Erichtho’s Mouth: Persuasive Speaking, Sexuality and Magic

She neither prays to Gods Above nor begs divine

aid with suppliant hymn, nor does she know prophetic

entrails. Decking altars with flames funereal gives her

joy — so does incense filched from pyres already kindled.

The Gods Above grant her every evil the moment

she invokes Them — They fear to hear her second prayer.

~ description of Erichtho from Lucan’s Pharsalia, Book 6, lines 523-528 from Jane Wilson Joyce’s translation

The last few months I haven’t put a great deal into writing here because I have been so focused on finishing my thesis for my M.A.

It focuses on the classical witch Erichtho and her appearance in one of John Marston’s plays. I fell in love with the witch Erichtho in an independent study on the witch in literature last year.

It is finally officially done and published! If you’re curious, you can find it here: http://scholarworks.uno.edu/td/2020/

I had a lot of fun writing it and I hope I can keep working on this fascinating, powerful witch figure.

Sextus, (the Son of Pompey), applying to Erictho, to know the fate of the Battle of Pharsalia - From the British Museum Online Collection

Sextus, (the Son of Pompey), applying to Erictho, to know the fate of the Battle of Pharsalia – From the British Museum Online Collection

Abstract:

Since classical times, the witch has remained an eerie, powerful and foreboding figure in literature and drama. Often beautiful and alluring, like Circe, and just as often terrifying and aged, like Shakespeare’s Wyrd Sisters, the witch lives ever just outside the margins of polite society. In John Marston’s Sophonisba, or The Wonder of Women the witch’s ability to persuade through the use of language is Marston’s commentary on the power of poetry, theater and women’s speech in early modern Britain. Erichtho is the ultimate example of a terrifying woman who uses linguistic persuasion to change the course of nations. Throughout the play, the use of speech draws reader’s attention to the role of the mouth as an orifice of persuasion and to the power of speech. It is through Erichtho’s mouth that Marston truly highlights the power of subversive speech and the effects it has on its intended audience.

DeVoe, Lauren E., “Erichtho’s Mouth: Persuasive Speaking, Sexuality and Magic” (2015). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. Paper 2020. http://scholarworks.uno.edu/td/2020

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2 thoughts on “Erichtho’s Mouth: Persuasive Speaking, Sexuality and Magic

  1. Hey Lauren – Congrats on getting your degree! And what a fascinating dissertation. I cannot believe some fundy stood up at a university commencement and gave you grief. Closed minded a-hole! I love that commencement speech given at Dickinson, which btw is only about 40 miles away from here and i am distant friends with Professor Dan Cozort who is the main chair of religious studies there and has a small group of Tibetan Buddhist students. You can find his works at Amazon or on Dickinson’s website. I am going to reblog that speech for sure with an AMEN lol. Also i like the new design and name of your blog. Blessings.

  2. Reblogged this on Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge and commented:
    Hey Lauren – Congrats on getting your degree! And what a fascinating dissertation. I cannot believe some fundy stood up at a university commencement and gave you grief. Closed minded a-hole! I love that commencement speech given at Dickinson, which btw is only about 40 miles away from here and i am distant friends with Professor Dan Cozort who is the main chair of religious studies there and has a small group of Tibetan Buddhist students. You can find his works at Amazon or on Dickinson’s website. I am going to reblog that speech for sure with an AMEN lol. Also i like the new design and name of your blog. Blessings.

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