Magicians and Astrologers

James B. Rives

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations in the Roman World

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780195188004
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Magicians and Astrologers

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  • Classical Studies
  • Religion in the Ancient World
  • Ancient Roman History


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This article focuses on astrologers and magicians in Roman society, who both provided specialized skills and services that gave them a considerable degree of social power and popularity. This article also shows that these two groups were also restricted to the margins of polite society, and were even subject to coercive actions from political authorities. The article begins by identifying the characteristics magicians and astrologers had in common. It then discusses each of them separately, before making a basic distinction between the two.

Keywords: astrologers; magicians; social power; coercive actions; political authorities

Article.  7050 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World ; Ancient Roman History

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