Author: Radcliffe Edmonds
Source: Archiv für Religionsgeschichte, vol. 21-22, no. 1, 2020, pp. 29-49.
Publication type: Article
Abstract: An analysis of the rhetorical strategies used in the so-called Greek Magical Papyri to bolster the authority of the authors provides insight into the authors of these texts and their intended audiences. This article reviews the scholarship on the identity of the composers of the Greek Magical Papyri and explores the rhetorical strategies used in the texts to create authority, before comparing the dominant strategies in the Greek Magical Papyri with similar ones in other kinds of recipe collections, specifically alchemical and medical texts. The authors of the recipes in the Greek Magical Papyri make little use of the traditional authority of the temples but instead justify their claims of superiority with reference to the amazing efficacy of the procedures they describe. The direct, second person address in formulas such as “and you will be amazed” suggests that the intended audience was imagined not as potential clients who need to be convinced of the author’s expertise, but rather as potential practitioners interested in impressing their own clients.