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Translations of Hellenistic Inscriptions: 137


CURSES FROM THE TEMPLE OF DEMETER AT KNIDOS

Date:   c. 100 B.C.
Format:   see key to translations

The lead tablets which contain these curses were discovered in 1859 in the ruins of the temple of Demeter at Knidos. This temple seems to have been popular with women, and almost all the curses were written by women. For a general discussion of the inscriptions found in the temple, see A.Chaniotis, "From Woman to Woman: Female Voices and Emotions in Dedications to Goddesses", pp.61-65 ( academia.edu ).

The translation of A is taken from H.S.Versnel, "Writing Mortals and Reading Gods", page 15 ( academia.edu ). The translation of B and D is taken from I.Salvo, "Sweet revenge: emotional factors in prayers for justice", page 253 ( academia.edu ). The translation of C and F is taken from C.Faraone, "Writing Curses, Crime Detection and Conflict Resolution at the Festival of Demeter Thesmophoros", page 34 ( academia.edu ). The translation of E is taken from E.Eidinow, "Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks", page 389 ( Google Books ).

The numbers in green are the numbers given to the tablets by A.Audollent in "Defixionum Tabellae" (Paris, 1904). A few badly damaged tablets have not been translated here.



[A] {DT 1}   Greek text:   IKnidos_147

I, Antigone, make a dedication to Demeter, Korē and all the gods and goddesses with Demeter. If I have given poison {or spells} to Asklapiadas or contemplated in my soul doing anything evil to him; or if I have called a woman to the temple, offering her a mina and a half for her to remove him from the living, if so may Antigone be burnt by fever and go up to Demeter and make confession, and may she not find Demeter merciful but instead suffer great torments. If anyone has Asklapiadas against me or brought forward the woman, by offering her copper coins . . .

. . . May it be allowed for me to come into baths and under the same roof and to the same table as the cursed person.

[B] {DT 2}   Greek text:   IKnidos_148

Artemis dedicates to Demeter and Korē and all the gods with Demeter, the person who did not return the cloak and the garments that I had left behind, even though I demanded them back. May he, in his own person, bring them back to Demeter; also if it is another person who has my possessions, may he be burnt internally by fever, publicly confessing. For me let everything be holy and free.

Let it be [allowed] for me to drink and eat together and to come under the same roof as the cursed person. For I am wronged, Lady Demeter.

[C] {DT 3}   Greek text:   IKnidos_149

To Demeter and Korē and the gods beside Demeter and Korē Nanas is consecrating those who received a deposit of money from Diokles and are not giving it back, but rather they deprive him of it. If they give it back, may things be lawful for them, but if they do not, unlawful, and may they [themselves] carry the deposit up to Demeter and Kore and [the gods] beside Demeter and Korē [because] they are being punished . . .

To Demeter and Korē and the gods beside Demeter and Korē Nanas is consecrating Emphanes and Rhodo, because they received a deposit from Diokles and are not giving it back, but rather they are depriving him of it. May things be lawful for me, but unlawful for them, if they do not give it back. But if in any way they bring any counter argument {or perhaps 'slander'} against me . . . {the bottom of the tablet is missing}

[D] {DT 4}   Greek text:   IKnidos_150

I hand over to Demeter and Korē the person who has accused me of preparing poisons against my husband. Let him go up to Demeter, burnt internally by fever, with all his [family], publicly confessing. And let him not find Demeter, Korē or the gods with Demeter to be merciful. For me let everything be holy and free. Let it be allowed for me to be safe when under the same roof or involved with him in any way. And I hand over also the person who has written charges against me or commanded others to do so. And let him not find Demeter, Korē, or the gods with Demeter merciful, but may he go up burnt internally by fever together with all his family.

I, Hegemonē, am [dedicating] the bracelet, which I lost [in the] gardens of Rhodokles, to Demeter and Korē and all the gods and goddesses with them. If he gives it back, may all things be lawful and free for him and for those who recovered the (?) reward and for me, because I recover the bracelet and for him, because he gave it back. But if he does [not] return it and if it is sold, for him let there be anger from Demeter, Korē and all the gods and goddesses who are with them.

I also dedicate to Demeter and Korē anyone who may have overcharged me if I have paid more than was due for the weight which I requested; mistress, may it be lawful for me.

I dedicate to Demeter and Korē the man who unsettles my home, both him now and all of his possessions. But may it be lawful and permissible for me in every way.

[E] {DT 5}   Greek text:   IKnidos_151

[Prosodiŏn dedicates] to Demeter and Korē and the [gods] with Demeter, whoever is taking away the husband of Prosodiŏn, [Nakon], from his children. Do not let Demeter nor any of the gods with Demeter be merciful to her, [whoever] receives from Nakon, adding to the misery of Prosodiŏn, but let Prosodiŏn be blessed, her and her children in every way. And any other woman who receives from Nakon the [husband] of Prosodiŏn, adding to the misery of Prosodiŏn. Do not let her meet with a merciful Demeter, nor the gods with Demeter, but let there be blessings for Prosodiŏn and her children in every way.

[F] {DT 6}   Greek text:   IKnidos_152

[. . . is dedicating] to Demeter and Korē . . . the cloak she lost. And if he gives it back, may Demeter be merciful to him, but if he does not give it back, may he carry it up by himself to Demeter and Korē, burnt by fever, and may he not find them merciful, until [he gives it back.]

[. . . is dedicating to Demeter and Korē . . .] the cloak she lost. [And if] he gives it back, may it be lawful, but if he does not give it back, may it be unlawful both for him and for all his household. May he carry it up to Demeter and Korē, burnt by fever, and may he [not] find her merciful . . .

[G] {DT 8}   Greek text:   IKnidos_153

[I dedicate to Demeter and Korē and all] the [gods] and goddesses with Demeter, Telesias and Philosthenes who . . . in love . . . shamefully, if as Trophimos son of Trophimos . . . and as in love . . . Trophimos to me . . . and to another woman . . . from Zeus . . . to [Hera] Teleia . . . may it be unlawful [to them] but [lawful] to me . . . may she be burnt up internally and confess . . .

May it be lawful for me in every way, both to receive and to give to her, or [to come under the] same [roof] and to [the same] table as her . . . for me [and] for all my [household] . . .

[H] {DT 9}   Greek text:   IKnidos_154

. . . of poison . . . and of Myronides . . . to the children . . . of the garment . . . to be avenged . . .

. . . may she not receive mercy . . . the garment . . . the impure woman, and may she not [receive] mercy if she has made for me poison either as a drink or ointment or by a spell, or if she has done this [to any] of us, mistress, and [may she] not . . . to me, or come under the [same roof, but] may she receive punishment, and [may it be lawful] for me . . . I, mistress, . . . am wronged by you . . . to trouble me . . . all punishment, but may it be [lawful] for me if I eat with her and come under the same [roof if] she goes in there as well . . .

[I] {DT 11}   Greek text:   IKnidos_156

I dedicate to Demeter and Korē and all the other gods, Dorothea who took my man. Demeter . . .

[J] {DT 14}   Greek text:   IKnidos_159

[I dedicate] to Demeter [and] Korē and the gods [with] Demeter, those who attacked me and whipped me and bound me and those who called them. May they not be propitiated, but [may it be] pure for me.


inscription 138


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