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On Roman ReligionLived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome$
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Jörg Rüpke

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704703

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704703.001.0001

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Testing the Limits of Ritual Choices

Testing the Limits of Ritual Choices

(p.64) 4 Testing the Limits of Ritual Choices
On Roman Religion

Jörg Rüpke

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores Propertian oeuvre's imagination of individual magic practices. Propertius presupposes a set of techniques, characterized by their high degree of ritualization, by the use of instruments or ingredients that do not appear in common or daily praxis. These are termed “magic” and they are clearly distinguished from the realm of the gods and such practices as are termed “sacred.” For Propertius, magic is neither antisocial nor the “religion of the others.” The aims of magical practices might be reached by other techniques of sacralization, but magic is as legitimately open to him as it is to others. However, the ingestion of potions is the most plausible explanation for magic's effects, and this is uncomfortably close to the crime of poisoning. Therefore, one must be wary of admitting responsibility for such magic, or of naming one's contractors. Believing, practicing, remaining silent—these are exactly the conditions that are valid for all imperial practitioners and specialists of magic.

Keywords:   magical practices, Propertius, ritualization, magic, sacralization, poisoning

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