουσι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐμπίπτειν διὰ τῆς συναπολαύσεως τῆς μετ' αὐτῶν γιγνομένης.


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