chapter  8
70 Pages

Oracular centres of Apollo and Zeus

Clement of Alexandria is an eminent authority on pagan oracular divination, which he and his Christian compatriots saw as the work of daimones (in this context, this can perhaps best be translated as 'malevolent spirits') and here he condemns a number of the main oracular centres, along with practitioners of various contemporary types of divination, which are, he states, 'still honoured by the masses'. Apollo was the main source of prophecy throughout the Greek world, with consultants from Sicily and southern Greece travelling to the oracular centres of Delphi or Dodona. A very real methodological problem, however, asserts itself, regardless of whether the oracle happened to belong to Zeus or Apollo. Most divinatory signs – the flight of a bird, prodigy, dream or the folds of entrails – required a degree of interpretation, either by the observers themselves and or by a professional diviner.