The Witches In Canidia

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Now that matters of love magic have been put to rest, it is time to shift our attention to the last remaining witches of the Metamorphoses. In terms of the story’s narrative, Pamphile is after Meroe and Panthia the second witch that the reader comes across in the novel. The end of Aristomenes’ tale finds Lucius already in Hypata, searching for the house of his host, the frugal Milo. A random stranger points Lucius in the right direction, albeit not without making what might later be regarded as an ill-omened remark: Milo lives alone with his wife and her slave-girl, his companion in adversity. Indeed, Lucius’ acquaintance with the two women residing at Milo’s house and his eventual knowledge of their magical mingling ultimately leads to the…show more content…
One thing that never becomes quite clear is whether the witches’ (oftentimes swift) revenge comes as a result of them being turned down by their potential lovers, or simply because they feel that their witchcraft has failed them, and hence, apart from being a constant reminder of their magic’s ineffectiveness their lovers would also be a reminder of the witches’ own personal ineptitude in the dark arts. Let us be reminded at this point that the main reason behind Canidia’s resorting to child sacrifice in Epode 5 is her personal feeling of having been outsmarted by a more resourceful rival witch; apparently her rival’s potion seems to have succeeded to keep Canidia’s lover Varus away from her. And so an angry Canidia is in the process of concocting a more potent potion, for which she requires the liver of a child. But even on the rare occasions where the reasons behind the witches’ revenge are more or less clear, as in Epode 17, one is still left questioning the ‘true’ motives behind Canidia’s retaliatory spree: is she really angry because of the poet’s various verbal abuses (this cannot be really the case, since she happily accepts all the charges against her with joyous pride!), or is she truly angry because deep down she knows for a fact that the poet cannot really ever be hers, and this in spite of her powerful witchcraft? If one opts for the latter interpretation,…show more content…
But before venturing into Clodia’s case, it should be mentioned that the model for accusing well-born and bred women of using witchcraft in achieving political goals had already been established by Livy, who describes the first ever collective poison trials of upper-class women in the later part of the fourth century BCE. Aside from being accused of trying to usurp male power and dominance, women were also thought of dabbling with magic and φαρμακεία. In the year 331 BCE and under the consulship of M. Claudius Marcellus and G. Valerius, a number of leading citizens had fallen ill and died, always seemingly from the same cause. At first pestilence was assumed to be primary cause of the malady, but it was soon revealed with the help of an informer that elite matronae were secretly concocting poisons within the privacy of their homes. Twenty women were caught brewing poisons in flagrante, and so they were led to the Forum to be trialled. Two of them, the patricians Cornelia and Sergia, suggested that the brews they had been preparing were only curative; but when challenged by the informer to drink their own poisons and thus prove the veracity of their claims, after drinking the potions all the matrons fell instantly dead to the ground. As a result, an additional 170 matrons were also arrested, trialled, and condemned under the

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