Early Magical Communities: Ancient Greece And Rome
To the ancient Greeks, it was quite important that citizens honour the gods. If something abnormal or bad happened, it was usually blamed on the wrath of a certain deity, when, actually, it was a person of magical blood being less subtle than normal. Because most everything out of the ordinary was blamed on the gods, witches and wizards had an easier time blending in with the Muggle population in ancient Greece than they did in the European Middle Ages, when witch-hunts were quite popular. Not only did they blend in more easily, some wizards and witches were quite helpful to the Muggles, although that term was not then used to describe non-magic folk. For example, in 447 B.C., Perikles began to plan a magnificent building that would later be named the Parthenon. This was a temple dedicated to goddess Athena. Because of it was a massive undertaking, no one was quite sure how it would be possible to build such a temple. But Perikles was of magical blood, and therefore, every night, after the workers left, he could build with magic just enough to keep alive the hope that something of this scale could be built. There are many other instances of witches and wizards helping their non-magic brethren, particularly in war. If not for magical blood, the Greeks could have very well lost the Greco-Persian Wars in the fifth century B.C. of which the famous battles of Marathon and Thermopylae are a part.
As a prisoner of the Greeks, Phillip II of Macedonia observed their military tactics. Returning to his own country, he used his newly acquired insights to strengthen Macedonia to the Greeks peril. By the time of his death in 336 B.C., Sparta and a small colony near Byzantium was all of Greece that remained free of Macedonian rule.
Phillip II’s son Alexander the Great expanded the Macedonian empire to enormous proportions, but the bickering of his sons tore the empire apart, and left the way open for Rome, which had conquered both Macedonia and Greece by 145 B.C., to become the dominant Mediterranean and world power.
The Romans were a little less lenient about magic than the ancient Greeks, however they were still a very deity-centred society, so most magic still passed unnoticed. At its very beginning, in the 8th century B.C., Rome was just many huts filled with men. Because of the lack women, they knew that their race would eventually die out. Those men learned in the magical arts, prominent among them Romulus, Rome’ founder, made love potions and gave some to women of the neighbouring Sabine tribe. Under the potions’ power, the Sabine women became the mothers of the future Roman race. Although it may seem unethical to a modern audience to use a love potion simply to procreate, in those times it was not frowned upon, and the potions masters were even celebrated as heroes. (In Muggle legend, the men just kidnap the Sabine women because the Muggles at the time could not understand why the women were suddenly interested in the Roman men.)
Roman wizards and witches did not remain the heroes of Rome forever, however. By 451 B.C., magic was curtailed by Roman law. The Twelve Tables of the decemviri legibus scribundis forbid harmful incantations and the use of magic to move a neighbour’s crops to one’s own field. The dictator Sulla in 81 B.C. imposed further bans on magical practices, including love-spells and poisons, with his Lex Cornelia de sicariis et veneficis. Laws against magic escalated and culminated in numerous calls for the banishment of all magic folk, which Roman wizards and witches circumnavigated by using their powers secretly or with discretion; banishment was decreed by numerous Roman rulers at different times.
In 133 B.C. the senator Tiberius Gracchus, a wizard whose senatorial career is better remembered by Muggles for his radical ideas of land redistribution to the plebeian masses, proposed to the wizards that Muggles needed to learn their place under wizards. This is the first time that a wizard publically claimed superiority over his non-magic fellow Roman citizens. Although he convinced a few, his ideas were so unpopular that he was killed. Whether the senators, including his own cousin, Scipio Nasica, who clubbed him to death were against his pro-plebeian or his anti-Muggle radicalism is a question no history books answer.
Rome at its height dominated most of the then-known world with an empire stretching from the shores of the Caspian Sea west to modern-day Spain, from the Northern African coast to Hadrian’s Wall, the original border between Britain and the unconquered land of the Picts (modern-day northern Scotland). In the midst of this domination, wizards and witches of different cultures, brought together by learning of the empire’s language, Latin, shared information. This trade of ideas led to the first meeting of the Consilium Imperii Magi (CIM or the Council of the Empire’s Wizards), which met in Rome in 132 A.D. This council of international wizards examined magical history and culminated in the creation of the original Standard Book of Spells, a compilation of the most potent spells of the different cultures, comprising of spells for every action yet done by magic. This first Book of Spells was published in Latin. Latin being the dominant language of the time, many of the spells included were based on this tongue. Other spells come from Aramaic and Greek to name a few. This Standard Book of Spells forms the basis for our modern Book. Additions are made by CIM, which has met every fifty years since for this purpose.