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Ancient Magic in Greece and Rome

A Hands-on Guide

Philip Matyszak


Bestselling author Philip Matyszak explores how the Greeks and Romans used magic, who performed it – and why

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Magic was everywhere in the ancient world. The supernatural abounded, turning flowers into fruit and caterpillars into butterflies. Magic packed a cloud of water vapour with energy enough to destroy a house with one well-aimed thunderbolt. It was everyday magic, but it was still magical.

Philip Matyszak takes readers into that world. He shows us how to make a love potion or cast a curse, how to talk to the dead and how to identify and protect oneself from evil spirits. He takes us to a world where gods, like humans, were creatures of space and time; where people could not just talk to spirits and deities, but could even themselves become divine; and where divine beings could fall from – or be promoted to – full godhood.

Ancient Magic offers us a new way of understanding the role of magic, looking at its history in all of its classical forms. Drawing on a wide array of sources, from Greek dramas to curse tablets, lavishly illustrated throughout, and packed with information, surprises, lore and learning, this book offers an engaging and accessible way into the supernatural for all.

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'It’s funny, it’s interesting and it’s informative. The author’s borderline cynical humour, ironic take in parts of the book, and his powers of comparison are thoroughly entertaining'
The Secret Library

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 19.5 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 208 pp

Illustrations: 82

Publication date: 6 July 2023

ISBN: 9780500026410

Contents List

Introduction: Discovering Ancient Magic
1. Talking to the Dead
2. Makers of Magic
3. Magic of Love and Hate
4. Magical Creatures
5. Protection against the Arts of Darkness
6. Looking to the Future

About the Author

Philip Matyszak has a doctorate in Roman history from St John's College, Oxford. He is the author of many books on classical civilization, including Chronicle of the Roman Republic, The Enemies of Rome, The Sons of Caesar, Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day, Ancient Athens on Five Drachmas a Day, Lives of the Romans (with Joanne Berry), Legionary, Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World and The Greek and Roman Myths.

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