chapter  2
34 Pages

Diviners of epic sagas

Kalchas, Mopsos (grandson of Teiresias), Amphilochos, Kassandra and Helenos all belonged to the epic saga of the Trojan War period itself. In myths, diviners were termed manteis, and the broad range of their prophetic skills was the same as for the mantis of historical times, though they could also possess other qualities such as healing as part of their portfolio, as well as their mantic powers. Manteis of the historical period did not pretend to the same abilities as those of myth, and their powers were purely divinatory: extra-bodily flights and healing were beyond their capabilities and they did not claim such powers, nor did they understand the language of animals, but merely interpreted their sounds and movements. Teiresias was in many ways the best known of the manteis of the heroic age. Divination as a practice therefore had the vindication of (mythical) history behind it.