Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World

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John G. Gager
Oxford University Press, 1999 - History - 278 pages
2 Reviews
In the ancient Greco-Roman world, it was common practice to curse or bind an enemy or rival by writing an incantation on a tablet and dedicating it to a god or spirit. These curses or binding spells, commonly called defixiones were intended to bring other people under the power and control of those who commissioned them. More than a thousand such texts, written between the 5th Century B.C.E. and the 5th Century C.E., have been discovered from North Africa to England, and from Syria to Spain. Extending into every aspect of ancient life--athletic and theatrical competitions, judicial proceedings, love affairs, business rivalries, and the recovery of stolen property--they shed light on a new dimension of classical study previously inaccessible. Here, for the first time, these texts have been translated into English with a substantial translator's introduction revealing the cultural, social, and historical context for the texts. This book will interest historians, classicists, scholars of religion, and those concerned with ancient magic.

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User Review  - Brandy Dolce - Goodreads

My copy of this book is used. The notes along the margins indicate this must've been used as a textbook at one time, which is fine with me. I enjoy the previous owner's comments! This work contains ... Read full review

Selected pages


Competition in Theater and Circus
Sex Love and Marriage
TongueTied in Court Legal and Political Disputes
Businesses Shops and Taverns
Pleas for Justice and Revenge
Miscellaneous Tablets
Antidotes and Counterspells
Glossary of Uncommon Words

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About the author (1999)

John G. Gager is at Princeton University.

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