Today, the practice of magic is filled with mystery and intrigue... and a touch of the impossible. That wasn't always the case as the reception and reputation of magic and magicians has shifted throughout history. Let's explore the history of the magician and 7 historical facts you might not know.
1. The first mention of a magician dates back to an Egyptian papyrus from 2500 BCE. It talks about a magician named Dedi who decapitated animals and then replaced their heads to entertain the Pharaoh. He then delivers prophesies to the Pharaoh. Many early accounts of magicians involve presenting prophesies along with performing seemingly impossible feats.
2. Historian Seneca the Younger of Rome is the first to reliably document the performance of magic in 65 CE. He talks about the "cup and balls" trick in his writings.
3. From 400 to 1500 CE, the performance of magic becomes associated with the occult and falls into disrepute. Magic as entertainment could get one hanged or burned at the stake for being a witch or performing witchcraft.
4. In 1584, a man named Reginald Scot publishes a book called The Discoverie of Witchcraft. The book aims to persuade readers that magicians are not witches by revealing the mechanisms by which many magic tricks of the day were performed. This made him unpopular with magicians because exposing the methodology behind the tricks got them labeled as deceptive and charlatans. King James I ordered the book burned and very few original copies exist today.
5. The first magic theatre was opened in Paris in 1845 by Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. Robert-Houdin is considered the Father of Modern Magic. His theatre marked the first time people would come to a central place to see magic performed instead of it being performed at fairs and festivals by traveling magicians.
6. The most famous magician of all time is Harry Houdini. Houdini took his stage name from Robert-Houdin. He performed daring feats of escape that after his death would be classified as escapology. He remains the most well-known magician and escapologist of all time. Houdini died on Halloween of 1926 after battling peritonitis from a ruptured appendix. Even today, there is much dispute and mystery about the cause of his appendicitis and subsequent death.
7. The 20th century saw a resurgence of interest in magic performance, spurred on in large part by the notoriety of Harry Houdini. The general public began to accept and embrace the performance of magic tricks and feats once again, leading to our society's present-day love of all things mysterious and magical.
The history of the magician is filled with wild tales, accusations of witchcraft and the rise of escapology. We hope you enjoyed these 7 historical facts about magic and magicians throughout history through to modern day. The performance of magic has survived through the ages and inspires awe and delight for audiences today. Did you know that we have a great live magic show right here in Myrtle Beach? The Charles Bach Wonders! magic show is a unique blend of magic, illusion, dance and comedy that your whole family will love. Check out showtimes and order tickets today!