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AN4432   Magic in the Greco-Roman World

Academic year(s): 2019-2020

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF Level 10

Semester: 2

Availability restrictions: Available to General Degree students with the permission of the Honours Adviser

Planned timetable: To be arranged

Greek and Roman literature demonstrates a long-lasting fascination with magic, from Homer's majestic and terrifying Circe to Lucan's revolting Erictho and beyond. Tall tales abound: the dead are reanimated, hearts are stolen (sometimes literally) and inanimate objects fetch more water than anyone could ever want. This interest in magic extended well beyond the realm of literature: lead curse-tablets, so-called 'voodoo dolls' and papyrus spell-books for the magician-for-hire indicate a vigorous practical interest too. Whether unlucky in love, tangled in litigation, or thwarted in business, there was (apparently) a spell to help. This module examines magic and related phenomena in Greek and Roman society. We will explore topics such as the connections between magic and gender, the complex relationship between magic in literature and in life, and the recurrent difficulty both then and now of distinguishing magic from science, philosophy and, above all, religion.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): As stated in the School of Classics Undergraduate Handbook

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 2 hour seminars (10 weeks)

Scheduled learning hours: 20

Guided independent study hours: 280

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: 3-hour Written Examination = 50%, Coursework = 50%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 50%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 50%

Re-assessment: 3-hour Written Examination = 100%


Module coordinator: Dr R T Anderson
Module teaching staff: Dr Ralph Anderson (RTA1)
Module coordinator email