1st Edition

Divination and Knowledge in Greco-Roman Antiquity

Edited By

Crystal Addey

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after July 16, 2021
ISBN 9781138212992
July 16, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
352 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Addressing the close connections between ancient divination and knowledge, this volume offers an interlinked and detailed set of case studies which examine the epistemic value and significance of divination in ancient Greek and Roman cultures.

Focusing on diverse types of divination, including oracles, astrology, and the reading of omens and signs in the entrails of sacrificial animals, chance utterances and other earthly and celestial phenomena, this volume reveals that divination was conceived of as a significant path to the attainment of insight and understanding by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It also explores the connections between divination and other branches of knowledge, such as medicine and ethnographic discourse, in Greco-Roman antiquity. Drawing on anthropological studies of contemporary divination and exploring a wide range of ancient philosophical, historical, technical and literary evidence, chapters focus on the interconnections and close relationship between divine and human modes of knowledge, in relation to nuanced and subtle formulations of the blending of divine, cosmic and human agency; philosophical approaches towards and uses of divination (particularly within Platonism), including links between divination and time, ethics, and cosmology; and the relationship between divination and cultural discourses focusing on gender. The volume aims to catalyse new questions and approaches relating to these under-investigated areas of ancient Greek and Roman life which have significant implications for the ways in which we understand and assess ancient Greek and Roman conceptions of epistemic value and variant ways of knowing, ancient philosophy and intellectual culture, lived, daily experience in the ancient world, and religious and ritual traditions.

Divination and Knowledge in Greco-Roman Antiquity will be of particular relevance to researchers and students in classics, ancient history, ancient philosophy, religious studies and anthropology who are working on divination, lived religion and intellectual culture, but will also appeal to general readers who are interested in the widespread practice and significance of divination in the ancient world.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of contributors





Divination and Knowledge in Ancient Greek and Roman Cultures

Crystal Addey

Chapter 1

The Enigmatic Divine Voice and the Problem of Human Misinterpetation

Julia Kindt

Chapter 2

Torch-Bearing Plato: Why Reason without the Divine is Not Philosophy After All

Danielle A. Layne

Chapter 3

"Work with the god": Military Divination and Rational Battle-Planning in Xenophon

Ralph Anderson

Chapter 4

Divination and Decumbiture: Katarchic Astrology and Greek Medicine

Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum

Chapter 5

Divination and the kairos in Ancient Greek Philosophy and Culture

Crystal Addey

Chapter 6

The Pythia as Matter: Plutarch’s Scientific Account of Divination

Elsa Giovanna Simonetti

Chapter 7

Divination and Female Sexuality: The Transformation of the Greek Pythia by the Church Fathers

Giulia Pedrucci

Chapter 8

‘Ethnic’ Divination in Roman Imperial Literature

Antti Lampinen

Chapter 9

Apuleius on Divination: Platonic Daimonology and Child-Divination

Leonardo Costantini

Chapter 10

Astral Symbolism in Theurgic Rites

Marilynn Lawrence



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Crystal Addey is a Lecturer in Classics at University College Cork, Ireland, and a Tutor for the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK. She is the author of Divination and Theurgy in Neoplatonism: Oracles of the gods (Routledge 2014).