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The Magician of Magdeburg, an anecdote in Johann Weyer’s De praestigiis daemonum, a book renowned for its place in the witchcraft discourse, tells of an ambitious ocular delusion, the supposed upward and concatenated flight of the magician, his horse, his wife, and his maid. Weyer cites this story in every edition of his book as an exemplum of demonic magic, its perpetrator belonging to Weyer’s category of infamous magicians. By the nineteenth century however, full literary secularization is observed. The crucial step was the identification of the little story, under the influence of the Brothers Grimm, as a regional and urban Sage, hence of interest more as an example of local folklore than as an illustration of a large-scale enchantment. Owing to this new taxonomy, the sorcerer emerges as a harmless practitioner of magic and a cousin to Till Eulenspiegel.

In: Daphnis
A Critical Commentary with Special Emphasis on Imperial Promotion of Literature
In: Interculturalism, Society and Education