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Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1993
From: "William M. Porter"
Subject: infixio/defixio

My neighbor to the north, John Lenz at Texas A&M, kindly brought to my attention the fact that I'd misused 'infixio' for 'defixio' in an earlier posting. I've never paid much attention to Latin curses until earlier this summer. But my blunder & John's note have sent me to the OLD and a few other places, and I have a couple questions. 'Infixio,' not too surprisingly, is not in the OLD at all. But I was a bit surprised to discover that 'defixio' isn't to be found there, either, or anything else that I can think might be the nom. sg. of 'defixiones' and 'defixionum' (gen. pl.), the two forms I have seen used. So what gives? The OLD does of course cite 'defigo' as "bind with a spell, bewitch" (meaning #5). But does anybody know about 'defixio'? Is it a medieval word? Or do I have the nominative wrong? Second question: In his Loeb vol. 4 edition of *Archaic Inscriptions* (p. 281), where I found the text of a deliciously nasty curse cast on one Plotius, Warmington mentions a "law against using defixiones." Can anybody tell me where this law can be found or how we know about it? (David Meadows, is this in your database?) There's some vaguely similar stuff in the Twelve Tables, but the words used seem to be compounds of cantare; I can't find defixio there. BTW, Warmington cites an article in AJP 31 (1912) titled "The Johns Hopkins Tabellae Defixionum", but I haven't had a chance to look for the article yet.

Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1993
From: David Meadows
Subject: Re: infixio/defixio

In my precaffeinated state (caveat!) I can find no mention of defixio in my database nor can I find it in any of the various legal sources I have kicking around here. I presume that Warmington is making a reference to what in FIRA2 (eds. riccobono et al) is Tabula 8.1 which (as you say) dealt with QUI MALUM CARMEN INCANTASSIT (the reference comes from Augustine, Civ. Dei. 2.9 citing Cicero). My bibliography on curses has the above-mentioned article (which was originally the author's Ph.D. thesis ... 32 pages ... sigh) plus one more: Audollent, A.M. *Defixionum Tabellae* which is all that I wrote down other than it seems to be a reprint (1967) of a much older work and has much Greek stuff. I knew about this because my office mate was working on this and had a copy of this on the shelf next to us but I only seem to have casually looked at it. As for the word defixio, does it not come simply from defigo (as you mentioned). As my caffeineless brain seems to recall, the vast majority of these tabellae contain some line like `with this spell I bind you' vel simm. as the first line. Hence, scholars have labelled these things tabellae defixionum (along the analogy of tabula heracleensis); that is, the word isn't `classical' as far as I can tell. I suspect that that is what you suspected.

Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1993
From: "William M. Porter"
Subject: Re: infixio/defixio

Thanks to David Meadows for clarifying the matter of 'defixiones' for me a little. I will add Audollent's 1967 piece to my list of things to track down on the subject. You said: I presume that Warmington is making a reference to what in FIRA2 (eds. riccobono et al) is Tabula 8.1 which (as you say) dealt with QUI MALUM CARMEN INCANTASSIT (the reference comes from Augustine, Civ. Dei. 2.9 citing Cicero). I have the *Confessions* at home but not the *City of God,* so I can't check right now; but fwiw, the Loeb edition of the XII Tables (ed. Warmington) cites this phrase ('qui malum carmen incantassit') out of Pliny the Elder, N.H. 28.17 [28.18 in the Penguin translation]. Augustine, Civ. Dei 2.9 (quoting Cicero, Rep. 4.12) is cited by Warmington as the source for Tablet 8.1a, "si quis occentauisset siue carmen condidiset, quod infamiam faceret flagitiumue alteri..."

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1993
From: Barbara Rodgers
Subject: Re: infixio/defixio

TLL s.v. defixio: defixio, -0nis f. a defigere (sub II E). Gloss. -es nekuomantiai, katadesmos.

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1993
From: Ian Tompkins
Subject: Re: infixio/defixio

Audollent is *much* older: Paris, 1904. Note also: J.G.Gager, *Curse tablets and binding spells from the ancient world*, Oxford University Press, 1992. Ian Tompkins, Classical Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1993
From: John R Lenz
Subject: Re: defixiones

Audollent is on the PHI 6 disk. it could use updating....

Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1993
From: Brian W Ogilvie
Subject: Re: Defixio (a possible etymology)

Having had a few free minutes at the library today, I thought I would look at Du Cange's Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis and see what he said about "defixio." S.v. there was only the note "Species sortilegii. Vide Vultivo." Looking under the latter produced the following remark: "VULTIVOLI dicuntur (verbis utor Joannis Sarisber. lib. 1 de Nugis Curial. cap. 12 'qui ad affectus hominum immutandos, in molliori materia, cera forte vel lima, eorum, quos pervertere nituntur, effigies exprimunt.' ... Atque inde forte genus sortilegii, DEFIXIO, videtur appellatum, quod scilicet ejusmodi incantatores acus subinde DEFIGERENT in imagines cereas, iis locis, quibus viros ipsos pungere decreverant, qui puncturas ipsas, ac si ipsi pungerentur, persentiebant." Du Cange defines "sortilegium" (also a non-classical word) as a species of divinatio, presumably in a very broad sense. I'm not an etymological expert and don't know how reliable Du Cange is on his derivations, but it certainly looks like a plausible etymology.

Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1993
From: Eugene Lane
Subject: Re: Defixio (a possible etymology)
Isn't "defixio" a fairly transparent calque of "katadesis" or "katadesmos"?

Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1993
From: "E.J. MONCADA"
Subject: Re: Defixio (a possible etymology)

DuCange shows the user as John of Salisbury and the book "De Nugis Curialibus." I thought that was Walter Map's book, or was it at some early period assigned to J.S.?
Culled from classics.log9308c and classics.log9308d.
Copyright © 2001 David Meadows
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