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Negotiating, Communicating, Relating: Approaches to Ancient Divination - 20-21-22/07/2015, London (England)



This conference explores divination in antiquity, with the aim of moving beyond pragmatic and positivist assumptions. The papers will re-examine what ancient people thought they were doing through divination, to see what this can tell us about the religions and cultures in which divination was practiced. The papers will cover Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Chinese divination, and the themes will include the beliefs, anxieties and hopes that divination was used to address; the limits of human control of divinatory practise and outcomes; perceptions of the nature of the gods addressed through divination; and the human-divine relationships that divination created and/or sustained.


FECHA/DATE/DATA: 20-21-22/07/2015


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Institute of Classical Studies (London, England)


ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Esther Eidinow ; Lindsay Driediger-Murphy


INFO: web - ;






20 July 2015:


1:45 pm Introduction– Esther Eidinow (University of Nottingham) and Lindsay Driediger-Murphy (University of Calgary) Beliefs, Anxieties, and Hopes

2:00 pm Paper 1– Hugh Bowden (King’s College London): ‘Getting the Right Answer, or Getting the Answer Right? Athenian Use of Oracles in the Fourth Century BCE’

2:30 pm

Discussion 3:00 pm

Paper 2– Andy Stiles (University of Oxford): ‘Making Sense of Chaos: Divination and Civil War’

3:30 pm Discussion


4:00 pm Tea


4:30 pm Paper 3– Luigi Prada (University of Oxford): ‘Graeco-Roman Egyptian Society through the Lens of Divination: Hopes and Anxieties in the Predictions of Egyptian Divinatory Handbooks’

5:00 pm Discussion


6:30 pm Dinner


21 July 2015: Limits and Dynamics of Human ‘Control’


9:30 am Paper 4– Scott Noegel (University of Washington): ‘Augur Anxieties in the Ancient Near East’

10:00 am Discussion

10:30 am Paper 5– Esther Eidinow (University of Nottingham): “’Send to Dodona and Delphi and Ask the Gods”: Simultaneous Oracle Consultations and their Implications’

11:00 am Discussion


11:30 am Tea


12:00 pm Paper 6– Lindsay Driediger-Murphy (University of Calgary): ‘Unsuccessful Sacrifice in Roman Republican Divination’

12:30 pm Discussion


1:00 pm Lunch


Nature of the Gods/Human-Divine Relationships

2:00 pm Paper 7– Michael Flower (Princeton University): ‘Divination and the “Real Presence” of the Divine in Ancient Greece’

2:30 pm Discussion

3:00 pm Paper 8– Federico Santangelo (University of Newcastle): ‘Prodigies in the Early Principate?’

3:30 pm Discussion


4:00 pm Tea 4:30 pm Paper 9– Lisa Raphals (University of California, Riverside): ‘Which Gods if Any: Gods, Cosmologies and Their Implications for Chinese and Greek Divination’

5:00 pm Discussion


22 July 2015: Modes of Reasoning


10.00 am Paper 11– Lisa Maurizio (Bates College): ‘Essential Divination in Ancient Greece? Questioning the Divide between Technical and Nontechnical Divination’

10:30 am Discussion


11.00 am Tea


11:30 am Paper 10– William Klingshirn (Catholic University of America): ‘Theologies of Divination in Late Antiquity: Ritual and Truth’

12:00 pm Discussion


12:30 pm Lunch


1:30 pm Concluding Discussion (to 2:30 pm)


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