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Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World Paperback – October 28, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0195134827 ISBN-10: 0195134826

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Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World + The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation: Including the Demotic Spells: Texts (Volume 1) + Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Sourcebook
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"There is ample reason...to be extremely grateful to Gager and his associates for having provided such a rich and accessible collection of these fascinating and culturally important documents."--Bryn Mawr Classical Review


"The material is fascinating, and provides a view of antiquity from an unaccustomed angle....Of immense value to students of the ancient world and of the history of religion."--Times Literary Supplement


"Spellbinding."--Christian Century


"A thorough and scholarly book, of immense value to students of the ancient world and of the history of religion."--Ancient History


"The editor and publisher are to be commended for making an important aspect of ancient popular religion accessible to a wide audience."--Journal of Religion


About the Author

John G. Gager is at Princeton University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195134826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195134827
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Travers on March 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this work, Professor Gager provides a catalog of curse tablets and binding spells from Europe and the Middle East and some fairly impressive analysis of these finds. If you are looking for a systematic analysis of such finds, skip this work. If you are looking for source material and enough analysis to make it interesting, this is the book for you.

Gager divides these materials into a number of sub-categories such as those involving race-course competition, sex love or marriage, business competition, pleas for revenge and so forth, This functional breakdown makes the material easier to piece together and draw connections between the samples presented.

The one thing that could have made this work much better would be to include many more of the inscriptions in their original languages.

I would highly recommend this work to anyone interested in ancient magical practices or classical studies.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Mendelsohn on September 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Although this book provides a useful general overview and introduction to the subject of "defixiones", the editor is extremely verbose, and makes very poor use of original materials (in my opinion). Over 150 tablets are discussed; however, transcriptions and/or graphic representations are given for only a few. All the tablets discussed are given in English translations, provided by a group of different scholars noted in the front of the book (however, the separate translations are not signed or credited to any particular individual). Footnotes call out unusual, difficult, or particularly interesting words. Many times I thought the most interesting material was in the footnotes; this means the book probably was not properly conceived, structured or edited. The notes are often supplemented by the editor's "personal correspondence" with other scholars who have personally seen and/or unearthed/discovered the tablets.

If I were editing such a book, I think the most useful arrangement would be: (1) a photograph or transcription of each tablet, accompanied by; (2) a transliteration (i.e., the original language, whether Greek, Latin, Hebrew, or Aramaic, put into English characters); (3) then a translation (or a translation side-by-side with the transliteration); (4) then commentary, analysis, and general pedantry. I would expect no less from a book published by Oxford University Press; this book reads more like it was published by a Random House or other non-academic publisher. It is difficult to tell what, if any, original scholarly work has been provided here, beyond a compilation of already-existing material (apparently with new English translations).

Also on the plus side, the book does have a very useful Bibliography, which can help point people who want to know more (or more advanced students) in the right direction.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian Smith on May 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book not only provides many examples of ancient spells but also gives the necessary background information about culture, religion and society that is necessary to properly understand the spells. If you're already familiar with this you may want an edition that focuses on primary texts only. But if you're looking for a solid introduction then this is a great book.

Other related books I liked are The Life of Apollonius of Tyana and The Syrian Goddess: De Dea Syria.
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