Publication details

Latin Curse Texts : Mediterranean Tradition and Local Diversity



Year of publication 2016
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description There are altogether about six hundred Latin curse texts, most of which are inscribed on lead tablets. The extant Latin defixiones are attested from the 2nd cent. BCE to the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th century. However, the number of extant tablets is certainly not final, which is clear from the new findings in Mainz recently published by Blänsdorf (2012, 34 tablets), the evidence found in the fountain dedicated to Anna Perenna in Rome (Blänsdorf 2012, Piranomonte 2012, (26 tablets and other inscribed magical items), or the new findings in Pannonia (Barta 2009). The curse tablets were addressed exclusively to the supernatural powers, so their authors usually hid them very well to be banished from the eyes of mortals; not to speak of the randomness of the archaeological findings. Thus, it can be assumed that the preserved defixiones are only a fragment of the overall ancient production. Remarkable diversities in cursing practice can be found when comparing the preserved defixiones from particular provinces of the Roman Empire and their specific features, with respect to the language, genre, and content.
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