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Pharaian Kledomancy

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Chapter Summary

Greek oracles were largely the province of the prophetic god Apollo, but the text of the second-century ad traveler Pausanias provides us with a description of a rare oracle of the messenger god Hermes in the small Peloponnesian town of Pharai. Apollo, according to the fourth Homeric Hymn, would not grant Hermes a share of the prophetic art, but did give to his half-brother three maidens, teachers of divination, who, inspired by eating yellow honey, would tell the truth. Joseph Michael Gandy depicts the herm in the center of the agora not as the modest figure described by Pausanias, but as an enormous stone monument, just left of center, between two massive volutes, three times the height of a man, cloaked in a himation, who holds an offering dish before a smoking, garlanded altar.

Keywords: agora; God; Joseph Michael Gandy; Pausanias



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