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Title: Witches in the Roman world : a literary and sociological study
Author: McGuire, L. H.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1994
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The subject of this study is a number of women in the Latin Literature of the Augustan Age and Early Empire who used magic. Such figures occur in the following works: Virgil Eclogue 8 (character not named), Aeneid 4 (Dido and the priestess), Horace Satire 1.8 and Epodes 5 and 17 (Canidia, Sagana, Veia and Folia), Ovid Amores 1.8 (Dipsas) and Fasti 2.571 (an old woman performing rites to Tacita), Lucan Pharsalia 6 (Erichtho), Petronius Satyricon (Proselenus and Oenothea) and Apuleius Metamorphoses (Meroe and Pamphile). The aim of the thesis is to understand first who these figures were and second why they existed in Latin literature. This requires first a study of the figures themselves within Latin literary tradition: there are nine main texts and they will be studied in order to see who the women were (age, social status), physical appearance, the activities they perform and the powers they attain through such activities. Secondly, it is necessary to see the debt of these aspects to both Greek literary tradition and to Roman social evidence. Previously most of the work on this topic has been in commentaries on these figures within literature, and some theorising on their reality as witches. Terminology is also important. The way in which the ancients understood these figures can be discovered not only in their physical portrayal, but in the Latin terms used to refer to them and what these terms meant. Equally care must be taken in translating such terms into English. On the whole scholars seem to use a variety of English words when referring to these figures, such as "witch", "sorceress", "magician" and "enchantress"; usually without precise definition. Of this group, "witch" is the most problematic as the term has several meanings, one of which implies complex social phenomena.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available