We have already established that certain doom is sent by the Gods and should be suffered through. But there is another kind of doom, sent not by the Gods, but by fellow men. And against this, one is absolutely encouraged to fight.
As human beings, our anger, envy and spite can result in what is known as the Evil Eye; a curse upon another usually transferred by a look. We might not even intend to harm the other person but we will, regardless. In ancient Hellas, this occurrence was as real as the sheep that grazed the fields and the slaves
that worked the house. Interestingly enough, the belief in the Evil Eye--or 'bad eye', as it's translated into Greek--is still upheld in modern Greece.
When you suddenly feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous or every muscle in your body starts hurting for no apparent reason, it is most likely that someone wished you ill, either consciously or subconsciously. It is then prudent to think back and find the exact moment the bad eye was given. It could be a compliment given, a present received or it could really be just a glance from across the street. Children and women are considered especially susceptible to the bad eye.
As for the givers of the bad eye; blue-eyed (or sometimes dark-eyed) people are considered a primary sources of the Evil Eye curse as well as old women. One way to prevent the curse from coming out is to spit on the ground three times after giving a compliment. That way, any jealousy or spite should never reach the person the compliment is paid upon. Back in ancient times, I assume there was actual spit involved but nowadays, it's customary to imitate the process of spitting and saying 'phtou' three times.
Although I have been unable to find a solid connection to this, I suspect the Evil Eye is linked to miasma
. It is a form of spiritual pollution and something that is expected to occur in day-to-day life. The giver of the bad eye is therefor not a bad person, although it may be proper xenia
to refrain from complimenting someone too much or to, at least, keep your eyes from lingering.
Miasma can occur through hubris and nemesis. Both also seem to be the primary causes of the transference of the bad eye. Hubris, in this instance, means presumptuous conduct while nemesis is the ill will or indignation (of the Gods or others) which such conduct arouses. Both definitions by Nilsson
There are ancient ways to test if you have been cursed by the bad eye. The primary method is to take a dish or cup and pour some water into it. Then, you drop a few drops of olive oil into the cup. If the oil floats, you are not cursed; you may simply have a stomach flu. But if the oil dissolves, you have been given the bad eye and you should cleanse yourself of it.
In modern day Greece, there are people--usually older women--who know the Christian prayers to recite. They will look something like this
"O Lord, our God, King of the ages, who holds all creation and is all powerful, Who made all things and wrought all things by a single command; who changed the seven-fold furnace and flame in Babylon into a cool rain and Who protected the three holy children unharmed; the physician and healer of our souls; a bulwark of all those who believe in You; we pray to You and we beseech You, remove and cast away every diabolical energy, every satanic assault and every attack, every harmful and wicked curiosity and the evil eye of the wicked and sinful persons from your sevant name ; and whatsoever has happened, either by beauty, or by courage or prosperity of jealousy or envy or by the evil eye, do You, O loving Master, stretch forth Your strong hand and Your mighty arm, and visit this, Your creation, and send to him an angel of peace, a strong guardian of soul and body, who will cast out and drive away every evil will and every poison and the evil eye of the envious and evil people; so that Your servant, who is guarded by You, may sing with praises; "thee
Lord is my help and I will not fear what man may do to me;" and again, "I shall not fear evil, for You are with me; for You are the Lord, my strength, the Prince of peace, and the Father of the age to come. Yea, O Lord, our God, save Your servant from every evil thing keeping him above all evil; by the intercessions of Your all-holy and glorious. Lady, Theotokos and all-virgin Mary, of the Archangels of light, and of all Your Saints. Amen."
Of course, the ancient practice looked a lot different. Artemis and (presumably) Hekate were prayed to, to remove the bad eye from the inflicted party. The oil-in-water test would still have been used. A common ancient practice seems to have been to spit on the middle finger and then rub the spit onto the forehead of the afflicted. This practice was mostly executed by elderly women upon infants.
Interestingly enough there is a Delphic Maxim that reads: 'Control the eye' (Οφθαλμοθ κρατει). While, in modern times, this would most likely be interpreted in terms of fidelity to your spouse, I would wager a fair amount that, in ancient Greece, this maxim was almost entirely linked to the bad eye and nemesis. By 'controlling your eye', you stopped yourself from checking if the grass was greener at the neighbor's house and, inadvertently, transferring your greed and/or envy upon them.
To this day, you can buy charms and amulets against the Evil Eye on every street corner in Greece. The blue disks reflect back the gaze and keep you safe. Blue is, and was, also considered a protective color. These eyes were found on pottery dating back at least two thousand years, showing that the belief is, indeed, very old.
The Evil Eye, may be just a myth but those practicing Hellenismos would be wise to heed its warning, regardless. As we operate in a system that believes in the power of the bad eye, it might be prudent to keep your eyes to the ground when you feel the green-eyed monster come upon you. And if you suddenly feel ill, don't hesitate to whip out the olive oil.