Chapter 15 Binding Spells on Tablets and Papyri

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
Esther Eidinow
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This chapter covers the body of binding spells or defixiones dating from the 6th century BCE to the 8th century CE. It provides an overview of the major published collections of defixiones and discussions of six exemplary defixiones, as well as the significance of lead, the most common medium for defixiones. The chapter examines verbal and mythological characteristics of defixiones, such as simila similibus and committal formulae and invocations of the dead. Binding spells, it is argued, were never the exclusive province of expert scribes.

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