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Daughters of HecateWomen and Magic in the Ancient World$
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Kimberly B. Stratton and Dayna S. Kalleres

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342703

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342703.001.0001

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Sorceresses and Sorcerers in Early Christian Tours of Hell

Sorceresses and Sorcerers in Early Christian Tours of Hell

(p.298) 10 Sorceresses and Sorcerers in Early Christian Tours of Hell
Daughters of Hecate

Kirsti Barrett Copeland

Oxford University Press

This chapter’s investigation of late ancient tours of hell reveals that authors of these early Christian texts did not regard magic as a specifically female sin, or at least they did not frame it that way as a method of social control. Rather, sorcery is either described with explicitly inclusive language—men and women (andres kai gunaikes), sorcerers and sorceresses (pharmakoi kai pharmakides)—or with “gender-inclusive” masculine terms (veneficii or pharmakoi). By the medieval period, tours of hell, such as Dante’s Inferno or the thirteenth-century Vision of Thurkill, deliberately diverge from their late antique antecedents by limiting the crime of sorcery exclusively to female sinners. This deliberate emendation to the otherwise largely static textual tradition indicates changing ideas of magic among Christians and the growing influence of gendered witch stereotypes such as those explored in this volume.

Keywords:   hell, Dante, sorcery, sin, magic

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