Curse Tablets of Mercury

The sheet which is given to Mercury, that he exact vengeance for the gloves which have been lost; that he take blood and health from the person who has stolen them; that he provide what we ask the god Mercury [...] as quickly as possible for the person who has taken these gloves (below).

Honoratus to the holy god Mercury. I complain to your divinity that I have lost two wheels and four cows and many small belongings from my houseI would ask the genius of your divinity that you do not allow health to the person who has done me wrong, nor allow him to lie or sit or drink or eat, whether he is man or woman, whether boy or girl, whether slave or free, unless he brings my property to me and is reconciled with me. With renewed prayers I ask your divinity that my petition may immediately make me vindicated by your majesty (above).

In the British Museum are exhibited a couple of lead sheets, originally inscribed and folded over several times. They were then thrown down wells or hidden in holes. Their authors were aggrieved by some thefts (of some gloves in the one case, some burgled wheels and cattle in the other) by persons unknown. Appealing to the god Mercury, these victims of ancient crime sought their properties’ recovery and some suitable illness for the perpetrator until such time as restitution occured.

Unfortunately, classical deities were as immoral the humans who created them. Yet Honoratus and his anonymous colleague both appealed to a sense of justice which they hoped Mercury would share. Failing to exist was Mercury’s chief weakness, but the divine justice they sought was real enough. The God of heaven cares about right and wrong, goodness and evil. Though these two writers were pagan and (understandably) spiteful, their Creator would indeed punish their respective culprits. Sadly, these two people had committed sins of their own to which that same justice would hold them also to account. We like others' sins to be punished, but not so much our own. Self-righteousness magnifies others’ faults but minimises ones closer to home. Thankfully, Christ Jesus, not Mercury, will right all wrongs, while bearing Himself the just penalty of all who call on Him. He too bore a curse- the Curse which He Himself pronounced upon the whole of creation after Adam's fall.