Tuesday, August 06, 2019



Matthew Dillon, Omens and Oracles: Divination in Ancient Greece (London: Routledge, 2017), p. 17 (discussing Pseudo-Melampus, On Divination by Twitchings; bracketed material in original):
Although the earliest Greek manuscript of the work dates from the thirteenth century AD, even in their fragmentary state Greek papyri from Egypt provide an indication that there were quite extensive lists of interpretations available. Dating to the third century AD, the earliest papyrus begins with the entry:
[A twitching of] the left buttock means joy: for the slave, something beneficial; for the virgin, blame will fall on the widow for strife [this is somewhat difficult to understand; there may be an allusion here the ancient reader would have recognised]; for the soldier, promotion.
This is in fact a more elaborate version of two short entries in Melampous' Twitchings, which indicate that twitching of either buttock means prosperity...

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