Hekate - Section E

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Quotations

VII. Magick

Necromancy and Ghosts

1. Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter 436 : "The lady Hekate was minister and companion to Persephone [goddess of the underworld]."

2. Aeschylus, Doubtul Fragment 249 (from Plutarch, On Superstition 3. 166A) (trans. Weir Smyth) : "But either thou art frightened of a spectre (phantasma) beheld in sleep and hast joined the revel-rout of nether (khthonia) Hekate."

3. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.840 : "Brimo, night-wanderer of the underworld (nyktipolis khthonie), Queen of the dead (anassa eneroi)."

4. Orphic Hymn 1 to Hecate : "Hekate ... pleased with dark ghosts that wander through the shade; Perseis, solitary goddess."

5. Ovid, Metamorphoses10.403 : "Out of Erebos and Chaos she called Nox (Night) and the Di Nocti (Gods of Night) and poured a prayer with long-drawn wailing cries to Hecate ... a groan came from the ground, the bushes blanched, the spattered sward was soaked with gouts of blood, stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bark, black snakes swarmed on the soil and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated through the air."

6. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.110 : "Baying [of Hounds] loud as that which rings at the grim gate of Dis [Haides] or from Hecate’s escort [of black hounds] to the world above."

7. Apuleius, Golden Ass 11.218 : "At another time you [Egyptian Isis] are Proserpina [Persephone or Hekate], whose howls at night inspire dread, and whose triple form restrains the emergence of ghosts as you keep the entrance to the earth above firmly barred. You wander through diverse groves, and are appeased by various rites."

8. Virgil, Aeneid 6.257 : "The Sibyl [performing the rites of necromanteia at the oracle of the dead at Cumae] first lined up four black-skinned bullocks, poured a libation wine upon their foreheads, and then, plucking the topmost hairs from between their brows, she placed these on the altar fires as an initial offering, calling aloud upon Hecate, powerful in heaven and hell. While other laid their knives to these victim’s throats, and caught the fresh warm blood in bowls, Aeneas sacrifices a black-fleeced lamb to Nox (Night), the mother of the Furiae, and her great sister, Terra (earth), and a barren heifer to Proserpine. Then he [Aeneas] set up altars by night to the god of the Underworld [Hades], laying upon the flames whole carcases of bulls and pouring out rich oil over the burning entrails. But listen! - at the very first crack of dawn, the ground underfoot began to mutter, the woody ridges to quake, and a baying of hounds was heard through the half-light: the goddess was coming, Hecate. [a path then opened up for the Sibyl & Aeneas to travel down to Hades]."

9. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 1.730 : "Unto the lord of Tartarus [Haides] and unto the Stygian ghosts was Alcimede [mother of Jason] bringing holy offerings in fear for her mighty son [the Argonaut Jason], if Shades summoned forth [using the magic of Nekromankia] might give her surer knowledge. Even Aeson himself, who shares her anxiety but who hides such unmanly fears in his heart, yields and is led by his wife. In a trench stands blood and plenteous offering to hidden Phlegethon and with fierce cries the aged witch calls upon her departed ancestors and the grandson of great Pleione [Hermes guide of souls]. And now at the sound of the spell rose a face, insubstantial, and [the ghost of] Kretheus gazed upon his mournful son and daughter-in-law, and when he had sipped the blood he began to utter these words [tells him that Jason is safe, but King Pelias is plotting Aeson’s death] ... He [Aeson] returns to the holy rites [of the Underworld Gods]. Beneath the gloom of an ancient cypress, squalid and ghastly with darksome hue, a bull still stood, dark blue fillets on his horns, his brow rough with the foliage of yew; the beast too was downcast, panting and restless, and terrified at the sight of the shade. The witch [Alkimede], according to the custom of her evil race had kept him, chosen above all others, to use him now at last for these hellish practises. When Aeson saw that the bull still remained at the hour of the awful rites unslain, he dooms him to death, and with one hand upon the horns of the fated victim speaks for the last time [cursing his half-brother King Pelias] ... Then he appeased the goddess of triple form [Hekate goddess of earthly ghosts], and with his last sacrifice offers a prayer to the Stygian abodes, rehearsing backward a spell soon, soon to prove persuasive; for without that no thin shade will the dark ferryman [Kharon] take away, and bound they stand at the mouth of Orcus [Haides]."

10. Seneca, Oedipus 569 : "[The seer Teiresias performs necromancy:] Loud bayed the pack of Hecate; thrice the deep valley gave out a mournful noise; the whole place was shaken and the ground was stricken from below. `My prayers are heard,' says the priest; `prevailing words I uttered; blind Chaos is burst open, and for the tribes of Dis [Haides] a way is given to the upper world.'"

11. Statius, Thebaid 4.410 : "There stands a wood, enduring of time, and strong and erect in age, with foliage aye unshorn nor pierced by any suns ... Nor do the shadows lack a divine power: Latonia’s [Artemis-Hekates’] haunting presence is added to the grove ... Her arrows whistle unseen through the wood, her hounds bay nightly, when she flies from her uncle’s [Haides’] threshold and resumes afresh Diana’s kindlier shape [Diana is here regarded as a dual Artemis-Hekate] ... [Teiresias performing the rites of nekromankia] bids the dark-fleeced sheep and black oxen be set before him ... Then he entwined their fierce horns with wreaths of dusky hue, handling them himself, and first at the edge of that well-known wood [sacred to Hekate] he nine times spills the lavish draughts of Bacchus into a hollowed trench, and gifts of vernal milk and Attic rain [honey] and propitiatory blood to the Shades below; so much is poured out as the dry earth will drink. Then they roll tree trunks thither, and the sad priest bids there be three altar-fires for Hecate and three for the maidens born of cursed Acheron [the Erinyes]; for thee, lord of Avernus [Haides], a heap of pinewood though sunk into the ground yet towers high into the air; next to this an altar of lesser bulk is raised to Ceres of the Underworld [Persephone]; in front and on every side the cypress of lamentation intertwines them. And now, their lofty heads marked with the sword and the pure sprinkled meal, the cattle fell under the stroke; then the virgin Manto [daughter of Teiresias], catching the blood in bowls, makes first libation, and moving thrice round all the pyres, as her holy sire commands, offers the half-dead tissues and yet living entrails, nor delays to set the devouring fire to the dark foliage. And when Tiresias heard the branches crackling in the flames and the grim piles roaring - for the burning heat surges before his face, and the fiery vapour fills the hollows of his eyes - he exclaimed, and the pyres trembled, and the flames cowered at his voice: ‘Abodes of Tartarus and awful realm of insatiable Mors [Thanatos, death], and thou, most cruel of the brothers [Haides], to whom the Shades are given to serve thee, and the eternal punishments of the damned obey thee, and the palace of the underworld, throw open in answer to my knowing the silent places and empty void of stern Persephone, and send forth the multitude that lurk in hollow night; let the ferryman [Kharon] row back across the Styx with groaning bark. Haste ye all together, nor let there be fore the Shades but one fashion of return to the light; do thou, daughter of Perses [Hekate], and the cloud-wrapt Arcaidan [Hermes] with rod of power lead in separate throng the pious denizens of Elysium; but for those who died in crime, who in Erebus, as among the seed of Cadmus, are most in number, be thou their leader, Tisiphone, go on before with snake thrice brandished and blazing yew-branch, and throw open the light of day, nor let Cerberus interpose his heads, and turn aside the ghosts that lack the light."

12. Lucian, Menippus - A Necromantic experiment : [9] “For some distance we floated down stream, until we entered the marshy lake in which the Euphrates disappears. Beyond this we came to a desolate, wooded, sunless spot; there we landed, Mithrobarzanes leading the way, and proceeded to dig a pit, slay our sheep, and sprinkle their blood round the edge. Meanwhile the Mage, with a lighted torch in his hand, abandoning his customary whisper, shouted at the top of his voice an invocation to all spirits, particularly the Poenae and Erinyes, Hecat's dark might, and dread Persephone, with a string of other names, outlandish, unintelligible, and polysyllabic.”

13. Lucian, Menippus - A Necromantic experiment : [20] “'Whereas the rich are guilty of many illegalities on earth, 20 harrying and oppressing the poor and trampling upon all their rights, it is the pleasure of the Senate and People that after death they shall be punished in their bodies like other malefactors, but their souls shall be sent on earth to inhabit asses, until they have passed in that shape a quarter-million of years, generation after generation, bearing burdens under the tender mercies of the poor; after which they shall be permitted to die. Mover of this decree--Cranion son of Skeletion of the deme Necysia in the Alibantid 1 tribe.' The decree read, a formal vote was taken, in which the people accepted it. A snort from Brimo and a bark from Cerberus completed the proceedings according to the regular form.


Witchcraft

Medea
Medea

1. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1 : "We are told that Helios (the Sun) had two sons, Aeetes and Perses, Aeetes being the king of Kolkhis and the other king of the Tauric Chersonese, and that both of them were exceedingly cruel. And Perses had a daughter Hekate, who surpassed her father in boldness and lawlessness; she was also fond of hunting, and when she had no luck she would turn her arrows upon human beings instead of the beasts. Being likewise ingenious in the mixing of deadly poisons she discovered the drug called aconite and tired out the strength of each poison by mixing it with food given to the strangers. And since she possessed great experience in such matters she first of all poisoned her father, and so succeeded to the throne, and then, founding a temple of Artemis and commanding that strangers who landed there should be sacrificed to the goddess, she became know far and wide for her cruelty. After this she married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus. Although Kirke also, it is said devoted herself to the devising of all kinds of drugs and discovered roots of all manner of natures and potencies such as are difficult to credit, yet, notwithstanding that she was taught by her mother Hekate about not a few drugs... Aeetes, partly because of his own natural cruelty and partly because he was under the influence of his wife Hekate, had given his approval to the custom of slaying strangers. But since Medea as time went on opposed the purpose of her parents more and more, Aeetes, they say, suspecting his daughter of plotting against him consigned her to free custody [that is, on parole]; Medea, however, made her escape and fled for refuge to a sacred precinct of Helios on the shore of the sea."

2. Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.139 : "[Athena] sprinkled her [Arakhne] with drugs of Hecate (Hecateidos herbae), and in a trice, touched by the bitter lotion [the girl was metamorphosed into a spider]."

3. Euripides, Medea 396 : "[Medea curses Jason who plans to abandon her and marry Glauke:] 'By the goddess I worship most of all, my chosen helper Hekate, who dwells in the inner chamber of my house [household shrine], none of them shall pain my heart and smile at it! Bitter will I make their marriage, bitter Kreon's marriage-alliance, and bitter my banishment from the land!"

4. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.250 : "As a rule she [Medea] did not spend her time at home, but was busy all day in the temple of Hekate, of whom she was priestess."

5. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.478 : "[Argos, nephew of Medea, to Jason:] ’You have heard me speak of a young woman [Medea] who practices witchcraft under the tutelage of the goddess Hekate. If we could win her over, we might banish from our minds all fear of your defeat in the ordeal [yoking the fire breathing bulls of Aeetes]."

6. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.529 : "[Argos, nephew of Medea, to the Argonauts:] ’There is a girl [Medea] living in Aeetes’ palace whom the goddess Hekate has taught to handle with extraordinary skill all the magic herbs that grow on dry land or in running water. With these she can put out a raging fire, she can stop rivers as they roar in spate, arrest a star, and check the movement of the sacred moon."

7. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.466 : "[Medea prays to Hekate]: And yet I wish he [Jason] had been spared. Yes Sovran Lady Hekate, this is my prayer. Let him live to reach his home."

8. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.735 : "[Medea persuaded by her aunt Khalkiope to help Jason:] ‘At dawn I will go to Hekate’s temple with magic medicine for the bulls [to protect Iason from their fiery breath]."

9. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.840 : “And she [Medea] called to her maids. Twelve they were, who lay during the night in the vestibule of her fragrant chamber, young as herself, not yet sharing the bridal couch, and she bade them hastily yoke the mules to the chariot to bear her to the beauteous shrine of Hecate. Thereupon the handmaids were making ready the chariot; and Medea meanwhile took from the hollow casket a charm which men say is called the charm of Prometheus. If a man should anoint his body therewithal, having first appeased the Maiden, the only-begotten, with sacrifice by night, surely that man could not be wounded by the stroke of bronze nor would he flinch from blazing fire; but for that day he would prove superior both in prowess and in might. It shot up first- born when the ravening eagle on the rugged flanks of Caucasus let drip to the earth the blood-like ichor of tortured Prometheus. And its flower appeared a cubit above ground in colour like the Corycian crocus, rising on twin stalks; but in the earth the root was like newly-cut flesh. The dark juice of it, like the sap of a mountain-oak, she had gathered in a Caspian shell to make the charm withal, when she had first bathed in seven ever-flowing streams, and had called seven times on Brimo, nurse of youth, night-wandering Brimo, of the underworld, queen among the dead, -- in the gloom of night, clad in dusky garments. And beneath, the dark earth shook and bellowed when the Titanian root was cut; and the son of Iapetus himself groaned, his soul distraught with pain. And she brought the charm forth and placed it in the fragrant band which engirdled her, just beneath her bosom, divinely fair. And going forth she mounted the swift chariot, and with her went two handmaidens on each side. And she herself took the reins and in her right hand the well-fashioned whip, and drove through the city; and the rest, the handmaids, laid their hands on the chariot behind and ran along the broad highway; and they kilted up their light robes above their white knees.”

10. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1022 : "[Medea to Iason:] Medea forced herself to speak to him. ‘Hear me now,’ she said. ‘These are my plans for you. When you have met my father and has given you the deadly teeth from the serpent’s jaws, wait for the moment of midnight and after bathing in an ever-running river, go out alone in sombre clothes and dig a round pit in the earth. There, kill a ewe and after heaping up a pure over the pit, sacrifice it whole, with a libation of honey from the hive and prayers to Hekate, Perses’ only daughter (mounogenes). Then, when you have invoked the goddess duly, withdraw from the pyre. And to not be tempted to look behind you as you go, either by footfalls or the baying of hounds, or you may ruin everything and never reach your friends alive. In the morning, melt this charm, strip, and using it like oil, anoint your body. It will endow you with tremendous strength and boundless confidence ... neither the spear-points of the earthborn men nor the consuming flames that the savage bulls spew out will find you vulnerable."

11. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1194 : "Iason waited for the bright constellation of the Bear to decline, and then, when all the air from heaven to earth was still, he set out like a stealthy thief across the solitary plain. During the day he had prepared himself, and so had everything he needed with him; Argos had fetched him some milk and a ewe from a farm; the rest he had taken from the ship itself. When he had found an unfrequented spot in a clear meadow under the open sky, he began by bathing his naked body reverently in the sacred river, and then put on a dark mantle which Hypsipyle of Lemnos had given him to remind him of their passionate embraces. Then he dug a pit a cubit deep, piled up billets, and laid the sheep on top of them after cutting its throat. He kindled the wood from underneath and poured mingled libations on the sacrifice, calling on Hekate Brimo to help him in the coming test. This done, he withdrew; and the dread goddess (thea deinos), hearing his words from the abyss, came up to accept the offering of Aison’s son. She was garlanded by fearsome snakes that coiled themselves round twigs of oak; the twinkle of a thousand torches lit the scene; and hounds of the underworld barked shrilly all around her. The whole meadow trembled under her feet, and the Nymphai of marsh and river who haunt the fens by Amarantian Phasis cried out in fear. Iason was terrified; but even so, as he retreated, he did not once turn round. And so he found himself among his friends once more, and Dawn arrived."

12. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.39 : "The beautiful Medea sped through the palace, and for her the very doors responding to her hasty incantations swung open of their own accord."

13. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.48 : "She [Medea] meant to reach the temple [of Hekate]. She knew the road well enough, having often roamed in that direction searching for corpses [for necromantic rites] or for noxious roots, as witches do."

14. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.55 : "Rising from the distant east, the Lady Selene (Moon), Titanian goddess, saw the girl [Medea the witch] wandering distraught, and in wicked glee said to herself: ‘So I am not the only one to go astray for love, I that burn for beautiful Endymion and seek him in the Latmian cave. How many times, when I was bent on love, have you disorbed me with your incantations, making the night moonless so that you might practise your beloved witchcraft undisturbed! And now you are as lovesick as myself. The little god of mischief has given you Iason, and many a heartache with him. Well, go your way; but clever as you are, steel yourself now to face a life of sighs and misery.’ So said Selene."

15. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.143 : "As he [the Kholkian Drakon] writhed he saw the maiden [Medea] take her stand, and heard her in her sweet voice invoking Hypnos (Sleep), the conqueror of the gods, to charm him. She also called on the night-wandering Queen of the world below [Hekate] to countenance her efforts. Iason from behind looked on in terror. But the giant snake, enchanted by her song, was soon relaxing the whole of his serrated spine and smoothing out his multitudinous undulations ... Medea, chanting a spell, dipped a fresh sprig of juniper in her brew and sprinkled his eyes with her most potent drug; and as the all-pervading magic scent spread round his head, sleep fell on him."

16. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.245 : "They [the Argonauts] made fast their stern cables on the Paphlagonian coast at the mouth of the River Halys. Medea had told them to land there and propitiate Hekate with a sacrifice. But with what ritual she prepared the offering, no one must hear. Nor must I let myself be tempted to describe it; my lips are sealed by awe. But the altar they built for the goddess on the beach is still there for men of a later age to see."

17. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.442 : "She [Medea] reinforced her words with magic, scattering to the four winds spells of such potency as would have drawn wild creatures far away to come down from their mountain fastnesses."

18. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1018 : "I [Medea] swear by Helios’ sacred light and by the secret rites of Perses’ night-wandering daughter [Hekate]."

19. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1659 : "Listen to me,’ she [Medea] said [to the Argonauts]. ‘I think that I and I alone can get the better of that man, whoever he may be, unless there is immortal life in that bronze body. All I ask of you is to stay here keeping the ship out of range of his rocks till I have brought him down.’ They took the ship out of range, as Medea had asked, and rested on their oars waiting to see what marvellous device she would employ. Medea went up on the deck. She covered both her cheeks with a fold of her purple mantle, and Iason led her by the hand as she passed across the benches. Then, with incantations, she invoked the Keres (Spirits of Death), the swift hounds of Haides (kunes Aidao) who feed on souls and haunt the lower air to pounce on living men. She sank to her knees and called upon them, three times in song, three times with spoken prayers. She steeled herself of their malignity and bewitched the eyes of Talos with the evil in her own. She flung at him the full force of her malevolence, and in an ecstasy of rage she plied him with images of death. Is it true then, Father Zeus, that people are not killed only by disease or wounds, but can be struck down by a distant enemy? The thought appals me. Yet it was thus that Talos, for all his brazen frame, was brought down by the force of Medea’s magic. He was hoisting up some heavy stones with which tow keep them from anchorage, when he grazed his ankle on a sharp rock and the ichor ran out of him like molten lead. He stood there for a short time, high on the jutting cliff. But even his strong legs could not support him long; he began to sway, all power went out of him, and he came down with a resounding crash."

20. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.50.6 : "[Medea] said [to the Argonauts] that she had brought with her many drugs of marvellous potency which had been discovered by her mother Hekate and by her sister Kirke; and though before this time she had never used them to destroy human beings, on this occasion she would be means of them easily wreak vengeance upon men who were deserving of punishment."

Kirke
Lady Hamilton as Circe

1. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1 : "She [Hekate] married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus ... Aeetes, partly because of his own natural cruelty and partly because he was under the influence of his wife Hekate, had given his approval to the custom of slaying strangers. But since Medea as time went on opposed the purpose of her parents more and more, Aeetes, they say, suspecting his daughter of plotting against him consigned her to free custody [that is, on parole]; Medea, however, made her escape and fled for refuge to a sacred precinct of Helios (the Sun) on the shore of the sea."

2. Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.74 : "To the ancient shrine of Hecate Perseis [daughter of Perses], deep in the forest in a shady grove, she [the witch Medea] made her way [to meet with Jason] ... [Jason] grasped her [Medea’s] hand and in low tones besought her aid and promised marriage ... Then by the pure rites of Triformis [three-bodied Hecate] and by whatever Power dwelt in that grove he swore, and by her father’s father [Helios the sun] who sees all the world, and by his triumphs and his perils passed. Then she was sure; and straight the magic herbs she gave into his hands and taught their use [making him invulnerable to fire]."

3. Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.162 : "Aeson [father of Jason], now near to death, weary and worn by weight of years. Then said his fond son, Aesonides [Jason]: ‘Dear wife [Medea], to whom I owe my own return, you who have given me all, whose bounteous favours exceeded all my faith - yet, if this thing your spells can do - for what can they not do? - take from my youthful years some part and give that part to my dear father’, and his tears fell unrestrained. His love touched his wife’s heart ... and answered: ‘How vile a crime has fallen from your lips! So I have power to transfer to another a period of your life! This Hecate forbids; not right nor fair is your request. But more than your request, a greater boon, I’ll aim to give; not with your years I’ll dare the attempt but by my arts, to win again your father’s years long gone, if but her aid Triformis [three-bodied Hekate] gives and with her presence prospers the bold tremendous enterprise.’ Three nights remained before Luna’s [Selene the Moon’s] bright horns would meet and form her orb; then when she shone in fullest radiance and with form complete gazed down upon the sleeping lands below, Medea, barefoot, her long robe unfastened, her hair upon her shoulders falling loose, went forth alone upon her roaming way, in the deep stillness of the midnight hour. Now men and birds and beasts in peace profound are lapped; no sound comes from the hedge; the leaves hang mute and still and all the dewy air is silent; nothing stirs; only the stars shimmer. Then to the stars she stretched her arms, and thrice she turned about and thrice bedewed her locks with water, thrice a wailing cry she gave, then kneeling on the stony ground, `O Nox [Nyx the Night], Mother of Mysteries, and all ye golden Astra (Stars) who with Luna [Selene the Moon] succeed the fires of day, and thou, divine triceps (three-formed) Hecate, who knowest all my enterprises and dost fortify the arts of magic, and thou, kindly Tellus [Gaia the Earth], who dost for magic potent herbs provide; ye Venti (Winds) and Aurae (Airs), ye Montes (mountains), Lacus (Lakes) and Amnes (streams), and all ye Di Omnes Nemorum (Forest-Gods) and Di Omnes Noctis (Gods of Night), be with me now! By your enabling power, at my behest, broad rivers to their source flow back, their banks aghast; my magic song rouses the quiet, calms the angry seas; I bring the clouds and make the clouds withdraw, I call the winds and quell them; by my art I sunder serpent’s throats; the living rocks and mighty oaks from out their soil I tear; I move the forests, bid the mountains quake, the deep earth groan and ghosts rise from their tombs. Thee too, bright Luna [Selene the Moon], I banish, though thy throes the clanging bronze assuage; under my spells even my grandsire’s [Helios the Sun’s] chariot grows pale and Aurora [Eos the Dawn] pales before my poison’s power. You at my prayer tempered the flaming breath of the dread Bulls, you placed upon their necks, necks never yoked before, the curving plough; you turned the warriors, Serpentigenae (Serpent-Born), to war against themselves; you lulled at last to sleep the guardian [Draco] that knew not sleep, and sent safe to the homes of Greece the golden prize. Now I have need of essences whose power will make age new, bring back the bloom of youth, the prime years win again. These you will give. For not in vain the shimmering stars have shone, nor stands in vain, by winged Dracones drawn, my chariot here.’ And there the chariot stood, sent down from heaven her purpose to fulfil. She mounted, stroked the harnessed Dracones’ necks, shook the light reins and soared into the sky, and gazing down beheld, far far below, Thessalian Tempe; then the Serpents’ course she set for regions that she knew of old. The herbs that Pelion and Ossa bore, Othrys and Pindus and that loftiest peak, Olympus, she surveyed, and those that pleased some by the roots she culled, some with the curve of her bronze blade she cut; many she chose beside Apidanus’ green banks and many beside Amphrysus; nor was swift Enipeus exempt; Peneus too and the bright stream of broad Spercheus and the reedy shores of Boebe gave their share, and from Anthedon she plucked the grass of life, not yet renowned for that sea-change the Euboean merman found. And now nine days had seen her and nine nights roaming the world, driving her Dracon team. Then she returned; the Dracones, though untouched save by the wafting odour of those herbs, yet sloughed their aged skins of many years. Before the doors she stopped nor crossed the threshold; only the heavens covered her; she shunned Jason’s embrace; then two turf altars built, the right to Hecate, the left to Juventas [Hebe goddess of Youth], wreathed with the forest’s mystic foliage, and dug two trenches in the ground beside and then performed her rites."

4. Seneca, Medea 6 : 1] Ye gods of wedlock, and thou, Lucina [Hera], guardian of the nuptial couch, and thou [Athena] who didst teach Tiphys to guide his new barque to the conquest of the seas, and thou [Poseidon], grim ruler of the deeps of sea, and Titan [Helios the sun], who dost portion out bright day unto the world, and "[Medea cries out to Hekate:] ‘Thou [Hekate-Selene] who doest show thy bright face as witness of the silent mysteries, O three-formed (triformis) Hecate, and ye gods by whose divinity Jason swore to me ... I have yet curse more dire to call down on my husband – may he live."

5. Seneca, Medea 570 : "[Medea:] `I have a robe ... [and] a gleaming necklace of woven gold and a golden band which the sparkle of gems adorns, with which the air is encircled. Let my sons bring these as gifts unto the bride [Glauke of Korinthos], but let them first be anointed and imbued with baneful poisons. Now call on Hecate. Prepare the death-dealing rites; let altars be erected, and let now their fires resound within the palace.'"

6. Seneca, Medea 670-843 : "-Nurse: `Monstrously grows her [Medea's] grief [at Jason's betrayal], feeds its own fires and renews its former strength. Often have I seen her in frenzy and assailing the gods [Sun and Moon], drawing down the sky; but greater than such deeds, greater is the monstrous thing Medea is preparing. For now that with maddened steps she has gone out and come to her baleful shrine [to Hekate], she lavishes all her stores and brings forth whatever e’en she herself long has dreaded, and marshals her whole train of evil powers, things occult, mysterious, hidden; and, supplicating the grim altar with her left hand, she summons destructive agencies, whatever burning Libya’s sands produce, what Taurus, stiff with arctic cold, holds fast in his everlasting snows, and all monstrous things. Drawn by her magic incantations, the scaly brood leave their lairs and come to her ... When she had summoned forth the whole tribe of serpents, she assembled her evil store of baleful herbs ... These plants felt the knife while Phoebus [the sun] was making ready the day; the shoot of that was clipped at midnight; while this was severed by finger-nail with muttered charm. She seizes death-dealing herbs, squeezes out serpents’ venom, and with these mingles unclean birds, the heart of a boding owl, and a hoarse screech-owl’s vitals cut out alive. Other objects the mistress of evil lays out, arranged in separate heaps; in some is the ravening power of fire; in others numbing frost’s icy cold. She adds to her poisons words, no less fearsome than they. – But listen, her frenzied step has sounded, and she chants her incantations. All nature shudders as she begins her song.' -Medea: `I supplicate the throng of the silent, and, you, funereal gods, murky Chaos and shadowy Dis’ dark dwelling-place, the abysses of dismal Death, gift by the banks of Tartarus. Leaving your punishments, ye ghosts, haste to the new nuptials ... Now, summoned by my sacred rites, do thou [Hekate], orb of the night [as the moon], put on thy most evil face and come, threatening in all thy forms. For thee, losing my hair from its band after the manner of my people, with bare feet have I trod the secret groves and called forth rain from the dry clouds; I have driven the seas back to their lowest depths, and Oceanus, his tides outdone, has sent his crushing waves farther into the land; and in like manner, with heaven’s law confounded the world has seen both sun and stars together, and you, ye bears, have bathed in the forbidden sea. The order of the seasons have I changed: the summer land has blossomed ‘neath my magic song, and by my compelling Ceres has seen harvest in winter-time; Phasis has turned his swift waters backward to their source, and Hister, divided into many mouths, has checked his boisterous streams and flowed sluggishly in all his beds. The waves have roared, the mad sea swelled, though the winds were still; the heart of the ancient woods has lost its shadows, when the bright day has come back to them at commandment of my voice; Phoebus [the Sun] has halted in mid-heaven, and the Hyades, moved by my incantations, totter to their fall. The hour is at hand, O Phoebe [Hekate-Selene], for thy sacred rites. To thee [Hekate] I offer these wreaths wrought with bloody hands, each entwined with nine serpent coils; to thee, these serpent limbs which rebellious Typhoeus wore, who caused Jove’s throne to tremble. In this is the blood which Nessus, that traitor ferryman, bestowed as he expired. With these ashes the pyre on Oeta sank down which drank in the poisoned blood of Hercules. Here thou seest the billet of a pious sister but impious mother, Althaea, the avenger. These feathers the Harpyia left in her trackless lair when she fled from Zetes. Add to these the quills of the wounded Stymphalian bird which felt the darts of Lerna. – You have given forth your voice, ye altars; I see my tripods shaken by the favouring deity. I see Trivia’s [Hekate-Selene's] swift gliding car, not as when, radiant, with full face, she drives the livelong night, but as when, ghastly, with mournful aspect, harried by Thessalian threats, she skirts with nearer rein the edge of heaven. So do thou wanly shed form thy torch a gloomy light through air; terrify the peoples with new dread, and let precious Corinthian bronzes resound, Dictynna, to thy aid. To thee on the altar’s bloody turf we perform thy solemn rites; to thee a torch caught up from the midst of a funeral pyre has illumed the night; to thee, tossing my head and with bended neck, I have uttered my magic words; for thee a fillet, lying in funeral fashion, binds my flowing locks; to thee is brandished the gloomy branch [the yew] from the Stygian stream; to thee with bared breast will I as a maenad smite my arms with the sacrificial knife. Let my blood flow upon the altars; accustom thyself, my hand, to draw the sword and endure the sight of beloved blood. [She slashes her arm and lets the blood flow upon the altar.] Self-smitten have I poured forth the sacred stream. But if thou complainest that too often thou art called on by my prayers, pardon, I pray; the cause, O Perses’ daughter, of my too oft calling on thy bows is one and the same ever, Jason. Do thou now [she takes a phial] poison Creusa’s robe that, when she has donned it, the creeping flame may consume her inmost marrow. Within this tawny gold [she takes a casket] lurks fire, darkly hid; Prometheus gave it me, even he who expiates with ever-growing live his theft from heaven, and taught me by his art how to store up its powers. Mulciber hath also given me fires which subtly lurk in sulphur; and bolts of living flame I took from my kinsman, Phaëthon. I have gifts from Chimaera’s middle part, I have flames caught from the bull’s scorched throat, which, well mixed with Medusa’s gall, I have bidden to guard their bane in silence. Give sting to my poisons, Hecate, and in my gifts keep hidden the seeds of fire. Let them cheat the sight, let them endure the touch; let burning fire penetrate to heart and veins; let her limbs melt and her bones consume in smoke, and with her blazing locks let the bride outshine her wedding torches. My prayers are heard: thrice has bold Hecate bayed loud, and has raised the accursèd fire with its baleful light. Now all my power is marshalled; hither call my sons that by their hands thou mayst send these costly gifts unto the bride.."

7. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5.238 : "Medea who now is consectrated to Diana of the Underworld [Hekate] and leads the holy dance."

8. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5.350 : "[Medea the priestess of Hekate] in her sacred fillets by the twin torches’ light [which she held]."

9. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.179 : "[Aphrodite plans to make Medea fall in love with Jason, and threatens Hekate not to interfere:] 'To the shrine of light-bringing Diana [Hekate], where the Colchian [Medea] is wont to shed the light of sacred torches and with her company of maidens dance around its Queen. Nor let dread of Hecate now come over thee; fear not lest she hinder my [Aphrodite's] efforts. Nay, let her even venture: straightway will the passion pass to her [Hekate], and I will compel her herself to subdue with triple chant the fire-breathing bulls, and to suffer embraces."

10. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.311 : "[Medea] wearies heaven above and Tartarus beneath with her complains [of love for Jason]; she beats upon the ground, and murmuring into her clutching hands calls on the Queen of Night [Hekate] and Dis [Haides] to bring her aid by granting death, and to send him who is the cause of her madness down with her to destruction."

11. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.495 : "Persean Hecate dwelling in her lofty groves beheld her [Medea being led in love to Jason by the goddess Hera], and from the depth of her heart uttered these words: ‘Alas! thou dost leave our woodland an thy maidens’ bands, unhappy girl, to wander in thy own despite to the cities of the Greeks. Yet not unbidden goest thou, nor, my dear one, will I forsake thee. A signal record of they flight shalt thou leave behind, nor though a captive shall thou ever be despised by thy false lord, nay, he shall know me for thy teacher, and that I grieved with shame that he robbed me of my handmaid."

12. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.515 : "The maiden [Medea] addresses Jason: ‘ ... There remains yet a direr task, believe me, at the huge tree of Mars [Ares] [the quelling of the mighty Drakon], a task which - ah, would that thou hadst so much faith in me and in Hecate, queen of the night, and in the power we sway!"

13. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7.352 : "She [Medea] prays to Hecate to send her now more potent spells and mightier powers, nor abides contented with the drugs she knew. Then she girds up her robe and takes forth a Caucasian herb, of potency sure beyond all others, sprung of the gore that dropped from the liver of Prometheus, and grass wind-nurtured, fostered and strengthened by that blood divine among snows and grisly frosts, when the Vulture rises from his feasting on the flesh and from his open beak bedews the cliffs. That flower knows not the languor of life, but stands, immortally fresh, against the thunderbolt, and in the midst of lightnings its leaves are green. Hecate first, plying a blade that Stygian springs hardened, tore forth the strong stalk from the rocks; then showed she the plant to her handmaid [Medea], who beneath the tenth shining of Phoebe’s [Selene the Moon’s] light reaps the harvest of the mountain-side and rages madly among all the gory relics of the god; fruitlessly doth he groan, beholding the face of the Colchian maid; then over all the mountain pain contracts his limbs, and all his fetters shake beneath her sickle [Prometheus suffers anguish when the plant sprung from his blood is gathered]. The Colchian [Medea] began to move through the dark night with sound of magic spells ... and when they came to the tall trees and the shade of the triple goddess [Hekate] ... so in the midnight shadows of the grove did they two [Jason & Medea] meet and draw nigh each other, awe-struck, like silent firs or motionless cypresses ... And already had she begun to take the Titanian herbs and Persean [Hekate's] potencies from her bosom … and forthwith with groans and tears she proffered the poisons to the youth [Jason]."

14. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica Book 3, (Trans by R. C. Seaton) : [210]…Medea then [they found] going from chamber to chamber in search of her sister, for Hera detained her within that day; but beforetime she was not wont to haunt the palace, but all day long was busied in Hecate's temple, since she herself was the priestess of the goddess. And when she saw them she cried aloud, and quickly Chalciope caught the sound; and her maids, throwing down at their feet their yarn and their thread, rushed forth all in a throng…

15. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica Book 3, (Trans by R. C. Seaton) : [471] “…then Argus addressed Jason with these words: "Son of Aeson, thou wilt despise the counsel which I will tell thee, but, though in evil plight, it is not fitting to forbear from the trial. Ere now thou hast heard me tell of a maiden that uses sorcery under the guidance of Hecate, Perses' daughter. If we could win her aid there will be no dread, methinks, of thy defeat in the contest; but terribly do I fear that my mother will not take this task upon her. Nevertheless I will go back again to entreat her, for a common destruction overhangs us all."

16. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4.45.1 : "She [Hekate] married Aeetes and bore two daughters, Kirke and Medea, and a son Aigialeus. Although Kirke also, it is said devoted herself to the devising of all kinds of drugs and discovered roots of all manner of natures and potencies such as are difficult to credit, yet, notwithstanding that she was taught by her mother Hekate about not a few drugs."

17. Ovid, Metamorphoses 14.369 : "Then Circe turned to prayers and incantations, and unknown chants to worship unknown gods, chants which she used to eclipse Luna’s (the Moon’s) pale face and veil her father’s [the Sun’s] orb in thirsty clouds. Now too the heavens are darkened as she sings; the earth breathes vapours ... They [Picus’ courtiers] changed on Circe (who by now had cleared the air and let the wind and sun disperse the mists) and charged her, rightly, with her guilt and claimed their king and threatened force and aimed their angry spears. She sprinkled round about her evil drugs and poisonous essences, and out of Erebos and Chaos called Nox (Night) and the Di Nocti (Gods of Night) and poured a prayer with long-drawn wailing cries to Hecate. The woods (wonder of wonders!) leapt away, a groan came from the ground, the bushes blanched, the spattered sward was soaked with gouts of blood, stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bark, black snakes swarmed on the soil and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated through the air. The woods (wonder of wonders!) leaps away, a groan came from the ground, the bushes blanched, the spattered sward was soaked with gouts of blood, stones brayed and bellowed, dogs began to bar, black snakes searmed on the solid and ghostly shapes of silent spirits floated through the air. Stunned by such magic sorcery, the group of courtiers stood aghast; and as they gazes, she touched their faces with her poisoned wand, and at its touch each took the magic form of some wild beast; none kept his proper shape."

VIII. Epithets

1. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.840 : "She [Medea] wished to drive to the splendid Temple of Hekate [in Kolkhis]; and while they [her handmaidens] were getting the carriage ready she took a magic ointment from her box. This salve was named after Prometheus. A man had only to smear it on his body, after propitiating the only-begotten Maiden [Koure mounogenes] [Hekate] with a midnight offering, to become invulnerable by sword or fire and for that day to surpass himself in strength and daring. It first appeared in a plant that sprang from the blood-like ichor of Prometheus in his torment, which the flesh-eating eagle had dropped on the spurs of Kaukasos... To make the ointment, Medea, clothed in black, in the gloom of night, had drawn off this juice in a Caspian shell after bathing in seven perennial streams and calling seven times on Brimo [Hekate], nurse of youth [kourotrophos], Brimo, night-wanderer of the underworld [nyktipolis khthonie], Queen of the dead [anassa eneroi]. The dark earth shook and rumbled underneath the Titan root when it was cut, and Prometheus himself groaned in the anguish of his soul."

2. Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica, III, 431-479 (Transl. Edward P. Coleridge) : " Why doth this sorrow come o'er me to my grief ? Whether he be the best or worst of heroes that is now to perish, let him die. Ah ! would that he might escape unhurt. Yea, let that even come to pass, O dread goddess, daughter of Perses let him escape death and return home. But if 'tis fated that he be slain by the oxen, let him learn ere his doom, that I at least exult not in his cruel fate." - Notes: 1”Περσηί”, another name of Hecate, the goddess to whom Medea as a sorceress naturally prays ; she was so called as being a daughter of Perses, or Perseus, though other legends declare her to have sprung from Zeus.”

3. Lycophron, Alexandra Vol.3 : [1174] O mother,1 O unhappy mother! thy fame, too, shall not be unknown, but the maiden daughter2 of Perseus, Triform Brimo, shall make thee her attendant, terrifying with thy baying in the night all mortals who worship not with torches the images of the Zerynthian queen of Strymon,3 appeasing the goddess of Pherae4 with sacrifice. And the island spur of Pachynus shall hold thine awful cenotaph,5 piled by the hands of thy master, prompted by dreams when thou hast gotten the rites of death in front of the streams of Helorus. He shall pour on the shore offerings for thee, unhappy one, fearing the anger of the three-necked goddess,6 for that he shall hurl the first stone at thy stoning and begin the dark sacrifice to Hades.” – “Notes: 1. Hecuba, who was turned into a dog and stoned to death. 2. Hecate, daughter of Asteria and Perses (Perseus) son of Crius and Eurybia. 3. Hecate. 4. In Thessaly. Hecate with torch appears on coins of Pherae (Head, H.N. 307 f.). 5. Cenotaph of Hecuba built in Sicily by Odysseus. 6. Hecate.”

4. Bacchylides, Fragment 1B (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) "Torch-bearing Hekate holy daughter of great-bosomed Nyx (Night)." 23. [B.40: Bl. 31] (Εκάτα δαδοφόρε, Νυκτός Μελανοκόλπου θύγατερ).


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