Chapter 22 Spell and Speech Act: The Magic of the Spoken Word

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
David Frankfurter
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This essay examines types of speech that are understood to have “magical” effects on the world, including the speech acts described by Austin et al., epoidai (sung charms) in Greek tradition, sacred and liturgical speech, and unintelligible speech attributed to the gods. Perceiving the magic of speech involves recognizing the many different kinds of speech active in culture and the efficacy that cultures attribute to them.

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