Divination as a System of Knowledge and Belief

Michael Attyah Flower

in The Seer in Ancient Greece

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780520252295
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934009 | DOI:
Divination as a System of Knowledge and Belief

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The rites of divination were not only ubiquitous in Greek society; they were also uniquely authoritative. This was true not only for the uneducated masses, but also for the elite, and not just in the archaic period but even during the classical and Hellenistic periods. The various rites of divination constituted a rational and coherent, as well as a socially useful, system of knowledge and belief for the Greeks. This system was socially useful in that it aided decision making, circumvented indecision, and arbitrated disputes. It was logical in that it was predicated on an implicit set of beliefs which made sense for the Greeks: that the gods were concerned for the welfare of humankind, that they knew more than humans, and that they were willing to share some of that knowledge by way of advice.

Keywords: seers; Greek society; Greek divination; Greeks; belief system

Chapter.  13261 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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