Friday, March 24, 2023


Epipompē on an Amulet

Richard Wünsch (1869-1915) first used the terms apopompē (ἀποπομπή) and epipompē (ἐπιπομπή) to describe two different ways of banishing evil. See his "Zur Geisterbannung im Altertum," Festschrift zur Jahrhundertfeier der Universität zu Breslau = Mitteilungen der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde 13/14 (1911) 9-32. Wünsch used apopompē to mean simply driving away evil, epipompē to mean driving away evil onto someone or something else or to some other specific location. A classic example of epipompē can be found in the Gospels (Matthew 8.30-32, Mark 5.11-13, Luke 8.32-33), when Jesus, in performing an exorcism, drove demons into a herd of pigs. All other exorcisms in the Gospels are examples of apopompē.

There is a good example of epipompē on a 4th century A.D. silver lamella from Beyrutus (Beirut), Labanon, now in Paris, Musée du Louvre Bj 88 (Inv. M.N.D. 274), discussed by Roy Kotansky, Greek Magical Amulets. The Inscribed Gold, Silver, Copper, and Bronze Lamellae. Part I: Published Texts of Known Provenance. Text and Commentary (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1994 = Papyrologica Coloniensia 22/1), pp. 270-300 (number 52 = The Great Angelic Hierarchy). I quote lines 79-119 from Kotansky, p. 281 (underline added):
(79) I adjure you by the Living God in Zoar of the nomadic Zabadeans, the one who thunders and lightnings, EBIEMATHALZERÔ, a new staff (?), by the one who treads, by THESTA, by EIBRADMAS BARBLIOIS EIPSATHAÔTHARIATH PHELCHAPHIAÔN that (?) all male <demons ?> and frightening demons and all bindings-spells (flee) from Alexandra whom Zoê bore, to beneath the founts and the Abyss of Mareôrth,
(95) lest you harm or defile her, or use magic drugs on her,
(97) either by a kiss, or from an embrace, or a greeting;
(100) either with food or drink;
(101) either in bed or intercourse;
(103) either by the evil eye or a piece of clothing;
(105) as she prays (?), either on the street or abroad:
(107) or while river-bathing or a bath.
(109) Holy and mighty and powerful names, protect Alexandra from every demon, male and female,
(114) and from every disturbance of demons of the night and of the day.
(116) Deliver Alexandra whom Zoe bore, now, now; quickly, quickly.
(119) One God and his Christ, help Alexandra.
The relevant Greek phrase (lines 93-95 on p. 279, simplified) is ὑποκάτο τῶν πηγῶν καὶ τῆς ἀβύσσου Μαρεώθ.

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