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Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World by Gager John G.;

Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World by Gager John G.;

Author:Gager, John G.;
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Published: 1999-12-31T05:00:00+00:00


83. Greece, Athens (Patissia); original location not known. Lead tablet measuring 16 × 4 cm. ; originally folded and pierced by a nail. Dated to the fourth or third century B.C.E. This is one of several tablets (cf. DTA 99–100; DT 72) addressed to Earth. The precise occasion is not clear, but the general intent is to exact revenge for a wrong suffered at the hands of two named individuals. Bibl.: DTA 98.

Euruptolemos of Agrulê1 I bind Euruptolemos and Xenophôn {Xenophôn} who is with Euruptolemos, and their tongues and words and deeds; and if they are planning or doing anything, let it be in vain. Beloved Earth, restrain Euruptolemos and Xenophôn and make them powerless and useless; and let Euruptolemos and Xenophôn waste away. Beloved Earth, help me; and since I have been wronged by Euruptolemos and Xenophôn I bind them.

84. Greece, Athens, in the Agora. Found in a deposit from a well dating to the first century C.E. Lead sheet measuring 23 × 11.7 cm., rolled up, with no sign of a nail. The script is described by the editor as “carefully written.” The tablet includes several illustrations. Starting with line 16 and extending to the final line 29 is a crudely sketched “figure of a bat with outspread wings.” Jordan has redescribed the figure as “a six-armed Hecate.” In addition, there appear two or three “magical symbols” (Figure 20). Several deities are invoked, all well known from Greek myth, cult, and ritual and all associated with the “underworld”: Pluto, the Fates, Persephone, the Furies, various unnamed gods (evil ones, underworld goddesses and gods), Hermes, and Hekate. It is clear, however, that Hekate is the central power for she alone reappears in subsequent lines. The verbs of binding—to register (katagraphein) and to consign, hand over or transfer (katatithenai)—are common in texts of this sort. The affairs of the target are placed under the temporary control of the deities invoked so that the desired result may follow. In this case, the issue is stolen property. What concerns the client is that the thieves are unknown to him and that no one has come forward to identify them. There is no mention of asking the gods to return the property. Nor is there a question, in a formal sense, of bringing them to public justice. In fact, the opposite would appear to be the case. Because there seemed no likelihood of public justice, the registering and transferring of the unknown thieves to infernal deities must mean that they, rather than human judges, will mete out the punishment. This is made explicit in lines 19–20, where Hekate is exhorted to “cut (out) the hearts of the thieves.” The tone of the spell is most unusual. The client seems hesitant about commissioning the tablet. Bibl.: G. W. Elder kin, “Two Curse Inscriptions,” Hesperia 6 (1937): 382–95; D. R. Jordan, “Hekatika,” Glotta 83 (1980): 62–65; SEG 30.326; H. S. Versnel, “Religious Mentality in Ancient Prayer,” in Faith, Hope and Worship, ed. H. S. Versnel (Leiden, 1981), pp.



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