Nemo non metuit: Magic in the Roman World


Edited by Elizabeth Ann Pollard and Fabrizio Conti

Publication date: October, 2022

Pages: 554, colour

ISBN 978-615-6405-44-9        Paperback, €63.00

ISBN 978-615-6405-43-2        Hardcover, €147.00

eISBN 978-615-6405-42-5       eBook, €63.00

For any unavailable copies on our website, please refer to our distributors: ISD LLC for North and South America and EUROSPAN for Europe and the rest of the world.


Introduction  Download PDF


Magical Gems. A Roman development of Etruscan, Greek and Phoenician scarab amulets (8th – 5th c. BCE)

Ronaldo G. Gurgel Pereira


Change and Continuity in Curse Tablets from the Roman World

Charlotte Spence


Pursuing Health by Pursuing Disease. The Use of Spells and Amulets to Address Malaria in Roman Antiquity

Yvette Hunt


“Erotic” Spells, Stalking, and the Exclusus Amator in Ancient Rome

Elizabeth Ann Pollard


Magic to steal, magic to love, magic to heal: veneficia, defixiones, devotiones in the Naturalis historia by Plinius the Elder

Alfredo Viscomi


Cursing Patterns and Religious Belief. Studying the Prevalence of “Judicial Prayers” in Roman Britain

Madeline Line


How Lucan Kills Magic. Magic and the vates in Book Six of Lucan’s Bellum Civile

Caolán Mac An Aircinn


Abjection and Anxiety: The Metamorphosis of the Roman Literary Witch

Nicole Kimball


Foreseeing the Future: The Role of Women between Magic and Divination

Angelica Flandoli


Orpheus and the Evolution of the Roman Witch

Britta Ager


Memories of Apollonius of Tyana: Sorcerer, Holy Man and Rival of Jesus Christ

Semíramis Corsi Silva


Si Crimina Demas: Necromancy in Roman Literature and Statius’ Transgressive Manto

Anna Everett Beek


The Magic of Isis-Fortuna in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

Ashli Baker


Pagan and Christian Identities in the Later Roman Empire: Maximus of Turin and His Sermons on Magic and Superstition

Fabrizio Conti


A World Imbued with Sorcery? The Fight between Christian and non-Christian Powers in Fourth- and Fifth-Century Christendom

Andrea Maraschi

Data sheet

Elizabeth Ann Pollard, Fabrizio Conti
Trivent Medieval
Book series
Advances in the History of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion
Book series editor(s)
Fabrizio Conti
ISBN (hardcover)
ISBN (paperback)
Publication date
October, 2022
Page numbers

Specific References

“Nemo Non Metuit”: Magic in the Roman World discusses some of the fundamental themes in the development of the idea of magic, in all its facets, in the long chronological span of the Roman world, between the 8th century BCE and the 5th century CE. At the same time, this volume is the result of a team effort that has brought together both accomplished scholars and young researchers at the beginning of their scholarly careers. Altogether, this ample work is the result of a synergy that brought together different approaches to the study of Roman magic. The broad content of this volume includes studies on magical gems of Etruscan, Greek and Phoenician background; curse tablets; amulets targeting malaria; erotic spells; the use of veneficia or poisons for magical purposes; judicial prayers in Roman Britain; witches in the literary tradition; the role of women in the matter of magic and divination; the figure of the “Orphic witch” in the age of Augustus; sorcerers and rivals of Jesus Christ; early-Christian sermons against magic and superstition; the fight of late-antique Church against magical powers. By addressing such a diverse spectrum of topics, this volume aims to challenge traditional views and open new paths of interpretation in the reconstruction of a long-term cultural-historical object such as magic in connection to the Roman civilization.

ELIZABETH ANN POLLARD is Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence at San Diego State University, where she has been teaching courses in Roman History, World History, and witchcraft studies since 2002. Her research has investigated women accused of witchcraft in the Roman world as well as the exchange of goods and ideas between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean in the early centuries of the Common Era. Pollard is currently working on two comics-related projects: an analysis of comics about ancient Rome over the last century and a graphic history exploring the influence of classical understandings of witchcraft on their representations in modern comics. Apart from her work on magic, Pollard is co-author of Worlds Together Worlds Apart Concise, the WTWA Full 6th edition, and the Worlds Together Worlds Apart, Companion Reader (W.W. Norton).  She has also published on various pedagogical and digital history topics, including writing about witchcraft on wikipedia, tweeting on the backchannel of the large lecture, and digital humanities approaches to visualizing Roman History. 

FABRIZIO CONTI (PhD, Central European University, 2011) is a lecturer in History at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy, as well as an Arts and Humanities Advisor at the American Academy in Rome. His teaching and research interests span the late antique, medieval, and renaissance periods, with an interdisciplinary approach to cultural and religious developments and special focus on the history of magic and witchcraft. His publications include the monograph Witchcraft, Superstition, and Observant Franciscan Preachers: Pastoral Approach and Intellectual Debate in Renaissance Milan (Brepols, 2015) and the edited volume Civilizations of the Supernatural: Witchcraft, Ritual, and Religious Experience in Late Antique, Medieval, and Renaissance Traditions (Trivent, 2020). 

Magic in Western antiquity existed within a social and cultural context quite different from the subsequent Christian-dominated cultures of medieval and early modern Europe. Yet ancient ideas of magic and stereotypes about various kinds of magical practitioners profoundly influenced later conceptions. The essays collected in this volume all properly set Roman magical beliefs and practices in their own specific contexts. The volume as a whole, however, also looks forward, positioning Roman magic as an essential basis from which later beliefs and practices either developed or in many cases were consciously reshaped in light of the received authority of Roman models.

These essays span the full range of magic’s history in the Roman world, from real practices performed via physical objects that we can in some cases still hold in our hands today (gems, curse tablets) to literary constructions that exerted tremendous force on both contemporary and subsequent imaginings about how magic operated and who magicians were supposed to be. Focus falls on the imperial center and on the provinces, and extends chronologically from Rome’s own appropriation of the magical practices of earlier cultures to the critical metamorphosis that ideas about magic underwent in late antiquity, as Christian beliefs became dominant across the classical world. With this breadth, the volume provides an excellent introduction to Roman magic and an essential basis for those interested in magic in later periods as well.

Michael D. Bailey, Iowa State University

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