Manuela Mari

The oracles in ancient Greece. Forecasting the future or dealing with the present?

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Greek Oracles; Greek Divination; Greek Conception of Time; Delphi; Dodona.

The article focuses on the ancient Greek culture's most typical approach to forecasting, that is, oracular responses. Responses given in different ways (and either in oral or in written form) by oracular deities must be distinguished by other forms of divination which were known in the ancient world. The examples which are discussed in the rticle are taken by the two largest and most significant corpora of responses which have come down to us, those issued by Apollo at Delphi and those issued by Zeus and Dione at Dodona. It is relevant to stress that in many cases an oracular response was requested - by official delegates of states or by private citizens - in order either to receive a sacral sanction on an already taken decision or to «negotiate» an acceptable decision, rather than to foresee future events. The latter aspect, however, largely prevails in literary tales focusing on oracles, which aim at restating the superiority of divine over human knowledge or at manipulating ex post the narration of historical (and even mythical) events.

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