Read e-book online Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World PDF

By John G. Gager

ISBN-10: 0195062264

ISBN-13: 9780195062267

Within the historic Greco-Roman international, it used to be universal perform to curse or bind an enemy or rival via writing an incantation on a capsule and dedicating it to a god or spirit. those curses or binding spells, in most cases referred to as defixiones have been meant to carry folks below the facility and keep watch over 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 found from North Africa to England, and from Syria to Spain. Extending into each element of historic life--athletic and theatrical competitions, judicial complaints, amorous affairs, company rivalries, and the restoration of stolen property--they make clear a brand new measurement of classical research 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 old context for the texts. This publication will curiosity historians, classicists, students of faith, and people fascinated by historical magic.

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Extra resources for Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World

Example text

Fourth, to return briefly to the jilted Simaetha, she does not limit her countermeasures to rituals and spells but goes down to the gymnasium to confront her faithless lover face-to-face. Love spells in particular present a strong case for supposing that the use of a defixio was but one strategy among several for achieving one's goal. 97 If this more public aspect of commissioning and depositing defixiones is at all true to reality, we will need to revise our thinking about whether and how they worked.

Mercer, given already in 1915, that the malediction in Babylonian and Assyrian times was a highly developed legal and religious ceremony, universally practiced and respected. It not only figured in ceremonies of great occasions, but also penetrated into the everyday life of the people. 130 If ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian cultures provide the background for many aspects of later Mediterranean curse tablets and binding spells, we must not neglect the distinctive developments of this later period.

3. 19. DTA, nos. 105, 106, 107. 20. Tomlin, p. 81. 21. " See Tomlin, p. 100. 22. See pp. 249-50. 23. See pp. 158-59. 24. Jordan, "Agora," p. 210. ) who worked in buildings close to the site (a well in front of the Middle Stoa) where the defixiones were discovered. For Jewish amulets and spells, Michael Swartz has reached similar conclusions. He argues that the so-called magical materials from the Cairo Geniza were copied out by the same hands that produced other, more "secular" or public documents for the Jewish community; see "Scribal Magic and its Rhetoric: Formal Patterns in Medieval Hebrew and Aramaic Incantation Texts from the Cairo Geniza," HTR 83 (1990): 163-80.

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

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