Not Just a Man’s 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:
Not Just a Man’s Profession

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The best known of all female seers was the Pythia at Delphi, who served as the mouthpiece of the god Apollo. The god was thought to possess her and to speak directly through her; the voice was hers, but the words were his. The assumption of most modern scholars is that all female seers were of this type; they were the passive agents of mediumistic possession. However, there is reliable, if scanty, evidence that some of the migrant charismatic seers were female, and that they performed so-called technical divination. Their activities are mostly not recorded because they did not participate in military ventures. The female seer was also involved in rites of purification and healing that were part of the seer's craft.

Keywords: female seers; Pythia; technical divination; Greek divination; purification; healing

Chapter.  12857 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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