Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 04 April 2020

curses 

Source:
The Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World
Author(s):
John RobertsJohn Roberts

A curse expresses a wish that evil may befall a person or persons. Several different types can be distinguished, according to setting, motive, and condition. The most direct curses are maledictions lacking any explicit religious, moral, or legal legitimation. This category is exemplarily represented by the so‐called curse tablets, thin lead sheets inscribed with maledictions intended to influence the actions or welfare of persons. If a motive is mentioned, it is generally inspired by feelings of envy and competition, esp. in the circus and the (amphi)theatre, litigation, love, and commerce. Nearly all these texts are anonymous and lack argumentation or references to deserved punishment of the cursed person(s). If gods are invoked, they belong to the sphere of death, the Underworld, and witchcraft. In later times the magical names of exotic demons and gods abound. Spirits of the dead are also invoked, since the tablets were often buried in graves of the untimely dead. The tablets might be rolled up and transfixed with a needle, and sometimes ‘voodoo dolls’ were added. These tablets first appear in the 6th cent. ... ...

Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.