The main forms philia took were ointments, rings, potions, and amulets which would increase how charming a woman could appear to men, increase a man’s affection toward a woman, or lessen their anger. Usually, oils, such as myrrh, were used as ointments. One spell that Faraone discusses to attract women is, “ You chant this spell three times over good oil. You smear your face and your hands. And when you enter into the presence of the prince, he will welcome you (variant text reads: “...and then he who looks upon you will be glad to see you”)” (Faraone 105). In this case, the spell was used against a prince to make him pleased to see the individual. Oils could also be used as protective magic. For example, to overcome the trials set by Medea’s father, Jason “anointed himself with a magical oil to protect himself against danger and to ensure victory” (Faraone 106). Amulets were also used and could be in the form of plants. Theophrastus wrote that the herb tripolion was useful for everything. He also states that the snapdragon causes “good fame and good reputation” and that good reputation can also be obtained by wearing a crown of the goldflower plant and putting myrrh on it from a “vessel of unfired gold” (Faraone 106).
The different love potions, amulets and ointments could also have different effects depending on the dosage. Faraone describes this in a table including the herbs mandrake, oleander, cyclamen, strychnos manikos, and the kestos headband in Cyranides. Mandrake and cyclamen, when taken in a small doses could be used in love potions. When taken in a larger does, mandrake can become a painkiller and cure insomnia while cyclamen could cause intoxication. In an even larger dose, mandrake could cause paralysis and death while cyclamen could possibly cause death. Oleander in small doses could make a male more gentle and cheerful, in a larger does, possibly cause sleep and in a very large dose cause paralysis and death. Strychnos manikos in a small dose could lead to playfulness, in a larger dose, madness, and in a very large dose cause death. Wine could also cause arousal in large doses and sleep in even larger doses. (Farone 129).
There was also some contradiction in the use of aphrodisiacs and love magic. Faraone describes this saying, “using drugs or magic to increase your husband’s affection is counterproductive, since it leads paradoxically to a loss in his virility” (Faraone 129). Plutarch using Circe as an example describing how Circe “domesticated” a ship crew using her love potions after which they were no longer of use to her sexually.