Tuesday, March 24, 2020

BMCR reviews of two books on ancient magic

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Guide to the study of ancient magic.
David Frankfurter, Guide to the study of ancient magic. Religions in the Graeco-Roman world, volume 189. Leiden: Brill, 2019. xx, 797 p.. ISBN 9789004171572 €249,00.
Review by
Markham J. Geller. m.geller@ucl.ac.uk
This volume gives plenty of attention to ancient Jewish magic, among many other magical traditions. For more on the Mesopotamian ─üshipu practitioner (also mentioned in the biblical book of Daniel as "enchanter") see here and here.

Magic in ancient Greece and Rome
Lindsay Watson, Magic in ancient Greece and Rome. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. x, 248 p.. ISBN 9781788312981 £21.59 (pb).
Review by
Adam Parker, Open University. adam.parker@open.ac.uk
The main strength of this book lies in its concise introduction of different facets of ancient magical practices, drawing on a broad (although exclusively textual) evidence base, predominantly informed by the PGM, the corpus of curse tablets, and the writings of Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides, Theophrastus, and Ovid. This focus is surprising when the recent ‘material turn’ in ancient magical studies has helped to develop a deeper understanding of the nature and scale of such practices.

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