The Oracles of Zeus: Dodona, Olympia, Ammon

The Oracles of Zeus: Dodona, Olympia, Ammon

Herbert W. Parke

Language: English

Pages: 304


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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light many representations, particularly on engraved seals and gems, which indicate the existence of some form of tree-cult in the pre-Hellenic period, but there is nothing in them to suggest the oracular consultation of a sacred tree. The general impression is of a form of orgiastic worship such as finds its nearest analogies in Asiatic religions. It is not surprising, however, if the oak of Dodona has no source in this direction. For all the archaeological evidence so far available suggests

course ofhis tree-felling came to the oak of Zeus which was not as yet recognized as sacred, but when he attempted to hew it down a dove perched on the tree, addressed him in human speech and warned him of his unwitting impiety. Presumably it also explained that the tree of Zeus was capable of speaking prophecies. So Hellos must have desisted from his purpose, and became instead of a wood-cutter the first of the priests of Zeus at Dodona. For evidently by his name he was the eponymous ancestor,

for the archaic Greek colonies. One may suggest that this passage represents in effect the reaction of Dodona, striving to assert itself as a general oraclecentre for the Greek world and claiming to be the direct source of guidance from Zeus himself. It would not be entirely strange for such a manifesto to be found DODONA FROM HESIOD TO SOPHOCLES 49 in the Hesiodic corpus, for the connections between Dodona and Boeotia in early times were traditionally close. By the mid-fifth century

Odysseus, after the slaying of the suitors, els "'Hne1pov V.6wv XPTlO"t'T'lPic.uv TIVWV EVEKa Ti)v Tvpi~~a 6vyCXTepa e

Melampus is recorded as imprisoned in the halls ofPhylacus OLYMPIA 169 and Iphiclus' name does not occur. Later ancient narratives reconciled this inconsistency in the way indicated above, by making Phylacus the father oflphiclus. He had therefore been the person responsible for the traumatic episode, and was still alive when Melampus was captured. One may doubt, however, whether this reconciliation of the discrepancy is original and authentic. It looks rather as though the Odyssey derived

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