Hey folks, Magister Gallagher here!
On Tuesday, my lecture on magical women in the ancient world went live. As will be the case for all of the lectures from here on out, students either wrote responses to the lecture, recorded a video response, or attended a live discussion section. I wanted to take a minute to do a bit of a retrospective and talk about some student responses now that everyone has had a chance to engage with the material.
One of the things that came up again and again during student responses was how simplistic our modern witch seems to be in comparison to the ancient witch. "Caricature" was a term I very frequently used in my responses, but I really liked when a student described our modern view on witches as monolithic. The ancient witch existed on a far broader spectrum than our purely fictional modern witch, making the Roman witch far more complex and nuanced as a whole.
Many students were quite surprised by the horrific things ancient witches did, and as we all know, Ovid himself was quite shocked by ancient witches. One student was kind enough to put together this beautiful image:
The witch in some ways doesn't quite fit in with the normal patriarchal society that is Rome, so we spent a considerable amount of time discussing gender roles in the ancient world and the "otherness" or "foreignness" of these magical women. I'd like to cap things off with a quote from a student response:
"For example, if a witch were to make sacrifices and potions of blood and sing incantations in order to harm other humans or their livelihoods, then it would make sense to view them as alien to “normal” society (nil humani alienum connection)"
From the very first assignment, it appears that people already are giving serious thought to the theme of our academy this year, and I look forward to seeing the group presentations on the themes next week!
This blog will document the MMXX virtual session of the Virginia Governor's Latin Academy.