PROPHETS AND PROFITS: Ancient Prophecy and Divination and its reception
29 – 31 July 2015
16th UNISA Classics Colloquium in collaboration with CRAC(Classical Reception Annual Colloquium)

Superstition and a desire to know what lies in the future has been part of human
history for thousands of years.  Whether humans in ancient times sought this
knowledge by applying to an oracle through which the god was believed to speak,
whether they used soothsayers or μάντεις  who interpreted specific signs such as
the flight of birds, or whether they resorted to dice divination, there was a
fundamental desire to know the will of the gods.  In many cases pragmatic
concerns (personal, economic or political) can be deduced from the context of
the applicant.  Taking a critical look at the wider issues around the writings
of ancient authors, and incorporating the vast array of non-literary and
material evidence across this research field has led to stimulating debate in
this fascinating area of socio-religious scholarship.
The concept of pagan divination and communication with the gods in a post-pagan
world has also produced fascinating receptions.  The presentation of these
processes in monotheistic societies such as the medieval Christian Europe, and
in later periods, where the role of religion in general changed so radically,
provides a particular challenge.  This subject has hitherto not been discussed
in any in depth manner by scholars.  The present conference therefore aims to
rectify this by providing an opportunity for addressing all questions related to
the reception of Greco-Roman divination, oracles and prophecy, in all media,
including literature, television, film, art and music.
The above title is an indication that topics will take into account a number of
socio-religious aspects, and while we also welcome other discourses and
comparative studies on prophecy and divination, we particularly encourage topics
on the following aspects:
•    Specific oracles, such as the Pythia or Sibyl, and their role in history
and historiography.
•    The role of cult centres such as Delphi, Dodona or Daphne, in local
•    Eliciting and reading divinatory signs  – techniques, language, magical
•    Individual agency in divination
•    Divination and magic, curse and cure
•    Oracles in popular culture
•    Hollywood’s depiction the gods and their interaction with mankind
•    The reception of ancient prophecy and divination in popular fiction
•    The reception of ancient curses

Paper proposals (approximately 300 words) are invited for papers of 20 minutes
debating current issues and problems on any aspect of the above in the broad
context of the Mediterranean world, as well as its reception in modern media.
Abstracts and titles should be submitted to:
Dr Martine De Marre at as soon as possible.
Final deadline:     20 February 2015.

More on the conference:

Convening in 2015 for the 16th time, the Unisa Classics Colloquium aims to
combine stimulating scholarly discussion with a pleasant and intimate
atmosphere. Over two and a half days, approximately 20 scholarly contributions
from around the world are to be presented. The 40 minute slots provide ample
time for discussion and valuable feedback. Parallel sessions are avoided in
order to promote unity of focus in the conference, and delegates get to know
each other properly. Information on previous conferences may be found at

Venue: To be announced. The Village Ridge Boutique Hotel in Waterkloof, Pretoria
(  has offered an excellent package deal to host
the conference this year, and this is likely to be the venue again in 2015.

Dates: 29-31 July 2015

Since transport to and from the conference venue might pose difficulties,
participants should ideally arrive at OR Tambo Airport and in Pretoria on the
morning of the 28th and only book a flight out from the evening of the 31st but
preferably later.

A preliminary programme will be compiled from the received proposals and
published on the Departmental website after the final date for submissions.

Conference Fee
For those staying at the hotel, the conference fee and transport is included in
the accommodation package, and will depend on the type of room booked.  The
conference fee for participants not staying at the conference venue is as
follows: Full conference fee: R750.  Fee per day: R250.
Postgraduates, other students and interested parties not able to claim back
conference fees from their institutions should please contact the organizers for
a discount.

Excursion: To make up for the fact that the conference itself will not be in the
bush, we will take you to a game reserve on the day after the conference, i.e. 1

Publication of papers
Depending on suitability to the main theme and quality, a collection of articles
on the colloquium theme is envisaged. Submitted papers are subject to a
refereeing process. If you would consider submitting your paper for publication,
please indicate this to us via return mail for further guidelines on style.