Curse Tablets

April 29, 2017

Overall, the language and the structure of judicial defixiones follow the developmental pattern of curse tablets in general. The earliest examples name the opponents; they sometimes invoke local deities by their familiar names, though some examples omit both verbs of binding and the names of the deities; and they mention the physical and mental faculties, usually tongue and mind, to be bound or tied up so that the targets will be unable to pursue their case. Later examples, by contrast, tend to be longer, to use secret names and mystical terms (the voces mysticae), to invoke spirits and deities from many traditions, and to provide specific details for every aspect of the binding process.

In general, the potential defendant in a legal proceeding seems to have resorted to a local professional, perhaps to a magos, in order to commission a defixio.

John G. Gager (editor)
Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World