Binding spells on the example of four defixionum tabellae from North Africa

Vlada Yurevna Akhmanova Bachalor student, Faculty of Philology, Saint-Petersburg State University (Universitetskaya emb., 7-9-11, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 199034)

Akhmanova V. Yu. Binding spells on the example of four defixionum tabellae from North Africa, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2022, vol. 11, pp. 304–313.

doi: 10.24412/2308-0698-2022-11-268-285

Language: Russian

The article examines the so-called binding spells (or curses, defixiones, κατάδεσμοι), a common type of magical practice in antiquity. Most often, these spells are written on lead tablets, so they are usually called defixionum tabellae; in total, more than 1,500 copies of them are known at the moment. The purpose of these tablets is to establish control over the enemy, as well as harm him, sometimes even cause death. The focus of our attention will be curses associated with the Roman world of spectacles, primarily with chariot competitions. Rivals became objects of curses, and not only participants and their relatives, but also spectators became customers of these plates. The article discusses four lead tablets with curses found in Carthage and its environs in the 2nd–3rd centuries AD (DT 237, 242, 295, 241). The study of these binding spells shows the evolution of the Greek language and the Mediterranean cultural syncretism.

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Key words: curse tablets, binding spells, Carthage, Judaism, magic, defixionum tabellae


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