Skip to main content
Select Source:

oracle

oracle, in Greek religion, priest or priestess who imparted the response of a god to a human questioner. The word is also used to refer to the response itself and to the shrine of a god. Every oracular shrine had a fixed method of divination. Many observed signs, such as the motion of objects dropped into a spring, the movement of birds, or the rustle of leaves. Often dreams were interpreted. A later and popular method involved the use of entranced persons whose ecstatic cries were interpreted by trained attendants. Before an oracle was questioned consultants underwent rites of purification and sacrifice. There were many established oracles in ancient Greece, the most famous being those of Zeus at Dodona and of Apollo at Delphi and at Didyma in Asia Minor. Other oracular shrines were located in Syria, Egypt, and Italy.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oracle." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oracle." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oracle

"oracle." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oracle

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oracle

oracle a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity, or a place at which such advice or prophecy was sought; in extended use, the term may be used for a person or thing regarded as an infallible authority or guide on something. Oracle is also used to denote the response or message provided by such a source, especially one that is ambiguous or obscure.

Recorded from late Middle English, the word comes via Old French from Latin oraculum, from orare ‘speak’.
oracle bones the bones of a ritually-killed animal, carved with script and used in ancient China for divination.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oracle." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oracle." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle

"oracle." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oracle

or·a·cle / ˈôrəkəl/ • n. 1. a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity. ∎  a place at which such advice or prophecy was sought. ∎  a person or thing regarded as an infallible authority or guide on something: casting the attorney general as the oracle for and guardian of the public interest is simply impossible. 2. a response or message given by an oracle, typically one that is ambiguous or obscure.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oracle." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oracle." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-2

"oracle." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-2

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oracle

oracle In ancient Greece, a priest or priestess who gave the answer of a god to questions put by individuals. The most famous was the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. The god spoke through a priestess (Pythia), whose words were, in turn, interpreted by priests. Answers tended to be ambiguous, so that the oracle could never be said to be wrong.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oracle." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oracle." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oracle

"oracle." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oracle

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oracle

oracle mouthpiece of a deity; divine revelation or message XIV; holy of holies in the Jewish temple XV; authoritative or infallible guide XVI. — (O)F. — L. ōrāculum, f. ōrāre speak, pray, ORATE; see -CLE.
So oracular XVII.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oracle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oracle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-3

"oracle." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-3

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

ORACLE

ORACLE Trademark A relational database management system developed and supplied by Oracle Corporation. It runs on a wide range of platforms, from mainframes to workstations, and a suite of application development tools is available.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ORACLE." A Dictionary of Computing. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ORACLE." A Dictionary of Computing. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/computing/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle

"ORACLE." A Dictionary of Computing. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/computing/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Oracle

Oracle A US corporation whose principal product is the DBMS ORACLE. Software sales and maintenance account for the bulk of the company's sales but it is also a significant provider of services. Oracle is ranked number 46 in terms of revenue in the list of the world's top IT suppliers (1993 figures).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Oracle." A Dictionary of Computing. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Oracle." A Dictionary of Computing. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/computing/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-0

"Oracle." A Dictionary of Computing. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/computing/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oracle

oraclecackle, crackle, grackle, hackle, jackal, mackle, shackle, tackle •ankle, rankle •Gaskell, mascle, paschal •tabernacle • ramshackle •débâcle, diarchal, matriarchal, monarchal, patriarchal, sparkle •rascal •deckle, freckle, heckle, Jekyll, shekel, speckle •faecal (US fecal), treacle •chicle, fickle, mickle, nickel, pickle, prickle, sickle, strickle, tickle, trickle •besprinkle, crinkle, sprinkle, tinkle, twinkle, winkle, wrinkle •fiscal •laical, Pharisaical •vehicle • stoical • cubicle • radical •medical, paramedical •Druidical, juridical, veridical •syndical •methodical, periodical, rhapsodical, synodical •Talmudical • graphical • pontifical •magical, tragical •strategical •alogical, illogical, logical •dramaturgical, liturgical, metallurgical, surgical •anarchical, hierarchical, monarchical, oligarchical •psychical •angelical, evangelical, helical •umbilical • biblical • encyclical •diabolical, follicle, hyperbolical, symbolical •dynamical, hydrodynamical •academical, agrochemical, alchemical, biochemical, chemical, petrochemical, photochemical, polemical •inimical • rhythmical • seismical •agronomical, anatomical, astronomical, comical, economical, gastronomical, physiognomical •botanical, Brahmanical, mechanical, puritanical, sanicle, tyrannical •ecumenical •geotechnical, pyrotechnical, technical •clinical, cynical, dominical, finical, Jacobinical, pinnacle, rabbinical •canonical, chronicle, conical, ironical •tunicle • pumpernickel • vernicle •apical • epical •atypical, prototypical, stereotypical, typical •misanthropical, semi-tropical, subtropical, topical, tropical •theatrical •chimerical, clerical, hemispherical, hysterical, numerical, spherical •calendrical •asymmetrical, diametrical, geometrical, metrical, symmetrical, trimetrical •electrical • ventricle •empirical, lyrical, miracle, panegyrical, satirical •cylindrical •ahistorical, allegorical, categorical, historical, metaphorical, oratorical, phantasmagorical, rhetorical •auricle • rubrical • curricle •classical, fascicle, neoclassical •farcical • vesicle •indexical, lexical •commonsensical, nonsensical •bicycle, icicle, tricycle •paradoxical • Popsicle • versicle •anagrammatical, apostatical, emblematical, enigmatical, fanatical, grammatical, mathematical, piratical, prelatical, problematical, sabbatical •impractical, practical, syntactical, tactical •canticle •ecclesiastical, fantastical •article, particle •alphabetical, arithmetical, heretical, hypothetical, metathetical, metical, parenthetical, poetical, prophetical, reticle, synthetical, theoretical •dialectical •conventicle, identical •sceptical (US skeptical) • testicle •analytical, apolitical, critical, cryptanalytical, diacritical, eremitical, geopolitical, hypercritical, hypocritical, political, socio-political, subcritical •deistical, egoistical, logistical, mystical, papistical •optical, synoptical •aeronautical, nautical, vortical •cuticle, pharmaceutical, therapeutical •vertical • ethical • mythical • clavicle •periwinkle • lackadaisical •metaphysical, physical, quizzical •whimsical • musical •Carmichael, cervical, cycle, Michael •unicycle • monocycle • motorcycle •cockle, grockle •corncockle • snorkel •bifocal, focal, local, univocal, varifocal, vocal, yokel •archducal, coucal, ducal, pentateuchal •buckle, chuckle, knuckle, muckle, ruckle, suckle, truckle •peduncle, uncle •parbuckle • carbuncle • turnbuckle •pinochle • furuncle • honeysuckle •demoniacal, maniacal, megalomaniacal, paradisiacal, zodiacal •manacle • barnacle • cenacle •binnacle • monocle • epochal •reciprocal •coracle, oracle •spectacle •pentacle, tentacle •receptacle • obstacle • equivocal •circle, encircle •semicircle

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oracle." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oracle." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-1

"oracle." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Oracle

Oracle (ˈɒrəkəl) optional reception of announcements by coded line electronics (teletext service of Independent Television)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Oracle." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Oracle." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-0

"Oracle." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oracle-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Oracle

ORACLE

In addition to that of Delphi, the most famous of Greek oracles (see delphi, oracle of), a number of other oracles, especially those of Zeus and Apollo, enjoyed a wide reputation in the Greek world.

Oracles of Zeus. At Dodona, Zeus replaced a pre-Greek divinity. The priests, who followed an archaic manner of life, employed as oracular devices the rustling of ancient oaks and the murmurs of a spring in the sacred grove; a device attested for the 4th century, b.c. was a noise made by a brazen kettle when it was struck by a little chain hanging beside it, after it had been set in motion by a wind blowing in the proper direction. The oracle was at its zenith in the age of Pindar (518438 b.c.), but had practically ceased to function by the beginning of the Christian Era.

The oracle of Zeus at the oasis of Siwa was really an oracle of the Egyptian god Ammon. It was already consulted by Greek statesmen in the 5th century b.c., but its reputation was enhanced by the visit of Alexander the Great, who was greeted by the priest of the shrine as the son of Ammon. Just how the oracle was delivered to Alexander is unknown. Ordinarily, the responses of Zeus Ammon were given in the Egyptian manner, i.e., by the manipulation of a statue of Ammon carried in procession. At Olympia, the cult of Zeus probably took the place of the earlier cult of the goddess Gea. The location of the oracle was a large altar, which was formed from the ashes of the sacrificed animals and was sprinkled with water from the river Alpheus. The response of Zeus was sought by means of haruspicy and empyromancy.

Oracles of Apollo. The most important oracle after Delphi, and probably the oldest, was that of Didyma near Miletus. A pre-Greek divinity of the place was gradually equated with Apollo. For a long period the oracle was under the control of the priestly family of the Branchidae. It possessed the right of asylum, and this right was reconfirmed by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. The responses were given by a priestess after preparation by fasting and prayer and after taking a foot bath in the spring, which bubbled beside the temple. The priestess sat on a tripod, and like the priestess of Delphi, she was probably in a state of ecstasy (Iamblichus, De myst. 3.2). The oracle lost its importance in the 2d century a.d. One of its last responses was heavy in consequences, for it led Diocletian to decide on his persecution of the Christians (Lactantius, De morte pers. 10).

The oracle of Apollo at Claros, near Colophon, was hardly less famous, and likewise possessed the right of asylum. The consultants assembled in a waiting-room and gave their names. The oracle chamber may originally have been a grotto in the mountainside, but later it was situated nearer the valley. The priest descended into the grotto, drank from the water of a spring, and then, without relying on orally expressed questions, but on telepathy, he gave his responses in verse (Tacitus, Ann. 2.54). From the 1st century a. d., questions could be presented also in writing. Even "speaking" statues of the god, which were sent into various regions, could be questioned directly. There is evidence that in the later imperial age, questions were presented at the oracle itself from places as far distant as northern Britain.

The island of Delos, the reputed birthplace of Apollo, also had an oracle. The voice of the god sounded from the fissures in Mt. Cynthus (Vergil, Aen. 3.90). In the age of the Seleucids, an oracle of Apollo, that of Daphne, was established near Antioch, and its procedure was modeled probably on that of Delphi.

Other Oracles. Oracles were often given through temple incubation. The healing hero-god Asclepius played a role in this kind of divination at his chief center, Epidaurus, and also in his temples at Athens, Rome, and elsewhere. Healing hero-gods, like Trophonius, delivered their oracles in the manner of oracles at Delphi or Claros.

necromancy was practiced for the sake of obtaining oracles, especially in those places that were regarded as entrances into the lower worldgrottoes or subterranean passages, from which in many cases poisonous vapors were emitted. Such places and their vapors were thought of as means for receiving oracles. Among the best-known sites of this kind were Phigalia in Arcadia, and especially Cumae near Naples, the seat of the Cumaean sibyl, the most famous of all the sibyls.

Bibliography: j. e. fontenrose, Oxford Clasical Dictionary, ed. m. cary et al. (Oxford 1949) 624, with cross ref. and bibliog. k. latte, "Orakel," Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. (Stuttgart 1893) 18.1 (1942) 829866. p. monceaux, "Oraculum," c. daremberg and e. saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines d'après les testes et les monuments, 5 v. in 9 (Paris 18771919) 4:214223. a. bouchÉ-leclercq, Histoire de la divination dans l'Antiquité, 3 v. (Paris 187982) old, but still basic.

[k. prÜmm]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Oracle." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Oracle." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oracle

"Oracle." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oracle

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.