The Presentation Of Sources And The Commentaries

Every attempt has been made to present the sources in as clear a way as possible. Not only are these distributed across fourteen chapters, but they also participate in a continuous numerical series. Each source's serial number is followed by essential information about it: its main significance, its formal reference, its original language, and its date of production (which, it should be noted, is not necessarily the same as the events referred to in it).

The translated source follows at once, without further introductory material, for the sake of immediacy. Care has been taken in the case of the documentary sources to base the translation on the best available published editions, since the difficulties of decipherment and interpretation can lead to significant variations between them. The editions used for the literary sources are usually listed in alphabetical order of ancient author or of corpus in the list of texts in the bibliography; occasionally, for some more obscure sources, direct reference is made in the heading (using the format of author and date) to items of scholarship listed in the works cited section of the bibliography. The translations printed here are all my own, but I do not disguise the fact that some previously published translations, particularly those offered by the editors of the more difficult and obscure documentary sources, have been of influence. I do not confront the reader with the niceties of textual disputes, except on the rare occasions where these have a particular bearing upon magical issues. The style of some of the documentary sources is less exquisite than that expected from the heights of classical literature, and this will sometimes be apparent in the translations provided. Round brackets in the translations, (. . .), are used merely in punctuation of the original text. Square brackets, [. . .], enclose the translator's brief explanatory material or the original word translated, with Greek terms transliterated. In particular, they supply the words used for such things as "sorcerers," "witches," and "sorcery," usually with the exceptions of magos and its derivatives, which go conveniently into "mage" and its derivatives, and daimon and its derivatives, which go conveniently into "demon" and its derivatives. Angle brackets, <. . .>, are used, infrequently, to indicate significant editorial supplements to the ancient texts as preserved.

The translated source is then followed by a commentary or exegesis. The commentaries are of varying length, depending on the intrinsic importance of their source and on its strategic role within the sourcebook. The commentaries seek to shed light on major obscurities in the sources, to provide germane background information, and, above all, to draw attention to the source's relationship with the other sources in the volume. The frequent cross-references to such other sources utilize their serial number in bold type. Occasionally direct reference is made, in conventional format, to texts not included in the volume. There has not been room to explain every last obscurity in the cases of some of the richer and more complex texts, but I have not taken this as a ground for exclusion. Nonclassicists who want to know more about ancient authors and institutions represented here only by name are referred in the first instance to N. S. R. Hornblower and A. J. Spawforth's Oxford Classical Dictonary (3rd ed., Oxford, 1996), a categorical improvement on that work's earlier editions. For mythological references, M. C. Howatson's Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (Oxford, 1989) may be of use. Places are most conveniently located with the maps in The Harrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, edited by R. J. Talbert (Princeton, 2000).

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