chapter  IX
39 Pages

CURSES AND OATHS

C l o s e l y related to the evil eye and to the evil mouth, of the kind spoken of in the preceding chapter, is the curse. It differs from them by being always an intended cause of injury, as also by the w ay in which the evil wish is expressed. Its form is generally verbal, although there are acted curses as well ; but the words are nasty and straightforward, not laudatory or allegorical. The realisation of the evil wish is brought about either directly through the mysterious power of the curse itself, or by the aid of a supernatural being invoked in it. In the former case the curse is purely magical, in the latter case it is a kind of prayer. But no sharp dis­ tinction can be drawn between these two forms of curses. The name of a supernatural being may be brought in simply to give the curse that mystic efficacy which the plain word lacks.