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)
st077001@student.spbu.ru

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

URL: http://rcs-almanac.ru/en/en-ahmanova-2022/

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Ideas of justice and fairness in the Greco-Roman magic tablets: a comparative-historical aspect

Kudryavtseva Tatyana Vladimirovna, PhD, professor, The Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)

tatyanavk@yandex.ru

Kudryavtseva T. V. Ideas of justice and fairness in the Greco-Roman magic tablets: a comparative-historical aspect, 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, 2014, vol. 3, pp. 116–135.

doi: 10.24411/2308-0698-2014-00007

Language: Russian

The article examines the use of magic arts by ancient litigants, in particular, the lead curse tablets (defixiones) in order to guarantee a favorable outcome of a trial. In the Hellenistic and Roman period of the Ancient history the judicial magic underwent certain changes: a supplicant more often asked deities to help in the lawsuit, to bind the opponent’s tongue or speech etc. It other words, he requested the gods to take the responsibility of judge, to punish the guilty, i. e. to revenge and to carry out divine justice; the emphasis was made on the idea of justice and retaliation. These innovations have allowed some scholars even to distinguish a special group of the judicial prayers. The author marks several reasons for the changes in the traditional judicial magic: monarchical consciousness that developed in the Hellenistic period, and some disappointment in the human justice or certain perception of its weakness and limits, which resulted in seeking justice and retribution from the supernatural powers — typical of the religious mentality. In a broader context, it is possible to speak about the shift in emphasis in the resolution of criminal scenarios and even more — of a conflict situation: from the contest in which “a winner is always right” and “the winner will get all” to the exercise of jurisdiction as the triumph of Justice, protection of “the insulted and humiliated”. The magic “prayer for justice” becomes a kind of harbinger of a Christian prayer.
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Key words: magic, Athens, Greco-Roman World, trialtabellae defixionum (curse tablets), judicial prayer, justice

URL: http://rcs-almanac.ru/kudryavtseva-2014-en/

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