For nearly two hundred years the Greek and Demotic magical papyri have provided a fascinating source of information on the rich syncretism of Roman Egypt. Filled with instructions and evidence for curses, and love, healing, and divinatory spells, the corpus seems to offer a glimpse into the private lives of its users and writers, and yet, because we know very little about where and how the papyri were found, scholars have often only been able to make educated guesses about who these people were—wandering magi, Egyptian priests, or scholars dependent upon rich patrons. This talk will offer some thoughts on this question, drawing primarily on the few cases where archaeological or archival evidence allows us clear glimpses of ancient people who owned, used, and produced magical papyri.
The weekly Classics Colloquium provides an informal meeting for the College's lively community of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty who are interested in classical subjects. Each year, the series includes a number of distinguished speakers on a variety of literary, archaeological, and historical subjects.