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"Trusty" Oracles of Zeus? The Pragmatics of Prophecies in Sophocles' Trachiniae

By Amy Pistone

In Sophocles’ Trachiniae, only when Heracles is about to succumb to gruesome death does he realize that the prophesied peaceful end to his toils (170, 825, 1168-9) will be death itself. Until then, he and the other characters in the play had grossly misunderstood the “trusty oracles” of Zeus (μαντεῖα πιστὰ, 77). Five distinct versions of the oracle appear in the play, each suggesting a different fate for Heracles; strikingly, each different version of this oracle is fulfilled in the end.

The Meanings of Nature: Philosophy, Science and Divination between Lucretius and Seneca

By Daniele Federico Maras

A passage of the sixth book of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura includes an unusual expression of mockery in regard to the use of the ‘Etruscan verses’ (6.379-385: Tyrrhena carmina) in order to interpret the meaning of lightning bolts. In actuality, the poet claims, lightning is caused by colliding clouds; hence there is no agency of gods to be discovered in it.

Signs and Patterns in Aratus' Myth of Ages

By Kathryn Wilson

The most famous passage of Aratus’ Phaenomena is his description of the catasterism of Dike, which includes a re-telling of Hesiod’s Myth of Ages.  This passage has been analyzed through literary, philosophical, and political lenses, and the myriad different interpretations demonstrate that it is programmatic and highly polysemous, but in all of these it is treated largely as a digression from the main focus of the poem.  In this paper, I will offer a new way of viewing this passage, in the context of Aratus’ interest in signs throughout the Phaenomena.  The