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Caves and the Ancient Greek MindDescending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth$
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Yulia Ustinova

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199548569

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548569.001.0001

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Seers and Poets

Seers and Poets

(p.156) 3 Seers and Poets
Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind

Yulia Ustinova (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter envisages the mental frame of freelance ‘impresarios of gods’, their behaviour, method of attaining illumination, and especially the role of cave experiences in their lives. The cave environment required for the Sibyls reflects the traditional Greek views on the conditions necessary for the quintessential seers. The blindness of sightless prophets and poets emphasizes their constant state of visual deprivation. The insistence of myths and quasi-historical narratives on sensory deprivation experienced by seers and bards is rooted in age-long observation, which gave rise to their conventional image in the popular tradition. The recurring immersion in the outer darkness of a grotto or in the inner darkness of blindness indicates that inspired visions and revelations came to Greek seers and poets from within their minds.

Keywords:   Sibyls, seers, poets, caves, blindness, sensory deprivation

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