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Abstract–Using Homer for Divination. Homeromanteia in Context

The verses of Homer were often interpreted in Antiquity as the voice of an oracle. But we have no material evidence about the use of Homeric verses as oracles before the third and fourth centuries CE. This paper is focused on the use of Homeric works in divination in Roman times and consists in a comparative study of the three Homeromanteia that have been preserved. A comparison of the content and the layout of these three texts leads us to a series of questions focused on how this kind of lot-divination was transmitted in Antiquity, and on the idea of “sacred” books as direct links to oracular answers. The fact that one of the Homeromanteia appears in a Greek magical handbook allows us to stress the anomaly of this type of  divination, bibliomancy, when compared to all other divinatory recipes preserved in the Greco-Egyptian magical handbooks. In my presentation I will pay special attention to the layout of the Homeromanteion in the magical handbook, in order to provide new answers regarding the uses and the users of this kind of divination. This paper is part of a larger project on the transmission of Greek magical knowledge in books.

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