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So, the Dummies guides are a series of works. But the Loeb Classical Library is a series of editions, not of works. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist. I Agree This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and if not signed in for advertising. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms. Special attention is given to the religious history of regions and cities which illustrate the practical workings of these processes.

Related series Studies in the Cult of Yahweh. Brill's Scholars' List. Related places Roman Egypt. Related events Dipolieia. How do series work? Helpers cinaedus 70 , PhaedraB 26 , kiracle 5 , davidgn 4. Kykeon: Studies in Honour of H. Tran Tam Tinh. Symbolism of the sphere : a contribution to the history of earlier Greek philosophy by Otto Brendel. Psychanodia by Ioan P. The imperial cult in the Latin West: Studies in the ruler cult of the western provinces of the Roman Empire Etudes preliminaires aux religions orientales dans l'Empire romain by Duncan Fishwick.

Van Den Broek. Hellenic Religion and Christianization, C. Hellenic religion and Christianization, c. Van Straten. Studies in the cult of Yahweh. The final report on the texts is due to appear fairly soon. Cunliffe and P. AE The crude total was , of which 41 could be excluded for various reasons b, By excluding recently- or unpublished texts mainly Mainz, Anna Perenna and Uley , she constructed an effective corpus C2 of defixiones, which formed the basis of her linguistic research. It should however be said that references to the AE entry, esp.

A member of our research group in Zaragoza, C. Snchez Natalas, is currently working on a dissertation likewise focused on the Latin defixiones. There are a handful of Republican texts 21 ;56 the great majority however can be dated from mid-IIp to late IIIp, thus roughly following the overall epigraphic frequency-graph despite being only tangentially related to public epigraphic culture. Mrozek, propos de la rpartition chronologique des inscriptions latines dans le haut-Empire, Epigraphica 35 ; more or less the same article with the same title in Epigraphica 50 It is by now familiar, however, that epigraphic culture developed, and receded, according to different timetables in different provincesit is only one index of Romanisation: J.

Bodel, The Roman Epigraphic Habit, in idem ed. Bruun and J. Edmonson eds. Witteyer ed. The enclosure lay just off the main thoroughfare leading from the legionary fortress to the bridge over the Main. Texts of ten of them have already appeared in AE and from Blnsdorf a, b, c ; a further selection, with good colour photos, which we cannot afford, appeared in Blnsdorf A similar but shorter English account appeared as Blnsdorf b. This contribution appears without the editors suggested improvements; we have done our best with the English.

The final report on the tablets is due to appear in German shortly before the present volume is published: J. Blnsdorf ed. Mainzer Archologische Schriften 1 Mainz The complete absence of traces of Graeco-Egyptian magic helps confirm the consensus that the latter tradition was more or less completely unknown outside Egypt until, say, late IIp.

Second, their range and variety indicates that, just as at Bath and Uley, there was no set of pre-existing templates or formulae at the joint shrine of Isis and the Mater Magna, even if certain topoi recur in the longer texts. Two of the three surviving clay poppets had been thrown into a well; the third had been buried with a lead tablet Blnsdorf , 54 no. They seem to be a little later than the ensemble in the shaft behind the temple; see Witteyer , 43f.

Journal of Ancient History

There is reason to believe that originally many more such poppets were deposited in the temple area, but they have disintegrated. Alvar , 67f. Another text proves that the archigalli existed well before the official institution of the Archigallate Blnsdorf , 60 no. The main problem in any dispute over property or goods was to prove that one was the true owner the legal process was called vindicatio. With regard to goods and things, if one had neither made them oneself nor captured them in war, but acquired them e.

It would be even more difficult in cases of deposit i. Here vindices surely alludes to the principals belief that she was the rightful owner even though a court might well see the situation differently. Although Attis and the Mater Magna do figure in some texts, it seems very unlikely that the institution of cursing was brought to Mainz either by the priests or by the archi galli and bellonarii mentioned in four of them.

Those of the Mainz texts concerned with redressing wrongs, such as theft and fraud, also seem to be loosely based on the prayer for justice, but Blnsdorf is at pains to show that the debt is mainly a typological one, and that very few specific themes or details can successfully be explained with reference to models from the eastern Mediterranean. It is rather as if the prayer for justice had already become assimilated into Roman provincial culture, and given way to a vaguer, disseminated, model of how to instrumentalise the gods general sense of justice for ones own purposes.

This is consistent with Tomlins inference. On the composition of the population of Mainz, see K. Decker and W. Chamalires, LHospitalet-du-Larzac, both datable to Ip are magical documents points to the traditional importance of cursing rituals in this cultural area: C. Guyonvarch, Magie, medicine et divination chez les Celtes Paris f. Marco Simn, Magia literaria y prcticas mgicas en el mundo romano-cltico, in A. Prez Jimnez and G. Cruz Andreotti eds. Magos y prcticas mgicas en el mundo grecorromano Madrid and Malaga In such a context, of course, the other side never has anything to contribute, and is left mute and worsted, whatever the actual complexities of the case.

Such curses are thus in a sense similar to the world of real litigation they skirt or duck, with rhetorical skill far outweighing the establishment of facts in deciding the outcome or judgement. The second group of new texts reported here for the first time in English by Marina Piranomonte is that from the fountain of Anna Perenna and her Nymphs in the extreme north of the Campus Martius the modern district of Parioli.

A votive altar and two bases found in the revetment of the trough of the fountain have provided the first evidence of ludi publici connected with the shrine, perhaps held on the Ides of March, perhaps at some other point in the year. In addition to these offerings, the twenty-one defixiones and the twelve containers from the cistern contribute yet another aspect of instrumental religion, the use of divine power to harm ones enemies though it seems probable that one or two of the eight commented on here by J.

Blnsdorf are not curses, but appeals for aid. RIB , cf. Tomlin , 61 no. The final report is due to be published at about the same time as the present volume appears. A few of the lamps have a direct relation to the defixiones, as at Mainz, but such objects are a very common form of general votive and the majority, like the coins, should be considered as such. Just as at Mainz, the finds show that, even within the category inscribed texts, there was no single, widespread model of how to invoke divine power to harm ones enemies.

Roman Religious Traditions

At the level of technique, one might simply choose to prepare ones own lead-tablet by hammering it out cold, inscribing it and throwing it into the cistern accompanied by the appropriate ritual, as at Bath cf. Tomlin , ; one could make tiny lead plaques, inscribe them, and fit them into the nozzle of a lamp, as a metonym of the transfer of the message into the hands of the Nymphs; one could presentify rather than conjure the daemon envisaged by drawing an image of him or it ferrying the victims name away as in the PGrMag ; or one could commission an elaborate set of containers from a specialist practitioner, who in this case would prepare a poppet enclosed around a sliver of bone; one could go even further and enclose the poppet in a lead carapace, subject it to a dumbshow of being devoured by a snake, and drive nails through it, all as deictic acts to convey to the other world the principals wishes.

At the linguistic level, one could confine oneself simply to naming a name and perhaps distorting, or disturbing, it as a deictic model or prescription ; proceed to deploy certain declaratives, words of dedication, devotion, consignment; add key religious terms, rogo, petere, divinum; and finally compose a regular malign prayer that includes all these more elementary ideas.

These variations, like those of the Latinity, suggest that most of the texts, except the possible requests for help and at least some of the containers, represent, like those at Mainz, attempts by individuals to get even with enemies, those who have wronged or cheated them. The great interest of the find, though, is its late date. Although a considerable number of late-Roman pagan defixiones are now known, they tend to be focused on public spectacles, charioteering and venationes.

Sebastiano group, which was found in a tomb, and is exclusively the work of one or more Greek-speaking specialist practitioners drawing on Graeco-Egyptian models, provides in fact the closest parallel to some at least of the late-IVp defixiones from the Fountain, not merely in the possible invocation of Seth but also in. Given the logorrhoea of the Porta S. Sebastiano group, we should not make too much of this shift; the differences between the individual PGrMag formularies clearly show that images might play quite different roles in the praxis of different Graeco-Egyptian practitioners and in the preferences of collectors of recipes.

Nevertheless the shift at the nymphaeum away from inscribed text as the effective cursing mode in favour of alternatives seems suggestive in the wider context of the long retreat both from public epigraphic culture except at the level of the administration and from personal literacy. There is a further similarity between Porta Sebastiano and the defixiones from the Fountain, namely the complete absence of appeal to Christian formulae. One might be tempted to argue that the material from the Anna Perenna site, both coin-offerings and defixiones, provides fresh evidence for the basic paganism of the mass of the population, not subjected to the patronage pressures effective on great estates, long after much of the lite had declared itself Christian.

Mastrocinque, Le defixiones di Porta S. Alcuni aspetti culturali e istitutuzionali. Giornata di studio, Roma 13 dic. Wnsch estimated that there had originally been about 60 defixiones in this group, of which he was able to publish thirty-four , 5. Sporadic finds of Egyptian-made wine-amphorae at Rome, the latest from a VIIp context in the Crypta Balbi site also at Ostia, Naples and several other places attest to commercial links with Italy continuing into the late-Roman period: P. Sagu ed. Atti del Convegno in onore di John W.

Haynes, Roma maggio Florence at Clemente, Christianesimo e classi dirigenti prima e dopo Costantino, Mondo classico e cristianesimo: Atti del convegno Roma Rome Christian majority by with A. Demandt, Die Sptantike Munich pagan majority still in Kahlos , 36 has recently suggested that it is the undecided, her incerti, who were in the majority in The fact that extremely few Christian defixiones of this period are known from Rome may only mean that the type of text familiar from the Coptic evidence was simply not being written there.

His regular surveys in Britannia of new British epigraphical finds, together with his exemplary publication of the tablets from the shrine of Sulis Minerva at Bath, and his continuing work on the Uley texts, have given Roger Tomlin an unrivalled knowledge of the range of British curse-texts, above all the prayers for justice thefts. Here he takes the opportunity of exploring the parallels between the latter and a small group of Iberian texts, through the genre of which he is master, the pithy epigraphic commentary.

Apart from improving the readings, his contribution raises two important issues: are the similarities between these texts so marked as to imply specific, even identifiable, colporteurs, or have we merely to do with a wide-spread belief in the possibility of de-randomising divine justice and exploiting the gods sense of moral indignation here and now, in this specific case? As Versnel also. From that perspective, such texts are clearly also an aspect of Romanisation, cf. Feugre et al. Are we then to look for specific local conditions?

What might they look like? Mattingly for example sees in the British prayers for justice virtually all of which, insofar as they are prior to the constitutio Antoniniana, seem to be by non-citizens as evidence for a sharp divergence between military and civilian religious cultures granted that our impression of the latter is heavily slewed in favour of Hadrians Wall.

It seems possible, but perhaps now unlikely. Versnel, again reminding us that the work of revising the Corpus is never-ending. One of his main objectives here is to test whether some at least of the recent finds of curse-texts fit his category, which of course they do. Some of his texts overlap with Tomlins, which is a reasonable indication that the analysis works. At the same time more than half of the selected new texts fall into his mixed category, texts that occupy the border-area between defixiones and prayers for justice. This has prompted Versnel to tackle his second objective, which is to clarify his understanding both of the relation between straight defixiones and prayers for justice, and to develop a story about the historical emergence of the latter.

Instead of imagining. Miss Reynolds has criticised Tomlins thesis that many of the words in the Bath texts have a legal flavour , However, various parallels in their language to the Germanic law-codes of a century later, e. Pactus Legis Salicae, have been noted by J. Since there can be no question of a direct relationship, it seems likely that both sets of documents were. Moreover, his own later work, and suggestions by others, have contributed to refining the ideal-typical features of the prayer for justice, for example in stressing the role of legal or quasi-legal language, the model of the , the petition as a key institution in communicating with bureaucracy and contingent political authorities, the role of calculated or rhetorically-convincing emotion in the expression of these texts.

The idea of a continuum allows Versnel to move beyond his discussion of intermediate types in his main earlier discussion of these texts,78 to the point where he can offer a story about development: the initial prayers for justice in the mid-Hellenistic period developed out of the regular defixio but feature a strongly-marked inclination to self-justification and revenge for social embarrassment. The prayer proper however emerged somewhat later, from the context of templereligion: its model was probably not the defixio but the conditional self-curse, or perhaps grave-curses, which are likewise attempts to use religious means of preventing wickedness directed against ego.

The appearance of in-between texts during the Imperial period, such as many of the Mainz texts, is the result of attempting to lend the prayer additional rhetoricalor shall we say illocutionaryforce by employing features that belong to the ideal-type defixio. It is however not appropriate to offer a set of purely linguistic or textual differentia: the same, or very similar, language conceals quite different socio-religious aims, which ought to be the real object of our analyses. There is finally a third objective, which is to argue against the idea, which has been defended again recently, that objects and persons handed over to the addressee s are being vowed rather than ceded.

But, as Tomlin noted in the. Brodersen and A. Kropp eds. The Pragmatics of Execration Of the numerous types of magical action in the Roman world, we can define malign and aggressive magic as the attempt, within culturally-specific contexts, to channel divine power, in its morally-ambivalent mode, in the pursuit of egos immediate situational interests; the prayer for justice is basically the same effort, but addressed to a divinity overtly conceived or rather represented as a moral instance. If the basis of social order is the successful integration of individual situational interests into collective consensus, malign and aggressive magic can conveniently stand for its inverse as we have already noted , while prayers for justice, irrespective of their de facto aims, make an effort to slip under the wire of integration.

Although the individual who has recourse to malign or aggressive magic always has a personal justification or rationalisation of his or her choice the opponents judicial trickery, faithless husband or lover, love, fear of losing wagered money. The formulas used in Greek defixiones already attracted the attention of the Polish scholar E. Kagarow shortly after the Great War, and individual editors, notably Tomlin in relation to the Bath and Uley texts, have perforce occupied themselves with particular patterns. Stimulated by Tambiahs stress on the combination of language and practical action in magical contexts, and eager to avoid a purely symbolic approach to magical utterance,81 Amina Kropp suggests the application of Searles.

Kagarow, Griechische Fluchtafeln. Eos Supplementa 4 Lwow and Paris ; Tomlin , Tambiahs main explicanda however were Malinowskian coral garden magic and medical magic: the rite consists in persuasively transferring the properties of the desired and desirable.

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Execration was not part of his agenda. Her starting-point therefore is that instead of concentrating on what appears on the tabletthe utterancewe should regard it as simply an aspect of a wider communicative event, the ritual, to which overt allusion may or may not be made. This allows her to make further distinctions that have not hitherto been generally made, for example between the act of binding or piercing and that of committing or transferring the target to the implicit or explicit addressee s.

Kropp argues that the manipulation formula functions ex opere operato, whereas the committal is normally to an addressee, who is then responsible for fulfilling the curse. In either case, the tablet is to be understood as a metaphor for the target; the psychological advantage of committal is that responsibility for the event is devolved onto the divine sphere. Her main interest however is in the manipulation formula, which she treats as a declarative which in pragma-linguistic terms effect changes in status. Searle himself has always left religious declaratives carefully alone; Kropp suggests that we need a new subclass of declaratives to cover curses of this kind, which she proposes to call transformatives, utterances that lose their message character and themselves cause changes i.

Her model here is the acknowledged autonomy of the evil eye, which is the ideal-type of unmediated magical communication. Kropp apparently sees her transformatives as covering the entire class of curses, and sees no fundamental difference here between prayers for justice and defixiones. The prayer or complaint form is merely a different legitimation-strategy.

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It is implicit in Tambiahs performative account that magical utterance is simply one form of religious utterance, which is in turn simply. Her paper is in effect an English summary of her thesis, Kropp b. In Attic curses of the fourth century BCE one of the models for effective cursing was to simulate, virtually enact, through the manipulation of script, the reversal of the fortunesor even deathof the defictus or suspect. A similar device is found occasionally in defixiones and prayers for justice in the Roman world, a cluster of them in Germania, including Mainz.

Here however we find more than a symmetrical relation between text and malign wish. What seems to interest the authors of these texts about the idea of reversal is its possibilities as a figure of speech, hinting at, but not stating, the desire that the victim shall be injured or die. Picking up an idea put forward by Rudolf Egger in the s, they suggest that it was the range of meanings offered by words such as averse that facilitated this shift towards the idea of the destruction or even death of the target.

The clear implication is that effective curse-models were widely spread in the population, and that they were subject to imaginative variation given the needs of the case. There is no slavish adherence to a model, written or other. This conclusion is. In idem , Tambiah lists three senses in which he considers ritual performative: as conventional acts, as intensified communication, and as configurational patterning; cf. Deremetz, La prire en reprsentation Rome. De Mauss la pragmatique contemporaine, RHR Note also K. Crook and P. Harland eds. Essays in Honour of S. New Testament Monographs 18 Sheffield In some ways, this rhetorical approach seems to us perhaps a more promising way forward than the idea of performativity, picking up as it does Tambiahs suggestion that magic typically exploits the expressive properties of language, notably metaphor and metonymy , As historians, we are naturally rather more interested in another sense of pragmatics, namely the social locations and uses of execration not sanctioned by a recognized social instance.

There are several different types of questions here. Is there any particular rationale to be found in the genres of defixiones, apparently beginning with the judicial type, much later extending to competitive sports? Given the existence of a wide-ranging discourse of magical power in antiquity, why is the range so limited?

Why did aggressive i. How far did the democratic structure and ideology of classical Athenian society favour resort to judicial execration? Why is resort to judicial execration comparatively rare in the Roman Empire? Are defixiones typically employed by the comparatively powerless in a given social situation? To what extent is recourse to magical action in this area a means of accommodation to socio-political change? The reticence of our texts is of course a massive hindrance to answering such questions; but that should stimulate the search for new strategies rather than cause us to abandon the attempt to historicise.

The most promising method is no doubt to focus on the place of magical action in a specific periods, places or discourses, such as classical Athens, the early Principate, early Christian debates and views, or fourth-century Syria. The essential preliminary to such enquiries, however, remains the traditional broadly-based epigraphic commentary of the type offered. Faraone, Aeschylus Eum. Marco Simn. On their publication in , it was immediately recognised that they mention members of the Flavian senatorial aristocracy. Their interest however is not matched by their clarity; many different scenarios have been proposed for them.

Marco Simn, who has looked once again at the originals and here publishes fresh photographs of them, not only offers a detailed new commentary where he supports the suggestions made by the editors of IRC 3 about the interests of the principal but provides a range of contexts, proximate and more distant in time and space, for this attempt to resist constituted authorityconcretely, to halt Roman interference, in the aftermath of the Vespasianic grant of the ius Latii, in what we may take to be traditional, or at any rate, extant, property rgimes around Emporiae.

The reported use of malign magic against members of the lite of course slips straight into a trope the vulnerability of the eminent to envy , and as such may be exploited in a variety of ways: in relation to the deaths of monarchs, for example, it mainly aids in resolving the enduring tension between the frailty of the person and the political necessity of the institution; but it may also confirm the desirability of institutionalised privilege by insinuating that only the Great suffer Tragedy; or underscore the malignity of Fate, thus uncoupling God from the responsibility; and many other ends.

The death of Germanicus is a case in point: reports of human bones and tablets provide far more than a mere explanation of a death. But other uses of malign magic against constituted authority invite us to reflect, as Marco Simn does, on the evidence they provide of conflicting perceptions of the rights and wrongs of the same events: both acts of malign magic and accusations emerge not from malignitythough the targets vigorously claim as muchas from conflicts over interests.

A failure to recognise the inherently conflictual background of the mainly wretched evidence we dispose of what after all does a defixio tell us that is of any great importance? That litigation-defixiones were intended to shut opponents mouths in court is obvious; such an aim cannot be fulfilled retrospectively. Emphasising pre-emptive simply ignores the realities of in this case Athenian legal institutions, the absence of qualified presiding judges, the central roles of fabrication of evidence and misrepresentation by and , favour and influence, but also the entire narrative of preceding events, the complex of actions, arguments and justifications that preceded the deposition of any particular defixio that we happen to be looking at, which may well have continued over years, and that we know all too well from the legal speeches of Lysias, Demosthenes, Isaeus and the others.

We can only guess what that might have been at Emporiae, but these three small tablets imply a long struggle between a complex of different interests which Roman authority is on the point of resolvingor has already resolvedwhere justice, at any rate in the eyes of one person, or one group-interest, has not been done, and indeed never could be, either because the issues were too intractable to be resolved by a merely human decision or because it was suspected that the others had used more, or higher gifts and bribery of witnesses to obtain a favourable judgement.

The rationality of judicial magic is invariably a function of the quality of the justice available within the judicial system and the degree of con-. On the limitations of the evidence provided by defixiones, cf. Eidinow , Protective, eudaemonic and apotropaic Although in the modern literature on Graeco- Roman magical practice it is malign and aggressive magic and prayers for justice, for which there is relatively interesting epigraphic evidence, that have attracted most attention, by far the commonest types of magical practice in antiquity were in a broad sense protective: medical, apotropaic or eudaemonic.

Evidence for such practice is widely scattered over a variety of genres, but has suffered from the excessive interest of an older generation of writers on folklore and superstition, for whom such material served a variety of largely discredited ideological interests. Nevertheless there has been considerable advance in two areas, the study of amuletic gems, for which a fair number of well-prepared museum catalogues are now available,91 and the collection of phylacteries inscribed on precious metal and bronze. SMA; A. Derchain, Les intailles magiques grco-gyptiennes.

The American Numismatic Society 24 ; H. Zwierlein-Diehl, Magische Amulette u. Gemmen des Instituts fr Altertumskunde der Universitt zu Kln. Papyrologica Coloniensia 20 Opladen ; S. Michel, Die magischen Gemmen im Britischen Museum eds. Studien aus dem Warburg-Haus 7 Berlin ; Mastrocinque Kotanskys commentaries are invariably illuminating; it is very much to be regretted that the second part, phylacteries on lead, stone and papyrus, has never appeared.

Palmieri ed. Gaide, Usages de la parole dans les. Most of the contributions to the volume concentrate on literary or epigraphic evidence; we therefore welcomed the offer by Silvia Alfay to contribute a piece on the practice, relatively widespread in the western Empire from IIIp, of depositing iron nails in tombs, often, though not predominantly, childrens or infants tombs.

Most scholars, then and now, prefer the first explanation, since the s the second has become fairly fashionable. Alfays point however is that in most cases, apart from the extreme of violence against the corpse, driving nails through parts of the skeleton, there is no satisfactory means of deciding between them, so that it is preferable to see them as complementary, the one not excluding the other; and allowing that there may well have been several other local funerary practices involving nails that, for lack of evidence and satisfactory interpretative hypotheses, have been quietly forgotten.

The model we use ought to start from the assumption that such rituals were grounded in a variety of ideas, fears and hopes relating to the deceased. It must however be said that there is little Graeco-Roman evidence in favour of the idea that the dead might be in need of protection in the tomb; it seems to be one of those assumptions brought into the discussion by armchair anthropologists; the overwhelmingly dominant tone of Greek and Latin epitaphs is that nothing can affect the dead.

The most important implications of Alfays paper however are, first, that our appreciation of such practices is extremely selective, conditioned by apriorisms, with numerous tricky cases simply bracketed out or elided; second, that in the absence of explicit and clearly relevant textual evidence, even consciously symbolic archaeology rapidly comes up against its interpretative limits; and third, that local practice and rationalisation.

Cottier ed. Another form of protective magic widespread in the archaeological record is the amulet. Generally speaking, classical archaeologists have been inclined to treat engraved gems intaglios , especially those set in finger-rings, primarily in utilitarian terms, as seals. These are the survivors of a large ancient literature, mainly in Greek, but also in Latin, most familiar to us through Plinys HN Bk 37, that described the marvellous properties, medicinal and magical, of precious and semi-precious stones.

Stones, we might say, can be seen as a contested frontier between 94 Gems and finger rings: cf. Boardman and M. Zazoff, Die antiken Gemmen Munich ; J. Henig and A. Nagy, Daktylios pharmakites. Csepregi-Vardabasso eds. The surviving texts of the Greek lithic writers are collected by R. Halleux and J. Schamp, Les lapidaires grecques Coll. Bud Paris , repr. It is of course the colours, markings and light-textures of precious and semi-precious stones that grant them this frontier-role; working from the marvellous powers of the magnet and the coral, acknowledged by all, the authors of the Lapidary tradition sought to integrate stones into the more familiar world of plant and animal remedies.

In this effort, some writers drew heavily upon the abnu ikinu tradition, the Babylonian lapidaries, which became available in Greek with the opening up of Mesopotamia to Greek culture in the Seleucid period. It was along this faultline, between traditional Graeco-Roman ideas of useful stones, and the Magian tradition, that Pliny, and no doubt many others, marked the difference between sound medical lore and magic.

The argument was thus not about superstition, but about admissible or entertainable degrees of the marvellous: are there limits to the transformations that Nature can achieve? Beyond that, the lithic tradition is an excellent example of the type of Hellenistic-Roman didactic erudition to which Mario Vegetti has drawn attention, intended primarily for the instruction and entertainment of a class of leisured readers rather than to provide practical, usable information. Not only do the. Vegetti, La scienza ellenistica: problemi di epistemologia storica, in G. Giannantoni and M.

Vegetti, La scienza ellenistica. Collana Elenchos 9 Pavia ; cf. Pecere and Stramaglia On occultism, A. La Rvlation dHerms Trismgiste, 1: lastrologie et les sciences occultes2 Paris , repr. Knig and T. Whitmarsh eds. Such considerations also apply to apparently or overtly practical collections of occultic material such as the magical papyri.

Amulets are theoretically interesting because they seem to offer not merely a means of escaping calamities but also a long-term promise of well-being, what we might call eudaemonic magic. Investment in an expensive gem attracts divine benevolence in special measure. The key move surely lay in the claim that ritual praxis could confer a special status on the amulet. The author, C. Verius Sedatus, clearly was a man of some pretension: not only was he at the very least a Junian Latin, and probably a full Roman citizen, as early as ca.

His repetition of the prayer in each cardinal direction if there were indeed four such objects, four times in each cardinal direction, sixteen times in all , his use of exotic nomina magica, and his appeal to the authority bestowed upon him by the fact that he is their custos, their rightful keeper, introduces a hint of the exotic into what, had it appeared in a literary text, would have been considered a standard, indeed classic, religious context, the petition-prayer.

Given that we lack a broader basis for interpretation, two quite different contexts suggest themselves, between which it is not easy to choose. One line of argument stresses the likelihood that Sedatus was a local man of Gallic descent, as well as the vaguely Gaulish phonetics of his names, and looks to the Gallo-Roman background for an interpretative context. The interest of this possibility is that, like the category of judicial prayers, it stresses the existence of many intermediate positions on the continuum between what everyone in Graeco-Roman society in the widest sense recognised as religious behaviour, and what everyone recognised as magic; and also insists on the imaginative possibilities within acceptable religious behaviour opened up by the availability in the cultural context of a variety of means of power.

Between these options it is admittedly difficult to decide. However, if the date assigned by the French team to the script is correct, it would be extremely surprising if the requisite elements of the Graeco-Egyptian tradition had already reached Gallia Lugdunensis. The functioning of amuletic gems is one of the issues raised by Jaime Alvar. He argues that we might re-contextualise the rather small number of surviving Mithraic gems in terms of competition between professional magical practitioners and mystery-cults over the offer of what Weber calls salvation-goods.

Whereas the mysteries offered intra- and extra-mundane salvation in return for longer-term commitment based on ethical virtue, dealers in amulets offered their clients 99 Cf. Charlier, La pratique de lcriture dans les tuileries gallo-romaines, in M. Feugre and P. Lambert eds. Marco Simn on Gallic magical traditions mediated in Graeco-Roman sources. Its contexts would have been assembled not earlier than the late first or early second century CE. It may be that much the same holds good for the contents of PGrMag IV, the source of the four-quarters texts that offer the best parallel to Sedatus turibulum, although the version we have is dated palaeographically to IVp.

This makes any direct, or even indirect, Egyptian influence rather implausible; moreover, the earliest surviving independent texts in the Graeco-Egyptian tradition, dating from IaIp, are far less sophisticated than the great majority of the recipes in the Anastasi collection see also Brashear , f. Graf, The Magicians Initiation, Helios 21 at Alvar , This possibility cannot perhaps be dismissed out of hand; given the tiny numbers of amulets in question, however, it can at best be considered a marginal phenomenon, for which other explanations have anyway been offered.

In the context of the wider aims of the volume, this discussion serves to remind us per contrarium of the central role played by divinatory magic in Pliny the Elders conception of the topic, in the public discourse of magic, and surely also in professional practice, a centrality not adequately reflected in any of the other contributions.

The next two papers concern the interface in the late-Roman world between pagan and Christian modes of protective magic. Two Spanish contributions focus on the well-known Visigothic texts on slate. The general familiarity with magical practice in antiquity, as many have pointed out, made it inevitable that, despite the opposition of Christian bishops and councils to such practice which their highly partial representation of paganism vigorously distorted , situations of need would be met by traditionally-appropriate methods.

Given the official dichotomy between God and the Devil and his servants, and the pagan tradition of protective magic by means of written amulets, such recourse was primarily of the latter type: Christian phylacteries, amulets, talismans abound. In his learned contribution, which is actually a translation and revision of an article that appeared in Spanish in , F. Fernndez Nieto discusses a particular type of amuletic or apotropaic text, against meteorological threats to agrarian prosperity, above all hail ad grandinem.

Asturias, he examines seven parallel inscriptions, in Greek and Latin, all but one Christian, an analogous document. Martens and G. Archeologie en Vlaanderen, Monogr. Kotansky ; on Jewish amuletic magic, which was heavily dependent upon pagan practice, see Bohak , ; ; It is probably mistaken to think of such texts, which are found over a relatively wide area of the Mediterranean, as belonging to a genre with specific rules; the surviving examples are rather living texts, deploying an optional variety of themes and techniques.

Typical features include the naming of powers, beneficent and maleficent; the intermingling of Christian and pagan agencies; the invocation of sacred objects, including the blood of martyrs; and the motif of dismissal of ills apopomp. In the tradition of the Catholic convert Erik Peterson , Fernndez Nieto is at pains to demonstrate the antiquity of this type of text, and its emergence out of pagan sacrificial rituals, stressing the existence in the classical period in places such as Kleonai in the Peloponnese of rituals against hail indeed of local priests with this function , the use of parts of apotropaic animals, such as seal- and hyena-skin, and the little information we possess about practitioners of weathermagic.

Emphasis upon continuity however comes at a price that some historians may consider rather high. Consideration of the temporal distribution of the texts suggests rather that they are a primarily Christian phenomenon, encouraged by the specific exemption of such ritual efforts from suspicion of magic.

The very fact that Kleonai and Methana became famous, indeed interesting, in the early Principate for their rituals against adverse meteorological phenomena indicates that by that time such practices had otherwise largely disappeared from public religion, whatever the case with private remedies. Moreover the very traditional model of magical action used by Fernndez Nieto impels him to treat what he identifies as the magical elements as primitive, smuggled into the Christian context and sustained by rural superstition. Christian either Kahlos , at Zinser ed. An analysis of the texts in rhetorical terms code-switching and meta-pragmatic strategies and discussion of the mechanisms of discontinuous transmission would also have been welcome.

For her part, Isabel Velzquez suggests that two factors facilitated the transformation of a pagan magical tradition into a Christian one. First, the efforts of the Church to extend its pastoral mission into the countryside, where the great bulk of the population resided, required a deliberate effort of simplification of Christian ideas, resulting in the unintended consequence that traditional rural superstitions were allowed to be effective even if not approved of by the Church.

This possibility is illustrated through a brief sixth-century tract, De correctione rusticorum by Martin of Braga, but something could have been said of the role of compulsory conversions in this context, or of the effects of the Christian trope that ordinary folk are by definition superstitiosi Rufinus, Hist. Second, the issue of vertical communication: the school-system, where ecclesiastical institutions had a virtual monopoly, taught literacy through snippets taken from the liturgy and the Bible, and so provided a fund of decontextualised but authoritative sacred material, simultaneously devotional and charged with power, that lent itself particularly to protective magical practice.

Wright ed. We might also think of the role of repeated readings at services, iterated psalms, and communally-sung hymns of doctrinal content: N. Horsfall, Statistics or States of Mind? Skemer is an exceptionally interesting investigation of a parallel phenomenon in the medieval Church; he can show, for example, that many of his amulets were written by members of the clergy. In early Protestant England, the physical force of the book as object was indistinguishable from the sacred power of its words: A. Devoted to the medieval Irish loricae cuirass , the paper by P.

Lambert provides a sort of valediction to the theme of protective magic. These texts, which are of greatly varying lengths and elaboration, were intended to provide the person who recited them with divine protection against harm, especially spiritual harm, and various temptations sent by the Devil. In this extravagant, sometimes virtuoso, employment of anaphora and lists they resemble, but outshine, earlier Christian phylacteries. Lambert can however find no trace of a genre of pagan phylacteries intended to provide a direct counter to the listing of body-parts, even though the latter is a common feature of ancient aggressive magic Versnel would say rather of the prayers for justice.

That being the case, we are forced to assume that there were specific conditions in the Celtic Christian world that led to the greater emphasis on the theme of magical attack there. At the same time however the possibility that the lorica did in fact develop out of the Christian amuleto-phylactery tradition, and so ultimately from its pagan predecessors, cannot be finally dismissed. If we are to argue this, however, it cannot be on the basis of specific content; the Irish loricae are best understood as a local elaboration of the widespread rhetorical technique of creating lists as a means of producing impressive performances.

It is as much the sheer use of repetition and the formal stylisation as the holy names invoked that generate the protective power of these texts; such repetition may suggest an ultimate origin in pagan defensive magical practice, but it is more likely to originate in a particular predilection in the Celtic monastic tradition for extended rhythmic liturgical performance. Here again the search for some specifically magical quality or model proves illusory.

It is naturally difficult to summarise the results of a diverse collection such as this. Not only did some contributors find it difficult to pose the question of specificity, so that their view of the matter is at best implicit, but any conceivable answer would need to be nuanced. Magic is in fact a good minor yardstick of the extent and limitations of cultural borrowing within the long Roman Empire from BCE. If we allow that the basis of specialist magical practice was innumerable, mainly illiterate, indigenous wise-folk, rhizotomists, diviners and healers, east and west, their practice is likely to have changed little over centuries, remaining bound to the plants and other substances available in the locality, and to the charm-repertoire and divinatory methods specific to the individual and his or her family tradition.

This quasi-professional practice was subtended by belief in the evil eye and by non-specialist practices available within the oral folk-culture of each locality. Its major instability however was its moral ambivalence: the claim to be able to intervene in such matters for good implied also the ability to intervene for ill. In relation to magic there can be no neutrality, only ambivalence, which is mediated by the relevant stock of gossip, rumours and historico-mythic narratives.

The rhetoric and forms of public religion are never more than a fraction of the story. To this we must add the role of writing in the creation of a complex metatradition. Already in the classical period in Greece, the demands of school medicine led to the emergence of a written herbalist tradition that expressly suppressed the incantatory element of rhizotomic practice. The Hellenistic discourse, itself a composite partly constructed out of mediated materials from the high cultures of the Near East, provided a multi-layered mythography of magic that provided a language within which some of the stresses of the collapsing Republic and emergent Principate could be expressed.

It thus formed an aspect of modernity. This language also selectively shaped the nature of the evidence advanced at trials and the expectations of judges, and so the terms of Senatus consulta and legal opinions, influenced gossip and rumour, and finally also conditioned the styles not only of defensive magic, amulets and phylacteries of all kinds, but also of active magic. There is nevertheless a major, indeed crucial, difference, so far as we can tell, between the Hellenistic discourse and the Roman imperial one, namely the central role played by the figure of the emperor in the articulation and social meaning of magic.

It was this shift that in. The introduction into the Roman world of the practice of writing curses on lead is poorly dated, but no one doubts that it was a derived from Hellenistic Greek models and b rapidly resonated among the non-Roman population of Central and Southern Italy.

Much the same can be said about prayers for justice, whose Greek models can be relatively closely located and specified. But under ancient conditions of communication, it is not so much the general technology as the reception that must interest us. Generally speaking, so far as we can tell, it was not written models with precise formulations that were disseminated, but loosely articulated ideas, tropes and themes, as at Mainz, which fed directly into local rhetorical strategies of cursing and selfhelp.

Until, and even long after, the geographically restricted advent of Graeco-Egyptian models of malign and protective magical practice in the late IIIp, written curses are locally diverse and variable in scope and ambition. In other words, they conform to the local diversity of the rhizotomic tradition, without being remotely connected to it. There is therefore no simple centre-periphery pattern to be traced here. The Oscan-language defixiones in fact provide a perfect metaphor for the reconstruction of Greek models in the West.

Much the same Note also the possibility that they have a still more remote origin in the NE: C. Faraone, B. Garnand, and C. Lpez-Ruiz, Micahs Mother Judg. JNES 64 Gaul IIp. Finds of such materials continue to be made, e. Claudius Similis from Billingford nr. Dereham, Norfolk, with the Latin partly written in Greek characters; the charakteres suggest that it may have been made in Colonia Agrippina, Germania Inferior: R. It is obvious that small objects such as phylacteries may have travelled long distances and thus be a poor index of the presence of practitioners able to compose in Greek.

They likewise seem to have been an originally Greek institution whose significance was inflected in accordance with local perceptions and requirements. In the LateRoman period, for example at the Fountain of Anna Perenna, we can likewise find fragments or shards of the by then widespread GraecoEgyptian tradition, such as the cock-headed anguipede, adapted and creatively misunderstood to fit local imaginative requirements. In other words, the general conclusion to be drawn regarding the specificity of magical practice in the Latin-speaking West is a form of the point made by Perea and Fernndez Nieto about living texts, which can be endlessly adapted to specific local circumstances.

The determinate context is always local. Future Prospects It is reported that in some 35 albinos, perhaps more, were killed in Tanzania in order to supply magical practitioners with limbs, organs, skin and hair for use in their medicines. Niche-exploitation, commodification and marketing are all at work here in the modernisation of traditional beliefs about albinos which held them to be evidence of a curse on the family , in the context of greatly increased competition for livelihoods in northern Tanzania.


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Prior to the colonial period, albinos in this area were routinely killed at birth; one name for them was zeru-zeru, ghosts. With the imposition of colonial rule this practice was forbidden, so their numbers greatly increased; one common explanation for them was then that the mother must have slept with a white man mzungu, a term now also applied to albinos. The population of the area round Lake Victoria has increased massively since independence, putting increased pressure on livelihoods. The ecological disaster created by the explosion of Nile perch numbers has led to a dramatic fall in catches also of the Nile perch itself.

The mining sector in northern. Such modern reports send the ancient historian a twofold message. On the one hand, except perhaps in the case of reported late-antique magical attacks on emperors and saints, we almost always lack the background knowledge that might enable us to understand ancient incidents in the way we can modern ones. What social changes and anxieties might lie behind the depositions at Mainz over a half-century, which were certainly far more numerous than the thirty-four surviving tablets?

Why Mater Magna and Attis? What might explain the highly variable incidence of charioteer-defixiones and similar texts? How did shrines like that of Aquae Sulis or Uley obtain such reputations? On the other, awareness of modern incidents and trends, such as the rise of witch-finding movements in sub-Saharan Africa in the context of post-colonialism, modernisation and impoverishment, may provide us with the parallels required to set up explanatory models. How far, and in what areas, does magical action represent an accommodation to, or exploitation of, social changes?

Ritual murder evokes Horaces Victims Complaint, an imagined scenario in which Canidia is about to use a boys body-parts for a potion to catch her faithless husband Epode 5 ; and even Ericthos scouring of sarcophagi for body-parts Lucan, BC 6. Although gold production is dominated by a Canadian firm, there are many independent gold miners; many others search for semi-precious tanzanite under equally adverse conditions. Explosions and deaths by suffocation are common, as are labour-unrest and even riots.

Brown , whose model is still broadly accepted by many scholars. But would it fit the Ampurias defixiones discussed by Marco Simn here Chap. Ambiguities of Reality and Superstition, in Smith and Knight , Such an approach has already been applied interestingly by Esther Eidinow to classical Greece Eidinow She has creatively aligned the questions posed to the Zeus-oracle at Dodona as assembled by A.

Christidis with the cursetablets, conceived as an index of the types of anxieties that prompted individuals to appeal to deities for specific assistance or intervention. Such appeals rely heavily on tacit compositional rules, such as the patterning of lists, but their generic distribution points to the existence of a number of neuralgic risk-points in Greek society. How far do these shift in the Roman world?

How are we to interpret the rise of magical measures against self-induced risk in competitive contexts or rather, we incline to think, of deep gaming in the Empire? Another tack would be to approach prayers for justice, which mainly concern theft, embezzlement or other claimed financial loss, in terms of conceptions of property, and legal regulation of loans, deposits and debts, in a very unevenly monetarised society; the relation between property and identity, property and honour, theft and humiliation; and the role of what is now called the endowment effect the psychological phenomenon whereby an item of property, merely by virtue of being ones own, acquires a subjective value far greater than its exchange or intrinsic value in legitimating the violent demands of the deity expressed in the prayers.

Conceptions of subjectively but also consensually legitimate versus illegitimate aggression are also relevant here cf. Goody Suggestive remarks about the place of revenge in Athenian society by Fiona McHardy could profitably be explored and nuanced in relation to local societies in the western Empire. Alvar Nuo. Scheidel et al. Their relation to institutionalised, regular, features of the legal system also needs investigation, as does their role in the maintenance of more abstract social goods such as trust. Finally, can any correlation be made between the frequency of recourse to malign and aggressive magic and empire-wide albeit regionally-differentiated negative factors such as the Antonine plague and its successors and the political, fiscal and economic troubles of the mid- third century?

There was no single discourse of magic in the Empire, just as a complex society of this type can sustain many different types of thinking. This distance gives the relevant, and highly diverse, texts the chance to establish their own types of authority in relation to magic or magics , and their own relationship to the audience. There are finally the primary documents themselves.

In the first place, the notion of document needs to be broadly applied: we need to consider, at least in principle, not merely the epigraphic texts but also the whole range of artefacts from archaeological sources. The inventory of at least the Latin defixiones has now been made available by Amina Kropp; part of our continuing project at Zaragoza is to construct a more extensive data-base that will include not only these.

Swain and M. Edwards eds. Bierl et al.

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Secondly, the existence of a searchable data-base of texts will allow further studies of the rhetorical strategies, generic constraints and implicit ethics of these documents, thus helping to narrow the ideological gap between document and literary text. The Editors Bibliography Alvar, J. RGRW Leyden.

Belayche, N. Palermo 2. Besnier, M. Rcents travaux sur les Defixionum Tabellae latines , RPh 44, Blnsdorf, J. Survivances et mtamorphoses des cultes orientaux dans lempire romain, in H. Duchne ed. Heinzmann and R. Wedenig eds. Akten des 2. Internationalen Kolloquiums, Klagenfurt Aus Forschung und Kunst 36 Klagenfurt Bohak, G.

Boudon, R. Le juste et le vrai: tudes sur lobjectivit des valeurs et de la connaissance Paris. Brashear, W. Brodersen, K. Brown, P. Carastro, M. La cit des mages.

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Moro eds. Eidinow, E. Faraone, C. Fgen, T. Garosi, R. Indagine sulla formazione del concetto di magia nella cultura romana, in P. Xella ed. Gluckman, A. Goody, E. Graf, F. Revised ed. Jeanneret, M. Kahlos, M. Debate and Dialogue: Christian and Pagan Cultures c. Kotansky, R. Kropp, A. Magische Sprachverwendung in vulgrlateinischen Fluchtafeln defixiones. ScriptOralia Tbingen. Marco Simn, F. La emergencia de la magia como sistema di alteridad en la Roma del siglo I d.

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