Pre-modern Seminar No. 51: Olga A. Zolotnikova
Dr. Olga A. Zolotnikova (Open University of Cyprus)
Oracle-giving practice – modes of prophecy in the sanctuary of Zeus in Dodona (Epirus) according to the ancient sources
Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Jakobi 2-114 at 18:15
Olga has sent the following presentation of the lecture:
"The lecture / seminar will present the prophetic activity of the sanctuary of Zeus in Dodona as it is indicated by the ancient sources (references of the ancient authors and inscriptions on the lamellas discovered in the sanctuary). The sanctuary at Dodona was famous in antiquity as a place where people could get divine responses to their questions on various private and public matters.
The sanctuary seems to have emerged in the Early Bronze Age as a typical Indo-European sacred place focused on a "wise", "talking" oak attended by special group of primitive priests. Sacred oak sayings were the earliest form of the oracular responses in Dodona; this mode of prophecy was maintained till Late Antiquity; ancient people believed that the sacred oak expressed the will of Zeus. In historic time, divine answers were also given in form of signs and as lots, but the exact procedure is not certain.
The oracle at Dodona was served by a group of priests and several categories of priestesses, while the former and the latter seem to have performed different functions in the prophetic activities of the sanctuary. Several types of the prophetic behavior practiced by the Dodonean priests and priestesses are traced in the available sources: direct contact with “divine wisdom”, prophecy by intuition, ecstatic prophecy, and technical prophecy (cleromancy, interpretation of signs, interpretation of sacrifices). The main prophesying deity in Dodona from the time of Homer was Zeus; however, other gods and goddesses could be inquired in Dodona as well (as Apollo, Themis, Diona, etc.). Remarkably, not only questions, but also some “divine answers” have been read on the lamellas found in the sanctuary. The material will be presented and commented."
Everybody is welcome!
The Pre-modern seminar is an interdisciplinary and informal seminar at Tartu University organized by the Department of Scandinavian Studies and led by Professor Daniel Sävborg. It was founded in 2010 and has so far arranged 50 meetings with talks by scholars on different levels, both from Estonia and from abroad. The focus is on pre-1800 issues of all kinds.