Delphi and Beyond: An Examination into the Role of Oracular Centres Within Mainland Greece
The Delphic Oracle stands as one of the most prestigious sanctuaries in the Greek landscape and certainly as the most reputable oracular centre in the region. In contrast, few other oracular centres made even a slight mark on Greece’s long and illustrious history. This study considers not only the possible reasons behind Delphi’s spectacular rise to power, but also what the factors may have been that prevented other oracular sites from successfully challenging Delphi’s supremacy. The sites considered in this study are restricted to those found in mainland Greece: five oracles in Boiotia, four in Achaia, three each in Phokis and Laconia, two in Thessaly, Epirus and the Argolid and one each in Elis, Corinthia and Thrace. Based on archaeological and epigraphic evidence, supported through reference to literary sources, this study finds that there were four key factors in determining whether an oracular site’s reputation would spread beyond its local community: the oracle’s age, location, oracular deity and its method of consultation. As this study shows, in all these factors, Delphi had (or was promoted as having) a clear advantage.
Advisor: Allan, Arlene
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Classics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Oracles; Greek Divination; Delphic Oracle
Research Type: Thesis