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Lived Religion or Christian Sacrilege? Ritual Practice in the Homilia de Sacrilegiis.

Date & Time:
March 22, 2019 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
SS 541
William Klingshirn (Ph.D., Classics, Stanford, 1985) is Margaret H. Gardiner Professor of Greek and Latin at the Catholic University of America. He specializes in the history and culture of the late antique Mediterranean world. His current research focuses on diviners and divination in late antiquity. His most recent book, My Lots are in Thy Hands, a volume of essays on sortilege in late antiquity, was co-edited with AnneMarie Luijendijk and published in Brill’s series Religions in the Graeco-Roman World. He currently serves as Director of the Center for the Study of Early Christianity at Catholic University.

The Homilia de Sacrilegiis survives in a single manuscript of the eighth century CE. Probably composed in what is now southern Germany or Switzerland and addressed to a centuries-old (and not, as previously thought, recently converted) provincial Christian population, it is a learned compilation of dozens of magical, healing, and divinatory practices. Labeled as ‘sacrilegious’ and ‘pagan’ by the anonymous author, these practices were arguably elements in a lived Christian religion that the Homilia was meant to discourage. This talk will explore some of the practices most closely connected to the Roman and late Roman world, such as amulets, spells, divinatory techniques, and anti-demonic procedures such as suffumigation. It will focus on continuity and discontinuity with traditional practice, as well as on a few practices seemingly unattested in other sources.