Magic and Love at Oxyrhynchus

I've already covered an amulet against elephantiasis, and lead curse tablets. Magic in the ancient world often covered love, and the same is true of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which included love charms. Christian magic spells are also preserved from Oxyrhynchus, showing that it was not just a pagan phenomenon.

When magic failed, the people in Roman Egypt could always consult an ancient dating manual. Part of one, written by a woman in the 2nd century BC is preserved. The Art of Love by Philaenis:
Fr. 1 col. 1, lines 1-4:
‘Philaenis of Samos, daughter of Okymenes wrote the following things for those wanting ... life ...’
The beginning is reminiscent of the opening of Herodotus’ Histories. Philaenis, however, begins with ‘How to Make Passes’ (peri peirasmon), then a section on seduction through flattery (‘say that he or she is “godlike”...isotheon’), followed by a section on kissing (peri philemat[on]). The style was simple, the treatment summary and matter of fact. The work represents the technical prose tradition on which Ovid drew in his elegiac didactic poem Ars Amatoria.
The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. XXIX no. 2891

No comments:

Post a Comment

I do not moderate comments, but I remove spam, overt self-promotion ("read [link] my much better post on this") and what I consider hate speech (racism, homophobia etc).

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.