Ancient Cultures: The Art of Magic

Course code AHIS2370Units 10Level 2000Faculty of Education and ArtsSchool of Humanities and Social Science

Deals with definitions of magic, witchcraft, religion and the connections between occult practices and religious belief/practice. Later lectures deal with the actual practice of various forms of magic in antiquity, beginning with those who practiced it, and concluding with the degrees of belief in such activities and reactions against them. Actual magic practices such as curse tablets, binding spells, alchemy and astrology are analysed. The second major component of the course is based on the fantasy world of magic and witchcraft in literature. In addition to looking at Greek and Roman literature there is a comparative element involving fairy-tales and material from the age of the Witch Hunts.

Not available in 2015

Objectives1. Knowledge of Ancient Magic
1.1 To offer students a sound, discipline-based study of ancient magic
1.2 To foster an interest in the course and its various components

2. Appreciation of Ancient Cultural Influence
2.1 To establish and develop connections between the course, its social and cultural heritage and other subjects taught within the School of Humanities
2.2 To encourage and strengthen linkages between the social and cultural worlds of ancient Greece and Rome and the historical and social environments of Western society

3. The Development of Communication Skills
3.1 Oral communication
3.2 Written communication
3.3 Electronic communication

4. Research Development
4.1 Independent research skills
4.2 An ability to communicate the products of research in a clear, concise and analytical manner
Content1. Introduction:
a) Definitions of Magic and Witchcraft
b) Magic and Religion: Similarities and Differences
2. The Deities of Magic Practitioners
3. The Practitioners Themselves
4. Reasons for the Practice of Magic and Witchcraft
5. Curse Tablets, Binding Spells, Voodoo Dolls
6. Magical Papyri and Spell-books
7. Amulets
8. Prophecy, Divination and Astrology
9. Alchemy
10. Herbalism (for healing and harm)
11. Belief in the Degree of the Efficacy of Magic; Reactions to the Practice of Occult Arts; Magic as Charlatanism; Laws Against Magic
12. Magic and the Occult in Literature:
a) The Tools of the Witch
b) Greek Witches
c) Roman Witches
d) Comparative Material: Fairy-tales and Material from the Age of the Witch Hunts (particularly the Malleus Maleficarum)
Replacing Course(s)AHIS3603 The Art of Magic (previously HUMA3603)
TransitionStudents who have completed AHIS3603 or HUMA3603 are not permitted to enrol in AHIS2370
Industrial Experience0
Assumed KnowledgeNil.
Modes of DeliveryInternal Mode
Teaching MethodsLecture
Tutorial
Assessment Items
Examination: ClassClass test = 10%
Essays / Written AssignmentsOne essay (2000-2500 words) = 50%
Other: (please specify)One case study [800-1000 words] = 15%


Students must submit all assessment items in order to complete the course.
Presentations - TutorialTutorial paper (1000-1200 words) = 25%
Contact HoursLecture: for 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term
Tutorial: for 1 hour(s) per Week for 7 weeks