Was divination a job reserved to women?

  • In Greek and Roman mythology, most of the famous oracles I've heard of were female.

    • The Oracle of Delphi (Pythia)
    • The Cumaean Sibyl (who sold books of prophecies to the king of Rome Tarquinius)
    • Cassandra, princess of Troy

    Of particular interest is the blind oracle Teiresias, who was born male, but the gods have transformed him to female.

    Is this observation representative? Did the ancient Greeks and Romans believe that women are more suitable to serve as oracles than men? If so, what is the reason for this? If not, do we know of famous male oracles? I would prefer living mortals who served as oracles, as opposed to dead people who had to be consulted in the underworld.

    Cassandra's twin brother Helenus was also a prophet.

    Amended my answer to provide insight on the strong female associations with divination

  • andejons

    andejons Correct answer

    5 years ago

    Certainly not the Romans, in general. For sure, the Roman haruspex and augurs were male. However, it is entirely possible that certain kinds of divination were linked to either sex, so that the kind of direct inspiration that seem to be the basis of the Cumaean Sybil or the oracle at Delphi were thought to be more of a female thing.

    As for famous oracles, the most well-known haruspex is likely Spurinna, who warned Caesar to beware the Ides of March, according to Suetonius.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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