Augusto Cosentino

Egyptian demons in magic literature and iconography

This Paper aims to investigate the presence of figures and descriptions of demons in Magic literature. The iconographical tradition is well represented in the magical amulets, where we can find deities coming from greek and roman tradition, but also Egyptian gods and demons. These amulets are widespread in all the graeco-roman world for a lot of centuries, used by the people to defend themselves from the attack of demons.

On the literary front, are very interesting the Papyri Graecae Magicae, as well as other magical texts such as the Testament of Solomon. In these Magic texts there is a syncretistic religious system where we can find Greek, Roman, Jewish and Egyptians elements. It is a very elaborate religion, where the various religious traditions are mixed in a folkloristic and popular milieu. Then you need to take into account the Hermetic literature, which reworks elements of Egyptian tradition within the Hellenistic koine. Finally it is very important also Gnostic literature, particularly Coptic Gnosticism, which combines elements taken from various cultures, revising them in light of its doctrinal system, according a dualistic interpretation of the divine.

In all these texts, I will try to identify the presence of demons of Egyptian origin, their transformation and reuse in Magic literature. Moreover, I will find the relations between the different religious and cultural environments that have made this reuse, and the Egyptian tradition.

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