Modes of prophecy, or modern arguments in support of the ancient approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inspired prophecy and divination by signs involve different activities and require different abilities on the part of their practitioners. A re-examination of ancient sources demonstrates that the idea of the supremacy of direct prophecy cannot be dismissed as a Platonic invention. Moreover, modes of prophecy are far from being a modern construal: they were already perceived as such in the second millennium BC. Ecstatic prophecy, difficult to achieve and dependent on the will of the gods, was open-ended and difficult to manipulate. Hence, most experts regard direct divination in Mesopotamia as peripheral to traditional divination by signs: it is the reverse correlation in Greece that requires an explanation. To discard the dichotomy between direct and indirect prophecy is to strip Greek culture of one of its unique characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
Issue number26
StatePublished - Oct 2013


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