Vol. 52 (2016)

Epigrafía pública y defixiones: paradigmas (y paradojas) del Occidente Latino

Published July 8, 2020
Celia Sánchez Natalías
University of the Basque Country


Sánchez Natalías, C. (2020). Epigrafía pública y defixiones: paradigmas (y paradojas) del Occidente Latino. Acta Classica Universitatis Scientiarum Debreceniensis, 52(1), 69–77. https://doi.org/10.22315/ACD/2016/6

This paper falls into two main sections. The first deals with the defixio and its traditional definition as an example of so-called private inscriptions. Unlike public epigraphs, which were monumental, crafted by professionals, intended for display, and had (mainly) a commemorative function, defixiones (whether written by magoi or amateurs) are usually considered to be among Antiquity’s most private texts. Nevertheless, curse tablets and public inscriptions share a very important feature: both contained messages meant to endure. This specific feature brings us to the second section of this article, which discusses the influence of public inscriptions on curse tablets: to what extent are defixiones a reflection of monumental epigraphy? Aspects such as the ordinatio of the text, the media employed or the way they were displayed (even inside a tomb) are analyzed in this regard. In an attempt to answer these questions, three publicly displayed curse tablets are discussed in depth.