The Real Tools of Magic: Pamphile’s Macabre Paraphernalia (Apuleius, Met. 3,17,4-5)


  • Leonardo Costantini



This study aims to shed new light on the references to the materiality of magic in the description of the witch Pamphile’s laboratory at Apul. Met. 3,17,4-5. Through comparing this passage with earlier descriptions of magical paraphernalia in Horace, Lucan, and Petronius and by drawing parallels with non-literary evidence – especially the Papyri Graecae Magicae and the Defixionum Tabellae – it will be shown how Apuleius borrows from the material culture of magic to provide his readership with an exceptionally realistic and gruesome account. 

Leonardo Costantini is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, where he is working on a new commentary on Apuleius’ Metamorphoses 3 to complete the GCA series. His research focuses on the literary and textual aspects of Apuleius’ literary works, the ancient novels, writings of the Second Sophistic, taking into account their socio-cultural background with particular attention to Greco-Roman magic. A reworked version of his doctoral dissertation, devoted to Apuleius’ Apologia and magic, is forthcoming at De Gruyter, series: Beiträge zur Altertumskunde.