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Daughters of HecateWomen and Magic in the Ancient World$
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Kimberly B. Stratton and Dayna S. Kalleres

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342703

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342703.001.0001

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Victimology or: How to Deal with Untimely Death

Victimology or: How to Deal with Untimely Death

(p.386) 14 Victimology or: How to Deal with Untimely Death
Daughters of Hecate

Fritz Graf

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines a class of tomb inscriptions that respond to the untimely death of a loved one by invoking divine vengeance upon an unknown magical assailant. This type of grave inscription appears infrequently given the large number of inscriptions for those who died young, indicating that suspicion of magical foul-play was not the most common way to understand an untimely death. Drawing on anthropological theory, it proposes that magic accusations arise most often in situations where social roles and boundaries remain ambiguous and undefined. In such contexts, vague insinuations and calls for divine vengeance on epitaphs could release tension without creating social ruptures in tight-knit ancient communities. The evidence for accusations of magic (both epigraphic and textual) indicate that ancient accusations finger men in only slightly fewer cases than women.

Keywords:   tomb inscription, untimely death, magic, accusation, suspicion, vengeance, tension

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