A.5. The social and cultural implications of curse tablets [defixiones] in Britain and on the Continent

Geoff W. Adams


The central theme of this study is to analyse the idiosyncratic nature of the Romano-British interpretation of the use of defixiones and various 'prayers for justice'. The prevalence of revenge as a theme within this comparatively isolated Roman province is notable and clearly illustrates the regional interpretation that affected the implementation of this religious tradition. The Romano-British curse tablets were largely reactionary, seeking either justice or revenge for a previous wrong, which in turn affected the motivation that led to their production. This regional interpretation was quite different to their overall use on the continent, but even these examples frequently also exhibit some degree of local interpretation by their issuers.


Roman province; popular religion; curse tablets; defixiones; revenge

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