By John G. Gager

ISBN-10: 0195062264

ISBN-13: 9780195062267

ISBN-10: 0195134826

ISBN-13: 9780195134827

Within the historic Greco-Roman international, it used to be universal perform to curse or bind an enemy or rival by means of writing an incantation on a capsule and dedicating it to a god or spirit. those curses or binding spells, usually known as defixiones have been meant to deliver folks lower than the ability and regulate of these who commissioned them. greater than 1000 such texts, written among the fifth Century B.C.E. and the fifth Century C.E., were came across from North Africa to England, and from Syria to Spain. Extending into each element of historical life--athletic and theatrical competitions, judicial court cases, amorous affairs, company rivalries, and the restoration of stolen property--they make clear a brand new measurement of classical examine formerly inaccessible. the following, for the 1st time, those texts were translated into English with a considerable translator's creation revealing the cultural, social, and historic context for the texts. This e-book will curiosity historians, classicists, students of faith, and people occupied with historical magic.

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110 Or perhaps only those that fell under the rubric of homicide, those that called for the death of the target, were treated as illegal. m It is worth noting here that while pharmaka sometimes referred to poisonous potions, it was also used frequently in an extended way to designate spells and curses. Plato's proposed legislation against curse tablets, outlined in the Laws (see pp. 249-50), yields uncertain results on this point. Does his law mirror existing but unknown laws of his time or is he seeking to fill a void in current jurisprudence?

37. Some examples: PGM VII, lines 451-52 (in a recipe for an all-purpose defixio): "Write the Orphic formula, saying 'askei kai tasked . "; PGM LXX, line 12 (a spell to protect against punishments in the underworld): ASKEI KATASKEI ERON . . ). 38. See the intelligent discussion of F. Graf, "Prayer in Magic and Religious Ritual," in Magika, pp. 188-97. 34 Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World 39. The same point is made persuasively by Kotansky, "Incantations," pp. 109-10, and Faraone, "Context," pp.

101. 102. Here quoting M. Henig, Religion in Roman Britain (London, 1984), p. 145. " 103. Here quoting G. Webster, The British Celts and Their Gods under Rome (London, 1986), p. 136. 104. , pp. 101-2. A more elaborate and sophisticated version of the idea that "doing something" was better than doing nothing was developed by the late John Winkler in connection with love charms. 105. In his collected essays, C. Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology (New York, 1976), pp. 167-85. 106. Geza Roheim, "The Origins and Function of Magic," in Magic and Schizophrenia (Bloomington, 1955), p.

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Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World by John G. Gager


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