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Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy$
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Alan Cameron

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190268947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190268947.001.0001

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Oracles and Earthquakes

Oracles and Earthquakes

A Note on the Theodosian Sibyl

Chapter:
(p.247) 11 Oracles and Earthquakes
Source:
Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy
Author(s):

Alan Cameron

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190268947.003.0011

The chapter identifies an early version of the so-called Oracle of Baalbek with the prediction of an earthquake at Constantinople reported by St. Augustine. It discusses early Byzantine earthquakes and the chronologies of the revelations that claimed to have predicted them. Predictions could sometimes have large consequences, as when the population of Constantinople was evacuated in anticipation of a seismic event. The chapter shows that the original oracle may have been in hexameter verse and identifies it as Sibylline. Unlike many oracles of the time, the Sibyl’s prophecy lacked the eschatological dimension that so often accompanied prophetic announcements; the event was not assumed to imply the fall of Constantinople, the empire, or the world.

Keywords:   Sibylline oracles, earthquakes in late antiquity, St. Augustine, Constantinople, Oracle of Baalbek

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