n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - The ancient Greek for oracles of the dead

Volume 44, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The various Greek terms for 'oracles of the dead' were synonymous. In extant sources they are applied principally to four sites: the oracles at Heracleia Pontica on the Black Sea, Tainaron on Mani, the Acheron in Thesprotia and Avernus in Campania. The evidence for the precise locations and configurations of these oracles is reviewed, together with the traditions of consultations at them. The oracles at Heracleia and Tainaron were located in tooled caves, and their remains can be identified today. The oracles at the Acheron and Avernus, however, were probably based in mere lakeside precincts. Ghosts were experienced at the oracles by means of incubation and dreaming. The meagre evidence for the powers that presided at the oracles is also considered, as is that for their staff's. Finally, it is asked whether there were any further oracles the dead in the Greek world.

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