Ancient cultures used curses to invoke deities, to bring punishment upon enemies, and to express dissatisfaction with someone or something. Curses were written on tablets made of thin pieces of metal that were then folded or rolled. After that, the curse tablets were buried, placed into a well or a pool, or even hung on the wall of a temple.
Extant curse tablets reveal a lot about ancient peoples - everything from their concerns and hopes, to the style of language they used. Numerous curse tablets have been located at the Roman Baths to the goddess Sulis Minerva in Bath, England, with additional finds in Greece and other areas throughout the Mediterranean. While many of the ancient curses used by Greeks, Romans, and the like may not apply to the modern world directly, many useful ancient curses can be applied to contemporary situations.
Did someone steal from you? There's a curse for that. A rival stressing you out? There's a curse for that, too. As it turns out, cursing one's adversaries is pretty timeless. Vote up the useful ancient curses you're adding to your personal smack-down repertoire.
- 186 VOTES
I Curse Your 'Sacred Organ' Along With Everything Else
The Curse: I give over to you the head of Plotius... his breast, liver, heart, and lungs, so that he may not be able to discover the source of his pain; his intestines, stomach, navel, and sides, so that he may not be able to sleep; his shoulder blades, so that he may not be able to sleep soundly; his “sacred organ,” so that he may not be able to urinate; his rump, anus, thighs, knees, shanks, shins, feet, ankles, heels, toes, and toenails, so that he may not be able to stand by his own strength. No matter what he may have written, great or small, just as he has written a proper spell and commissioned it (against me), so I hand over and consign Plotius to you, so that you may take care of him by the month of February. Let him perish miserably. Let him leave life miserably. Let him be destroyed miserably. Take care of him so that he may not see another month.
Context: The target of this curse, Plotius, was a slave of Avonia - and someone whose insides and outsides were listed off as needing destruction. Written to Proserpina Salvia, goddess of the Underworld, the curse runs head to toe in its articulation of body parts, and identifies the ideal outcomes of each torment. It also seems to be in response to a curse levied at the author, indicating a romantic relationship gone very, very wrong.A 'curse you' for the ages?
- 2120 VOTES
May Your Innards, Limbs, And Marrow Be Torn Up And Burned
The Curse: Dispater, divine Proserpina, Ogre’s Dogs, infernal Burners, Destroyers of bones, Larvae, Furies, Maniae, nocturnal Birds, Harpies, Ortygiae, Virga, Chimaera, Geryon, Sirens, Circe, Giants, Sphinx: to you [he] prays and implores, to you [he] begs, powers of the gods of the Underworld, who have been mentioned above, that you, Dispater, knock down that Caecilia Prima – or any other name she has – and that you assail her with bad pains and take her away with you... suck the blood from her veins, tear up the body and living breath of that Caecilia Prima... devour the liver of that Caecilia Prima, her lungs, her heart with its veins, her innards, her limbs, her marrow, may you tear them to pieces, may you pull out the eyes of that Caecilia Prima and... may you set fire to the eyes of that Caecilia Prima, to her stomach, heart, lungs, to her fat and to all other body parts of that Caecilia Prima, may you set on fire, burn to ashes, so that she cannot live or be healthy...
Context And Applicability: This lengthy curse to Proserpina, a goddess of the Underworld, and to a host of other deities, was found in Rome. It clearly directs a hefty amount of rage at Caecilia Prima. Dated to the late 1st century AD, the curse was likely written by a man and targets a former love interest. It repeats cursing her heart and lungs, requesting more than once that everything be destroyed by fire. Without a doubt, a curse to be used cautiously.A 'curse you' for the ages?
- 3194 VOTES
Nothing But Worms, Cancer, And Maggots To Whoever Stole My Stuff
The Curse: The human who stole Verio’s cloak or his things, who deprived him of his property, may he be bereft of his mind and memory, be it a woman or those who deprived Verio of his property, may the worms, cancer, and maggots penetrate his hands, head, feet, as well as his limbs and marrows.
Context And Applicability: Calling out a human specifically - just in case - for the theft of Verio's possessions was serious enough to prompt a request for extreme physical harm. The curse tablet, found in Germany, is especially harsh. It can be used pretty much whenever "Give me back my stuff!" doesn't get the job done.A 'curse you' for the ages?
- 4112 VOTES
I Commend Every Part Of You To Decay - And Hell
The Curse: I beg you, holy angels/daemons. Just like this soul is enclosed inside, imprisoned, and sees no light and has no recreation, so may the soul, mind, and body of Collecticius, whom Agnella bore, be equally enclosed, may it burn and fall into decay. Lead Collecticius, whom Agnella bore, away all the way to hell.
Context And Applicability: As a curse from the 4th or 5th century CE, this somewhat nonspecific curse could be part of some love triangle or another rivalry. It was found in Rome, thought to have been placed in a grave, and really leaves nothing to chance in terms of everything about the target to go to Hell.A 'curse you' for the ages?