The Decadence of Delphi : The Oracle in the Second Century AD and Beyond book cover
1st Edition

The Decadence of Delphi
The Oracle in the Second Century AD and Beyond

ISBN 9780367594374
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages

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Book Description

Examining the final years of Delphic consultation, this monograph argues that the sanctuary operated on two connected, yet distinct levels: the oracle, which was in decline, and the remaining religious, political and social elements at the site which continued to thrive. In contrast to Delphi, other oracular counterparts in Asia Minor, such as Claros and Didyma, rose in prestige as they engaged with new "theological" issues. Issues such as these were not presented to Apollo at Delphi and this lack of expertise could help to explain why Delphi began to decline in importance. The second and third centuries AD witnessed the development of new ways of access to divine wisdom. Particularly widespread were the practices of astrology and the Neoplatonic divinatory system, theurgy. This monograph examines the correlation between the rise of such practices and the decline of oracular consultation at Delphi, analyzing several examples from the Chaldean Oracles to demonstrate the new interest in a personal, soteriological religion. These cases reveal the transfer of Delphi’s sacred space, which further impacted the status of the oracle. Delphi’s interaction with Christianity in the final years of oracular operation is also discussed. Oracular utterances with Christian overtones are examined along with archaeological remains which demonstrate a shift in the use of space at Delphi from a "pagan" Panhellenic center to one in which Christianity is accepted and promoted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  Abbreviations  Introduction  1. The history of Delphi  2. Plutarch and the duality of Delphi  3. Delphi: sacred space and cultural memory  4. Theological oracles from Didyma  5. Theological oracles from Claros  6. Occult practices: astrology  7. Theurgy and soteriology  Conclusion  Index

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Kristin M. Heineman completed her PhD at the University of Newcastle, Australia in 2012. Her research interests include the history of religion, women in the ancient world, and the intersection between Christianity and paganism. She is currently an adjunct at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, USA, and teaches widely in Greek and Roman history.