Friday, March 15, 2013

Vendredi: Chthonian Histories

While enjoying a new book I received recently, The Joy of Sexus: Lust, Love & Longing in the Ancient World by Vicki Leon - which I cannot recommend enough - I came across a nice little tidbit to round out the discussions of the last few Fridays. Evidently calling up the dark creatures of the underworld to inflame lust is a very ancient practice indeed.

In the chapter "Love Dilemmas & Lust at the Crossroads," Ms. Leon offers a few extant "love spells" that are intended either to draw in an unsuspecting individual or to do harm to a lost lover. In the case I've chosen today, Ms. Leon notes that a woman named Sophia had a mad lust for another woman, Gorgonia, and her remedy for satiation of that lust has survived into modern times.

Ms. Leon notes that an "elaborate erotic spell" was written down by Sophia, and quotes a portion of it in the book. As you'll note, the spell is full of netherworld imagery including reference to those untiring servants of fate, the Erinyes, and Cerberus, the three-headed bitch of Hades. I will use Ms. Leon's quote directly:

Fundament of the gloomy darkness, jagged-tooth dog, covered with coiling snakes, turning three heads, traveler in the recesses of the underworld, spirit-driver, with the Erinyes [the Furies] savage with their stinging whips, holy serpents, maenads, frightful maidens, come to my wroth incantations. Before I persuade by force this one and you, render him immediately a fire-breathing demon. Listen and do everything quickly, in no way opposing me in the performance of this action, for you are the governors of the earth. [Three lines of magical gibberish follow.] By means of the corpse-daemon inflame the heart, the liver, the spirit of Gorgonia, whom Nilogenia bore, with love and affection for Sophia, whom Isara bore. Constrain Gorgonia to cast herself into the bath-house for the sake of Sophia; and you, become a bath-room. Burn, set on fire, inflame her soul, heart, liver, spirit with love for Sophia.

That's powerful stuff and sounds very much like a modern love song with a twist. Sophia is mad with love for Gorgonia and will call up the demons of Hades to achieve her fantasy. One wonders what outcome may have materialized from so much psychic melodrama.

Header: A Greek Woman by Lawrence Alma-Tadema c 1869 via Wikimedia


Timmy! said...

If I have learned anything from the "Evil Dead" movies, I certainly know not to mess with the demons of Hades, Pauline...

Pauline said...