Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Divination part 3: Role of seers within at an Indo-European culture and the relationship to other members of the society
Hellenic culture had a myriad of different types of divination, most being tools which found use among the citizens of Greece. However, there were forms of divination that were prized about others. The most notable was that of being an Oracle. Oracles could be considered Seers, as they functioned as a
connection to the gods for the people.
Oracles, as an example of the most prominent Seership in Ancient Greece, were treated differently depending on the time period which they lived. They often found themselves treated with higher respect, in turn gained more prosperity, according to the range of their skills. Generally, the view of Oracles differed from one who used tools such as the drawing of lots. Oracles were seen as being sacred chosen of the divine.
During the time of Homer, Oracles reached an all time high in their calling. By the time of Homer, sometime around 1194-1184 BCE (Wikipedia Homer), nearly all divination had come under the control of various individual city religious leaders. These seers were housed in shrines and temples supported by the religious institutions, though at the time they were few in number (Luck 239). By the 8th BCE before the great Hellenic period, 323 BCE to about 146 BC (Wikipedia), many of the great Oracle temples such as Delphi began to become established (Wikipedia Delphic), gaining great prominence and wealth. Seen as the direct line to the gods, Seers gained both respect and fear among members of society. In Delphi, the Oracles where seen as the authority of the gods and none would stand against what the Pythia prophesied.
Much of the wealth came from offerings and donations by both those seeking the visions and insights of the Seers. Varying classes of people sought their aid, from farmers to great Kings and Emperors of other nations, who gifted greatly to the Temples. Many of the Oracle Temples had small villages and towns grow up around them. In the case of the Delphic Oracles they became a financial center, even offering banking facilities (Luck 248).