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. 

Magic in Greek and Roman Literature: Sept 24th – Lecture VII

In the west, the stereotype of the witch as a hag or, alternatively, as a femme fatale, has a long history that extends as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. Beginning with Homer’s exotic goddess-witch, Circe, to the murderous Medea, through to the truly horrifying and abject witches of Latin literature, we trace the origins of this stereotype and consider some of its most dangerous and deadly legacies as evident in the persecutions of later centuries.   

For a peak preview of some of the topics we’ll be looking at, read Caroline Tully’s ‘Erichtho: Wicked Witch of the West’, Necropolis Now, October 16, 2016: 

You may also like Shelby Brown’s ‘Potions and Poisons: Classical Ancestors of the Wicked Witch Part 2’, Getty, October 31, 2015: 

Evelyn De Morgan, The Love Potion, 1903, De Morgan Centre, London


Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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

Seo 24th 2023 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

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