For the Greeks magic (mageia or goeteia) was a wide-ranging topic which involved spells and evil prayers (epoidai), curse tablets (katadesmoi), enhancing drugs and deadly poisons (pharmaka), amulets (periapta) and powerful love potions (philtra). The modern separation of magic, superstition, religion, science, and astrology was not so clear in the ancient world. This mysterious, all-encompassing art of magic was practised by both male and female specialised magicians who people sought out to help them with their daily lives and to overcome what they saw as obstacles to their happiness.
Practitioners of mageia, the magicians, the first of whom, to the Greeks at least, were the Magi (magoi) priests of Persia, were seen not only as wise holders of secrets but also as masters of such diverse fields as mathematics and chemistry. Associated with death, divination, and evil-doing magicians were, no doubt, feared, and their life on the fringes of the community meant that practitioners were often impoverished and reliant on handouts to survive.
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