Isis in the Magical Papyri


Some of my favorite surviving texts from the ancient world are the Græco-Egyptian Magical Papyri.

Usually known simply as the Greek Magical Papyri, they are a collection of magical texts, written on papyrus rolls in Greek and Demotic Egyptian and which date from the 2nd to the 5th centuries CE. I prefer to call them Græco-Egyptian rather than just Greek, for while they were written largely in Greek and they reflect a hellenized Egyptian culture, they are actually from Egypt (the city of Thebes, modern Luxor) and the magical techniques they employ are almost purely Egyptian. First published in English in 1986 as The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation including the Demotic Spells and edited by Hans Dieter Betz, the Magical Papyri are an anthology of ancient books and extracts from books which were translated by an international team of scholars. There’s more on the Papyri in this previous post.

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