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From their crystallisation in the late fifth century to their ultimate decline in the eighth, the Merovingian kingdoms were a product of a vibrant Mediterranean society with both a cultural past and a dynamic and ongoing dialogue between the member communities. By bringing together the scholarship of historians, archaeologists, art historians, and manuscript researchers, this volume examines the Merovingian world's Mediterranean connections. The Franks' cultural horizons spanned not only the Latin-speaking world, but also the Byzantine Empire, northern Europe, Sassanid Persia, and, after the seventh century, a quickly ascendant Islamic culture. Traces of a constant movement of people and cultural artefacts through this world are ubiquitous. As simultaneous consumers, adapters, and disseminators of culture, the degree to which the Merovingian kingdoms were thought to engage with their neighbours is re-evaluated as this volume analyses written accounts, archaeological findings and artefacts to provide new perspectives on Merovingian wide-ranging relations.
A curse tablet from fourth-century Attica exemplifies many aspects of what has come to be considered magic in Western thought/ Inscribed on a thick tablet. This chapter surveys the history of magic in Greece and Rome, up to and including the Republic, with the goal of illuminating both the emergence of magic as a discourse of alterity, or othering strategy, in Western thought. The corresponding influence this discourse had on the practice of rituals that came to be considered magic. Magic operated as a discourse of alterity that was part and parcel of the discourse of barbarism to marginalize certain people and practices, including peripatetic venders of cathartic healing, curse tablets, and unregulated domestic religion and women's control over it. The chapter also briefly surveys the debate among scholars of antiquity over defining magic and its use as a heuristic category for ancient societies in order to clarify how the operation of magic is understood as a social discourse.