Studies in Ancient Divination


This book thoroughly revisits divination as a central phenomenon in the lives of ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. It collects studies from many periods in Graeco-Roman history, from the Archaic period to the late Roman, and touches on many different areas of this rich topic, including treatments of dice oracles, sortition in both pagan and Christian contexts, the overlap between divination and other interpretive practices in antiquity, the fortunes of independent diviners, the activity of Delphi in ordering relations with the dead, the role of Egyptian cult centers in divinatory practices, and the surreptitious survival of recipes for divination by corpses. It also reflects a ranges of methodologies, drawn from anthropology, history of religions, intellectual history, literary studies, and archaeology, epigraphy, and paleography. It will be of particular interest to scholars and student of ancient Mediterranean religions.
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Biographical Note

Sarah Iles Johnston received her doctorate from Cornell University in 1987 and is Professor of Greek & Latin and of Religious Studies at The Ohio State University. She is the General Editor of Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide (Harvard University Press, 2004) and the author of Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece (University of California Press, 1999). She is currently writing a book on the "Orphic" gold tablets with Fritz Graf. Peter T. Struck, Ph.D. (1997), University of Chicago, is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent book is titled Birth of the Symbol: Ancient Readers at the Limits of their Texts (Princeton University Press, 2004). He is currently at work on a project that takes a semiotic approach to ancient Greek theories of divination.

Review Quote

' ...overall this is a highly successful volume. The editors are to be commended for an interesting and worthy collection of articles, logically organized, and tightly edited... The contributors are to be commended for rising to the challenge posed in Johnston's opening essay. They offer the reader interesting and thought provoking insights into the intellectual and social world of ancient divination. Divination is unveiled as an omnipresent and ubiquitous phenomenon in the public and private lives of the Greeks and Romans. At every turn, one finds divination integrated into the thought processes of the ancients. Its pervasive influence in religion, poetry, history, philosophy, and magic is manifest and profound. It is high time that the modern academy looked to the paradoxical world of ancient divination as a challenge to the intellect, an ainigma to be solved, and revealed its centrality in the epistemology of ancient Greece and Rome.' Alex Nice, BCMR, 2006 ' Das Buch ist eine unverzichtbare Lektüre für alle, die sich mit antiker Divination beschäftigen.' Karin Schlapbach, 2005