The Fraud of the Foregoing Practices; their Connection with Heresy.
These are the deeds of the magicians, [275] and innumerable other such (tricks) there are which work on the credulity of the dupes, by fair balanced words, and the appearance of plausible acts. And the heresiarchs, astonished at the art of these (sorcerers), have imitated them, partly by delivering their doctrines in secrecy and darkness, and partly by advancing (these tenets) as their own. For this reason, being desirous of warning the multitude, we have been the more painstaking, in order not to omit any expedient [276] practised by the magicians, for those who may be disposed to be deceived. We have been however drawn, not unreasonably, into a detail of some of the secret (mysteries) of the sorcerers, which are not very requisite, to be sure, in reference to the subject taken in hand; yet, for the purpose of guarding against the villanous and incoherent art of magicians, may be supposed useful. Since, therefore, as far as delineation is feasible, we have explained the opinions of all (speculators), exerting especial attention towards the elucidation of the opinions introduced as novelties by the heresiarchs; (opinions) which, as far as piety is concerned, are futile and spurious, and which are not, even among themselves, perhaps [277] deemed worthy of serious consideration. (Having pursued this course of inquiry), it seems expedient that, by means of a compendious discourse, we should recall to the (reader's) memory statements that have been previously made.


[275] The word magic, or magician, at its origin, had no sinister meaning, as being the science professed by the Magi, who were an exclusive religious sect of great antiquity in Persia, universally venerated for their mathematical skill and erudition generally. It was persons who practised wicked arts, and assumed the name of Magi, that brought the term into disrepute. The origin of magic has been ascribed to Zoroaster, and once devised, it made rapid progress; because, as Pliny reminds us, it includes three systems of the greatest influence among men--(1) the art of medicine, (2) religion, (3) divination. This corresponds with Agrippa's division of magic into (1) natural, (2) celestial, (3) ceremonial, or superstitious. This last has been also called "goetic" (full of imposture), and relates to the invocation of devils. This originated probably in Egypt, and quickly spread all over the world.

[276] Or, "topic discussed;" or, "not leave any place (subterfuge) for these," etc.

[277] Or "you will suppose."

chapter xli making a skull speak
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