I’m still mooching about exploring magic systems for my wip Fury and ran across this bit of interesting history. 🙂
Romans believed in the power of song. It could cast a curse or cure, that power becoming written into their first laws.
Rome created a code of law in the Twelve Tables that bound the needs of the privileged and the common people together. The Twelve Tables covered, the rights of the paterfamilias over his family, inheritance, debt and the right of the privileged to rule. It also covered injuries, and in some laws, injury through magical incantations.
Ancient writers referred back to the Tables, quoting them as clearly saying that the act of uttering an evil song, a spell or curse, of malum carmen could find that man or woman being clubbed to death for their crime. To be honest, most crimes in Table VIII–covering crimes of personal injury– carried a death sentence. Tough times…
There were also curing songs. Cato wrote of a particular cantio, a pure magic, a healing incantation that helped with dislocated limbs, mixed with the support of reeds and bandages. The song had to be sung every day over the patient and they, with the combination of both remedies, would be cured.
I like–and will probably play with–the idea that magic, the song or carmen, wasn’t inherently evil. That the crime was the intent to use magic to do harm, for example to spirit away a neighbour’s harvest or to grow rich at the expense of others.
Or in my characters’ case, to twist magic into a more… libidinous crime. 😀