Hermes as our ancestor.
Earlier v B.C. F273a Chorus of Evocators: Come now, guest-friend, take up your stance on the
Aeschylus PsUChagogoi grassy sacred enclosure of the fearful lake. Slash the gullet of the neck, and let the F273 F273a F275 TrGF blood of this sacrificial victim flow into the murky depths of the reeds as a drink for the lifeless. Call upon primeval Earth and chthonic Hermes, escort of the dead, and ask chthonic Zeus to send up the swarm of night-wanderers from the mouths of the river, from which this melancholy off-flow water, unfit for washing hands, is sent up by Stygian springs.
F275 Ghost of Tiresias: For a heron, flying from up above, will strike you with its dung, the evacuation of its belly. From this a spine of a marine creature [i.e., probably, a roach] will turn your sparse-haired head septic.
Aeschylus's fragmentary tragedy, retelling Homer's account of Odysseus's consultation of the ghost of Tiresias (144), constitutes the earliest extant reference to evocators. The consultation happens beside and through the medium of a lake that is connected to the waters of the underworld and so provides passage for the ghosts. Many take the lake to be Avernus, near Cumae, in Italian Campania, a lake famous for necromancy and one that certainly in later times was identified as the site of Odysseus's consultation (see 153 and, for evocators there, 154), but there is no compelling reason why the site should not be identical with the one used in the Odyssey, namely, the "Acherusian" lake on the Acheron in Thesprotia (see 150). Here the evocators attached to the lake instruct Odysseus in the evocation of ghosts, taking over the role of Homer's Circe. The ghosts are to be summoned with a drink of revivifying blood poured directly into the lake. The sacrificial animal we may assume to have been a black ram, as usual in necromantic consultations. Prayers are to be made to the Earth that contains the ghosts and to chthonic Zeus, that is, Hades, lord of the dead, to allow their temporary release. Hermes is called on, in his traditional role as the escort of the souls of the newly dead to the underworld, to escort the souls, extraordinarily, in the other direction (see Homer Odyssey 24.1-14). And as transporters of souls up from the underworld and back down to it again, the evocators appropriately conceptualize themselves as descendants of Hermes. The prophecy delivered to Odysseus by the ghost of Tiresias addresses, as often in ancient scenes of necromantic consultation, the death of the consulter himself (see 155, 157).
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