jademermaid: (Servilia)
Curse tablets were sometimes made against chariot racers. Before a race a driver would put a curse on his opponents. Here is an example from curse tablet found in North Africa:


    I call upon you, o demon. whoever you are, and ask that from this hour, from this day, you torture and kill the horses of the Green and White factions, and that you kill and crush completely the drivers Clarus, Felix, Primulus, and Romanus, and that you leave not a breath in their bodies.


Oh, and here's another one that I thought was engaging to read.  In the HBO series ROME, they used this sort of stuff whenever Servillia cursed someone, which was often!


The following example is from a curse tablet found at Minturna. It was written in Latin but contains many misspellings, which has led to the probable conclusion that it is the work of someone in the lower class. The glee which it takes in thought of Ticene’s misfortune, and the thorough way in which every single part of her body is listed as a potential site for pain (even her shadow) demonstrates the depth of feeling experienced by the author.


Spirits of the underworld, I consecrate and hand over to you, if you have any power, Ticene of Carisius. Whatever she does, may it all turn out wrong. Spirits of the netherworld, I consecrate to you her limbs, her complexion, her figure, her head, her hair, her shadow, her brain, her forehead, her eyebrows, her mouth, her nose, her chin, her cheeks, her lips, her speech, her breath, her neck, her liver, her shoulders, her heart, her lungs, her intestines, her stomach, her arms, her fingers, her hands, her navel, her entrails, her thighs, her knees, her calves, her heels, her soles, her toes. Spirits of the netherworld, if I see her wasting away, I swear that I will be delighted to offer a sacrifice to you every year.

Shelton, JoAnn. 1997. ‘As The Romans Did.’ Oxford: Oxford University Press


These curses were usually written with a stylus on thin lead sheets, then rolled up and either stuck near the home of the person named, or dropped into wells, or buried.


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October 2011

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