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  • 1 University of Chicago, USA
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Summary

The recently published curse tablets from the sanctuary of Magna Mater in Mainz, from the hero shrines of Opheltes and Palaimon, and from the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, as well as a single curse tablet from late Roman Antioch invoking the “secret names” of the Samothracian deities, all suggest some connection between mystery religions and cursing. Two possible explanations are explored: (i) because initiates had special access to divine powers, their curses were thought to be especially powerful; or (ii) because these new discoveries fit two traditional types of defixiones: those placed in or at the graves of those violently killed, like Opheltes, or those placed in sanctuaries of female divinities, like Demeter, whose myths focus on the loss and return of a loved one from Hades.