In the News: Third-Century Egyptian Curses Translated

Oxy 275

Photo of a curse also translated by Maltomini, P.Oxy.LXV 4468.

An Italian researcher at the University of Udine has translated a third-century Egyptian papyrus that appears to contain the templates for making curses. It is believed that this is a template because, although the curses are spelled out in full, space is left blank, presumably to fill in the name of the target.

Live Science had this to say:

The deciphered love spell invokes several gnostic gods. (Gnosticism was an ancient religion that incorporated elements of Christianity.) It says that the spell caster should burn a series of offerings in the bathhouse (the names of the offerings didn’t survive degradation) and write a spell on the bathhouse’s walls, which Maltomini translated as follows:

“I adjure you, earth and waters, by the demon who dwells on you and (I adjure) the fortune of this bath so that, as you blaze and burn and flame, so burn her (the woman targeted)whom (the mother of the woman targeted) bore, until she comes to me…”

Then, the spell names several gods and magical words. It goes on to say, “Holy names, inflame in this way and burn the heart of her…” until she falls in love with the person casting the spell.

The full article can be read here. Interesting to note that several gods are listed here—I’m eager to see a critical edition of these finds and learn which ones!

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