THE BATH CURSE TABLETS. The tablets in York are displayed with English translations. You feel very close to the writers as if they were talking directly to you. In fact, they are talking directly to the Goddess Sulis Minerva.

As Bronwen Riley says in THE EDGE OF THE EMPIRE, “curse tablets express a contract with the deity, whereby the victim [of a robbery] promises to give the god something in return for punishing the offender”. Riley says that: “the lowly curse tablet reflects the quid pro quo deals that…..[often] characterize Romans’ relationships with their gods.” The wikipedia entry gives this curse as typical: “Solinus to the goddess Sulis Minerva. I give to your divinity and majesty [my] bathing tunic and cloak. Do not allow sleep or health to him who has done me wrong, whether man or woman or whether slave or free unless he reveals himself and brings those goods to your temple.”

There was something of a form file for curses. Although each individual curse tablet is distinctive, a phrase such as “whether man or woman or whether slave or free” is a typical formula.

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