Lecture on Compilers of Magic

I will be giving a paper at the University of Florence, Istituto Papirologico Vitelli, March 16, 2023, even on webex (see below). It will be a great pleasure to see our Italian colleagues, Francesca Maltomini, Simona Russo, Marco Stroppa, Serena Ammirati. I will post some photos when I come back!

Egyptians in Athens: following the Trails of Words

December 13th 2022 I gave the Members Lecture at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

It is the year 458 BCE, and Aeschylus presents The Suppliants at the theatre of Dionysus in Athens. The plot of this tragedy brings a chorus of the daughters of Danaus to Argos, fleeing from a forced marriage to their Egyptian cousins, and Aeschylus places Egyptian words in the Greek speech of the actors. The Athenian audience had some knowledge of their southern neighbor. Not only had Herodotus and others described the marvels and rarities of the Land of the Nile, but there were also Egyptian born residents in Athens working at the harbor and the markets. Join us for a lecture that will attempt to hear their voices, by exploring The Suppliants and other sources that attest to the linguistic contact between Greece and Egypt before Alexander’s conquest of Egypt. Torallas-Tovar will treat Egyptian loan words in Greek as tokens of this exchange. When words are perceived as cultural artifacts rather than as merely lexical units, they break from the boundaries of linguistics and extend into social and historical contexts, helping us to understand the everyday exchange at the market, the street, the temple, the harbor in 5th century Athens. But as the old saying goes, verba volant: the context of these immaterial cultural artifacts is difficult to grasp.

New book

I am incredibly happy with this book. It has been long and careful work, side by side with wonderful scholars. I am so proud to announce its publication. I contains a series of essays that resulted from our careful studies of each individual formulary within the project Transmission of Magical Knowledge, and was published by Michigan University Press.

I. Libraries, Codices, and Rolls 

Chapter 1. Anatomy of the Magical Archive by Korshi Dosoo and Sofía Torallas Tovar

Chapter 2. Roll vs. Codex: The Format of the Magical Handbook by Korshi Dosoo and Sofía Torallas Tovar

Chapter 3. The Paleography and Dating of the Magical Formularies from Roman Egypt by Alberto Nodar 

II. Compositional and Redactional Patterns 

Chapter 4. Compositional Patterns in the Great Magical Papyrus of Paris (GEMF 57 = PGM IV) by Lynn R. LiDonnici

Chapter 5. The Composition of the Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leiden (GEMF 16 = PGM/ PDM XIV) by Korshi Dosoo

Chapter 6. GEMF 60 (PGM XIII): A Study of Material, Scribal, and Compositional Issues by Richard Gordon and Rachel Yuen- Collingridge

III. Distribution of Texts and Their History

Chapter 7. GEMF 74 (PGM VII): Reconstructing the Textual Tradition by Richard Gordon and Raquel Martín Hernández

Chapter 8. GEMF 15 (= PGM/ PDM XII): Production and Use of a Bilingual Magical Formulary by Panagiota Sarischouli

IV. Individual Recipes 367

Chapter 9. The Composite Recipes in GEMF 57 (= PGM IV) and How They Grew by Christopher A. Faraone

Chapter 10. The Rationale of Multi- Purpose Praxeis in the Formulary Tradition by Richard Gordon

Chapter 11. The Traffic in Magical Spells: Single- Sheet Formularies as Prompts for Oral Performance by Christopher A. Faraone.

From PGM IV to GEMF 57: New Approaches to the Great Paris Magical Codex

Chris Faraone and myself decided to dedicate full attention to an extraordinary codex, preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. It is a fourth-century CE papyrus codex from Upper Egypt. This handbook is over seventy inscribed pages long and is equivalent in length to four or five normal-sized papyrus rolls. The research team on the Transmission of Magical Knowledge project has been re-editing and re-translating all of the magical handbooks from Roman Egypt. This work has revealed that the papyrus codex from Upper Egypt, long understood as the “typical” or “model” handbook of the age, is, in fact, a marvelous outlier in the group, a manuscript that was probably never used for the preparation of quotidian magical spells, but rather a book to be read and to fire the imagination of its readers.

We organized a conference in which we honored this fascinating document with twelve talks, focusing on different aspects, both on its materiality and its content. For the program, go here.

Materiality of curse tablets

It is a pleasure to see books published, after a significant effort has been made to edit them. I am glad to present our latest piece, edited by Raquel Martín and myself, and with contributions by Jan N. Bremmer, Loretta Rossetti, and Arie Shaus. The book is open access here.

Papiros Mágicos en la Universidad de la Pampa

Fue para mí un gran honor abrir el XXVII Simposio Nacional de Estudios Clásicos con una conferencia plenaria sobre los papiros mágicos. Doy desde aquí las gracias a Paola Druille y Marta Alesso por haberme invitado a participar, y por el honor de abrir un congreso tan importante.

Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

It is certainly a honor to be part of this incredible institution. My husband and I arrived at the end of August and will stay until the end of June. I do not know how I will go back to any kind of normal life after being treated like a queen here!

Here is my profile at the WiKo: click

And a nice video as presentation: click


Jornadas de Papirología 9.5: a pesar de la pandemia

Esta semana hemos celebrado las Jornadas de Papirología, en una versión remota. Por eso las hemos llamado 9.5, porque se encuentran entre las IX y las X Jornadas, presenciales, que seguimos pensando celebrar el año que viene en Sevilla. La pandemia nos ha traído nuevas formas de comunicarnos. Quizá no sea el medio ideal, pero tiene ciertas ventajas: hemos tenido una audiencia como jamás habríamos soñado.

Caras conocidas, caras menos conocidas, hermanamiento con nuestros queridos colegas italianos, toda suerte de temas jurídicos, literarios, mágicos, bibliológicos y sociales. Ha sido un enorme placer.

Y puede que nos veamos antes de lo que pensáis: id afilando los cuchillos!

Aquí está el programa y los resúmenes.

Jornadas de Papirología 9.5 (16-17 Julio 2020)