Magic & Witchcraft in Ancient Greece & Rome – Prof. Marguerite Johnson – 7 Lecture Course

In this special seven-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes us on a magical mystery tour of magic and witchcraft in ancient Greece and Rome, with a sprinkling of Egyptian occult practices. Each lecture introduces a particular type of magic; is extensively illustrated with archaeological evidence; features excerpts from ancient writing; and includes a fascinating reading list for those interested in pursuing the topics in more detail. 

Amulets in the Ancient World: June 25th – Lecture IV

Considering the widespread practice of magic – both healing and harmful – in ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, the use of amulets was widespread. From charms to protect babies and children, to the ithyphallic wall plaques in Pompeii to protect homes and business, amulets adorned and decorated the bodies and buildings of antiquity. In this lecture we look at some of the most precious and ornate amulets, to the cheaper ones for people on a budget, as well as some examples of instructions on how to make them as preserved in magical papyri.   

For a peak preview of some of the topics we’ll be looking at, read Marguerite Johnson’s ‘Scarabs, phalluses, evil eyes — how ancient amulets tried to ward off disease’, The Conversation, September 15, 2020: 

You may also like Michael Arnold’s ‘The Magic Amulets of Ancient Egyptian Mummies for Eternal Life’, The Collector, October 20, 2020: 


Marguerite Johnson is a classical scholar who works on ancient Mediterranean cultural studies, particularly gender, sexuality, and the body. She also researches ancient magic, particularly the portrayal of witches, in Greek and Latin literature. When she’s not thinking about the ancient world, Marguerite researches and writes on the 20th-century Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton, with whom she has held a fascination since childhood, as well as modern aspects of sexuality and gender. Marguerite was, until 2022, Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Newcastle, Australia. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day