Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
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13-11-2015, 05:56 AM
Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
I'm currently interested in writing my dissertation on prophecy in the ancient world (particularly in the Augustan era and slightly before the death of Christ).

My perspective of prophecy until recently was that it is a religious concept that requires a hand of divination in the handing down of a foretelling of some sort that is going to happen no matter what because that it always related to the "Fates". However, reading around the transition of Pagan Rome to Christian Rome there seems to be a massive change in the concept of prophecy (as well as the ancient Greek concept too, however I'm trying to focus on Augustan Rome for this).

Are there any classicists here that can chip in there 2 cents here?

P.S An interesting fact is that Christian writers altered Vergils name to spell it as "Virg-il" later on because they believed he prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ and because Virg being related to Virgin which makes him more pure.

Edit: I placed this in the philosophy section because I'm trying to remove the monopoly religion has on the word prophecy.

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13-11-2015, 06:04 AM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
I wouldn't consider it exclusively religious, there have been many science fiction writers that nailed predictions on the future.

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13-11-2015, 06:18 AM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
(13-11-2015 05:56 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  I'm currently interested in writing my dissertation on prophecy in the ancient world (particularly in the Augustan era and slightly before the death of Christ).

My perspective of prophecy until recently was that it is a religious concept that requires a hand of divination in the handing down of a foretelling of some sort that is going to happen no matter what because that it always related to the "Fates". However, reading around the transition of Pagan Rome to Christian Rome there seems to be a massive change in the concept of prophecy (as well as the ancient Greek concept too, however I'm trying to focus on Augustan Rome for this).

Are there any classicists here that can chip in there 2 cents here?

P.S An interesting fact is that Christian writers altered Vergils name to spell it as "Virg-il" later on because they believed he prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ and because Virg being related to Virgin which makes him more pure.

Edit: I placed this in the philosophy section because I'm trying to remove the monopoly religion has on the word prophecy.

"According to Gilbert Highet in The Classical Tradition, the misspelling (Virgil) began early, possibly as the result of Vergil's nickname Parthenias which was based on the poet's sexual restraint.
In the Middle Ages the name Virgil was thought to refer to his magical (as in the virga magic wand) powers.
"

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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13-11-2015, 06:49 AM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
(13-11-2015 06:18 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(13-11-2015 05:56 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  I'm currently interested in writing my dissertation on prophecy in the ancient world (particularly in the Augustan era and slightly before the death of Christ).

My perspective of prophecy until recently was that it is a religious concept that requires a hand of divination in the handing down of a foretelling of some sort that is going to happen no matter what because that it always related to the "Fates". However, reading around the transition of Pagan Rome to Christian Rome there seems to be a massive change in the concept of prophecy (as well as the ancient Greek concept too, however I'm trying to focus on Augustan Rome for this).

Are there any classicists here that can chip in there 2 cents here?

P.S An interesting fact is that Christian writers altered Vergils name to spell it as "Virg-il" later on because they believed he prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ and because Virg being related to Virgin which makes him more pure.

Edit: I placed this in the philosophy section because I'm trying to remove the monopoly religion has on the word prophecy.

"According to Gilbert Highet in The Classical Tradition, the misspelling (Virgil) began early, possibly as the result of Vergil's nickname Parthenias which was based on the poet's sexual restraint.
In the Middle Ages the name Virgil was thought to refer to his magical (as in the virga magic wand) powers.
"

Hmmm, I was told about my tutor that it was what I said. As with classics many things are debated upon so I shouldn't have really stated it as a fact.

I have seen many references to him as a magician too, so that is a plausible explanation. I think I saw Tom Holland post a picture on Twitter in Naples that was a huge entrance to a cave and that the locals thought Vergil had made it using sun beams lol.

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13-11-2015, 06:55 AM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
(13-11-2015 06:04 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  I wouldn't consider it exclusively religious, there have been many science fiction writers that nailed predictions on the future.

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Prediction and prophecy is not the same thing. The Christian concept of prophecy as I know it it different from prediction by having a divine source.

In the Aeneid it seems that the prophecy of Aeneas is more of an obligation to him. Told by the gods (some mortals too). He is even told on numerous occasions that the prophecy won't come true unless he fulfills it of his own choice. It seems to me like a placebo tool to make people feel like have the backing of the gods.

An example would be further back during Greco-Persian wars, the Spartans refused to enter battle before visiting the prophets of Delphi. Though as soon as the prophets told them it was their destiny they had no problem, their obligation to the gods overcame their fear of death.

I'm getting all mumbly jumbly just thinking about it... I never construct my arguments well because I'm remembering things and changing my mind as I'm writing all the time >.> bleurgh. Incoherent much.

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19-11-2015, 10:55 PM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
Does this qualify as prophecy?

Quote:August 21, 2017 — Total Solar Eclipse

The total solar eclipse will be visible from most locations in the United States.

The eclipse will begin at 15:45 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The maximum point of the eclipse will take place near Hopkinsville, Kentucky at 18:20 UTC. Totality will last for 2 mins 40 secs.

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19-11-2015, 11:05 PM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
From my now fractured memory, all the ancient texts that discussed divination always used religion. I know of none from all my reading that was not.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
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20-11-2015, 05:03 AM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
(19-11-2015 10:55 PM)f stop Wrote:  Does this qualify as prophecy?

Quote:August 21, 2017 — Total Solar Eclipse

The total solar eclipse will be visible from most locations in the United States.

The eclipse will begin at 15:45 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The maximum point of the eclipse will take place near Hopkinsville, Kentucky at 18:20 UTC. Totality will last for 2 mins 40 secs.

Hmm. I'm not sure. I've kind of changed my mind on the subject, although I think that a prophecy needs to include an event that only something "divine" could know whether it will happen or not, or if it is at all going to happen. In this case, no.

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20-11-2015, 05:10 AM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
(19-11-2015 11:05 PM)Banjo Wrote:  From my now fractured memory, all the ancient texts that discussed divination always used religion. I know of none from all my reading that was not.

A lot of the first Greek philosophers did not relate discussions of divination to religion.

Anixamander, Parminedes etc.

The most famous example I can recall is Aristotle. (I hope to god this is his theory anyway because I'll look like an idiot to say I've been studying him!).

He discussed what makes humans different from other animals, he decided it was that we each and every one of us had a daemon inside of us (think of this as a kind of mix between your conscience and your consciousness). He said this made us divine, and that we derive this divinity from having an upright spine with a skull set on top. Although this isn't exactly about divination, the prediction of future events, it demonstrates that they were capable of separating religion from divinity.

In Greek the explanation is much more detailed and interesting.. was a while ago I learned this so there may be some mistakes!

It's just an example where divinity is discussed without any relationship to religion or gods. Much like Rudolph Otto's "numinous".

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20-11-2015, 05:14 AM
RE: Is the concept of prophecy exclusively religious?
(20-11-2015 05:10 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  A lot of the first Greek philosophers did not relate discussions of divination to religion.

Anixamander, Parminedes etc.

I cannot honestly remember. What prophesy's did they fortel?

I mostly recall the plays and histories. Jeez I would have read Anaximander 30 odd years ago.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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