About

I’m a classical philologist interested in ancient agriculture; sensory studies; and ancient magic, religion, and ritual, with much of my work examining the intersection of these areas. My forthcoming book, The Scent of Ancient Magic, deals with the complex relationship between scent and magic in the ancient Mediterranean. Magicians and other ritual practitioners used smells to create the right ambience for spells and initiations, while scents acted as a gut-level model for how magic—something which was, like scent, intangible but powerful—was supposed to operate. My next book project will examine ancient farming and how Romans used agriculture as part of their public image. I’m also interested in the modern reception of classical antiquity, especially in perfumes and video games.

Education

PhD, University of Michigan, Classical Studies

BA, Kenyon College, Classics

Publications


  • The Scent of Ancient Magic, 2022. University of Michigan Press.

  •  “Necromancy, Divine Encounters, and Erotic Magic in Cupid and Psyche,” American Journal of Philology 140.2 (2019): 317-43.

  • “Magic Perfumes and Deadly Herbs: The Scent of Witches’ Magic in Classical Literature,” Preternature 8.1 (2019): 1-34.

  • “Magic and Genre in Columella’s Caterpillar Charm,” Classical Philology 114.2 (2019): 197-217.

  • “Song Sweeter than Orpheus’: Euripides’ Medea 542-4,” Mnemosyne 67 (2015): 11-27.


 

Projects

“The Semiotics of Ancient Tree Curses,” current article project

Cultivating an Image, current book project

 

Britta Ager

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@brittaager

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