The Ancient Oracles Making the Gods Speak Richard Stoneman

Publication date:
15 Apr 2011
Yale University Press
288 pages: 229 x 152mm
45 b-w illus.
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For more than a thousand years, Greeks from all walks of life consulted oracles for guidance received directly from the gods. This colorful and wide-ranging survey encompasses the entire history of Greek oracles and focuses fresh attention on philosophical, psychological, and anthropological aspects of oracular consultation. It also examines how Greek oracles' practices were distinctive compared to those of their neighbors, especially in Egypt, Babylon, and Israel.

Richard Stoneman weaves a fascinating historical tapestry, taking into account the different kinds of oracles (healers, advisors, prophets, and others), their most important sanctuaries, debates about them among ancient thinkers, and Christian attacks on them. Delving into the reasons behind the oracles' enduring position at the heart of Greek culture, Stoneman offers fresh insights into pagan religious practice and the history of Greek intellectual and spiritual life.

Richard Stoneman is honorary fellow, University of Exeter. His most recent book is Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Devon, UK.

"A useful contribution to the on-going debate about the role and place of oracles, especially in how they provoked a series of philosophical and later theological responses.”—Michael Scott, The Anglo – Hellenic Review

"This wide-ranging and fascinating historical tapestry traces the history of Greek oracles, highlighting the theoretical, psychological and anthropological aspects of oracular consultation and offering fresh insights into pagan religious practice."—Aisha Tayub, Overseas: Quarterly Journal of the Royal Overseas League

"A highly intelligent, well researched and fascinating study which gripped me to the end."—Robert Carver, The Tablet