Suggestions for Further Reading



A Highly-Recommended Website on Magic:


"Magic in Late Antiquity," an exhibit at the University of Michigan prepared by Prof. Gideon Bohak



For Further Reading on Magic in Antiquity:


A good, broad work on the nature of astrology and its role in society. Easier to find and less prone to goofiness than Cramer, this book is the best starting point for learning about astrology in Roman times.


Translations of hundreds of fascinating spells and magical handbooks. Essential. Now in paperback!


Highly detailed discussion of astrology, as well as solar religion, covering a period of several centuries. Its two appendices feature important discussions of criminal charges for practicing astrology and expulsions of astrologers from Rome. Useful because it covers a wide range; to be handled with caution because of occasional flights of fancy by the author. Recently republished by Ares.


Excellent collection of studies on wide range of magical phenomena, including curse tablets, tomb curses, herbal magic, erotic magic, divination, etc. Now in paperback!


Broad and richly-detailed examination of protective magic in Greece.


Extremely valuable work, featuring translated texts of over a hundred curse tablets and excellent discussions of the different sorts of binding spells. Useful to scholars, but still approachable enough for non-specialists. (Despite the importance of this book to the field of ancient magic, Oxford University Press has not come out with a paperback edition, and the $55 cost of the hardback puts it well beyond the range of affordability for most potential buyers. Please take time to e-mail O.U.P. and request that they consider producing a paperback.)


A very good overview and analysis of ancient magic. Unlike other works which focus on a particular area of magic (e.g., Barton, Faraone, Gager), the value of this work is that it surveys numerous magical practices and forms of evidence. Originally published in French, this recent translation is the best available general treatment of Greco-Roman magic, and therefore fills what had been a very large gap.


Collection of source materials on ancient magic, mostly literary. Very approachable, though far from complete or representative of the overall evidence for magic in Greco-Roman antiquity.


Does a fine job putting magicians, astrologers, etc. in the proper social context. The rest of the book deals with treason, brigandage, mass unrest, and more, so it also should be of interest to those who enjoy reading about Roman history.


Very rich collection of magical texts used by early Christians.


Another collection of scholarly studies, though somewhat more esoteric than Faraone & Obbink.


Controversial study seeking to put Jesus in the context of Near Eastern sages and miracle-workers. An excellent starting point for learning about the traditional figure of the holy man in Roman Palestine and elsewhere in the region.


[Note that each of these books is currently in print and generally affordable. It is unlikely that they can be found in a public library, but can no doubt be ordered by your local independent bookseller. See the Bibliography for a somewhat fuller - though by no means complete or representative - list of works about ancient magic. In addition, John-Gabriel Bodard of the University of Reading has been amassing a very good on-line bibliography on ancient magic, at Magic Bibliographies and Resources. The bibliographies of several of the books listed above, however, are far more complete, especially Faraone & Obbink and the second edition of Betz.]



For Further Reading on Religion in Roman North Africa:


A very broad and detailed study. Can be used by those seeking to understand the context of Apuleius's religious beliefs and activities.


And finally...


For those of you who wish to be exposed to magic in our own society: Arcana, a Website dedicated to modern paganism, witchcraft, magic, and so on.