Magical Practice in the Latin West. Papers from the by Richard Lindsay Gordon, Francisco Marco Simón (eds.)

By Richard Lindsay Gordon, Francisco Marco Simón (eds.)

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Alpers, Untersuchungen zum griechischen Physiologus und den Kyraniden, Vestigia Bibliae 6 (1984) 13–87. 98 Cf. the essays in J. König and T. ), Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire (Cambridge 2007), none of which however deals specifically, or even tangentially, with occultist discourse. introduction 35 internal dynamics of the discourse insulate claims from all ‘empirical’ interrogation but contextualised or context-specific, locally-limited claims or beliefs acquire general or universal validity.

Given the existence of a wide-ranging discourse of magical power in antiquity, why is the range so limited? e. non-execrative) magic, particularly amatory and relationship magic, and later the prayer for justice, adopt the convention of the lead-tablet? 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?

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 Blänsdorf 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 one’s own purposes.

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