Persia Xerxes and the mages When Xerxes had come to this river [Scamander he went

up to the Pergamos, the citadel of Troy, being desirous of seeing it. When he had seen it and learned all about it, he sacrificed a thousand oxen to Ilian Athene, while the mages poured full libations to the heroes. Because they had done this terror fell upon the encamped army during the night.

7.113-4. The mages sacrificed white horses into the river [Strymon] and obtained good omens. After applying this and many other charms in addition to the river [pharmakeusantes], they passed over it at the Edonian city of Ennea Hodoi, finding the Strymon to be bridged at that point. On learning that the place was called Ennea Hodoi ["Nine Ways"] they buried alive there that number of boys and girls, children of the locals. It is a Persian custom to bury people alive, for I am told that Amestris too, the wife of Xerxes, when she was an old woman, buried twice seven children of distinguished Persians to give thanks on her own behalf to the god said to be under the earth.

7.191. The storm continued for three days. At last the mages made sacrifices to the dead [entoma] and sang an incantation [kataeidontes] to appease the wind with the help of sorcerers [goes/]. They also sacrificed to Thetis and the Nereids and stopped it on the fourth day. Otherwise, the storm may have abated of its own accord and without compulsion.

Herodotus ATTRIBUTES the MAGES WITH the abilities to manipulate the dead and to control the elements. The army evidently fell into panic in the night on the plain of Troy because it believed that the mages had called up with their offerings the ghosts of the dead heroes of the Trojan war buried there. These ghosts were particularly vigorous and ever ready to manifest themselves, as we learn from Philostratus's Heroicus and from his account of Apol-lonius's necromancy of the ghost of Achilles there (59). If Herodotus tells the story indirectly, this is due to his frequent reticence about the divine and the supernatural. The mages are implied to manipulate the dead also in the process of calming the storm.

The reading of goesi and the interpretation of the word are disputed. If it is correctly read and interpreted, it suggests that for Herodotus mages (magoi) and sorcerers (goetes) were distinct categories, albeit very closely allied.

Athenaeus 595e-596a, including Python Agen, TrGF 91 F1


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