Greek divination from an Amerindian perspective: Reconsidering “nature” in mantike



This article explores and reconfigures certain epistemological patterns of oracles and divination (mantike in ancient Greek), concepts of relevance in the fields of anthropology and classical studies. The history of “divination” dates back not only to ancient Greece but also to successive European constructions of alterity. This Western inheritance made “divination” a key concept for above all approaching cultural difference as a problem of belief or religion, thus marginalizing any kind of epistemic legitimacy or understanding of their relation to the natural environment. The role of a certain idea of nature in mantic practices, both Greek and non-Western, was omitted. By interpreting the Greek oracles from the Andean notions of camac and wak’a, one can reconsider Greek divination as a cosmopraxis of cure between beings of a different nature (humans, metahumans, and nonhumans), and gain other points of view to approach ancient sources and contemporary ethnography.


divination, history of classical scholarship, epistemology of anthropology, Andean studies

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/705580