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Drawing Down the MoonMagic in the Ancient Greco-Roman World$
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Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691156934

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691156934.001.0001

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Curses for All Occasions: Malefic and Binding Magic

Curses for All Occasions: Malefic and Binding Magic

(p.53) 3 Curses for All Occasions: Malefic and Binding Magic
Drawing Down the Moon

Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the place of curse tablets within the ancient Greco-Roman world. The curse tablet, the thin sheet of metal (lamella) with mysterious writings on it, appears as part of the standard equipment of the malevolent magician. One of the first types of magical evidence to be systematically collected and cataloged, the curse tablets have been the object of scholarly study for over a hundred years, and a number of recent studies have analyzed particular features of the curse tablet, elucidating the rules of the genre and illuminating the characteristic poetics of the magical curse. Indeed, more than 1,700 curse tablets from the ancient Greco-Roman world have been published, and many more remain unpublished, awaiting the analysis of scholars. These tablets of metal inscribed with malevolent wishes present a good body of evidence for scholars of ancient magic, since most of these curses seem to fall within everyone's intuitive definition of magic. They clearly intend harm to the target, they are mostly made and deposited in secret, and they use strange words to compel suprahuman powers to take concrete action against another for the personal benefit of the curser.

Keywords:   curse tablets, ancient Greco-Roman world, magician, magical evidence, magical curse, ancient magic, magic, suprahuman powers

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