The Ancient Oracles: Making the Gods Speak

The Ancient Oracles: Making the Gods Speak

by Richard Stoneman
Pub. Date:
Yale University Press


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The Ancient Oracles: Making the Gods Speak

For more than a thousand years, Greeks from all walks of life consulted oracles for guidance received directly from the gods. This colorful and wide-ranging survey encompasses the entire history of Greek oracles and focuses fresh attention on philosophical, psychological, and anthropological aspects of oracular consultation. It also examines how Greek oracles' practices were distinctive compared to those of their neighbors, especially in Egypt, Babylon, and Israel.

Richard Stoneman weaves a fascinating historical tapestry, taking into account the different kinds of oracles (healers, advisors, prophets, and others), their most important sanctuaries, debates about them among ancient thinkers, and Christian attacks on them. Delving into the reasons behind the oracles' enduring position at the heart of Greek culture, Stoneman offers fresh insights into pagan religious practice and the history of Greek intellectual and spiritual life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300140422
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 05/24/2011
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Richard Stoneman is honorary fellow, University of Exeter. His most recent book is Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Devon, UK.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps viii

Preface xi

Abbreviations xiii

Introduction 1

1 Why Did the Greeks Consult Oracles? 5

2 Possession or Policy: The Case of Delphi 26

3 The Riddles of the Pythia 40

4 From Egypt to Dodona 55

5 The Gods, the Heroes and the Dead 65

6 The Oracle Coast: Sibyls and Prophets of Asia Minor 77

7 Dreams and Healing 104

8 Dicing for Destiny 132

9 Foreknowledge, Fate and Philosophy 149

10 Sceptics, Frauds and Fakes 163

11 New Questions for the Oracles: Platonism and Theology 171

12 'Ecstatic Predictions of Woe': The Sibylline Oracles 190

13 Silencing the Oracles 199

14 Conclusion 220

Notes 225

Bibliography 253

Index 264

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