Magic and Mystery in the Ancient World
This course surveys the evidence for magic and the occult in antiquity, focusing on the traditions of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Topics covered include theoretical approaches to magic, practitioners (witches, sorcerers, and priests), magical objects (curse tablets, voodoo dolls, and amulets), magical words (spells and prayers), ancient mystery cults, and the interaction between early Christianity and magic. Special attention will be paid to how ancient individuals interacted with the unseen world in their daily lives, and when and how they employed the services of professional magicians. Readings of ancient sources in translation and classroom discussion.