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Magic 1, Requirement 1

Discuss the importance of the action of the magico-religious function as it is seen within the context of general Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words)

The question of the importance of the "magico-religious" function within a certain IE society indicates a preconceived notion that there is indeed such a function. This question is not designed to argue that point, though.

Generally speaking, the first function of the Dumezilian Indo-European tripartation, the magico-religious function, serves as a source of wisdom and law within the culture it serves (Mallory, 132). Also, though, it serves a function of community-binding, either on the religious side as a way of creating communitas by bringing people together despite their differences (as in th case of the religious side of this function), or creating the same by bringing people together by exploiting the differences inherent in the community (as in the case of the magico side).

The magician, in nearly all Indo-European societies, is an outcast, one who is more feared than respected, and who tends to create social cohesion by existing as a force of chaos or a thief of limited good that the society cherishes. Despite this view, magicians are often used in an attempt to bring about social change (usually on a localized level, possibly even on a single person) by introducing a chaotic change into the system. This may be in the form of a love spell or weather magic, or defixiones meant to curse a particular person.

This position, while not unique to Indo-European societies, can best be seen by comparing the status of magicians in non-Indo-European societies, such as Egypt, where the magico-religious functions were tied together tightly. This is very different from the Greco-Roman conception of magician and priest in particular, who were very different people, and did not serve the same functions.


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