chapter  9
10 Pages

The demise of oracular shrines and the transformation of omens

Clement the Christian author in the very same century boasted of the demise of oracular shrines and urged his readers to discard all forms of divination: 'Demented they really are, these unbelievers' schools of sophistry, these haunts of unbridled misbelief'. Ancient Greek divination was not an arcane art: it was not practised secretly. Diviners in the mythical tradition are the archetypes of their historical counterparts. Historical manteis principally interpreted omens of birds and entrails, and they are most often seen in the historical sources marching with Greek armies and sometimes dying with them. Manteis were as famous as the generals with whom they served, and could be given equal credit for winning battles because of their prophecies: they could be honoured with citizenship, money, statues and inscriptions. Divination was an intrinsic part of society at both a personal and state level.