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 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

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

£6 - £10 & By Donation

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