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From domestic apotropaic magic to state religion in the Roman world: ways there and back
Published August 1, 2020
113–128

There are two main methodological approaches in relation to the study of apotropaic magic in the Graeco-Roman world. An historicist one, focused on the formal description of the data and on tracing their possible origins; and a psychologist-functionalist one, which interprets the data as a psychological relief to the anxieties produced by the m...isfortunes of dailylife. I propose to explore here an aspect of apotropaic magic frequently overlooked: its mutual relation with the religion of the State, which creates a common syntactic framework but also tensions and conflicts.

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Sofocle: Magia, Medicina, Religione
Published October 10, 2021
53–69.

In Sophocles’ tragedies the interweaving of medicine, religion and magic produces a lot of meanings and concepts that show the complexity of the Greek thought of the Fifth century. In his tragedies, Sophocles shows his interest both in the magical and religious medicine and in the new Hippocratic medical science. The aim of this paper is to a...nalyze the conceptual and lexical intertwining that reflects this interest, focusing on the character of Oedipus. In fact, Oedipus is the hero who best embodies this duplicity. At the beginning of the drama he assumes a rational investigation method through which he tries to discover Laius’ murderer and then to heal Thebes from the plague that afflicts it. However, his responsibility emerges during the tragedy; Oedipus’ fault has divine origin and makes him the first cause of the evil of the city. In the Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus’ body is released from the contamination that had made him the origin of the plague and the hero’s body turns into a sort of magic amulet to protect the polis that will guard it when he will be dead.

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Isis the immigrant and Roman toleration
Published July 12, 2020
49–71

In adopting a foreign cult, ancient Roman worshippers were not searching for a new religion to replace their old one, but rather seeking to expand the range of gods and practices at their disposal. They assumed that all traditional gods and religions were valid and effective. There was, therefore, an implicit toleration built into the system of... ancient polytheism, and this was admired by the thinkers of the Enlightenment, though the Roman state never guaranteed freedom of worship. The cult of Isis was distasteful to the Roman élite, and the government often reacted brutally to particular actions by her worshippers. Nevertheless, her cult was always popular with the general public and the state never wished to abolish it, and eventually built a public temple to Isis. The worshippers of Isis tested the limits of Roman toleration and demonstrated its vitality.

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De la Precatio Terrae y la Precatio omnium herbarum a un texto inacabado: las precationes herbarum de un recetario médico tardoantiguo
Published October 10, 2021
167–192.

The Curae herbarum is a late antique medical recipe book made up of 64 chapters; it is mostly based on a Latin translation of the De materia medica by Dioscorides. Chapters 1–32 always end with a precatio to the plant so that it ‘comes with all its healing powers’. The article argues for an erudit...e origin for the precationes of the Curae herbarum, which borrow epithets, phraseology, and verbs of entreaty from the Precatio Terrae and the Precatio omnium herbarum. Moreover, the study of internal references in the precationes demonstrates that they were written with the intention of being placed before the medical recipes, but, for unknown reasons, were instead copied at the end of the chapters without ever occupying the place they were intended for.

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Women and Weasels: a Medico-religious Approach to Maternity in a Republican City of Lazio
Published October 10, 2021
71–82.

Medicine and magico-religious practices went hand in hand in Greco-Roman societies, because they attached enormous importance to divine manifestations. Insofar as the gods were present everywhere and in all circumstances, it was necessary to scrupulously respect the rituals which were practised in their honour. Without these rituals, peace with... the gods could be disrupted. In the town of Palestrina (Lazio), a votive deposit was unearthed near the foundations of a sanctuary. It contained several effigies of Juno as well as eight very original little statuettes with the breasts of a woman but the body of a weasel. In addition, there were also weasel’s bones and metal keys. Even though it seems logical to think that the religious complex and these offerings were evoted to the goddess, it is more difficult, however, to understand the link between Juno and the different offerings. Why were they placed there and by whom?

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How does a Goddess of the Earth became the Mistress of the Sea?
Published July 12, 2020
35–48

With the coming of the Ptolemaic dynasty to the Egyptian throne, the goddess Isis goes through a series of changes that will turn her into a very different divinity. This new Hellenistic or Greco-Roman Isis not only stands out for the degree of expansion attained throughout the Mediterranean world but also for displaying a series of attributes,... among which we highlight one in particular: Her role as goddess of the Sea. This not only changed the attitude of her devotees but also entailed deeper ritual implications, festivities and iconographic motifs. There are innumerable variations that brought about her “metamorphosis” into a maritime deity, especially since this was one of the most popular facets of Isis that penetrated the Roman Empire.

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