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He had taken a psychological approach to erotic spells and had argued that they were primarily used by people who were helplessly in love.

He said they were used self-therapeutically--that somehow by projecting their pain and suffering on the victim, who they perceived as the cause of their pain, that this would take away their own suffering.

And they educated their adopted daughters in a way that the daughters of citizens were never educated: the girls learned to read and write, compose poetry, and they were given a fairly wise education, so they could talk intelligently with men.

It took me a couple of years to figure this out and as a result I wrote a book that was very different from the one that I had planned. What I discovered was that most of the technologies that are used in spells for throwing erotic passion into someone are borrowed from the realm of cursing.

Thus courtesans appear, in the Greek world at least, to be autonomous, free-thinking women in a culture that didn't have that category of women.

In my book I suggest that as a result it was easier for men to categorize or construct them as male, or for the courtesans themselves to take on that role.

The problem with this is that you have to assume that everyone who used this kind of love magic was lovesick, and that they were so desperately in love that they would do anything--even use magic. The other thing that struck me about these spells is that they are used by men to inflict great pain and suffering on women, but the men want the pain and suffering to stop when the women arrive at their door.

But underlying this approach is the false assumption that magic is looked down upon and that these people were pushed by their passion into doing something illegal--similar to using curse tablets. It seems to me much more likely that men used these curse-like spells for sexual conquests and domination--indeed, in one of the surviving texts, a man casts erotic spells on several different women! Thus a common formula reads something like this: "Burn, whip, torture the heart, the liver, the body of Ms.

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