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Title: Human will and divine will in Roman divination
Author: Driediger-Murphy, Lindsay G.
ISNI:       0000 0003 6282 1915
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the relationship between human will and divine will as mediated through state divination in the Roman Middle and Late Republic. The nature of ancient evidence for incidents involving state divination, and for divinatory ‘rules’, is scrutinized: the historicity of many divinatory incidents recorded in Roman tradition is defended, and the existence of a body of basic divinatory ‘rules’ posited. Current models of the relationship between human and divine will in Roman divination are examined; the thesis challenges the ‘alignment’ model wherein the outcomes of state divination are assumed routinely to have aligned with the will of their recipients. Cases where divinatory outcomes do not appear to have aligned with recipients’ will are identified in Cicero, Livy, and Cassius Dio. The modern view that state divinatory techniques (auspication, haruspicy in sacrifice, and prodigy-interpretation) routinely generated desired results is called into question. The thesis then re-evaluates the canon of ancient ‘rule-statements’ generally cited as evidence for augural ‘principles’ that the report of a sign was considered as valid as an actual sign, and that it was acceptable for individuals to fabricate or to reject signs at will. Instead, it is suggested that a real sign was preferable to a reported one, and that the validity of an oblative sign depended on the individual’s awareness of it. Finally, the thesis proposes an alternative to the currently-accepted understanding of the auspicial procedure ‘servare de caelo’, arguing that even this procedure need not be seen as invariably generating signs in alignment with human will and as countenancing sign-falsification. These conclusions are held to encourage a re-consideration of the modern understanding of the nature of Roman state divination and of Roman religion.
Supervisor: Price, Simon R. F. ; Clark, Anna ; Bispham, Ed Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Religions of antiquity ; History of the ancient world ; augury ; prodigies