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

By John G. Gager

Within the historical Greco-Roman international, it was once universal perform to curse or bind an enemy or rival via writing an incantation on a pill and dedicating it to a god or spirit. those curses or binding spells, normally known as defixiones have been meant to convey people less than the ability and keep an eye on of these who commissioned them. greater than one thousand such texts, written among the fifth Century B.C.E. and the fifth Century C.E., were stumbled on from North Africa to England, and from Syria to Spain. Extending into each point of historical life--athletic and theatrical competitions, judicial court cases, amorous affairs, enterprise rivalries, and the restoration of stolen property--they make clear a brand new measurement of classical research formerly inaccessible. right here, for the 1st time, those texts were translated into English with a considerable translator's advent revealing the cultural, social, and old context for the texts. This e-book will curiosity historians, classicists, students of faith, and people all in favour of historic magic.

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Like the related question of who made the inscriptions on the tablets, this one concerns and shapes our understanding of the total process. Unfortunately, there is little direct evidence to suggest an answer one way or another. In some cases, the depositing surely required no special skill—as in dropping the tablet into a well or spring—and we can well imagine the client carrying out the task alone. But in other cases, involving defixiones placed in graves or buried at the starting gates of race courses, the likelihood is much greater that scribes or magoi, or their assistants, undertook this task as part of their service to the client.

Perhaps the answer is that their role changed over time and according to local beliefs. In any case, the gods were always involved in one way or the other. 94 In thinking about how tablets were deposited, we need also to ask whether it was the client or the scribe or magos who carried out the physical act of deposition. Like the related question of who made the inscriptions on the tablets, this one concerns and shapes our understanding of the total process. Unfortunately, there is little direct evidence to suggest an answer one way or another.

63. Again, see Tomlin, p. 70. 64. See Faraone, "Context," p. 4. 65. In general, see Kagarow, Fluchtafeln, pp. 28-49; Tomlin, pp. 63-74; and Faraone, "Context," pp. 4-10. 66. Kagarow, Fluchtafeln, pp. 28-34, shows the many possible combinations of the basic forms. 67. The notion of performative utterances and persuasive analogies has been developed most recently by Stanley J. Tambiah in his essay, "Form and Meaning of Magical Acts: A Point of View," in Modes of Thought: Essays on Thinking in Western and Non-Western Societies, ed.

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