Année de publication : Journal Of Hellenic Religion, , Vol. 4, 35-48.


Abstract: As it is mentioned by Plutarch, Boeotia was a prominent oracular space where a great number of supernatural voices (πολύφωνος) were echoed. Boeotia was also the place where the Oracle of Trophonios was located, Boeotians’ most famous oracle. The fact that at this place the process of divination was part of the mystic rites is equally important as the fact that this Oracle is the only one for which we have a detailed description of its mysteries. The literary evidence provides us with two different versions of the legend of the Oracle of Trophonios. Both versions, however, have something significant in common: the story of a mortal who possessed magical architectural secrets and with his “death” became an important hero, the successor of the ancient mystic cult. The Oracle of Trophonios is consisted of all those elements that one can observe in other oracles too. Such elements are the sacred grove and the purifying waters, whilst there are also elements that were possibly used in the process of mystic rites, such as the katabasis, the mantic snakes, the ritual “death”, the ritual rebirth”, the fountain of Lethe and Mnemosyne, where the ancients placed one of the gates of Hades.

Mots-clés: katabasis, ritual-death, boeotia, literary-evidence, sacred-grove, lethe, mnemosyne, plutarch, oracles, ancients, divination, rebirth, detailed-description, snakes, mysteries, oracle, cult, voices, gates, hero

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