The True Ūphōr (wp.t-rꜣ) of Urbicus

1 Introduction

Appended to another more specialized and rather complicated consecratory ritual (A Ring for Success, Favor and Victory), Greek Magical Papyrus XII contains a purely verbal universal rite of consecration, named an ūphōr. As Ian Moyer pointed out in his excellent article, “Miniaturization and the Opening of the Mouth in a Greek Magical Text (PGM XII.270–350)”, this word represents the Egyptian wp.t-rꜣ or “Opening of the Mouth”, which was in origin a much more complicated ritual used to give life to divine images (and mummies) “when making them, or to awaken them as part of the daily temple liturgy.” The ūphōr from the Greek Magical Papyri is “a small-scale version of the temple-based ritual adapted to the demands of Late Antique ritual specialists.” As we are told, there were also other, rivalling ūphōr rituals in circulation.

The versoin we have consists of two texts to be spoken, plus some framing material that praises the excellence and uniqueness of the consecration, in which any kind of statue, engraving or other image (generically called a mystērion) can be consecrated and animated (so to speak) through the infusion of pneuma, the all-pervading breath which, according to Stoic philosophy, gods and souls are made up of.

Note that this kind of consecration does not only need to be done once, but every time a statue is “activated”, be that as part of routine worship or for the purposes of more extraordinary rites. As Moyer notes, the first text to be spoken resembles a “spell” spoken every time an Egyptian priest would open the doors of a shrine to reveal the statue of a god. This was not part of the traditional wp.t-rꜣ itself, but might have led up to it. In the present form of the ūphōr, the extensive traditional wp.t-rꜣ is replaced synecdochically by what might be described as a quasi-hymnic litany or, as the Greek appropriately puts it, an invocation (epiklēsis), such as might have followed the opening of the shrine in the temple context. As the text claims, everything more is unnecessary prolixity.

A difficult feature of this so-called Beginning is who the “gods whom I have named and called upon” are, since in the ring-ritual proper, only one god was addressed, and the Beginning itself does not name any gods. Perhaps such names are to be inserted as appropriate to the situation? Or implied in the text as it stands? (Or the Beginning actually comes before the Invocation? But that is far-fetched.) Less charitably, we might suppose that the text as we have it is the product of an abbreviation that resulted in discontinuity.

2 Translation

(In this,) you have the consecration (teletē) of the greatest and divine operation. And this is the Ūphōr which Urbicus used.

In all brevity, (here) is written down the sacred Ūphōr, the true one, by which all sculptures (plasmata) and engravings (glyphai) and carved statues (xoana) are enlivened (lit. ‘kindled’). For this is the true one, and the other, extensive ones that are circulated are falsified and made up of pointless prolixity.

So keep this in secrecy as a great mystery (megalomystērion). Hide it, hide it!

The beginning is:

“The gates of Heaven have been opened, the gates of the Earth have been opened.
The path of the sea has been opened, the path of the rivers has been opened.
My spirit (pneuma) has been heard by all gods and daemons.
My spirit has been heard by the spirit of Heaven.
My spirit has been heard by the spirit upon the Earth (epigeion).
My spirit has been heard by the marine (thalassion) spirit.
My spirit has been heard by the riverine (potamion) spirit.
So, give spirit to this mystery I have prepared, you gods whom I have named and called upon, give breath to this mystery I have prepared.”

Hide, hide the true Ūphōr, which contains the truth in brevity.

Invocation of the Ūphōr:

“Ēi ieū Marīth
Ēi ieū Montheathi Mongith
Ēi ieū Khareōth Monkēb
Ēi ieū Sōkhū Sōrsōē
Ēi ieū Tiōtiō Ūiēr
Ēi ieū Kharōkhs Kharmiōth
Ēi ieū Sathimōūeēū
Ēi ieū Rairai Mourirai
Ēi ieū Amūn ēī Ūsiri
Ēi ieū Phirimnūn
Ēi ieū Anmorkhathi Ūēr
Ēi ieū Ankherephrenepsūphirinkh
Ēi ieū Orkhimorōipūgth
Ēi ieū Makhpsakhathanth
Ēi ieū Moroth!”