File Under, Research I Can’t Use

Awhile back I posted a gross yet interesting thing from my Aztec Dance Tunes’ research that I couldn’t use. Here’s another remarkable tidbit of unusableness from an interview with Christopher Faraone about Ancient Greek love magic:

The other thing that struck me about these spells is that they are used by men to inflict great pain and suffering on women, but the men want the pain and suffering to stop when the women arrive at their door. Thus a common formula reads something like this: "Burn, whip, torture the heart, the liver, the body of Ms. X, until she leaps from her home and comes to me, Mr. Y." The assumption of the users of these spells is that these women are not going to make love to them or even look their way unless some supernatural torture is applied to them to force them to come. One of the ideas that I explore in my book is that you have the same kind of assumption and the same application of force in a certain type of marriage in the Greek world called bridal theft, or abduction marriage, a form of kidnap or elopement that was still practiced in Greece and the Balkans even in the 1950s. In more traditional places where a man was interested in a woman and there’s no way for them to get together–maybe she’s from a higher socioeconomic bracket–he might get a bunch of his buddies together and kidnap her. In some cases, however, he might do this with the tacit agreement of her parents, who might be glad to forgo the expense of a wedding or a dowry. There is not enough evidence for me to actually prove this, but I suspect that erotic spells were a kind of supernatural form of abduction marriage. That’s the sociological frame, but when you’re working in the ancient world there are no certainties because we don’t have a lot of good evidence even for this kind of marriage.

Of course, maybe I’ll use some of it in the next one… in which I will definitely be modeling the heroine’s father sorta, kinda on Professor Faraone himself. An idea of great joy.

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