A Dangerous Profession

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:
A Dangerous Profession

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The most important role of the seer in Greek society was arguably on the field of battle. Until quite recently, most scholars viewed seers as the willing agents of their generals and as consciously manipulating the sacrifices in order to confirm what the generals had decided to do. Thus, they were seen as tools in the building of morale and not as important players in their own right. This rationalizing view has begun to give way to more nuanced explanations and models. It is now common to read of the symbiotic relationship between general and seer. There must have been tremendous pressures on both men to perform successfully when under stress or scrutiny. Given the high stakes involved, it would not be surprising if seers, to one degree or another, subconsciously interpreted the sacrifices in accordance with what the situation demanded. Nonetheless, in order to be successful over a long career a seer needed to project an image of objectivity.

Keywords: seers; Greek society; battles; war; divination; objectivity

Chapter.  15842 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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