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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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Living Images of the Divine: Female Theurgists in Late Antiquity

Living Images of the Divine: Female Theurgists in Late Antiquity

(p.274) 9 Living Images of the Divine: Female Theurgists in Late Antiquity
Daughters of Hecate

Nicola Denzey Lewis

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the biography of a fourth-century Neo-Platonic sage or Holy Woman, Sosipatra. The chapter's study reveals the careful avoidance of anything that might resemble magic in a context where the ban of Emperor Theodosius (391–92 ce) outlawed traditional pagan practices, including philosophy and theurgy, forcing Neo-Platonist philosophers to pass on the secret knowledge discretely within families, often through daughters or wives. Drawing on folk traditions and the characteristics of the late antique Holy Man, Sosipatra’s biographer, Eunapius of Sardis, paints a picture of Sosipatra as a powerful figure, possessed of great learning and hieratic powers, such as remote viewing. Magic plays a role in this narrative as a foil for the divine grace and spontaneous power wielded by Sosipatra, and lurks in the background as a threat and danger in the anti-pagan climate of late fourth- and early fifth-century Rome.

Keywords:   Sosipatra, Neo-Platonism, remote viewing, Eunapius, Holy Man, magic, theurgy

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