angry roman women, witch, mosaic, pompeii, curse tablets

Bring back the curse tablet

News just in from the wonderful website atlasobscura.com. When Ancient Romans were completely pissed off they made curse tablets. Just imagine Mrs. Caecilius, really, really annoyed at Mr. Caecilius for not putting the cat out, sitting in the bath, chiselling away on a metal tablet all the things she’d like the goddess Minerva to do to him.

We know about Roman curse tablets because when archaelogists first excavated Bath’s Roman-era King’s bath, in the late 70s, they found hundreds of tiny metal objects. The Romans loved a bit of a hot spring – who doesn’t – but what really, really got their goat was when people stole their clothes. Nicked their towels. And that’s when the curse tablets came in.

The standard definition of the curse tablet, as put forth by David R. Jordan, is: “inscribed pieces of lead, usually in the form of small, thin sheets, intended to influence, by supernatural means, the actions or welfare of persons or animals against their will.” So you scratch out the crime and summon ancient magic. Bless the curse tablet.

Now, if we accept that Midult women have the power to unnerve; that everyone already thinks we are huddling in a coven (kitchen) cursing everyone in our witchery way, then we might as well go right ahead. Cut me up on a roundabout? Curse tablet. Ocado substitution? Curse tablet. No pay rise? Curse tablet. Wifi down? Curse tablet.

Ancient Historians also suspect that the tablets were read aloud to the general public, before being dropped into the ancient springs. Essentially like an ancient Twitter where you scrawl your accusatory characters and drop them into the internet slipstream. Now we know what the Romans have done for us…

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