Rogozhina Anna

Dragon's gall, snake poison and unexpected usage of cadavers: descriptions of magic in Coptic hagiography

Rogozhina Anna (2016) "Dragon's gall, snake poison and unexpected usage of cadavers: descriptions of magic in Coptic hagiography ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2016, vol. 49, pp. 75-86 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII201649.75-86


Stories of martyrs’ victories over magic and its practitioners usually represented as a magical duel between a martyr and a magician enjoyed great popularity in Coptic hagiography. The outcome of a magic contest was always predictable: a magician either converted to Christianity or continued to fight against the martyr and died an infamous death. These highly popular textual units — descriptions of conversions or continued resistance — are so standardised that it is difficult to assess the directions of the textual transmission; very often such descriptions coincide in different passions nearly verbatim. Another standard feature of Coptic martyr stories is how these texts represent magicians and magic rituals. In this article I argue that the immense popularity of these narratives refl ects a genuine concern on the part of the Church authorities about some lingering pagan practices which had made their way into Christian lifestyle and that certain features of these narratives have a didactic, not only entertaining, function.


Coptic hagiography, cycles, magic, Egypt


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Rogozhina Anna