Classical Studies 645

ANCIENT MAGIC

 

Professor Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046

redmonds@brynmawr.edu

Carpenter B13

W 2:00-4:00 + translation session

to be scheduled

Office Hours: MF 1:30-2:30

or by appointment

 

Required Texts:

Recommended Texts:

Course Description:

Bindings and curses, love charms and healing potions, amulets and talismans - from the simple spells designed to meet the needs of the poor and desperate to the complex theurgies of the philosophers, the people of the Greco-Roman World made use of magic to try to influence the world around them. In this course we shall examine the magicians of the ancient world and the techniques and devices they used to serve their clientele. We shall consider ancient tablets and spell books as well as literary descriptions of magic in the light of theories relating to the religious, political, and social contexts in which magic was used.

Course Requirements:

Class participation:
Participation, of course, includes attendance, since you cannot participate if you are not in class. If, for some reason, you cannot attend class, please inform me in advance. Each student should be prepared to translate, discuss, and answer questions on the material covered in the lesson for the week. Coming prepared with questions on the material is even better than coming with answers to the basics. If, for some reason, you cannot prepare for class, please attend anyway - you will be better prepared for the next class.
One or more students will be selected to lead off the discussion on specific readings for each class, but every student should be prepared to contribute to the discussion. There will be an extra translation section scheduled to focus upon the readings for each week in Greek (marked in bold on the syllabus). All readings not in the required textbooks will be available online in the Bryn Mawr electronic reserves at: http://trires.brynmawr.edu/coursepage.asp?cid=86. The magic word that allows the initiate access to the readings is: cstsb645. The readings can be reached directly from the online version of the syllabus at: http://www.brynmawr.edu/classics/redmonds/csts645.html. Since so much material will be on electronic reserves for this class, students should NOT print out all of the reserves. The advantage of the electronic format is its compact portability; printing reams of paper is bulky and bad for the printers. Please print only those articles you need for class discussions.
Written Assignments:
There will be two short written assignments designed for the students to demonstrate their understanding of specific materials covered in class. The final paper will be the major requirement for the course. This paper should be a lengthy (15-25 pages) research paper on a specific topic related to the course. Students should select a topic and discuss it with me before the middle of the semester. Students will give a brief (5-10 minute) presentation of their research in the last week of class, and a rough draft will be due at this time. The final paper will be due before the end of exam period.
 
 

Week I - Introduction – Issues of Definition

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week II - The World of Ancient Magic

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week III - Curses – Binding Spells for All Occasions

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week IV - Love Charms

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 
Defixio Assignment

 

 

Week V - Healing and Protection

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week VI - Prayer and Magic

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week VII –Break

 

 

Week VIII - The Magician’s Craft

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week IX - Divination

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week X - Astrology

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

Astrology Assignment
 
 

Week XI - Demonology

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week XII - Theurgy

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week XIII - Alchemy

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week XIV - Accusations of Magic

Topics:

Readings:

Bibliography

 

 

Week XV - Definitions and Theory

Topics:

Readings:

 

Selected Recent Bibliography