From Daimones to Demons: Exorcisms and Cultural Constructions of the Demonic in Late Antique Egypt
Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
History and American Studies
Department Chair or Program Director
Major or Concentration
Christian conceptions of demonic forces and possession in Late Antique Egypt were heavily shaped by pre-existing Greek, Egyptian, and Jewish traditions. The syncretic nature of Christianization facilitated an integration of local traditions with new beliefs. A process of demonization occurred as pre-existing views of daimones from the Underworld were transformed from morally ambiguous beings into inherently evil figures. Demons and exorcism rituals served important anthropological functions as they revealed the underlying social conflicts that arose as Christianity spread and changed earlier traditions. This study focuses on magical texts, amulets, and early Christian literature to analyze the effects of Christianization on Egyptian cultural practices and beliefs regarding demons and possession. Demonic entities came to symbolize the cultural “Other,” while exorcisms acted as a ritual performance of these deep-seated tensions and became a form of ritual power over the “Other.”
Gulbransen, Madeleine, "From Daimones to Demons: Exorcisms and Cultural Constructions of the Demonic in Late Antique Egypt" (2023). Student Research Submissions. 521.