A tour of select topics in the lore of smelling: Between the physical senses and metaphysics

Ephraim Nissan, Abraham Ofir Shemesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers facets of olfaction in folklore and in the history of ideas, both religious and philosophical - in the latter case, relating olfaction to the intellect. Sections in this study include "Smelling in Relation to the Afterlife" (itemised from A to H), "The Souls of the Righteous Tested by Night, by Olfaction, by the Angel Surya" about a Zoharic passage, "Smelling Out, Affinal Souls, and Salutation" "Ideas about the Relation between Smell and the Intellective Faculties" (with subsections about the history of European thought, about Indian thought, and about Neoplatonism), men "Apuleius' Zombie Who Smelled Out Witches' Excreta", "Ascents to Heaven" (comprising "Supernatural Beings Trying to Prevent Ascent to Heaven" and "Enoch Reporting about Angels Who Smelled Out his Human Scent"), "Being Smelled Out as a Human in a Heavenly Ascent - by an Ogre: Jack and the Beanstalk", "From Tantalus to the Arabic Demon-Name tántal", and finally, "Joseph Kepplers 1884 Tantalus Cartoon", before the conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-204
Number of pages16
JournalRicerca Folklorica
Issue number74
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Afterlife
  • Apuleius
  • Ascents to Heaven
  • Enoch
  • Intellective Faculties
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Neoplatonism
  • Olfaction
  • Tantalus
  • Test of the righteous ones
  • Witches
  • Zohar
  • Zombies

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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