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Matthew Dickie - The Fathers of the Church and the Evil Eye (Byzantine Magic Excerpt) (1.8 MB)

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This is an extract from: Byzantine Magic (C) 1995 Dumbarton Oaks www.doaks.org/etexts.html edited by Henry Maguire.The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how difficult even the most highly educated and sophisticated Christians of the late fourth and earlyfifth centuries found it to rid themselves of the idea that envy lends a malign power to men's eyes. The idea at issue is that the eyes of envious men are able, unaided, to inflict injury at a distance. This is the belief called the "evil eye" by speakers of English and... More >>>
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This is an extract from: Byzantine Magic (C) 1995 Dumbarton Oaks www.doaks.org/etexts.html edited by Henry Maguire.

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how difficult even the most highly educated and sophisticated Christians of the late fourth and earlyfifth centuries found it to rid themselves of the idea that envy lends a malign power to men's eyes. The idea at issue is that the eyes of envious men are able, unaided, to inflict injury at a distance. This is the belief called the "evil eye" by speakers of English and other modem European languages, though that significantly is not the way in which most men in pagan and Christian antiquity would have referred to it. The difficulty that such fathers of the church as Basil, Jerome, and John Chrysostom had with freeing themselves from the idea is some indication of how deep-seated it must have been in the general population.

About Author:

MATTHEW W. DICKIE Emeritus Professor of Classics

Education: MA (Edinburgh), BA (Oxford), PhD (Toronto)

Areas of Research and Publication:

Greek literature (Homer, lyric poetry and Hellenistic poetry); Greek and Roman moral attitudes; and the history of religions (belief in the Evil Eye, mystery cults, and Greco-Roman magic).

Recent Publications:

Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World. Routledge (2001) 392 pp.
"Who practised love-magic in Classical Antiquity and the Late Roman World?" Classical Quarterly 50 (2000), 563-83
"Narrative-patterns in Christian Hagiography," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 40 (1999), 83-98
"Bonds and Headless Demons in Greco-roman Magic," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 40 (1999), 99-104
"Exclusions from the Catechumenate: Continuity or Discontinuity with Pagan Cult," Numen 48, 417-43

Work in Progress:

A book on the Evil Eye in Greece and Rome, as well as a study of the philosophical background to Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana and the influence of that work on Neoplatonism.