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στρίγλα). A witch; a sorceress. The word is derived from strix (στρίξ), “a screech-owl,” a creature believed by the ancients to suck the blood of young children (Plaut. Pseud. iii. 2, 31; Pliny , Pliny H. N. xi. 39Pliny H. N., 95). There are many passages in classical literature that show the belief in witches to have been widespread. The most famous of ancient witch-stories are those in Petronius 63, where night-hags carry off a young boy and leave a manikin in his place; and in the Metamorphoses of Apuleins (bk. i. ad init.), where is an extremely gruesome tale, of considerable length, put into the mouth of a commercial traveller whose friend Socrates had been bled to death by witches. Horace ( Sat. i. 8) relates the incantations of a number of sorceresses who dig up the bones of the dead in the cemetery on the Esquiline, and recall by their weird rites the famous scene in Macbeth. In the Fifth Epode is a still longer and very dramatic picture of witches burying a boy alive, so as to use his heart and liver in the preparation of magic potions. Cf. also Tibullus, i. 5; Ovid, Fast. vi. 133 foll.; and Fest. p. 314 Müll. The word Venefĭca (γυνὴ φαρμακίς) is also used of a witch; Saga (q. v.) means a fortune-teller, not necessarily malignant.

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Horace, Satires, 1.8
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 11.39
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 11.95
    • Ovid, Fasti, 6
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