Sei sulla pagina 1di 25


© Copyright 2015 by «Fondazione Centro italiano di studi sull’alto me-
dioevo», Spoleto (Italy) and by «Università degli Studi di Cassino e del
Lazio Meridionale» (Italy)
ISSN 2037-0245
ISBN 978-88-6809-083-8
Oronzo Pecere

Franco De Vivo e Francesco Stella

Comitato scientifico
Massimiliano Bassetti, Daniele Bianconi, Lucio Del Corso, José Antonio Fernández
Delgado, Paolo Fioretti, Anatole Pierre Fuksas, Anna Maria Guerrieri,
Jacqueline Hamesse, Alfredo Mario Morelli, Paolo Odorico, Inmaculada Pérez Martín,
Filippo Ronconi, Francesco Santi, Antonio Stramaglia, Michael Winterbottom

Periodico del Dipartimento di Scienze umane, sociali e della salute dell’Università

degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale

«Segno e Testo» è una rivista peer reviewed

Laboratorio per lo studio del libro antico
Campus Folcara – via Sant’Angelo in Theodice
I-03043 Cassino (FR)
+39 0776 2993868

Stella Migliarino

Edizione e distribuzione
Fondazione Centro italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo
Palazzo Ancaiani - Piazza della Libertà, 12
I-06049 Spoleto (PG)
Tel. +39 0743 225630

Periodico annuale: Autorizzazione del Tribunale di Cassino nr. 75/03, del 9-6-2003
Direttore responsabile: Oronzo Pecere

Finito di stampare nel mese di dicembre 2015

presso Tipografia Tuderte s.r.l.
Loc. Torresquadrata, 202
I-06059 Todi (PG)
Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook.

Using Lectional Signs in
P.Lond. I 121 (PGM VII)*

1. Aim
The approach of this article was triggered by a suggestion expressed
by Richard Gordon in 1997: «the texts of the Greek Magical Papyri are
usually read simply as sources, but they may also be seen as documents
in their own right»1. The studies devoted to the corpus of Greek Magical
Papyri are mostly focused on the meaning of the text, on what the text
is telling us, and its relation to other preserved magical sources. Against
this background, I think, with Richard Gordon and other scholars, that
the Greek Magical Papyri should be studied as documents in their own
material context, as the books they were once. This approach will be
extremely helpful to understand in a more complete way the transmis-
sion of magical wisdom in Roman Egypt.
This paper is focused on the disposition and use of the different
marginal lectional signs, written by the principal scribe of P.Lond. I 121
(better known as PGM VII), to separate the spells2. A revision and a
systematization of these marks3 will be presented and analyzed in order

* This work is part of a larger project involving a new edition, translation, and study of
P. Lond. I 121 (PGM VII). The work has been supported by a fellowship from the Center
for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, Washington DC (2013-2014), and it is part
of the results of the project DVCTVS (FFI2012-39567-C02-01/02), and the “Ramón y
Cajal” program (RYC-2013-13490). Some of the conclusions of this article were presented
during the 27th International Congress of Papyrology celebrated in Warsaw in 2013. I
would like to thank the useful comments of the people attending the conference, and the
comments by Sofía Torallas Tovar and Gianluca del Mastro of a previous version of this
article. I would also like to thank the contributions made by the anonymous reviewers to
improve the article. All the errors and misunderstandings are my sole responsibility.
1. Gordon 1997, p. 81.
2. P.Lond. I 121. See the complete bibliography of the editions in footnotes 6, 8 and 9.
3. Along with the marginal lectional signs, I will attend in this article to the decorative
148 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

to offer a tentative explanation of their practical use4. The aim is to in-

quire whether a coherent use of marginal lectional signs exists in P.Lond.
I 121, and if this use can provide any information about a conscious
internal division of the book and, consequently, about the skills of the
magician as a scribe. By this analysis, I will try to prove that, even if it
is not easy to find a logical order among the magical recipes by looking
at the content, the book seems to be conciously divided in different sec-
tions by using different combinations of marginal lecture marks.

2. A brief description of P.Lond. I 121 = PGM VII

PGM VII is a papyrus bookroll preserved today at the British
Library5 under the inventory number 121. It was edited for the first
time in 1893 independently by two different scholars: Frederic G. Ke-
nyon and Carl Wessely6. After their editions, and after some articles,
especially focused on the so-called Homeromanteion7, the papyrus was
completely reedited by Karl Preisendanz and the rest of co-editors of
the corpus of Greek Magical Papyri, in the second volume printed in
19318. The corpus was re-edited in 1974 by Karl Preisendanz and Al-
bert Henrichs and, finally, the first six columns of the papyrus, cor-
responding to the Homeromanteion, were edited in 1995 by Franco
Maltomini after the relocation of the fragments at the beginning of the
roll, and the edition of two Homeromanteia preserving the beginning
of the text9.
The provenance of the roll is still unknown as it usually happens
with papyri acquired in the nineteenth century in the Egyptian market
of antiquities. Today the papyrus is preserved at the British Library.
Some scholars suggest that the papyrus might have been found in

borders used by the principal scribe of P.Lond. I 121 because they are also a very visual
mark for separating spells and individualize them.
4. In this article the internal lectional signs and the different signs used to point out
magical names (mostly supralinear strokes, blank spaces, points, and dicolon) will be
5. Formerly at the British Museum.
6. Wessely 1893, pp. 16-55, and Kenyon 1893, pp. 83-115.
7. See Hopfner 1924, pp. 54-55, Preisendanz 1913, pp. 552-556.
8. Preisendanz et al. 1928-1931.
9. Maltomini 1995, pp. 107-122. See also Martín Hernández 2014a who provides
two new verses to Maltomini’s edition. A palaeographical study of the Homeromanteion in
D’Alessio 2001, p. 38. The other two Homeromanteia are P.Oxy. LVI 3831 and P.Bon. 3.
For their edition see Parsons 1982, pp. 44-48; Montevecchi 1953, pp. 6-8, Daniel –
Maltomini 1992, nr. 77.
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 149

Thebes, but its belonging to the so-called «Theban Magic Library» can-
not be established with accuracy10.
PGM VII is an opistograph roll11, measuring 2.33 meters length
and 0.33 meters width, very damaged at the beginning. The text is ar-
ranged in columns of irregular width; 19 columns in the recto side and
13 columns in the verso side, three of them written by a second hand at
a later moment, and arranged in both sides of the main text: two on the
left side, and one on the right side. The text is written in a cursive script,
quite accurate, clear and regular that can be palaeographically dated to
the fourth century CE12. The scribe is skilful and well trained for writing,
and he seems to be a professional compiler of books. This ability can be
noticed in his accurate use of lectional signs, the indentation settings,
the careful use of interpunction for separating magical words, the use of
decorative borders, the addition of titles for different spells, and the con-
tinuous use of abbreviations and monograms for technical vocabulary.
Concerning the content of the text, PGM VII is not very different
from other extant magical handbooks from Egypt written in Greek.
PGM VII preserves no spells written in other script than Greek13. A
certain tendency to avoid systematization is also shared with the rest of
the magical handbooks14: divination spells, recipes for making amulets,
medical spells and aggressive charms appear throughout the book, be-
ing divination and erotic spells the most common subjects15.
The monolingual character of the text is nothing special when com-

10. On this particular see Brashear 1995, pp. 3380-3730, Tait 1995, pp. 169-182,
Dieleman 2005, pp. 11-21, de Haro Sánchez 2008, pp. 97-102, Bagnall 2009, pp. 83-
87, Zago 2010, p. 68, 69, 92, and Dooso (forthcoming).
11. Other opistograph magical handbooks are PGM III, IX, and XIV.
12. The date of the papyrus is discussed and it fluctuates from the 3rd century to the
5th. The different editors of the text propose: Wessely 1893, 3rd-4th CE; Kenyon 1893
and Preisendanz 1931, 3rd CE; Maltomini 1995, 4th-5th CE, and Bagnall 2009 early
3rd CE. On the base of palaeographical details, I think the papyrus should be dated to the
4th century CE. Even if the handwriting is similar to documentary papyri dated to the
3rd-4rd century (see e.g. P.Oxy. XXXVI 2777, and P.Corn. inv. 1.116), the fluctuating use
of the «Latin shaped delta» and the «clef shaped» phi lead me propose 4rd century more
than 3rd. On the «graphic Greco-Roman koiné» in the 4th century, and the formation of
Byzantine cursive, see Cavallo 2008, pp. 118-140. On the palaeography of PGM VII see
Nodar – Torallas Tovar (forthcoming), who also date the text in the 4th century CE.
13. However, there are several Egyptian words written in the Greek alphabet and a few
words in Coptic. On this particular see Ritner 1995, pp. 3333-3379, and his footnotes in
the translation of PGM VII in Betz 1992. There are also barbara onomata written in Greek
letters without meaning.
14. The a-systematization of spells in this papyrus will be briefly discussed in this study.
15. PGM VII preserves a quite interesting number of spells for divination, especially
direct vision spells, dream revelations, and lychnomancy. On the prominent number of
divination spells in the corpus of PGM see Johnston 2008, pp. 153-166.
150 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

pared to other magical handbooks texts, but its recurrent appeal for
Greek authority makes it a very interesting example of how the compiler
tries to address his knowledge to a specific public by making extensive
use of cultural Hellenistic patterns. It is true that there are instances of
cross-cultural and religious interference in the recipes, like in the rest of
prescriptions in other magical handbooks, but the pseudo-authority is
constantly claimed to be related to the Hellenistic cultural framework 16.

3. Reading the marginal lectional signs in PGM VII

A brief look at the PGM VII is enough to notice immediately
the interesting collection of marginal lectional signs that the principal
scribe inserted all over the roll, and a question emerges: were all these
marks written coherently and conveying important information about
the act of copy of this particular handbook? Are the lectional marks
written by the scribe from the antigraph/s or not17?
Studies on lectional signs in papyri are mostly focused on literary
papyri, especially on anthologies and commentaries, and there is hardly
any interest in the use of these signs in magical text. Nobody seems to
have taken seriously these small but meaningful marks. The content of
the books and its relationship to the rest of the magical material uses to be
the main interest of the studies on magic in Roman Egypt. But as I will
argue, these marks are of great importance not only for understanding
the structure of the text copied, but also the scribal practice underlying it.
The division among different spells in PGM VII is very well defined
by the scribe. There is no spell without a mark that indicates its end, and
mostly all of them are marked out with a marginal lectional sign located
at the left side of the column18. Sometimes, when the spell ends in the
middle of the line, its ending is stressed by a lectional sign located in the
interior of the line, and by an additional mark at the left margin of the
column. The combination of two different lectional marks for indicating
the end of a sentence in prose texts has been characterized by William A.
Johnson as redundant, and it was related to the act of reading aloud and

16. See Martín Hernández (forthcoming).

17. On this topic in literary rolls see Turner 1971, pp. 12 and 18, and Johnson
2004, pp. 22 and 29.
18. Only one of the recipes in column 5 has two different internal marks ://, instead of
a paragraphos and it is followed by another version of the spell starting with the customary
ἄλλο. And the third spell in column 6 has not a paragraphos either but a very large blank
space after the last word of the line. Both cases appear in spells that are part of a coherent
group of very small medical recipes.
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 151

coming back to the text after being interrupted during the act of reading19.
Marginal lectional signs are indeed very visual marks to follow a text and
come back to it easily, but I think that another use for them could be add-
ed to Johnson’s hypothesis: facilitate the search for a particular text. The
visibility of these signs could be intentional in order to make easy finding
a specific text (spell, poem...) in a bookroll composed by many different
small texts, and a very useful feature in the case of magical books20.

a) Marginal lectional marks in PGM VII

The marginal lectional marks used by the principal scribe of PGM
VII for indicating the end of spells are the following: the paragraphos
( ), the forked paragraphos ( ), a variation of the forked para-
graphos with a sinuous stroke ( ), and the combination of para-
graphos and asteriskos ( ). We must add to the list the decorative
borders already mentioned because they are very distinctive marks to
separate spells, although they do not appear in the margins but inside
the text, occupying the width of the column.
While all these signs fulfill the same function, namely to indicate
the end of the spell, one may wonder why they have different shapes. It
is very unlikely that this is a question of the taste of the scribe. I rather
think that they have a coherent meaning and a logical disposition.
In the following sections I will analyze the different marks follow-
ing their order of apparition in the different columns, and I will try to
find out what differentiates them with each other mainly in relation
with its position thorough the text.

b) Marginal lectional signs from column 1* to column 621.

Combination of paragraphos and forked paragraphos
The beginning of the roll, at least the preserved part, is occupied by
the Homeromanteion, a lot divination text with a succession of verses of

19. Johnson 1994, p. 68: «As already mentioned, we can thereby understand why
the paragraphus is redundantly added to texts where the full stop is already clearly pointed
out by internal punctuation. In such a situation, the reader might well appreciate some
lectional aid to assist him in returning to his place in the text».
20. Lucian. Philopseud. 31 is a quite illustrative text for the importance of selecting
quickly a particular spell in a magical book. The narrator is telling how he could repel a
phantom approaching at him in a haunted house: Ἐγὼ δὲ ἐπεὶ ταῦτα ἤκουσα, τὰς βίβλους
λαβὼν – εἰσὶ δέ μοι Αἰγύπτιαι μάλα πολλαὶ περὶ τῶν τοιούτων – ἧκον εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν περὶ
πρῶτον ὕπνον... ἐγὼ δὲ προχειρισάμενος τὴν φρικωδεστάτην ἐπίρρησιν αἰγυπτιάζων τῇ φωνῇ
συνήλασα κατᾴδων αὐτὸν εἴς τινα γωνίαν σκοτεινοῦ οἰκήματος. For a comment on the
passage see Stramaglia 1999, pp. 154-162, esp. p. 160 n. 7.
21. The number of the columns follows Preisendanz-Henrichs 1974.
152 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

the Iliad and the Odyssey22. The verses are preceded by a number com-
posed by three figures corresponding to all the possible combinations
when throwing a dice three times. The different numbers followed by
the corresponding verses are arranged in series of six numbers each. The
paragraphos ( )23 is the lectional sign used by the scribe to separate the
different groups of six numbers, and it is placed below the last number
of each series. Sometimes the paragraphos appears twice ( ), one
written below the number and the other one beneath the first word of
the Homeric verse24. The use of this particular «double-paragraphos» ap-
pears in columns 1, 2 and 3, while the use of a simple paragraphos appears
in columns 2* and in column 4, the last one, with only one exception in
number 626. It is difficult to know whether a reason for this distribution
exists. The rest of the preserved Homeromanteia are not very helpful to
solve the question; P.Bon. 3 preserves only one forked paragraphos at the
end of one series, and P.Oxy. LVI 3831 preserves paragraphoi located be-
low the last number of the preserved series. The use of marginal lectional
signs in all the Homeromanteia shows how important the separation of
each series of numbers seems to be. One can hypothesize that its use had
the purpose of making the search of the number in the columns easier to
the consulter or the fortune-teller, but the question of why is used one
particular marginal sign in each case remains unanswered.
The end of the Homeromanteion offers a very interesting example
of how the scribal practice of the time has an influence on the way in
which magical handbooks were produced. The end of the text is marked
out not only with the usual paragraphos at the end of the last number of
the last series, but with a horizontal filler, a decorated border occupying
the width of the column25. The border is preceded by a paragraphos and
a kind of ornament, maybe a coronis, which corresponds to the one at
the end of the border. This kind of filler is not without parallels. It re-
minds of the ornamented title of a Demosthenes’ book, Pap.Flor. IV 10
(TM 59655)26, and the one at the end of the book 14th of the Iliad in
the Morgan Homer (P.Amh. inv. G 202 = TM 60987). Similar borders
appear also in literary books for separating different poems, like the one
used in P.Oxy. XIII 1614 (TM 62558) at the end of the first Olympian
by Pindar.

22. On the Homeromanteion see Parsons 2007, pp. 188-190, and Martín Hernández
2014b with bibliography.
23. Table 1 a.
24. Table 1 a1.
25. Table 1 f1.
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 153

Below the border, and centred in the column, a title appears: τέλος
ἔχει τῶν ἐπῶν Ὁμηρομαντείου ἐπ΄ἀγαθῷ. «The end of the verses of the
Homeromanteion. May it help you»27. The title, written with larger size
letters, is adorned with dashes placed above and below the words, as it
is the common practice for titles on Homeric books28. The expression
τέλος ἔχει + genitive is actually the complete version of these end-titles
according to the study by Schironi29. On the other hand, the expression
ἐπ’ἀγαθῷ reminds of the decorated title preserved in the miscellaneous
codex from Montserrat (P.Monts. Roca 3, dated to the 4th century CE)
at the end of the Hadrianus’ tale30. The final title gives the Homeroman-
teion a kind of autonomy among other magical recipes on the roll that
may indicate the importance of Homer in magic.
Following the analysis of marginal marks in PGM VII, two more
paragraphoi appear after the Homeromanteion separating the following
prescriptions which are arranged in columns. Both paragraphoi are lo-
cated below the last line of the right column.
The first magical prescription is composed by two different spells
that are located at both sides of the title of the Homeromantion. Both
spells are connected to each other for being recipes to keep bugs away
from the house by the aspersion of a not very intricate potion31. The
paragraphos is located only at the end of the prescription located on the
right side of the title. The prescription on the left, instead, has no mar-
ginal mark that indicates its end, probably because the arrangement of
the spells at both sides of the title is enough to indicate that both spells
are connected as a small group.
The next magical prescription, disposed in three sub-columns at
the end of column 4, is a list of days and parts of the day. The para-
graphos is located at the end of the text in the third sub-column on the
right. The relation of this ‘calendar’ with the previous Homeromanteion
is now clear by comparison with the already mentioned papyrus from
Oxyrhynchus (P.Oxy. LVI 3831), which preserves, together with the
instructions of use, and the prayer that must be uttered, a list of the

27. Translation by H. Martin in Betz 1986, p. 118. See Table 1 g.

28. See Schironi 2010, pp. 21-24. This type of ornamentation is attested in rolls
and in codices. See e.g. P.Oxy. X 1231 fr. 56; P.Bodmer 14-15 (http://legacy.earlham.
edu/~seidti/iam/tc_pap75.html), P.Lond. Lit. 132 (Papyrus Arden), and P.Lond. Lit. 30,
see McName 2007, plates IV – V.
29. See Schironi 2007, p. 699, and Schironi 2010, pp. 21-24.
30. Gil – Torallas Tovar 2010, p. 30 (P.Monts. Roca 3). The expression appears to
be connected to the Latin feliciter.
31. Both of them start with the same sentence: ‘the bug in question’ ἐν οἰκίᾳ μὴ εἶναι.
154 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

days and hours in which the oracle can be performed, a list very similar
to this one. The paragraphos then indicates the end of the prescription,
and it has a clear connection with the previous text.
The fifth column of the papyrus starts with the Demokritos’ paig-
nia, a collection of very short tricks and medical recipes32. The column
begins with a title written with a very pronounced indentation33. The
title could have been written at a later moment34.
The different small recipes grouped under the title Demokritos’
paignia are marked out with a paragraphos below the first word of the line
where the next spell starts. There is only one exception: the first recipe of
the group is marked out with a forked paragraphos ( )35. At the end of
the Demokritos’ paignia a paragraphos was written together with a styl-
ized coronis and a new decorated border very similar to the one drawn
at the end of the Homeromanteion. This kind of decorated border does
not appear any more in the papyrus. It can only be compared with the
decorated borders that are written in columns 22 and 23 of verso side,
but whose design must be linked to the way the scribe sometimes fills
out the resultant blank space when a spell ends in the middle of the line.
Therefore, the spells of the Demokritos’ paignia are very well indi-
cated by the scribe as a group with a title, a marginal sign for separating
any single spell, and a final border. Only one distinctive feature must be
indicated: the first spell of the group has been indicated at its end by a
forked paragraphos and the rest by a paragraphos. Actually, this «excep-
tion» is not an exception, and it can be explained by looking at the use
of forked paragraphoi in combination with paragraphoi in the following
spells of this column and the following.
The end of the spell that follows the collection of Demokritos’
paignia is indicated by a forked paragraphos. The following recipe is
indicated at its end by a paragraphos. The next one is individualized
by a forked paragraphos, and all of the following recipes, 8 in total, are
separated by paragraphoi. The mystery of how the two different kind of
marginal marks are used in these columns can be solved by understand-
ing that the forked paragraphos indicates the end of the first spell of a
coherent group, whose constitutive different spells are separated each

32. Other paignia in PGM XIb and CXXVII.

33. See Table 1 h.
34. It must be noticed that the title is written a little bit up in comparison with the
following columns. I would like to thank Magali de Haro Sánchez for pointing out this
feature to me. See Table 1 f2.
35. See Table 1 b.
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 155

other by a single paragraphos. In the case of the Demokritos’ paignia it

is very clear as we have already pointed out (although it is possible that
the title had been written at a later moment).
The same is true for the medical recipes in columns 5 and 6 (lines
194-215). The first of these brief recipes is marked at the end with a
forked paragraphos, and all the rest, starting with πρός or ἄλλο, are
separated from each other by using paragraphoi36. All these medical
recipes are linked by its subject, and all of them base their effective-
ness on writing down magical words in different media and on reciting
magical names.
The two magical texts following the medical prescriptions (lines 216-
221) appear separated in the same way: the end of the first one is marked
with a forked paragraphos and the next one by a paragraphos. The con-
nection between the two texts can be clearly established on the base that
both are amulets, one positive and the other one negative, and both are
based on writing down magical words. The well known magical name
akrammachammarei appears in both recipes, a magical name which has
not been used in the previous prescriptions and clearly connects them37.
It is more difficult however to find a connection between the two
other spells which, if my hypothesis is true, should be understood as a
group. These recipes follow the Demokritos’ paignia (lines 187-193):
the first one marked with a forked paragraphos, and the second with
a paragraphos. Nevertheless, while these spells are not linked by the
subject (one is a victory charm and the other one is a love spell) both
of them base their effectiveness in the manipulation of parts of animals
that become the base of the magical object that has to be produced, and
both of them must be in contact with the skin to be effective.

c) Marginal Lectional Sings in Columns 6 to 13. Forked paragraphos

After all of these spells that I have tried to individualize in coherent
groups by looking at the distinctive marginal lectional marks written
by the scribe, the use of the forked paragraphos for indicating the end
of every spell appears to be pervasive from the middle of the column 6
to the middle of the column 13. Even when a clear connection among
spells can be established, for example the three divinatory recipes that
are written right after the two amulet spells with akrammachammarei

36. With the two exceptions already indicated in footnote 23.

37. About the magical word akrammachammarei and its meaning see Scholem 1965,
pp. 94-100, esp. p. 97.
156 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

already mentioned (lines 222-259), the forked paragraphos indicates the

end of any single spell. From that point on, on recto side, the para-
graphos is used only once, in column 9, to separate two spells that are
clearly interconnected, starting the second one with the usual ἄλλο,
«another». The same use of the paragraphos appears once more, in col-
umn 26, on verso side38.

d) Marginal Lectional Sings in Columns 13 to 17.

Paragraphos with asteriskos
From the middle of column 13th until the end of the recto side,
a new way of indicating the end of spells is used: a combination of
paragraphos with asteriskos ( ). There are only two exceptions: the
first spell of this section, in column 13, combines two asteriskoi not
with a paragraphos but with a forked paragraphos ( )39. The use
of the forked paragraphos to highlight the beginning of a new series
of connected spells, as it was individualized for the first section of the
papyrus (columns 2* to 6), comes easily to mind. The other exception
appears in the sixth spell, which is marked out only with a paragraphos
and without the corresponding asteriskos.
The asteriskos is a critical sign introduced by Aristophanes of Byz-
antium for indicating repeated lines in Homeric texts40. The asteriskos
with the paragraphos is also known by Alexandrian philologists, and
this combination was used by Aristarchos to indicate repeated lines that
he wanted to be athetise41. In the case of religious works, the asteriskos
was used by Origenes in his Hexapla42 to indicate, in his own words,
lines «that were not present in the Septuagint and they we took them
from other editions which agree with the Hebrew Bible»43.
The use of the asteriskos in literary papyri has been recently studied

38. See Table 1 a2.

39. See Table 1 b1.
40. On critical signs of Alexandrian philologists see the classical references Gudeman
1922, and Pfeiffer 1968, pp. 115, 178, and 218.
41. On the Aristarchean use of the asteriskos and the asteriskos + obelos see Pace 1994
and Schironi 2012, pp. 89-90.
42. Hexapla is the name for Origene’s edition of the Bible whose aim was offer the
most complete text for a better understanding of the Holy Scriptures. It was composed
around 240 BCE by using the Hebrew text and the Greek major editions available in his
time. The use of the asteriskos appears mainly in his reception of the Septuagint version
to indicate verses that are present in the Hebrew Bible but not in the Septuagint. On the
Hexapla see e.g. Grafton-Williams 2006, pp. 86-132.
43. Orig. in Matth. 15.14 (387.27-388.24 Klostermann); in Rom. 192-17-19. On the
use of asteriskos and other σημεῖα by Origen see Schironi 2012, pp. 100-109.
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 157

by Gabriel Nocchi Macedo and Francesca Schironi44. Kirsten Dzwiza45,

on her side, has studied its use in Greek magical papyri. In the magical
handbooks the asteriskos only appears in PGM VII and in PGM XCIV
(P.Ant. II 66) and in both cases the sign is always combined with the
paragraphos. PGM XCIV preserves a collection of eight iatromagical
prescriptions arranged in two columns in both sides of one page. The
end of all the different prescriptions is indicated by a paragraphos but
the last one, which is indicated by a paragraphos with asteriskos. The
content of this prescription is medical, as the rest of prescriptions writ-
ten on the page. There is only a small difference: this prescription pre-
serves a long invocation that must be pronounced. Since the papyrus
ends at this point46, it is not possible to know whether the following
text was the continuation of the spell, and the paragraphos with aster-
iskos was a mark to separate two different sections of the same spell, or it
was another recipe. Consequently, the use of asteriskos with paragraphos
in PGM XCIV is barely useful as a means of comparison.
In the case of PGM VII the group of spells marked out with the
combination of asteriskos and paragraphos is miscellaneous in its con-
tent. It cannot be interpreted that this mark is placed to distinguish
spells with a common subject47.
The use of asteriskos by Origen and its use in literary papyri48 lead us
to understand it, with caution, as an indication of the introduction of ad-
ditions in the magical handbook. If this procedure was used here, and we
have to remember that the scribe seems to be well familiarized with scribal
techniques, we should infer that the last part of the recto side preserves
spells that were copied out from another source, that, looking at the vari-
ety of spells, would be very similar to the source, or to the other different
sources, from which the scribe is copying to produce his own book.

e) Verso side. A new combination of forked paragraphos and paragraphos

The way in which the magical prescriptions of the verso side are sepa-
rated is very close to the second section we have established, that is, the
spells located between the middle of columns 6 to the middle of column 13.

44. See Nocchi Macedo 2011, and Schironi 2012.

45. Dzwiza 2012.
46. After the paragraphos with asteriskos only the first letter of the following two lines
is preserved.
47. Even in the case in which the paragraphos was written without an asteriskos it is not
possible to find a relation between the spells.
48. See Nocchi Macedo 2011, pp. 8-9.
158 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

Forked paragraphos is used to indicate every end of spell49 except

once in which the paragraphos is used to separate two different spells
that are related to each other, the second one starting with the word
ἄλλο, as in the previously case referred in column 950.
Nevertheless in verso side the paragraphos is used with a new mean-
ing, one that does not appear in recto side: to indicate the different
sections that constitute a more complicated spell. So the paragraphos
is used as an internal mark, not indicating the end of a spell. It is im-
portant to point out that the paragraphos is written by the scribe always
in the same way, whether it indicates the end of the prescription or a
constituent part of a complicated spell.
As an example of this use, one may look at the marginal marks
written in PGM VII 795-845, in the prescription called: «Pythagoras’
request for a dream oracle and Demokritos’ dream revelation». The end
of the previous magical prescription is indicated with the customary
forked paragraphos, and the beginning of the spell starts in line 795. In
line 808 a paragraphos is written to separate the first instructions and
the list of zodiac names of the goddess, charakteres and numbers. The
end of this list is marked out by a new paragraphos located in line 821.
At this point, the praxis of the spell starts to be explained and continues
until line 828, where a new paragraphos separates the end of the praxis
and the beginning of the logos to be pronounced51. The logos occupies
14 lines, and then a new paragraphos is located in line 842 to indicate
the end of the logos. The end of the prescription is indicated by a forked
paragraphos in line 845.

f ) Forked paragraphos with «sinuous stroke» or an «added sinuous stroke»

Finally it must be explained a variation of the forked paragraphos

49. One spell in column 19 breaks the rule. The end of the prescription for an
evocation of Asclepius with an iron ring (lines 629-642) ends with the final word, λιχανῷ,
written alone in the middle of the line, as if it was a title. A forked paragraphos is located
both in the left and in the right side of the column (see Table 1 b2). A comparison with a
prescription in column 20 can be established. The spell for obtaining a dream revelation
(lines 664-685) ends with the expected forked paragraphos. An isolated word appears in the
middle of the line where the forked paragraphos is located, but in this case the word is not
the final word of the prescription but the title of the following. It is possible to hypothesize
that a new forked paragraphos was written in the right side of column 19 to indicate that the
word was actually part of the spell ending in this line, and not a title of the following spell.
50. See Table 1 a2.
51. We must not mix up the marginal strokes located in lines 824 and 825 with
paragraphos. These marks, that are indistinguishable from the paragraphos, are used by the
scribe to highlight magical names.
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 159

that appear in PGM VII: forked paragraphos with sinuous strokes

( and )52. These signs are strong marks to indicate the end
of a spell, like the forked paragraphos, so maybe they do not have any
particular meaning, and its shape could be interpreted as a scribal pref-
erence in a particular situation, or it is due to an exact copy of the
lectional mark from the antigraph.
It must be stressed, however, that the forked paragraphos with sinu-
ous stroke is used mostly to indicate the end of a spell which coincides
with the end of the column53, although some incongruence occurs. In
column 11, this variation is used twice for marking the end of the two
final prescriptions of the column. This duplicity could be explained in
the idea that the scribe wrote the mark to indicate the end of the spell
at the end of the column. Then, he realized that the following recipe
to be written was short enough for the remaining space, and he wrote
it adding at the end the new forked paragraphos with sinuous stroke,
coinciding with the end of the column.
It is more difficult to explain the use of this variation of forked
paragraphos in column 13, which is not located at the end of the col-
umn. In this case, the spell that follows the mark was crossed out by the
scribe54, who wrote another very similar spell right after which starts
with the very same words. The end of this latter prescription is indicat-
ed with a forked paragraphos with two asteriskos. Therefore, the forked
paraghaphos with sinuous stroke is written at the end of the last spell of
the second group that has been established (cf. above c) Marginal Lec-
tional Sings in Columns 6 to 13. Forked paragraphos), which could have
motivated its shape.
Along with the already mentioned variation of forked paragraphos,
verso side features a new variation: the forked paragraphos with an ad-
ditional sinuous stroke ( ). The first attestation of this lectional
sign appears in column 19, and it has been placed at the end of the last
prescription of the column, so its use can be compared with the other
variation of forked paragraphos. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out
that the text does not reach the end of the column and, consequently,
the column is shorter than the rest.

52. This marginal sign can be compared to the mark appearing in P.Ryl. I 53, f. 86r to
indicate the end of Odyssey 22. See Table 1 d and e.
53. In recto side it is used at the end of column 7 and 11, and in verso side at the end
of column 27, which is the actual end of the book.
54. The complete text was crossed out by the scribe who added a sinuous stroke all the
high of the text in the left margin, between the two lectional marks.
160 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

This variation of the lectional sign appears again in column 21

and 22. Now it is not located at the end of the column, so another
meaning must be understood. A coincidence between the two marks
that could be significant must be pointed out: a change in the ink. In
column 21, the prescription that is written after the forked paragraphos
is written in a greyish ink, very similar (if not the same) to the ink used
for an additional text between lines in the previous column (line 27).
In column 22, the prescription written after the forked paragraphos is
provided with a title, written in the middle of the line with this greyish
ink, which was added at a later moment (line 17).
In short, we can understand that the two variation of forked para-
graphoi with sinuous stroke are used to indicate the end of a magical
prescription which reaches the end of the column and, when it is used
in the middle of the column, it is used mostly to indicate that a correc-
tion has been made.

4. Conclusion
The revision of all the marginal lectional signs used by the prin-
cipal scribe of PGM VII shows his remarkable knowledge of the use
of lectional signs in literature. By looking at the disposition of them
through the papyrus from the beginning to the end, one may conclude
that, at least, four different consecutive sections can be established.
The first section, from column 1* to the middle of column 6, is
characterized by a combination of forked paragraphos and paragraphos.
In this section forked paragraphos indicates the end of the first magical
prescription of a coherent group while the paragraphos indicates the
end of each prescription that make up the group. The Homeromanteion
seems to have a kind of autonomy by itself because of the use of the
final title. The separation of the different series of numbers by para-
graphoi can be clearly related both with the use of paragraphos in this
section, that is, for separating each prescription of a coherent group,
and with the use of paragraphos as an internal mark for more compli-
cated (or long) spells, as it happens in verso side.
The second section, from the middle of the column 6 to the mid-
dle of the column 13, is characterized by the use of forked paragraphos
to separate any different spells. Only one paragraphos appears in this
section, and it is used to separate two spells that are closely related,
starting the second one with ἄλλο.
The third section, from the middle of column 13 to the end of
recto side is individualized by combinations of paragraphos with aster-
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 161

iskos. The marginal sign separates the different spells. The interpretation
suggested regarding the copy of these recipes from a different source is
plausible but impossible to verify for the moment.
And finally, the fourth section occupies the complete verso side.
The forked paragraphos is used to separate the different spells and the
paragraphos is used to separate the constituent parts of complex spells.
Only once the paragraphos is used to separate two different prescrip-
tions that are related among them starting the second one with ἄλλο as
it happens in the already established second section.
The revision of all the different marginal lectional signs in PGM
VII and their disposition in groups seem to support the idea that magi-
cal books were copied following an internal and coherent order inde-
pendently, in a way, of the content of the different spells. It is probable
that the different use of marginal signs by the scribe tries to make easier
the search for a spell in the bookroll when consulting it, and the differ-
ent combinations of signs by sections could have facilitated even more
this search if the reader is familiarized with this system. Even if it is very
suggestive to think that the use of marginal marks in sections is linked
to the scribal practice of compilation from different sources – being
isolated recipes, books, or both of them, the assertion cannot be proved
for the moment.


Studies of lectional signs in papyri concentrate mainly on literary papyri,

especially anthologies vel sim., and there is hardly any interest in their use in magi-
cal texts. This article is focused on the placing and use of marginal lectional signs
in P.Lond. I 121 (PGM VII), a Graeco-egyptian magical handbook. The use of the
signs and their placing will be analyzed in order to offer a tentative explanation
of their practical use. The aim is to inquire whether a coherent use of marginal
lectional signs exists in the bookroll, and if this use can provide any information
about a conscious internal division of the text and, consequently, about the skills
of the magician as a scribe.

Raquel Martín Hernández

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Bagnall 2009 = R. Bagnall, Early Christian Books in Egypt, Princeton 2009, pp. 255-288.
Betz 1992 = H. D. Betz (ed.), The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation including the De-
motic Spells, Chicago 1992, (First edition 1986).
Brashear 1995 = W. M. Brashear, The Greek Magical Papyri, in VV.AA., Aufstieg und Nie-
dergang der römischen Welt (ANRW) II, 18.5, Berlin-New York 1995, pp. 3380-3730.
Cavallo 2008 = G. Cavallo, Scrittura greca e latina dei papiri. Una introduzione, Pisa-
Roma 2008.
D’Alessio 2001 = G. D’Alessio, Danni materiali e ricostruzione di rotoli papiracei: le Elle-
niche di Ossirinco (POxy 842) e altri esempi, «ZPE», 134 (2001), pp. 23-41.
Daniel – Maltomini 1992 = R. Daniel – F. Maltomini, Supplementum Magicum,
Papyrologica Coloniensia 16, 2, Opladen 1992.
De Haro Sánchez 2008 = M. De Haro Sánchez, Les papyrus iatromagiques grecs et la
région thébaine, in A. Delattre – P. Heilporn (éd. par) « Et maintenant ce ne sont
plus que des village... » Thèbes et sa région aux époques hellénistique, romaine et byzan-
tine. Actes du colloque tenu à Bruxelles les 2 et 3 décembre 2005, (Papyrologica
Bruxellensia, 34), Bruxelles 2008, pp. 97-102.
Dooso (forthcoming) = K. Dooso, Gnostic Cheese and Heart of Wormwood: A History of
the Theban Magical Library, forthcoming.
Dieleman 2005 = J. Dieleman, Priests, Tongues and Rites. The London-Leiden Magical Ma-
nuscripts and Translation in Egyptian Ritual (100-300 CE), Leiden 2005.
Dzwiza 2012 = K. Dzwiza, Der Asteriskos als Kritisches Zeichen in Magischen Texten Acht
Beispiele in PGM VII und PGM XCIV, «ACD», 48 (2012), pp. 149-165.
Gil – Torallas Tovar 2010 = J. Gil – S. Torallas Tovar, Hadrianvs. P.Monts. Roca III,
Barcelona 2010.
Gordon 1997 = R. Gordon, Reporting the marvellous. Private divination in the Greek
Magical Papyri, in P. Schäfer – H. G. Kippenberg (ed. by), Envisioning Magic. A
Princeton Seminar & Symposium, Leiden 1997, pp. 65-92.
Grafton – Williams 2006 = A. Grafton – M. Williams, Christianity and the Transfor-
mation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea, Cambridge MA-
London 2006.
Gudeman 1922 = A. Gudeman, s.v. Kritische Zeichen, in A. Pauly – G. Wissowa, Real
Encyclopaedie der classischen Altertumswissenschaften 11, Stuttgart 1922.
Hopfner 1924 = Th. Hopfner, s.v. Astragalomanteia, in A. Pauly – G. Wissowa, Real
Encyclopaedie der classischen Altertumswissenschaften, Supplementa 4, Stuttgart 1924.
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook 163

Johnson 1994 = W. A. Johnson, The function of the paragraphus in Greek Literary Prose
Texts, «ZPE», 100 (1994), pp. 65-68.
Johnson 2004 = W. A. Johnson, Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus, Toronto 2004.
Johnston 2008 = S. I. Johnston, Ancient Greek Divination, Malden MA-Oxford 2008.
Kenyon 1893 = F. G. Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum. Catalogue with Text,
I, London 1893.
Mcnamee 2007 = K. Mcnamee, Annotations in Greek and Latin Texts from Egypt, Ameri-
can Studies in Papyrology, 45, Virginia 2007.
Maltomini 1995 = F. Maltomini, P.Lond. 121 (= PGM VII), 1-121: Homeromanteion,
«ZPE», 106 (1995), pp. 107-122.
Martín Hernández 2014a = R. Martín Hernández, Two more Verses for the Homero-
manteion (PGM VII), «ZPE», 190, pp. 97-98.
Martín Hernández 2014b = R. Martín Hernández, Using Homer for Divination:
Homeromanteia in Context, «CHS Research Bulletin», 2.1, http://www.chs-fellows.
Martín Hernández (forthcoming) = R. Martín Hernández, La selección de encanta-
mientos en un libro de magia. Sobre la “apropiación de estereotipos” en el PGM VII,
Venice (forthcoming).
Montevecchi 1953 = O. Montevecchi, ΟΜΗΡΟΜΑΝΤΕΙΟΝ, in O. Montevecchi
(ed.), Papyri Bononienses, Milano 1953, pp. 6-8.
Nocchi Macedo 2011 = G. Nocchi Macedo, Formes et fonctions de l’asterisque dans les
papyrus litteraires grecs et latins, «S&T», 9 (2011), pp. 3-33.
Nodar – Torallas Tovar (forthcoming) = A. Nodar – S. Torallas Tovar, Palaeography of
Magical Handbooks: An Attempt?, in E. Suárez – M. Blanco – E. Chronopoulou
(ed. by), Los papiros mágicos griegos: entre lo sublime y lo cotidiano, Madrid (forthcoming).
Pace 1994 = C. Pace, L’asterisco di Aristofane di Bisanzio, «Eikasmos», 5 (1994), pp. 323-328.
Parsons 1982 = P. J. Parsons, Homer Oracle, in M. G. Sirivianou, ed., The Oxyrhynchus
Papyri 56. nr. 3831, Oxford 1982, pp. 44-48.
Parsons 2007 = P. J. Parsons, City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish. Greek Papyri Beneath the Egyp-
tian Sand Reveal a Long-Lost World, Phoenix 2007.
Pfeiffer 1968 = R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship, 1: From the Beginnings to the
End of the Helenistic Age, Oxford 1968.
Preisendanz 1913 = K. Preisendanz, Die Homeromantie Pap. Lond. CXXI, «Philologus»,
72, n. f. 26, (1913), pp. 552-556.
Preisendanz et alii 1928-1931 = K. Preisendanz et alii, Papyri Graecae Magicae. Die
griechischen zauberpapyri, Leipzig-Berlin 1928-1931.
Ritner 1995 = R. K. Ritner, Egyptian Magical Practice under the Roman Empire: The
Demotic Spells and Their Religious Context, in VV.AA., Aufstieg und Niedergang der
römischen Welt (ANRW) II 18.5, Berlin-New York 1995, pp. 3333-3379.
164 Raquel MartÍn HernÁndez

Schironi 2010 = F. Schironi, Book-Ends and Book-Layout in Papyri with Hexametric Po-
etry, in T. Gagous (ed. by), Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth International Congress of
Papyrology, Ann Arbor 2007, American Studies in Papyrology, Ann Arbor 2010, pp.
Schironi 2010 = F. Schironi, To Mega Biblion: Book-Ends, End-Titles and Coronides in
Papyri with Hexametric Poetry, American Studies in Papyrology 48, Durham, NC
Schironi 2012 = F. Schironi, The Ambiguity of Signs: Critical σημεῖα from Zenodotus to
Origen in M. R. Niehoff (ed. by), Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Inter-
preters, Leiden-Boston 2012, pp. 87-112.
Scholem 1965 = G. Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkebah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tra-
dition2, New York 1965.
Stramaglia 1999 = A. Stramaglia, Res inauditae, incredulae: storie di fantasmi nel mondo
greco-latino, Bari 1999.
Tait 1995 = J. Tait, Theban Magic, in S. P. Vleeming (ed.), Hundred-Gated Thebes: Acts
of a Colloquium on Thebes and the Theban Area in the Graeco-Roman Period, Leiden
1995, pp. 169-182.
Turner 1971 = E. G. Turner, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, Oxford 1971.
Wessely 1893 = C. Wessely, Neue griechische Zauberpapyri, Denkschriften der kaiserlichen
Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Philosophisch- Historische Classe, XLII.2,
Wien 1893, pp. 16-55.
Zago 2010 = M. Zago, Tebe magica e alchemica. L’idea di biblioteca nell’Egitto romano. La
colezione Anastasi, Padova 2010.
Indice generale

Lucio Del Corso

Unità e particolarismo della scrittura greca su papiro:
dallo spazio geografico allo spazio sociale p. 1
Rosa Rita Marchese
Libri e reciprocità. Aspetti simbolici della circolazione
libraria tra Cicerone e Tacito p. 29
Guglielmo Cavallo
A Roma antica. Per un discorso su modi e
strumenti del comunicare in età augustea p. 63
Mario Citroni
Edito e inedito, pubblico e privato:
Marziale, Stazio e la circolazione di testi scritti in età flavia p. 89
Matthew Nicholls
Libraries and Networks of Influence
in the Roman World p. 125
Raquel Martín Hernández
A Coherent Division of a Magical Handbook.
Using Lectional Signs in P.Lond. I 121 (PGM VII) p. 147
Maria Boccuzzi
Le quattro dimensioni della scrittura femminile
nella tarda antichità greca e romana p. 165
Oronzo Pecere
Modalità compositive e circolazione privata
del libro nel tardoantico: il caso di Boezio p. 219
430 Indici

Carla Riviello
La dinamica di una parola:
l’anglosassone hord e i suoi composti p. 235
Stefano Martinelli Tempesta
Trasmissione di testi greci esametrici nella Roma
di Niccolò V. Quattro codici di Demetrio Xantopulo
e una lettera di Bessarione a Teodoro Gaza p. 271
Lidia Buono – Eugenia Russo
Clavis Patristica Pseudoepigraphorum Medii aevi
Supplementum e codicibus confectum. I p. 351

Indici p. 415
L. Del Corso: Tav. 2b: © Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (MiBACT) - Progetto PSI-online,
Università di Cassino; Tavv. 2c e 2d: © Egypt Exploration Society - Imaging Papyri Project,
University of Oxford; Tav. 3: © CSAD, University of Oxford - Association Internationale de
Papyrologue; Tavv. 4-6: © Adam Bülow-Jacobsen - Institut de Papyrologie de la Sorbonne.
G. Cavallo: Tavv. 1-5: © MiBACT. R. Martín Hernández: Tavv. 1-2: © The British Library.
M. Boccuzzi: Tavv. 1-2: © Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (MiBACT).

Lectional signs of P.Lond. I 121 = PGM VII


Scheme of the four different sections of the text

The drawing corresponds to the silhouette of the papyrus as preserved in its current state
of preservation, divided in three different frames. The designation of fragments and the
numbers of columns correspond to the original

Potrebbero piacerti anche