Then, I will focus on this passage of the Metamorphoses and suggest that the magical tools mentioned therein feature in sources pertaining to real goetic practices in Greco-Roman times.
When magic features in Greek and Latin literature--more specifically in poetry and in fictional narrative--it is characterised by dramatic depictions of goetic practitioners, male and female, and their uncanny skills and performances.
Gordon argues that fictional accounts, in the specific case of Augustan literature, had very little to do with the practice of the goetic magi and derived from stock-themes inherited from Hellenistic literature, and a memorable model would have been Theocritus' Pharmakeutria.
This will enable us to observe how, by borrowing from the material culture of magic, Apuleius could outshine previous literary descriptions of magical materials--especially those by Horace, Lucan, and Petronius--and enrich the profile of the terrible Thessalian witch Pamphile, who was not only an expert in love-magic but in every noxious goetic practice, as her magical paraphernalia suggests.
(13) 'Firstly, she set up her unearthly workshop with the customary tools of magic, namely every type of herb and metal tablets with undecipherable inscriptions, and the desiccating remains of inauspicious birds, as well as several body parts taken from mourned and even buried corpses: here noses and fingers, there spikes dirty with the flesh of those who had been crucified, elsewhere the preserved blood of those who had been slaughtered, and mutilated skulls wrenched from the teeth of wild beasts.' As I will argue below, such a vivid rendering of the materials employed in goetic magic is unprecedented in previous classical writings, and does not feature in the Onos ascribed to Lucian.
This already can be seen in Theocritus' Second Idyll, when Simaetha says that she learned her goetic craft from an Assyrian stranger [phrase omitted].
When Apuleius, through Photis, mentions Pamphile's customary tools (apparatus solitus), he does not want to allude to a fictional type of magic but rather to the material reality which could have characterised the goetic magic of his time.
Now published by Llewellyn Worldwide in a premium hardcover edition retaining the original's red lettering of significant words and holy names, "The Book of Oberon" includes rituals for summoning a long list of spirits and faeries (including Oberion, Fairy King and close relation to Shakespeare's Oberon); original drawings; common prescriptions used by cunning folk; instructions for dealing with Goetic
demons that were censored in other texts; one of the oldest known copies of the magical manual The Enchiridion; and much more.
At least two of Ashenden's chapters, "The Encounter between Poet and Magus" and "The Goetic
, Theurgic, and Wisdom Traditions," may be profitably read alongside the present volume.
Given the development of the image of necromancer specifically in the increasingly literary academic culture of the twelfth century, the witch whose goetic
practices stand in contradistinction to the philosophically grounded theurgic magic of the learned necromancer easily takes the classical shape of the sinister hag, a figure that already haunts Ralph's initial (and only) physical description of the eloquent heretic as "an old woman." (35) At the same time, early modern Continental discourse can clarify why the identification of the witch as the ignorant instrument of demonic forces does not preclude an appearance of learnedness.