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The Oracle of Dodona: A Postscript

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009


Messages were divined by soaking oak leaves in the holy spring. Oak leaves have veins rich in tannins, and I find that by soaking such leaves in dilute iron sulphate solutions hieroglyphics are produced on the dry leaves which could easily pass for distorted Greek characters. On one occasion I succeeded in obtaining characters that perhaps could have been read καιχ ρομε; and it is interesting to note that Gallaeus records a message reading καὶ ‘Ρώμη ῥύμη.’

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1959

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1 Gallaeus, S., Sibyllina Oracula (Amsterdam, 1689), iii. 408.Google Scholar Most annoyingly ‘note 95’, which refers to this oracle, is missing. But see ibid. i. 3, n. 2: ‘Suidas hanc inter λόγια et χρησμοὺς constituit difFerentiam, nempe λόγια dicit esse syllogen eorum quae a diis sunt dicta, χρησμοὶ uero oracula quae uersibus sunt prolata ab iis qui sunt diuinitus acti’; cf. Schol. Thuc. ii. 8.

2 Nierenstein, M., The Natural Organic Tannins (London, 1934), 291.Google Scholar

3 Gruber, , Die Quellen Griechenlands chymisch, physisch und medizinisch Untersucht (Weisskirchen, 1756).Google Scholar

4 Pliny, , H.N. xxxiv. 2.Google Scholar

5 Isis, xvi (1931), 439.Google Scholar

6 Not Dioskorides Pedanios, contemporary with Nero and Pliny and author of the famous Materia Medica.