An Eternal Curse upon the Reader of These Lines (with Apologies to M. Puig)*

In retribution for the ‘prying’ or ‘intrusive curiosity’ inherent in the reading of another’s words, the Argentine novelist Manuel Puig entitled a 1980 work ‘Eternal Curse on the Reader of these Pages.’

The same sentiment appears in Egyptian magic. A Coptic curse preserved in the British Museum (Oriental Ms. 5986) begins with an invocation for divine wrath directed not against its primary victims (who are later damned by name), but against the accidental discoverer:

God of heaven and earth! Whoever shall open this papyrus and read what is written in (it), may all those things written in it descend upon him. 1 A counterpart is provided by the Coptic Papyrus Lichaev, which concludes a specific curse with a similar generic warning:

Whoever opens this papyrus and reads it, what is written on it will come upon him, by order of the lord god.2 Such invocations of divine hostility have their origin well before Coptic [Orthodox] Christianity, in magical practices of Late Period Egypt that exploit the bond between the demonic and the divine.

The distinction between gods and demons in ancient Egypt is often tenuous at best. 3 The ‘trickster’ character of Seth is well-known, but his ambiguous qualities can be shared by other gods as well. In the famous New Kingdom tale of ‘The Contendings of Horus and Seth,’ the conflict is * This was the keynote lecture, presented June 27, 2003, for the first Egyptology symposium held in Greece, “Egyptian Theology and Demonology: Studies on the Boundaries between the Divine and Demonic in Egyptian Magic,” presented at The University of the Aegean, Rhodes. As the publication of the conference proceedings has been delayed by seven years, the text is made available here.  

Source http://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/eternal_curse.pdf

________________

* This was the keynote lecture, presented June 27, 2003, for the first Egyptology symposium held in Greece, “Egyptian Theology and Demonology: Studies on the Boundaries between the Divine and Demonic in Egyptian Magic,” presented at The University of the Aegean, Rhodes. As the publication of the conference proceedings has been delayed by seven years, the text is made available here.

Full text of Ritner’s speech can be fond  here-

 

http://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/eternal_curse.pdf

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About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
Quote | This entry was posted in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egyptian Curses, Colophones, Egypt-Ancient, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to An Eternal Curse upon the Reader of These Lines (with Apologies to M. Puig)*

  1. Pingback: Eternal Curse for the Thiever | The Seven Worlds

  2. Pingback: Eternal Curse for the Reader | The Seven Worlds

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