- Paperback: 392 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (February 23, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415311292
- ISBN-13: 978-0415311298
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,820,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World 1st Edition
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'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
Top customer reviews
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.
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. The only modern scholar that is missing from this lineup is Hans Dieter Betz; Betz' translation and collation of the PGM is abandoned in favor of the older and less complete Preisendanz editions, nor is Betz cited in the Bibliography except for two minor articles, both contained in collections with other articles which are extensively cited. (The scholar in me smells some obscure feud in this.) Nevertheless, this puzzling absence in no way detracts from the stellar quality of the book itself.
This is a must-own for any serious student of Classical magic. Buy it today!