Much modern scholarship on Delphic oracles has revolved around the question of authenticity, where authenticity implies it is a fact that there was a consultation of the Delphic oracle, that a response was given and that the account of these events reports the occasion of the consultation and the response verbatim. This article challenges the usefulness and validity of this definition on two grounds. First, there is ample evidence that most Delphic oracles circulated orally for at least a generation before being recorded in writing. Therefore, Delphic oracles should be examined through what we know about orality from Homeric studies. Second, all six hundred or so oracles attributed to Delphi are fulfilled. This observation suggests that Delphic tales are religious testimonia and should be read for what they tell us about the beliefs, though not necessarily the facts and details, of the communities who circulated them. This article, then, both provides an alternate definition of authenticity that takes into account the oral transmission of these tales by communities of believers and comments on the nature of the historical evidence these tales provide.
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Lisa Maurizio; Delphic Oracles as Oral Performances: Authenticity and Historical Evidence. Classical Antiquity 1 October 1997; 16 (2): 308–334. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/25011067
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