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9. Some Historical Continuities in Lowland Maya Magical Speech Genres: Keying Shamanic Performance

Kerry M. Hull University Press of Colorado ePub


Keying Shamanic Performance


The Yucatecan Maya genre of u thanil literally means “the word of” but is perhaps better translated as “incantation” (Gubler 1996; Roys 1965). U thanil are often performed for the purposes of curing, although incantations related to other domains of life, such as fire drilling and hunting, also appear in the documentary record. Most of the known Colonial examples of this genre appear in the manuscript known as the Ritual of the Bacabs (Arzápalo Marín 1987; Roys 1965).1 The extant manuscript copy of the Ritual of the Bacabs dates to the late eighteenth century; however, some framing devices of the u thanil genre appear in Late Classic Maya hieroglyphic texts, predating these Colonial examples by a millennium. As such, the Ritual of the Bacabs is an important point of departure for identifying some historical continuities and discontinuities of lowland Maya magical speech genres. Although known Classic Maya hieroglyphic texts were neither the antecedents of, nor themselves composed as, incantations, I argue that some Classic period texts incorporate framing devices from the otherwise unwritten antecedents of u thanil to connect the activities of political elites to the medium of shamanic performance.

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Chapter One

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Phoenix thought of her as the barefooted walker. From the morning when she first loomed into view like an unpredicted planet, she set up fierce tides of desire in him.

On that morning the pressure inside Oregon City and inside his head seemed no greater than usual, no more conducive to visions. A blue wig dangled stylishly about his ears, facepaint disguised his features, and a portfolio of satellite film beneath one arm identified him as a man bound for the office. Chemmies regulated every bodily process that needed regulating. All his life was in order. But when Phoenix emerged from his apartment, ticking off the day’s plans in his mind (work, then breeze-tripping for lunch, electro-ball in the afternoon, and eros parlors in the evening), suddenly there she was, a barefooted woman pacing in the wrong direction on the pedbelt. Slap of naked flesh on the conveyor. By matching her stride to the speed of the belt she managed to stay at the same point in the corridor, just opposite his doorway. Bustling along, yet never stirring from her chosen spot, she reminded Phoenix of the conjoined whirl and stillness of a gyroscope.

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Book Nine

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


The Story of Achelous’ Duel for Deianira

When Theseus asked him why the groan, the gesture,

The mutilated forehead, the old river,

With unadorned and reed-crowned hair, made answer:

“A sorrowful story; for what loser tells

His battles with any pleasure? But I will tell you.

It was not so bad to lose as it was glorious

To have made the fight, and the greatness of the winner

Gives me some satisfaction. You have heard,

Perhaps, of Deianira, once most lovely,

The hope of many suitors, and I myself

Was one of them, and came to her father’s house:

Receive me as a son-in-law, I said,

And Hercules said that too, and all the others

Left it to us to settle. He began

By claiming Jove as father, did some bragging

About his labors, and some mission or other

His stepmother had set him. I was thinking

No god should yield to a mortal; Hercules

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4 The Anxiety of Vernacularization: Shem Tov ben Isaac ibn Ardutiel de Carrión’s Proverbios morales and Debate between the Pen and the Scissors

David A. Wacks Indiana University Press ePub

Diasporic communities construct their identity in different ways, and language choice plays a large role in determining the boundaries among, as well as the relationships with, the hostland, the homeland, and the diverse communities of the larger diaspora.1 We have seen how Sephardic writers mediated between the classical literary languages of the hostland (Arabic) and the homeland (Hebrew) and their participation in the development of a literary vernacular, especially at the court of Alfonso X of Castile-León. In this chapter I will address what happens when a Sephardic author steps into the literary limelight of the hostland, writing in the literary register of the vernacular that is common to both diasporic minority and dominant majority. Shem Tov ben Isaac Ardutiel (Sem Tob or Santób in Castilian) is a key figure in this discussion because he wrote significant original secular literary works in both Castilian and Hebrew. In this aspect he is perhaps unique in medieval Iberia, and the relationship between his Proverbios morales (Moral Proverbs; Proverbios hereafter) and Vikuah ha-‘et ve-ha-misparayim (Debate between the Pen and the Scissors; Debate hereafter) tells us much about the significance of language choice in diaspora.

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Hell as the Mirror Image of Paradise

Dante Alighieri Indiana University Press ePub

Hell as the Mirror Image of Paradise


The Divine Comedy is a circular poem. Hell only yields its intended message(s) when it is seen as a mirror image of Paradise, when it is understood in terms of what it is not. For Dante, Hell is the least important part of the poem—he would probably have been distressed to know how many people read only Hell. At the very least, Hell must be read within the context of the whole. I will attempt one such reading here in terms of the political or socio-political message of the poem.1 The political propaganda of the Comedy is an aspect which is often ignored by modern critics and readers, though it was obvious to Dante’s earliest commentators. The three large socio-political issues which were important in contemporary political theory—and which are not irrelevant now—are the relation of the individual to society, the relative advantages of smaller and larger political structures (city, kingdom, empire), and the conflict between the church and the secular state.

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