But What Did She Do?

What follows is a loose translation (call it an ‘imitation’) of a portion of a curse tablet found in a grave in Cumae, Italy and now in the collection of the British Museum.  

Cumae had been the site of a Greek settlement, but the tablet, written in Greek, dates from the Roman Imperial period. 

Curse Tablet (DTAud 198)

The light reveals to the gods what things are
In the dark

Sever affection
Sever love

Bind the woman into Tartarus
Grant them who are in the light hatred of her

May she enter into the anger of the gods
And into fear

She, Valeria Kodratilla
Valeria Eunia bore her
Valerius Mystikus fathered her.


May he hate her
May he grasp forgetfulness of her

He, Vitruvius Felix
Vitruvia Maximilla bore him
Vitruvius Euelpistus fathered him.

. . . because she first dishonored Vitruvius Felix
Her own husband.

An ancient Greek curse tablet excavated in Kerameikos (Athens).

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at featsofgreek.blogspot.com.

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