“Doctor Faust” by Christopher Marlowe

Pages: 2
Words: 616

This word is found in the work of Christopher Marlowe “Doctor Faust”. The story of the scientist who sold his soul to the devil and was ruined by him is known to us thanks to Goethe. In his interpretation, Faust is a real Renaissance man, a powerful mind obsessed with knowledge and dreaming of serving humanity. The famous doctor is just an ordinary charlatan or an unfortunate lost soul in other versions of this story.

The definition of necromancy as a supernatural practice has changed over the millennia and has often acquired a regional identity. The average meaning of this term, accepted in modern religious studies and ethnography, speaks of necromancy as a formalized ritualistic concept aimed at interacting with deceased people to receive help and some benefits from them. This definition is quoted from the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as from Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary. The most ancient variants of this practice, widespread throughout Europe and the Middle East in the period from the Iron Age to the Early Middle Ages, imply several options for interacting with the dead. In the Late Middle Ages, necromancy completely turned to spiritual interaction; only rituals remain in it to invoke the deceased’s soul or the entity that represents it or has a direct connection with it, acting as an intermediary.

In English, the word ‘necromancy’ in the International Phonetic Alphabet has the following form of writing – /nɛkrəmænsi/. According to the Oxford Dictionary already mentioned, the word is borrowed by other European languages from Late Latin, where it came from postclassic Greek (‘vεκρομαντεία’ or ‘nekromanteía’). Presumably, the original ancient Greek form was obtained by merging the basics of ‘veεκρ ne’ (‘nekrós’), which means ‘dead body’, and ‘μαντε manα’ (‘manteía’), which translates as ‘guessing with the help of’. The word was first written in Greek by the early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria in the 3rd century AD.

Origen used it when describing an episode from Homer’s Odyssey, where the king of Ithaca invokes the soul of the soothsayer Tiresias. However, in the original episode, another word was used to describe the ritual – ‘vκκυια’ (‘nekyia’). This word today defines the traditional rite for Greek mythology of ‘summoning the soul of the deceased to receive answers about the future.’ This rite is often, but not necessarily, an integral part of katabasis, and in a certain sense, acts as a classic representative of the practice of necromancy.

According to legend, the Necromanteion is a temple of Hades and Persephone, located on the Acheron River banks in Epirus (Northwest Greece). It was believed that there are doors to Hades in this mysterious temple – the world of the dead. At this point, the real Acheron flowed into the underground river of the same name and met with two other rivers that washed the world of the dead – the Cocytus and Phlegethon. The alleged location of the temple in Epirus was discovered in 1958 (Hales 370). The very word ‘necromanteion’ translates as “oracle of the dead”. It was believed that anyone could come to this temple to talk to deceased ancestors. The Necromanteion (or the Temple of Acheron) appears in Homer’s Odyssey and the works of the historian Herodotus.

In conclusion, to one degree or another, many religious and ethical teachings and practices that are not mentioned here can be attributed to necromancy. These are Haitian voodoo, Brazilian macumba, the Japanese practice of summoning Jura, and classical European spiritualism of the XVIII-XIX centuries. To date, necromancy is a lot of science fiction writers and computer game developers. This article identifies the origins of the very concept of “necromancy” and the regions where this practice originated, was actively used, inherited, and spread.

Work Cited

Hales, Andrew. “Death as a metaphor for ostracism: Social invincibility, autopsy, necromancy, and resurrection.” Mortality 23.4 (2018): 366-380.