Translating "witch"

Charles Butler hannibal at
Mon Feb 23 07:45:36 EST 2004

Ika facilitated:

> My Latin is pretty rusty, but I skimmed through the first bit and got this
> exchange:
> "quid mulieris est?"
> "Saga" inquit "et divina..."
> "What sort of woman is she?" "A soothsayer [saga] and a prophetess."
> (Lewis & Short has for "saga": "a female diviner, a wise woman,
> fortune-teller, soothsayer"; and, also, "a bawd, procuress" - just to
> bring sex into the mix as well as poisoining!)
> A quick search reveals no instances of malefica/us or of venefica/us in
> the first book.
> If you want to have a look, it's here:

Thanks, Ika. Those translations are very interesting, because while she no
doubt is a soothsayer and prophetess when she wants to be, the kinds of
thing she does in the Golden Ass don't obviously fit into either category.
On the contrary, it's always struck me how close her magic is to the lurid
fantasies of the later witch lit (with a few Circean touches).


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