Ancient Greek Love Magic

Ancient Greek Love Magic

by Christopher A. Faraone

Paperback(Revised ed.)

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The ancient Greeks commonly resorted to magic spells to attract and keep lovers—as numerous allusions in Greek literature and recently discovered "voodoo dolls," magical papyri, gemstones, and curse tablets attest. Surveying and analyzing these various texts and artifacts, Christopher Faraone reveals that gender is the crucial factor in understanding love spells. There are, he argues, two distinct types of love magic: the curselike charms used primarily by men to torture unwilling women with fiery and maddening passion until they surrender sexually; and the binding spells and debilitating potions generally used by women to sedate angry or philandering husbands and make them more affectionate.

Faraone's lucid analysis of these spells also yields a number of insights about the construction of gender in antiquity, for example, the "femininity" of socially inferior males and the "maleness" of autonomous prostitutes. Most significantly, his findings challenge the widespread modern view that all Greek men considered women to be naturally lascivious. Faraone reveals the existence of an alternate male understanding of the female as "naturally" moderate and chaste, who uses love magic to pacify and control the "naturally" angry and passionate male. This fascinating study of magical practices and their implications for perceptions of male and female sexuality offers an unusual look at ancient Greek religion and society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674006966
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/30/2001
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Christopher A. Faraone is Professor and Chairman of Classics, University of Chicago.

Table of Contents



The Ubiquity of Love Magic

Definitions and a New Taxonomy

The Advantages of a Synchronic and Comparative Approach

Spells for Inducing Uncontrollable Passion (Eros)

If Eros Is a Disease, Then Erotic Magic Is a Curse

Jason's Iunx and the Greek Tradition of Agoge Spells

Apples for Atlanta and Pomegranates for Persephone

The Transitory Violence of Greek Weddings and Erotic Magic

Spells for Inducing Affection (Philia)

Aphrodite's Kestos Himas and Other Amuletic Love Charms

Deianeira's Mistake: The Confusion of Love Potions and Poisons

Narcotics and Knotted Cords: The Subversive Cast of Philia Magic

Some Final Thoughts on History, Gender, and Desire

From Aphrodite to the Restless Dead: A Brief History of the Agoge Spell

Courtesans, Freedmen, and the Social Construction of Gender

Aelian's Tortoises and the Representation of the Desiring Subject




Subject Index

Index of Foreign Words

Index of Passages from Ancient Authors

Index of Magical Texts

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