LATN403A

Don’t Play Games with the Dead: Latin Magical Ritual. This course looks at the intersection between the Latin language, whether prose or poetry, and magical ritual—that is, the use of words in broadly prescribed circumstances, alone or in conjunction with other behaviour, in order that a specific result be accomplished in some way other than having a human being hear the words and take conscious action. We will look at a variety of authors and anonymous texts, both prose and poetry; these will include folk magic (e.g. defixiones), magic in everyday life (e.g. Apuleius’s Apology), and literary depictions of magic (e.g. in Apuleius’s Golden Ass). We will also examine some material from later Latin such as is found in the works of John Dee. In addition to a core focus on the Latin language, the course will also cover magical theory, both in the context of Roman society and for modern scholarship.