[2] Houlbrook, Ceri. There are also examples of instructions for making voodoo dolls. Eight of these are helpful additions, but the five examples of supporting imagery from early-modern artists (Figs. This focus is surprising when the recent ‘material turn’ in ancient magical studies has helped to develop a deeper understanding of the nature and scale of such practices. ‘Souls on the Banks of the Acheron’, by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1898, via Art History Project. Theoris, the Lemnian Witch. Ancient examples of magic can be loosely grouped into two categories: ‘black’ magic, largely associated with inflicting harm, and ‘white’ magic, associated with providing benefits or forms of protection. The Opinions of Paulus and Later Law Codes. Avoiding, as Watson puts it, “an excess of abstraction” (p.3) is a valid approach, but the very fact that the title of the book incorporates the word ‘Magic’ probably required a bit more semantic and/or etymological unpacking here for the uninitiated. Magic appears in the mythology of ancient Greece and was associated with such figures as Hermes, Hecate (goddess of the moon and witchcraft), Orpheus, and Circe, the sorceress daughter of Helios who was expert in magical herbs and potions and who helped Odysseus summon the ghosts from Hades. ×Your email address will not be published. 12 Egyptian Hieroglyphs of People and Their Body Parts, A statue of Artemis of Ephesus, via Warwick University. In ancient Roman times, it was considered by many as mere manipulation. Why? For the purposes of this article, we are going to consider examples of magic used in the Classical cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. Both the Greeks and Romans had laws restricting magical practices but, privately, magic appears to have had a powerful allure and was highly valued at all levels of society. These tablets were normally thin pieces of lead, inscribed with a curse against an enemy, which could then be folded and often sealed and pierced with a nail. From Greece in the fifth century BC, through Rome and Italy, to the Christian Chapter I. S. O. The underpinning was based on a 2006 research grant from the University of Sydney to study the role of animals in Greek and Roman magic. 2422.12. Parting company with the trend in recent scholarship to treat the subject in abstract, highly theoretical terms, Magic in Ancient Greece and Rome proposes that the magic-working of antiquity was in reality a highly pragmatic business, with very clearly formulated aims - often of an exceedingly maligant kind. Plato tells us of a remedy used by Socrates to cure headaches, which consisted of acquiring a special type of leaf followed by a spoken spell. The reader is left to discern who or what a ‘magician’ was and the range of practices with which they could be associated. "— Media in category "Magic in ancient Rome" The following 13 files are in this category, out of 13 total. It seems that Roman toilets were a terrifying and deadly place; people even used magic to get out of them alive. Magic is widely attested in archaeological evidence, spell books and literature from both Greece and Rome, as well as Egypt and the Middle East. 98-117. This article provides a conclusive etymology for how a magic … ‘Preface: The Materiality of Magic’, in Boschung, Dietrich and Bremmer, Jan. N. (eds) The Materiality of Magic (Morphomata 20). 1-19, pp.8. Unlike modern-day … For two millennia, European folklore and ritual have been imbued with the belief in the supernatural, yielding a rich trove of histories and images. Irene Berti and Filippo Carla, 1–18. Around 300 B.C., Theophrastus of Eresus (c. 370–288 B.C) wrote the seminal work Inquiry into Plants, which was used by doctors and magical practitioners throughout the following centuries. Expressions of thanks or praise should be sent directly to the reviewer, using the email address in the review. These texts helped the Romans decide what to do in time of uncertainty in the empire. The final two chapters, on witches and human sacrifice, move beyond the broad theme of an individualistic, creative approach to magic and stray into highlighting specific sensational aspects of ancient ritual; while there is no inherent problem in doing this, as interest often focusses on these issues, it is worth noting that the approach differs slightly from the preceding content. 2018. This creature holds up a whip in his left hand, while his right hand holds a shield marked with the Greek letters ΙΑΩ (shown here in reverse, since we are looking at a plaster impression of the original). Apuleius the Magus. Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome is deliberately designed as an introduction for the general reader, and it fulfills that function admirably. To begin, my area of research focuses on the association of women and dark magic – and what social and cultural phenomena are taking place that are giving rise to this association. The History of Egyptian Hieroglyphs and the Rosetta Stone, A curse tablet with nail holes, via Wikimedia. The biggest issue with this text, however, remains its limited view of what comprised the corpus of ancient magic. MAGIC AND MAGICIANS IN THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD This absorbing work assembles an extraordinary range of evidence for the existence of sorcerers and sorceresses in the ancient world, and addresses the question of their identities and social origins. [7] Equally, the discussion of the gendered construction of the witch in ancient literature doesn’t help us to identify the contemporary implications of taking  a pragmatic approach to ancient magic, but it instead reveals more about modern reactions to ancient narrative tropes. An extract from the papyri, via The University of Chicago. They leaned on these texts for all sorts of different advice. Make up is magic, in a way! [4] Bremmer, Jan. 2015. By our standards, living in antiquity was full of hardships regardless of where you look. The resulting 248-page publication delivered here is focussed on “challenging a number of orthodoxies where scepticism seemed in order” (p.vii). This leaves out the other well-established material strategies by which supernatural effects or protection may have been sought for individuals or places; for example, where are the phallic pendants, the lucky hand gestures, the exotic fossils in graves? But from the examples we have today, what is clear is that it transcended boundaries of gender and social status. (eds). There is no sense of cultural or chronological separation through the chapters; while there was of course great influence from the former to the latter, Watson delivers no sense of the temporal or geographic uniqueness of any of the experiences discussed (with the exception that the chapter on human sacrifice focusses on the Roman rather than Greek experience (p.211)) with an eye always on the literary nature of each topic. I would like to criticise the liberal use of the term ‘magician’, which is used throughout to describe those who were using magic, but because it is used so frequently here, its semantic baggage is (deliberately?) 2016. Watson’s 2019 Magic in Ancient Greece and Rome is, by the author’s prefaced account, a book with a long gestation. Each practice gives us a fascinating insight into everyday human life in the Classical world. The Materiality of Magic: An Artefactual Investigation in Ritual Practices and Popular Beliefs. 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