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  • 1 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Institut für Romanische Philologie Ludwigstr. 25 80539 München Deutschland
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Defixiones or curse tablets give evidence of a magical practice — widespread in ancient Greece and Rome — that was “intended to influence, by supernatural means, the actions or welfare of persons or animals against their will.” These curse inscriptions are an important written source for linguists, since they document an everyday non-literary language use; at the same time they can provide direct information about the verbal elements of an ancient magic ritual. The purpose of my study on the Latin defixionum tabellae , that I collected into an electronic database, is to analyze the magical spells from a pragmalinguistic point of view. This approach considers language within its context, i.e. it does not only concentrate on grammatical structures but views language as a functional whole within a special communicative setting.