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Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0415311298 ISBN-10: 0415311292 Edition: 0th

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Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World + Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Sourcebook + Magic in the Ancient World (Revealing Antiquity, No. 10)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (February 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415311292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415311298
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World is the fruit of prodigious reading and profound scholarship, yet never bogs down to its own accumulation of facts.' - Los Angeles Times

'An outstanding book that combines impressive scholarship with clarity and accessibility, and belongs at once in the collection of specialists and on undergraduate reading lists, perhaps even as a prescribed textbook.' - Classical Review

About the Author

Matthew W. Dickie teaches at the University of Illinois in Chicago. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Beginning with an overview of what constitutes magic and magical behavior in the Classical world, Dickie traces the evolution of the concept of magic through his chosen period (500 BCE - 700 CE). His precise field of inquiry is the "common" magic-worker, insofar as such a practitioner existed. He attempts to answer the questions "who was doing magic and why?" by examining a vast array of evidence, both primary and literary. Along the way he discards much of the dross that has accumulated on Classical scholarship in the last decade or so, deriding the postmodern and deconstructionist habits of hanging modern Freudian meanings on antique societies and social actions.
The scope of this work is breathtaking. A truly vast array of sources are brought forth, considered, and placed into the context of what is known about the societies in question. Primary material, drawn heavily from archaeological evidence such as curse tablets and amuletic inscriptions, is cited wherever appropriate. Extensive use is made of the magical papyri as well and the author makes a consistent effort to consider what role is played by the casters of such spells in their societies - the society of classical Athens, for example, is different from that of Athens in the time of Alexander, which in turn is different from Republican or Imperial Rome. Each discrete period of time is considered from its own sources, archaeological, primary or literary.
Nor are modern scholars ignored in this tour de force. Dickie makes wide-ranging use of the best that Classical scholarship has to offer - Graf, Faraone, Obbink, Johnston, all are cited where relevant.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Travers on December 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this work, Matthew Dickie sets out to chronical the development of both the concept of magic and the magician in the Greek and Roman worlds. He succeeds well enough that I would highly recommend this book. Note that generally, he doesn't always trace the origins of magical practices and this may provide different and perhaps complementary information on the sorts of influences affecting magic in this part of the ancient world.

The book starts off with a basic premise: that it is possible to trace the development of magic as a sociological phenomenon distinct from mainstream religion in the classical world. He seeks, so far as is possible, to address the concept of magic in the categories used by the cultures he studies and builds a picture both of the situation at different times in Athens and Rome. While the author notes that many cultures do not separate magic and religion, he notes that both Greece and Rome did, and that this distinction is one we inherited from them.

The book then proceeds to systematically ask the following questions about different periods and places within its scope:
1) What were the social concerns about magic-workers?
2) Who were believed to be magic-workers?
3) What legal actions were possible against magic workers?
4) What was the status of female magic workers relative to their male counterparts?
5) What sorts of professional magic workers do we see in each time and place?

The study is thus fairly broad in scope, is a very heavy read, and covers the period from Hellenic Greece through the early Middle Ages. In many ways, students interested in the context of the witchcraft trials in Europe should probably start with this book because the work shows a great deal of continuity between concepts of sorcery in Greece and Rome and those during the Middle Ages.

This book will challenge you and make you think. It is highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My goodness...this is a dense read. It is one of those text books that packs a lot of information into a small place, but not in a way where it's easy reading. I find myself reading 3 pages and having no idea what I just read as it is written in such a dull way.
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