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date: 02 December 2022



  • H. S. Versnel


In classical Greek the term ἔκστασις may refer to any situation in which (part of) the mind or body is removed from its normal place or function. It is used for bodily displacements, but also for abnormal conditions of the mind such as madness, unconsciousness, or ‘being beside oneself’. In the Hellenistic and later periods the notion is influenced by the Platonic concept of ‘divine madness’, a state of inspired possession distinct from lower forms of madness and as such providing insights into objective truth. Ekstasis now acquires the notion of a state of trance in which the soul, leaving the body, sees visions (Acts 10: 10; 22: 17). In later, especially Neoplatonist theory (Plotinus, Porphyry), ekstasis is the central condition for escape from restraints of either a bodily or a rational-intellectual nature and thus becomes the gateway to the union with the god (unio mystica); see dionysus.


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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