Skip to content
Look Inside Classical Athens and the Delphic Oracle

Classical Athens and the Delphic Oracle
Divination and Democracy


  • Date Published: May 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521530811

£ 31.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Request inspection copy

Lecturers may request a copy of this title for inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The Delphic Oracle was where, according to Greek tradition, Apollo would speak through his priestesses. This work explores the importance placed on consultations at Delphi by Athenians in the city's age of democracy. It demonstrates the extent to which concern to do the will of the gods affected Athenian politics, challenging the notion that Athenian democracy may be seen as a model for modern secular democratic constitutions. All the known consultations of the oracle by Athens in the period before 300 BC are examined, and descriptions of consultations found in Attic tragedy and comedy are discussed. This work provides a new account of how the Delphic oracle functioned and presents a thorough analysis of the relationship between the Athenians and the oracle, making it essential reading both for students of the oracle itself and of Athenian democracy.

    • Presents an accessible and comprehensive account of the role of oracles in Athenian society
    • Provides the fullest explanation, based on the evidence, of how consultations at the Delphic Oracle were undertaken
    • Offers a new analysis of the relationship between religion and politics in ancient Athens
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… clear, straightforward and jargon-free'. BBC History

    'This work provides a new account of how the Delphic oracle functioned, making it essential reading both for students of the oracle itself and of Athenian democracy.' History Today

    'His discussion of this central theme of the book is carefully and thought-provokingly placed within a wider religious, political, intellectual and cultural context than one might immediately imagine such a title to embrace … closely argued and immensely provocative ….' Journal of Classics Teaching

    'This excellent little book challenges many generally accepted views about both Athenian democracy and the Delphic oracle in an attempt to highlight the role religion played in ancient Greek political discourse. … well written and researched … this affordable monograph with its clean text, useful appendices, full bibliography, and fine (and extensive) English translations will surely become a standard reference on both the Delphic oracle and Athenian society.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521530811
    • length: 206 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 138 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.26kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus. 2 maps 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. How did the Delphic oracle work?
    2. What did the Athenians think of the Delphic Oracle?
    3. What did historians and philosophers say about the Delphic oracle?
    4. How and why did the Athenians consult the Delphic oracle?
    5. What did the Athenians ask the Delphic oracle?
    6. Why did the Athenians (and other Greek cities) go to war?
    7. Conclusion: divination and democracy
    Appendix 1. Consultations of Delphi in Attic tragedy
    Appendix 2. Concordance of Athenian consultations.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Classical Literature
    • Intermediate Latin I
    • Intro to Ancient Greece
  • Author

    Hugh Bowden, King's College London
    Hugh Bowden is Lecturer in Ancient History at King's College London. He is the author of numerous articles on Greek religion and history and is editor of The Times Ancient Civilizations (2002).

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.