Oracles and Divination
Divination is often seen in modern discussions as primarily a political matter, as a source of guidance for human action, a focus for decision-making, rather than a simple exercise in fortune telling. Such practical uses as divination undeniably had, however, rested upon a conviction that divination was a form of divine intervention: the means through which divinity indicated morals or the shape of future events to men. Rather than being concerned with the historical authenticity of particular oracles and prophecies, or with questions of the procedure for consulting an oracle such as Delphi—Herodotus appears to take for granted knowledge of Delphic procedure. This chapter focuses on the areas where Herodotus provides the richest evidence: attitudes to oracles and divination, the distinction drawn between different types of divination and the mechanisms by which belief in divination was sustained and reinforced.
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