Sarah Iles Johnston on Narrating Reality in the Ancient Greek Magical Papyri

Apr 9

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

University of Virginia, Gibson Room, Level 1, Cocke Hall & Online

Join Classicist Sarah Iles Johnston, who will explore the narrative richness of ancient Greek magical papyri (handbooks of spells), which include a bewildering array of gods and demons from different cultures. How did ancient practitioners make sense of these spells, with their panoply of entities and descriptions? Drawing from studies of contemporary neopaganism, Johnston will discuss how narratives enable practitioners to envision another world and to tap into the power that it contains. For the full abstract of Johnston’s talk, click here.

In-person registration is full, but we encourage you to join us on Zoom. To register, click the button below.


Part of the symposium, Making Up Selves: The Operating Instructions.

Information for Attendees

  • Visitor parking is available at the Central Grounds Garage, located at 400 Emmet Street. The hourly rate is $2.50

Event Map

About the Speaker

Sarah Iles Johnston

Sarah Iles Johnston teaches courses on religion and Classics at The Ohio State University, where she is the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Religion. For as long as she can remember, she has been fascinated by ancient Greek myths and the characters who inhabit them. Most recently, she has been thinking about how myths, as well as other kinds of stories, can change the beliefs of those who read them or listen to them when they are engagingly composed and vividly performed. Her newest project is Gods and Mortals: Greek Myths Retold (2022), which narrates Greek myths for adults and young adults. Read excerpts from this book and learn about her other projects at her website, www.sarahilesjohnston.com. You can hear an interview in which she talks about some of the ideas that inform her narration, and about her most recent book, The Story of Myth.

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