Quaestiones in magica: Stuart McKie

Attempting to try something different here on the Roman magic blog, by asking a series of informal questions of Classicists, archaeologists, academics, and others about ancient magic. Welcome to the loony fringe, dear reader. I make no apologies for any poorly translated Latin in the title.

The first victim in the chair is a Roman magic co-conspirator, Dr. Stuart McKie, who rarely seems to say no to my daft ideas. Stuart is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University.

Dr. McKie. He earned the wreath for ‘Best pose whilst wearing a wreath’.



Easy first question – what are you currently researching and how did that come about?

SM: “I am currently finishing my book on curses from the Roman west, which is an expansion of my PhD thesis. That’s about all I’ve got time for at the moment, but I’m also planning a project on magic and the human body, looking particularly at what Pliny the Elder has to say about it all. The idea came from thinking about how magical objects like curses interact with human bodies. I came to the realisation that the body was considered a magical object in itself, which is something I don’t think a lot of scholars have explored.”


What was the most recent (academic) book you bought? And have you opened it yet?

SM: “It was Marco Simon and Piramonte (ed), 2020. Contesti magici = Contextos mágicos, and yes I have! There’s loads of amazing articles in it, so I think I’ve almost read it cover to cover!”


The hardest question in three words: magic or religion?

SM: “Urg. Why Adam, why!? I’m going to make it worse by saying It’s All Ritual, aren’t I?”

AP: Laughs maniacally


Imagine you are on commission and trying to sell me an ancient curse, spell, amulet, or ritual. Choose your favourite and give me the pitch.

SM: “Meet hot singles in your area! Curse them to be eternally tormented by hell daemons unless they have sex with you!”


2020 has been an undeniable mess. How are you finding the world of academia right now?

SM: “The standard dumpster fire. Being precariously employed in a global pandemic has not been fun, and I’ve been luckier than a lot of people.”

AP: Solidarity brother!


If you could have a toasty caffeinated beverage with anyone in the field of religious and magical studies, classics, and archaeology, who would it be and why?

SM: “Obviously it’s you Adam.”

AP: I didn’t even pay him to say that. Guess I owe you coffee now, eh?


It turns out that the Oracle at Delphi has turned up again in 2020. I put your name down earlier on and you’re next in the queue. You get one question. What is it? 

SM: “No way, I’ve read enough Herodotus to know that I’ll misinterpret any answer she gives, and end up dooming myself to an unwinnable war in central Asia.”


Hit me with an excellent blog and/or someone on twitter we should all follow.

SM: “I’m going to say @TraffordLJ – come for the awesome historical fiction, stay for #phallusthursday”

AP: I fully endorse this endorsement.


Thanks Stuart! Keep an eye out for the last-word on Roman Curses in the West hitting all academic bookshops in 2022 (and probably some disreputable ones as well, also in 2022. Hopefully there will be a rescheduled Magic conference organised by Parker and McKie in 2021 as well.

Follow Stuart on Twitter @bigfridge224



**If you weren’t sure, I am AP.


2 thoughts on “Quaestiones in magica: Stuart McKie

  1. Pingback: Quaestiones in magica: E-J Graham | romanmagic

  2. Pingback: Quaestiones in magica: Joely Black | romanmagic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s