This paper presents a detailed overview of an in-progress book project that collects, collates published textual variants of, and translates all extant Attic defixiones from all periods, classical through Roman. The project—a collaboration between German, American, and Greek scholars—addresses a major shortcoming in the field. Since Wünsch’s IG III.3 volume (1897), there has been no truly comprehensive edition of Greek curse tablets, with the result that any particular text may be published in many different forms by a number of different scholars. Audollent (1904), the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (SEG), the Bulletin épigraphique, and Jordan (1985, 2000), and numerous others have edited or surveyed editions of certain collections and corpora of tablets. Gager (1992) and López Jimeno (1999) have offered translations (English and Spanish, respectively) of a large number of tablets, but still not all. Until a new edition of IG III.3 is completed, the project presented in this paper offers a comprehensive solution for scholars, students, and instructors looking to work with Greek-language curses from Athens and its environs.
Targeted at a broad audience, from specialist to casual reader, the project begins with a substantial introduction on the historical, material, and cultural context of the Attic defixiones, and on recent interpretive work in the field of ancient magic. For each tablet, the date and provenance (if known), a Greek text, English translation, and sociohistorical commentary are provided. Given both the wide intended readership and the fact that autopsy of the tablets was not possible (and in some cases the tablets themselves are now lost altogether), textual notes—on emendations, cruxes, and the like—are given in English, rather than a more bulky Latin apparatus criticus. Similarly, to aid accessibility of the Greek to a wider range of students, the texts are corrected to standard classical Greek orthography (e.g., τÎ®ν instead of τÎ®μ or καλοá¿¦ instead of καλÈ); variant spellings and post-classical orthographic developments are indicated in the textual notes that accompany the text. The reader also contains certain non-Attic tablets that have been treated (by Wünsch and others) as standard parts of the Attic curse tablet corpora, though a systematic search for tablets from Boeotia, Euboea, or Aegina has not been undertaken. The reader also includes multiple indices and comprehensive concordances of numberings and publications of the tablets.
After briefly overviewing such editorial considerations, this paper presents a case study of two defixiones, the first a “letter to the underworld” curse tablet from Wünsch’s IG III.3 volume (no. 102, published also at Gager no. 104, Wilhelm pp. 112–113, Versnel p. 65, Bravo pp. 203–204, SEG 37.219, and López Jimeno 2001 no. 102), and the second from the body of publications postdating Wünsch, a curse against bronze-workers found in the Agora (Young p. 223, Burford p. 163, Jordan 1985 no. 20, Camp pp. 140–141, SEG 40.273, Gager no. 71, Curbera-Jordan, López Jimeno 1999 no. 20, and López Jimeno 2001 no. 214). Each tablet is relatively short but has prompted not only numerous editions but also several different readings of the text. The complete components of the book project will be provided for each tablet: date and provenance, text, translation, commentary, textual notes. Examination and audience discussion of the tablets, their presentation in the source reader format, and the progress of the project will highlight both the value and the challenges of studying Greek defixiones.