The Ancient Library

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On this page: Onirocritice – Oniros – Onomacritus – Onasandrus – Opalia and Opeconsiva – Opheletes – Opisthodomus – Oppian – Ops – Optatianus – Optimates – Oracles



of the Euphrates and Tigris. He after­wards lived at the court of Lysimachus, king of Thrace. During Alexander's life he began a comprehensive history of that personage, which fell into disrepute owing to its exaggerations and its false accounts of distant lands [Strabo, p. 628]. Only scanty fragments of it are preserved.

Onlrocrltice (Gr. Oneirokrltlke). The art of interpreting dreams. (See mantike and dh_eams.)

Oniros (Greek OncirOs). The god of dreams (q.v.\

Onomaciitus. An Athenian, who lived at the court of Pisistratus and his sons. At the request of Pisistratus, he prepared an edition of the Homeric poems. He was an industrious collector, and also a forger of old oracles and poems. Those which go under the name of Orpheus are regarded as, for the most part, concocted by himself. He was detected in forging an oracle of Musseus, and banished from Athens by the Pisistra-tidEe ; but he was afterwards reconciled to them, and in their interest induced Xerxes, by alleged oracular responses, to decide upon his war with Greece [Herodotus, viii 6]. OnSsandrns. See onesandrds. Opalia and OpSconsiva. Feasts of the Rojnan goddess Ops (q.v.).

Opheltes. Son of kingLycurgus of Nemea. He was killed by a serpent at the time of the expedition of the Seven against Thebes (q.v.), owing to the negligence of his nurse Hypsipj'le (q.v.), who laid the boy on the grass while she showed the thirsty heroes the way to a spring of water. It was in his memory that the Nemean games were ori­ginally celebrated, and he was worshipped there under the name Archemfirus (q.v.), given him by the seer Amphlaraus.

6pisth6d6nras (lit. a back chamber). The room which in many Greek temples adjoined the temple chamber itself at the rear, and which often served for the preserving of the temple treasure, and indeed even of the State moneys. For the latter purpose the Athenians used the opisthodomus [of the old temple of Athene, and afterwards (ac­cording to the ordinary view) the western chamber] of the Parthenon at Athens [Aris-toph. Plutus, 1192; Dem. Syntax. 14; Timocr. 136). (See temple, and plan of acropolis.)

Oppian. A Greek didactic poet, of Ana-zarbus in Cilicia. In the second half of the 2nd century a.d., under the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he composed a didactic poem Halicutica in five books, on the

habits of fishes and the method of cap­turing them. It is written in an ornate, though often bombastic, style. He was formerly confounded with Oppian, the author of a didactic poem on the Chase, consisting of four books, and entitled CyiM-glKca, written in a harsh, dry style, and in halting verse. The author of the Cyne-gctica lived under Caracalla about the end of the 2nd century, and came from Apamea in Syria. A poem on bird-catching, Ixeu-tlca, preserved to us only in a paraphrase by Eutecnlus, was als(5 wrongly ascribed to the author of the Hdlleuflca.

Ops (abundance, plenty). The old Italian goddess of fertility, wife of Saturn, with whom she shared the temple on the Capitol and _the festival of the Saturnalia, while the Opalia were held in her honour on the 19th December. As goddess of sowing and reaping she had, under the name Conslvia, on August 25th a special festival, the Ope-conslva, at which however only the Vestals and one of the ponttflcls could be present. As her abode was in the earth, her wor­shippers invoked her while seated and touching the ground [Macrobius, Satur­nalia, i 10]. Just as Saturn was identified with CrSnus, so Ops was afterwards iden­tified with Rhea, and then, as mother of Jupiter, honoured along with Jupiter him­self on the Capitol.

Optatianus. See porfirios.

Optlmates (lit. " those belonging to the best or noblest"). At Rome, in the last century of the Republic, this title was borne by the adherents of the t( best" men in a political sense (i.e. the conservatives), working in the interests of the Senate and the aristocracy of office (nobflSs, see nobility), and in opposition to the demo­crats (pSptildres).

Oracles(Gr.?na?ito'd, "oracular responses," or the " seats of oracles "; chrestSrm is used in the same senses, and also of vctims offered by those consulting an oracle). The seats of the worship of some special divi­nity, where prophecies were imparted with the sanction of the divinity, either by the priests themselves or with their co-opera­tion. There were a great many such places in all Greek countries, and these may be divided, according to the method in which the prophecy was made known, into four main divisions: (1) oral oracles, (2) oracles by xigns, (3) oracles by dreams, and (4) oracles of the dead.

The most revered oracles were those of the first class, where the divinity, almost in-

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