June 9

When we think of petitions to the celestial powers we usual think of blessings. But, since time immemorial, people have also sought to invoke the gods to bring harm upon their enemies. Consider, for example, the Imprecatory Psalms of the Old Testament where God is beseeched to smite one’s enemies.

Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. (Ps. 69: 22-25).

Then there were the Roman curse tablets inscribed on lead and thrown into wells or tombs, or buried in the earth so that through closer contact with the chthonic powers their potency is increased.

Spirits of the netherworld, I consecrate and hand over to you, if you have any power, Ticene of Carisius. Whatever she does, may it all turn out wrong. Spirits of the netherworld, I consecrate to you her limbs, her complexion, her figure, her head, her hair, her shadow, her brain, her forehead, her liver, her shoulders, her heart, her her eyebrows, her mouth, her nose, her chin, her cheeks, her lips, her speech, her breath, her neck, lungs, her intestines, her stomach, her arms, her fingers, her hands, her navel, her entrails, her thighs, her knees, her calves, her heels, her soles, her toes. Spirits of the netherworld, if I see her wasting away, I swear that I will you every year. will be delighted to offer a sacrifice to

I curse Tretia Maria and her life and mind and memory and liver and lungs mixed up together, and her words, thoughts and memory; thus may she be unable to speak what things are concealed.

Chariot races were hugely popular in the Roman and, later, the Byzantine world. Drivers worked for the various organizations named after colours: the Greens, the Blues, etc. These groups functioned variously as mutual-aid groups, religious sects, political partisans, and criminal gangs.

I call upon you, o demon, whoever you are and ask that from this hour, from this day, from this moment, you torture and kill the horses of the Green and White factions, and that you kill and crush completely the drivers Clarus, Felix, and Romanus, and that you leave not a breath in their bodies.

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