Dialogue on the Threshold

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Saturday, 21 September 2013

De daemonibus (3): species and habitats

[Thracian] Are there many species (γένη) of daemons, Marcus, I asked?
Many indeed,” he said, and of every shape and form, so that the air above us and around us is full of them, full too are the earth and the sea and the innermost (μυχαιτάτους), deepest places. [...] Altogether, he said, there are six species of daemons, but I do not know whether he was dividing them according to their habitats or because the demonic race as a whole takes corporeal form, and the hexade is [intrinsically] corporeal and earthly [...] In his barbarous native tongue, he named the first species the Leliurium (1), which means the igneous (διάπυρον). This species moves around in the air above us, because all species of demon are kept out of the regions around the moon, the same as the unhallowed are kept out of a holy sanctuary. The second species move around in the air surrounding us, which is why many call them aerial demons. The third species is the earthly. The fourth dwells in fresh and salt water, the fifth below the earth. The last species abhors the light and is barely sentient (μισοφαὲς καὶ δυσαίσθητον).

Michael Psellus, Dialogus de Daemonum Energeia seu Operatione (PG 122: 841b-845a)

trans. Alistair Ian Blyth

(1) Gilbert Gaulmin (Michaelis Pselli De Operatione daemonum Dialogus, 1615) conjectures that Psellus coined this word, which occurs nowhere else, by combining the Hebrew lel night and ur fire.

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