Magic in the XII Tables

Kudryavtseva Tatiana V.

The article focuses on two laws if the XII Tables, the so-called anti-magic laws of the VIII table. The author doubts some scholars’ conjecture about the presence of venena or venenum in the lost part of the text of the law concerning spoiling crops by means of incantation. The trial of Chresimus is discussed. As for the expression malum carmen (from the law about chanting an evil song) in Pliny and Cicero, the author agrees with the scholars who point out that the word occentare originally had to do with magical practices and that Cicero (or his source) misunderstood the meaning of the citation from the ancient law. However, the notion of evil song (as well as that of curse) in a wider sense could imply not only magical harm, but various kinds of abuse. That is why later on the law was reinterpreted as one about slander.

Keywords: Laws of the XII tables, ancient magic, incantation, potion (venenum), malum carmen, occentare.
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