Under Your Spell: Love Magic in the Mediterranean

Public lecture: Tuesday 22 August 2017, 7:00
Venue: Forum Theatre, Level 1, North Wing), Arts West Building, The University of Melbourne

Marguerite Johnson, Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classical Languages, University of Newcastle

It was a well-kept secret among historians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the practise of magic was widespread in the ancient Mediterranean. Historians wanted to keep the activity secret because it did not support the idealized view of the Greeks and Romans. Today, however, magic is a legitimate area of scholarly enquiry, providing insights into ancient belief systems as well as cultural and social practices. Among the types of magic practised in antiquity were love spells. Indeed, making spells of attraction kept professional magic practitioners in business, as they charged fees for writing love charms, making love ‘dolls,’ and even directing spells against rivals. This illustrated lecture explores the practice of love magic in ancient Greece and Rome, including the rich variety of spells. It also discusses the types of people who performed such magic, including professional magicians and courtesans (experts in erotic magic and charms).

Marguerite Johnson is Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classical Languages in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle. She is the author of Sappho (2007) and Boudicca (2012), both in Duckworth’s “Ancients in Action” series), co-editor of Sexuality in Greek and Roman society and literature: a sourcebook (2005), and translator of Ovid’s poetry on cosmetics (2016).

This lecture is sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria. It is also part of the “LOVE” public lecture series by the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS) at the University of Melbourne.

To register your attendance at this public lecture, please visit http://arts.unimelb.edu.au/shaps/news/details?event=8851