Adjuration Formula with orkizo/adiuro in Greek and Latin Epigraphical Documentation



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description One of the persistent features of ancient Greek and Latin curse tablets is the use of various adjuration formulae, usually introduced by orkizo/adiuro and their compounds. These are very well attested, with no less than 68 Greek and 12 Latin defixiones extant. Greek curses with adjuration formulae come mostly from Africa, Egypt, Greece (including Cyprus) and Italy (esp. Rome), while Latin curses containing an adjuration formula are attested exclusively from Africa. On a syntactic level, adjuration formula may be simple (orkizo/adiuro + acc.) or complex (reinforced via prepositional phrase, usually introduced by kata/per). The primary addressee of the adjuration formula is usually a ghost of an untimely dead, who is compelled, by means of invoking magical names or other (usually higher) supernatural entities, to fulfil the wish of the author of the curse. This adjuration formula is, however, attested also in other Greek and Latin epigraphical documents (there are around 50 Greek and 19 Latin inscriptions extant, dated variously from 4th to 7th century CE), in most cases Christian epitaphs and other funerary inscriptions, as well as magical amulets. In our contribution, we present some tentative conclusions on the evolution of the structure and performative function of the adjuration formula in Greek and Latin epigraphical evidence from its earliest attestations (1st century CE) up to the end of Late Antiquity. Special focus is placed on the “pagan” vs. Christian specifics of use that significantly alter the semantics and the configuration of the formula. The longevity and persistence of this adjuration formula on magical amulets, up to 13th century CE are also of note.
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