Sunday, February 25, 2018


Charms of Zois

Auguste Audollent, Defixionum Tabellae (Paris: Albert Fontemoing, 1904), p. 138, number 86 = Eric Ziebarth, Neue Verfluchungstafeln aus Attika, Boiotien und Euboia, number 22 (from Boeotia, now in Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Inv. 9363), tr. Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World, ed. John G. Gager (1992; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 85-86, with footnotes:
(Side A) I assign Zois the Eretrian, wife of Kabeira, to Earth and to Hermes— her food, her drink, her sleep, her laughter, her intercourse,1 her playing of the kithara,2 and her entrance,3 her pleasure, her little buttocks,4 her thinking, her eyes ...
(Side B)5 and to Hermes (I consign) her wretched walk, her words, deeds, and evil talk ...

1. The Greek term sunousia could be used of social or sexual intercourse.
2. A common musical instrument, related to the zither.
3. The Greek term parodos might mean "entrance" or "passage," thus designating a particular way of entering a room. But it was also used as a technical term in Greek theater and could refer to public recitation. Here it may also have sexual overtones.
4. The Greek term pugeón generally referred to the buttocks but might also be used of certain kinds of dancing, which seems to fit well here where other aspects of performance or entertainment are in focus.
5. The writing on Side B is quite fragmentary.
The Greek:
A.1 παρατίθομαι Ζο-
ίδα τὴν Ἐρετρικὴν
τὴν Καβείρα γυναῖκα
[— τ]ῆ Γῆ καὶ τῶ Ἑρμῆ, τὰ βρώ-
ματα αὐτῆς, τὸν ποτᾶ, τὸν ὕ-
πνον αὐτῆς, τὸν γέλωτα,
τὴν συνουσίην, τὸ κιθ{φε}άρισ[μα] {κιθάρισμα}
αὐτῆς κὴ τὴν πάροδον αὐ-
[τῆς], τὴν ἡδον<ὴν>, τὸ πυγίον,
[τὸ] <φρό>νημα, {ν} ὀφθα[λμοὺς]
— —ααπηρη(?) τῆ Γῆ.
B.1 καὶ τῶ Ἑρμῆ τὴν
περιπάτη<σι>ν μοχθη-
ρ[ὰ]ν, ἔπεα [ἔ]ργα, ῥήματα κακὰ
καὶ τὸ — — —
Some discussions:
Who commissioned this curse tablet directed against Zois? Some think it was a romantic rival for her husband Kabeira's affection, others that it was a fellow musician seeking to upstage her and acquire her business clients. Maybe it was just another woman, envious of Zois' charms. Her naughty way of sashaying around (περιπάτησιν μοχθηρὰν) and entering a room (πάροδον) was quite fetching, I imagine, especially with her diminutive derrière (πυγίον). For some reason I'm reminded of Horace's "dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo, / dulce loquentem."

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