Skip to Main Content

CLAS 3240: Magic in the Ancient World: Home

Magic in the Ancient World

About Magic in the Ancient World

Welcome to Magic in the Ancient World, a course designed to introduce you to the main themes and ideas of ancient magic from the eighth century B.C.E. through the sixth century C.E. We will explore the social, ritual, and ideological contexts of Greco-Roman magic, with a particular emphasis on ancient practitioners and their wares. Additionally, we will compare Greco-Roman magical practices with those of other contemporary traditions, including ancient Judaism and Christianity, and will explore where these traditions overlap and intersect. Through a combination of lectures, peer-facilitated discussions, and student writing assignments, we will actively engage and critically analyze the documents left to us by or about ancient "witches, warlocks, seers, and saviors." By the end of the term you, the student, will possess the skills needed to study ancient magic academically and will have expertise in various methods used to analyze and discuss ancient texts and their relevance within contemporary contexts.  Readings from BC Library will require a BC email login; it is advisable to log in to the library reources at the start of each session. For external links you will be directed outside of this site.

Topics and Readings

Contact and Discuss

Please email Brian Sowers, Emily Fairey, or Miriam Deutch for more information about this site, or the Open Educational Resources and Alternative Textbooks Project. For our Discussion Forum, register for a Libguides account.

Gallery of Magical Illustrations



Image Attributions

Open Educational Resource Information

Unless otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This course website contains copyrighted materials available only for your personal, noncommercial educational and scholarly use. This site is used in accordance with the fair use provision, Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act where allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Every effort has been made to provide attribution of copyrighted content. If you wish to use any copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain expressed permission from the copyright owner. If you are the owner of any copyrighted material that appears on this site and believe the use of any such material does not constitute "fair use", please contact Professor Michael Bergen to have the content removed, if proven necessary.

This open educational resource was created as part of the CUNY and SUNY 2017-19 Open Educational Resources Initiatives. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NY State Legislature awarded CUNY and SUNY $16 million to implement open educational resources to develop, enhance and institutionalize new and ongoing open educational resources across both universities.

Special thanks to the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs, the CUNY Office of Library Services, Brooklyn College Administration and Professor Miriam Deutch, Coordinator, Brooklyn College Open Educational Resources Initiative. Site design and formatting by Emily Fairey, OER Developer.