William Godwin: Erichtho, from `Lives of the Necromancers´/ John Hamilton Mortimer (detail)

Frank T. Zumbachs Mysterious World

Lucan, in his Pharsalia, 115 takes occasion, immediately before the battle which was to decide the fate of the Roman world, to introduce Sextus, the younger son of Pompey, as impatient to enquire, even by the most sacrilegious means, into the important events which are immediately impending. He is encouraged in the attempt by the reflection, that the soil upon which they are now standing, Thessaly, had been notorious for ages as the noxious and unwholesome seat of sorcery and witchcraft. The poet therefore embraces this occasion to expatiate on the various modes in which this detested art was considered as displaying itself. And, however he may have been ambitious to seize this opportunity to display the wealth of his imagination, the whole does not fail to be curious, as an exhibition of the system of magical power so far as the matter in hand is concerned.

The soil of…

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