Sortilege, the practice of making decisions or foretelling the future by casting lots, was both widely practiced and at the same time highly contested in the Mediterranean world of Late Antiquity. While secular and ecclesiastical leaders often expressly prohibited such practices, lot divination proved resilient and even remained vibrant throughout the centuries. The period between 300 and 700 witnessed the creation by inspired individuals of a large and diverse body of divinatory texts that became widely dispersed over the Mediterranean region. The thriving practice of book oracles both competes with and complements the canonical corpora of the area’s major religions. The symposium’s participants will analyze these lot texts in their larger social-historical and religious contexts, especially against the backdrop of the classical Greek and Latin canon and the formation of the major book religions in the Mediterranean basin as well as their evolving bodies of sacred scriptures.
Saturday, November 12