Abstract

Abstract:

This paper surveys nineteen lead curse tablets from the sanctuary of Magna Mater and Isis in Mainz, Germany. Written in Latin, these tablets seek the divine help of Magna Mater and other deities in rectifying perceived injustices. When theorizing about cursing practices at the site, I argue that we need to look to the in situ context of the curse tablets and consider the other ritual deposits made at the sanctuary. The co-presence of votary items alongside curse tablets can aid our understanding of how the curse authors at Mainz viewed their practice, and in fact votive cult provides a compelling framework for understanding cursing at Mainz. The connection between the temple locus and cursing is illustrated by the uniformity of cursing rituals, the thematic content of the petitioners' requests, and the sites of tablet deposition. Thus, we need to reconsider the idea of cursing as a deviant religious practice and instead recognize all the ways that it fell within normative religious habits in Roman antiquity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5111
Print ISSN
1556-8547
Pages
pp. 279-313
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-09
Open Access
No
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