'Obligamentum magicum': Sacrifice and Law in the 'Defixiones' of the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire

'Obligamentum magicum': Sacrifice and Law in the 'Defixiones' of the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire
Date
14 June 2018, 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Type
Lecture
Venue
Woburn Suite, G22/26, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Description

Francisco Marco Simón, University of Zaragoza

In the early days of the Roman Republic, the ius had been above all a performative utterance solemnly sworn during the course of the sacrifice. The link between law and magico-religious practice in the Roman world appears clearly when considering the notion of obligatio, so inherent to the execration texts (defixiones), and the language in many of these texts, especially those deposited within the temples, is markedly bureaucratic and quasi-legal. Considering Roman provincial religion as an “open system” with multiple religious options adaptable to local concerns, cursing can be seen as a semi-institutionalized strategy mainly used by people who were unable to access the legal system in situations of uncertainty and risk. Some of these texts, in the tradition of a genuine devotio hostium, not only adapted the standards of votive religion, but also presented the tablet’s target as a sacrificial victim to the gods, in a procedure of persuasive analogy to stimulate the future action.

Contact

Valerie James
valerie.james@sas.ac.uk
020 7862 8716