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Cursing A Thief In Iberia And Britain

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Chapter Summary

The Latin texts from Spain and Portugal were preceded by Greek texts like the Cnidus tablets, so it follows that the British texts do not derive from the Iberian, but like them express a much older belief which is not western and localised, but is common to the Mediterranean world - the idea that we can ask the gods for justice. The Lydney Park tablet was found only five or ten years after the first Iberian 'curse-tablet', a marble plaque found near Mérida at the end of the eighteenth century. Baelo illustrates a peculiarity of the Iberian tablets: they ask the deity to kill the thief and punish the theft, but they do not expressly require the thief to return what he has stolen. The Iberian first-person texts could easily have been cast in this third-person form, as Saguntum seems to have been before reverting to the first person.

Keywords: Baelo Claudia; Iberia; Mérida; Saguntum

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