The Ancient Library

Halliday, Greek Divination

Greek Divination: A Study of its Methods and Principles by W. R. Halliday (1913). Scanned by Tim Spalding for the Ancient Library.


1. Introductory — 2. Magic — 3. Ritual — 4. Divination and Magic:
The Acceptance of Omens
— 5. Manteis — 6. The Ordeal — 7. Divination at Sacred Springs — 8. Lekanomancy — 9. Omens and Sub-Rites — 10. Kleromancy — 11. Necromancy — 12. Augury — 13. ConclusionAppendixBibliographic IndexGeneral Index

About Halliday's Greek Divination

Despite being published in 1913, Halliday's Greek Divination: A Study of its Methods and Principles remains the best book-length account of Greek divination in English. Since it was published, most of Halliday's topics have received articles and even monographs, but I know of no general treatment of the topic along his lines. (This is all the more remarkable in light of the steady flow of articles and books on oracles and the virtual geyser of Greco-Roman magic.) That said, this is a dated and imperfect work. The study of Greek religion has advanced considerably since the 1910s, rendering much of Halliday's analysis very quaint. In the overall picture and most his facts, however, his book is still an excellent introduction for the English reader. If you read French, you may want to start with Bouché-Leclercq's Histoire de la divination dans l'Antiquité (1879)—older, but still very much the definitive work. The Ancient Library hopes to put this work online soon as well.

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