In Christian Latin, the word maleficia is used for "witchcraft" or "sorcery": supernatural powers that don't come from God, and are probably associated with demons. A person who uses these powers is a maleficus or a malefica. (For example, Exodus 22:18, maleficōs non patieris vivere: "you shall not allow sorcerers to live".)

I'm curious if the Romans had a similar conception: not of demons or Satanic pacts, but of barbarians doing unclean, uncivilized magicks that were an affront to Roman propriety. Is there a Classical word for this sort of "sorcery", or for someone who uses it?

(Off the top of my head, Lucan describes a grove sacred to strange, horrifying "old gods", and some blasphemous rituals to converse with the dead. But necromantia in and of itself isn't inherently uncivilized: Aeneas and Odysseus both talked to ghosts to divine the future. The sorcerous meaning of maleficia also seems to be post-classical: most of the examples of L&S use it to mean simply "doing harm".)


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Virgil uses magicas artes in Aeneid 4.493:

Testor, cara, deos et te, germana, tuumque
dulce caput, magicas invitam accingier artes.

The adjective magicus seems to be right in the semantic field you're looking for, and it has barbarian connotations baked into the etymology.

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