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Oracles and Divination in ancient Thrace, part III:


Rhodope Mountains and the Oracle of Dionysos in ancient Thrace
Jordan Iliev
Regular PhD Candidate, Department of Ancient history, thracology and mediaeval history
Abstract. In the present article are analyzed the available sources, commonly connected with the
Oracle of Dionysos in ancient Thrace. They all are differentiated by five criteria:
(1) According to the terms, used by the ancient authors. In Herodotus (7.111.2) and in a
Scholia to Euripides (Alkestis, 968) the searched object was called , and as a synonym
Herodotus used the word s. Among the other only Pseudo-Aristotle (848a122) talks about
s, who also had and a . The oracle, known to Macrobius (Saturnalia, 1.18.1), is
designed as adytum Lybero. Suetonius (Divus Augustus 94.6) talks about lucus with a
templum and altarium.
(2) According to the known details about the mantic session. Herodotus writes (7.111.2) that
in the Thracian oracle of Dionysos there was a priestess, who gave the oracles such as in Delphi. In
the temple of the ligyroi was prophesied after consummation of wine (Macrobius, Saturnalia
1.18.1). In the oracle, which was visited by Alexander the Great and Gaius Octavius, the mantic
session consists of pouring of wine over the altar, so that the flame rose above the temple roof and
mounted to the very sky (Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 94.6).
(3) According to the information about officials of the oracle. Herodotus (7.111.2) writes
about a priestess () and an unknown number of prophets (\). Suetonius (Divus
Augustus 94.6) tells only about priests (sacerdotes).
(4) According to the indicated by the ancient authors localizations. The early literary tradition
the undated scholia to Euripides and Herodotus connects the Thracian oracle of Dionysos with
Haemus, Pangaeus or the highest mountains. Pseudo-Aristotle (848a122) locates a temple of
Dionysos in Crestonia, near the land of the Bisaltai; the same can be connected with the sacred
wood of Liber Pater, which localization is unknown. Also unknown is the territory of the ligyroi;
there was another temple of Dionysos.
(5) According to the date of operation. The earliest activity is dated not latter than the first
half of the 5th century BC. The latest oracle was received in 59 BC.
It can hardly be argued that all available data related to one and the same oracle of Dionysos.
In any case, there is no information on any connection between Rhodope Mountains and the
presented ancient sources, although such is supported in some modern studies.

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1.
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(Alkestis, 968) ,
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>{ S [T]
\ K T
u, T
B@ x <<><.

[?]
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,
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( ), .

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.)6, ,
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.7
-.
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,
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- :
s S p { x {
q , s S p
{ y, r p < T
B, p T
<.
>

g T , <
\<. S p
, p T . p > < }

,
,
,
,
:

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{ @ p :
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1.3. Hdt., Hist. 7.111.1-2:
-
(. 484 . 425 . . .),
(7.111):
(1) S B (1) , ,
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T, ^q t,
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etiam de Libero dicta existimari. Nam


Aristoteles qui Theologumena scripsit
Apollinem et Liberum patrem unum
eundemque deum esse quum multis aliis
argumentis asserat, etiam apud Ligyreos
[Ligireos] ait in Thracia esse adytum
Libero consecratum ex quo redduntur
oracula, sed in hoc adyto vaticinaturi
plurimo mero sumpto, uti apud Clarium
aqua pota, effantur oracula.

.
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adytum, .
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:
Item in Thracia eundem haberi solem
atque Liberum accipimus, quem illi
Sebadium
nuncupantes
magnifica
religione celebrant, ut Alexander scribit:
eique deo in colle Zilmisso aedes dicata
est specie rotunda, cuius medium
interpatet tectum. Rotunditas aedis
monstrat huiusce sideris speciem:
summoque tecto lumen admittitur, ut
appareat solem cuncta vertice summo
lustrare lucis inmissu, et quia oriente eo

[].

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; 34:

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1.7. Suet., Div. Aug. 94.6:


- ,
, (Div. Aug. 94.6):
Octavio postea, cum per secreta Thraciae
exercitum duceret, in Liberi patris luco
barbara caerimonia de filio consulenti,
idem affirmatum est a sacerdotibus, quod
infuso super altaria mero tantum
flammae emicuisset, ut supergressa
fastigium templi ad caelum usque
ferretur,
unique
omnino
Magno
Alexandro apud easdem aras sacrificanti
simile prouenisset ostentum.

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() ,
(). 54
, .
2.4.
,
,
,
. ,
- .
(1) , (1.1-3.) [Schol. ad Eur.
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.
,
- . , -
, .
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, ,
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(3)
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,
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.
(1.3) [Hdt. Hist. 7.111.1-2]
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(1.5) [Macrob. Sat. 1.18.1], .
- (1.7) [Suet. Div. Aug. 94.6],
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3.

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.
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(Fab. 132.2.3).

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.
,
. 61 - ,
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-

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Lycurgus Dr<y>antis filius Liberum de regno fugauit; quem cum negaret deum esse
uinumque bibisset et ebrius matrem suam uiolare uoluisset, tunc uites excidere est conatus,
quod diceret illud malum medicamentum esse quod mentes immutaret. qui insania ab
Libero obiecta uxorem suam et filium interfecit, ipsumque Lycurgum Liber pantheris
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sibi pro uitibus excidisse. . TLL.
59
Ovid. Met. 6.589: [] nocte sonat Rhodope tinnitibus aeris acuti. Ovid. Fast. 3.739:
[] ibat harenoso satyris comitatus ab Hebro non habet ingratos fabula nostra iocos;
iamque erat ad Rhodopen Pangaeaque florida ventum. . TLL.
60
[] Montes interior adtollit Haemon et Rhodopen et Orbelon, sacris Liberi patris et
coetu Maenadum, Orpheo primum initiante, celebratos. . TLL.
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