The Testament of Solomon, Part 14

You’d think that, after his conversation with Beelzeboul, Solomon would have gotten smart and realized the dangers he was in.  No such luck, unfortunately – after a quick break for prayer, he calls up another demon:

He was bearing his face on the air high above and the remaining part of his body was crawling along like a little snail.  Suddenly, he broke through a large contingent of soldiers, raised up a blustering cloud of dust from the earth, transported it upward, and hurled it against me many times…

After spitting on the ground (a traditional magical act) and sealing him with his handy demon-binding ring, Solomon quickly has this terrifying creature in hand.  Following the usual protocol, he asks it for its name.  The response?  Lix Tetrax.

These names are two of the six “Ephesian letters,” renowned throughout ancient Greece as providing protection and success at sporting contests to any who had them written down.  You can find out what the words were, and some passages from ancient works describing their effects, at this Bryn Mawr site.  It’s uncertain as to why these were associated with  the city of Ephesus in particular.  Sure, there was a temple of Artemis there that became one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and Acts 19:19 tells of a prodigious quantity of magical books being burnt by converted Christians, but it’s unknown whether Ephesus in and of itself had a more magical reputation than other regions.

But how’d we get from two names of power to the name of a demon?  McCown, in his article “The Ephesia Grammata in Popular Belief,” suggests that these names, seen as efficacious in and of themselves, were interpreted in popular belief as the names of actual beings who were being called upon.  This happens fairly often with magical names, especially ones with which a reader is not familiar.  In this case, the authors of the Testament – a book with an Egyptian background, most likely – seem not to have known the Greek magical tradition well enough to understand the original context of the words, thus creating a terrible demon out of them.

Next time – getting to know Lix Tetrax…

Published in: on December 28, 2007 at 1:51 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Testament of Solomon, Part 15 After meeting the demon Lix Tetrax, Solomon gets down to the business of figuring out what this newcomer can do.  Lix is ready with a […]

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