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Magic and Ecology: Ancient Magic and the Nonhuman World

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This panel explores the relationship between place, power and bodies in ancient magic.

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19 March 2021: Podcast I Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe & Esther Eidinow

26 March 2021: Live Q&A I Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe & Esther Eidinow (chaired by Thomas Harrison)

One unexplored resource for thinking about the nonhuman is Greco-Roman religion and magic. This panel explores the relationship between place, power and bodies in ancient magic. How did specific landscapes embody spiritual beings? What was the role played by plants and animals in enabling the sorcerer to access secret powers? Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe and Esther Eidinow are Classicists with a special interest in the blurry line between nonhuman spirit-world and nonhuman creatures in Greco-Roman magic.

Speaker Biographies

Esther Eidinow

Esther Eidinow is Professor in Ancient History at the University of Bristol. Her expertise is ancient Greek society and culture, with specific focus on ancient Greek religion and magic. She has published monographs on oracles, curse tablets and binding spells, concepts of fate, luck and fortune, and the social emotions surrounding ‘witchcraft’ trials in classical Athens. Eidinow takes an interdisciplinary approach to research, employing cognitive and anthropological theories to investigate ancient evidence, with particular interest in questions about social emotions, the concept of the individual and ideas of the self, network theory, and the socio-cultural power of narrative. She is currently working on projects exploring narratives and environmental risk; myth and landscape; the idea of 'belief'; and concepts of change in the ancient world.

Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe

Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe is Lecturer in Patristics at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Divinity. Her research centres on the life and thought of the church in a “long” late antiquity (from the second to sixth centuries CE) in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean and further afield, especially in the Syriac-speaking world. Her PhD was on the political theology of Ambrosiaster, an anonymous Christian writer of the later fourth century. Her current major project is on late ancient ideas of the devil and demons, concentrating on notions of diabolical agency. She also has long-standing interests in patristic biblical exegesis, political thought, the history of liturgy, inter-religious relations in late antiquity, and magical texts and objects.

Chair: Thomas Harrison is Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews.

Image: © Charlotte Rodgers

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