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Actes du XVIe colloque international du CIERGA (partim)

Playing with the Gods: Materiality of Religious Communication and Ludic Materiality in Cicero’s Critique of Divination

Jörg Rüpke
p. 45-59

Résumés

Le traité Sur la divination de Cicéron est l’une des plus intenses discussions antiques sur les pratiques divinatoires, s’appuyant tant sur la longue tradition de la philosophie grecque que sur les pratiques romaines, récentes et contemporaines. Centré sur le livre II, le présent article entend reconstruire la « vision ludique » que Cicéron développe sur le rituel divinatoire, et l’extispicine en particulier (II, 26–41). La référence au jeu est une partie importante de l’argumentation de Cicéron. Ce point de vue antique servira de lentille herméneutique pour observer les pratiques divinatoires et leur matérialité. En conclusion, on s’interrogera sur le rôle central que joue une telle matérialité dans la construction du divin et l’élaboration d’une interaction avec lui.

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I am grateful to Véronique Dasen for invitation to pursue this topic and to her and further discussants in the pre-conference and conference for the manifold feedback and further references. Work on the article has been supported by the German Science Foundation (DFG) in the framework oft he International Research Training Group “Resonant self-world relationships in ancient and modern socio-religious practices”, based at the Universities of Erfurt and Graz (IRT 2283).

  • 1 Rüpke (2021a).
  • 2 Cf. the polemical misunderstanding in Delgado Delgado (2021), p. 10, n. 6, focusing on the interp (...)

1Several mechanisms in Roman, and even wider ancient, divination created situations that allow the gods to speak freely. In many instances, the uncontrollable generation of data—by chance developments in nature or soundscape, from the form of livers to the flight and sounds of birds, or by the active creation of artificial chance mechanisms, the drawing of lots, for instance—allowed to see divine action and divine messages behind such data. Divine agency, that is, the attribution of agency to addressees that are “not unquestionably plausible” as part of the situation, was at the core of religious communication.1 Political control often tried to limit the range of possible outcomes, either by restricting the circle of legitimate human instigators or by procedures of “interpretation”. It is the latter that is typically stressed in research on “civic religion”, it is the former that is at the focus of research on “lived religion” as proposed here.2 In such an analytical perspective, chance games and religious rituals intersect. Evidently, the veiling of the very construction of the divine does not foreground such intersections, yet evidence can be found looking at what seems to be side tracks at first glance. Following them, I will try to show, reveals not the abstract chance “mechanisms” but the materiality of the hazard at the centre of reflections and polemics, thus leading onto the main track of this dossier.

Reflecting on divination in a divinatory culture

  • 3 Begemann (2012), p. 19–20.
  • 4 See Cicero, De divinatione 1.119: post interitum.
  • 5 Rüpke (2012), p. 186–204; Rüpke (2016), p. 21–31. On the notion of universalist empires, see Pine (...)
  • 6 Begemann (2012), p. 21.
  • 7 In general Rüpke (2012); cf. for a later date (1st cent. BCE) Moatti (1997).

2Cicero’s treatise On divination is the single-most important source for our knowledge of Greek and Roman divination. It forms part of a trilogy of “theological”—in Cicero’s concept, physical—treatises3 written and distributed in an initial number of handwritten copies in the final months of Caesar’s monarchy, in the years 45 and 44 BCE; the two books De divinatione were finished only after the death of Caesar on 15 March 44 BCE.4 The whole triad, started by the three books On the nature of gods and finished by the one book treatise On fate, attempted to reflect Roman religious practices and beliefs with a view to the necessity of an emerging universal empire, that is, allowing his readers to come to grips with their own tradition in the supposedly universalistic framework of Greek philosophy.5 This was much more than a handbook of Greek philosophy for Roman beginners (and as a result the fullest account of Hellenistic philosophy still available despite a growing number of finds of texts from the latter’s schools).6 Instead, Cicero’s composition was part of an ongoing attempt at rationalizing Roman practices in philosophical or “antiquarian” terms from the second century BCE onwards.7 In philosophical terms, it is Cicero’s skeptical position—radically questioning traditional beliefs but always refraining from dogmatically insisting on their falsehood—that enabled him to negotiated the balance between being part of and honestly fulfilling the role of publicly performed ritual action and insisting on logical arguments and convincing empirical evidence. The literary form enabling to walk that delicate line was the dialogue, three eminent voices in De natura deorum, just two, the Stoic supporter and the skeptical critic of divination, in De divinatione. The personae in the latter dialogue, Ciceros’s brother Quintus in book 1 and he, Marcus, himself in book 2, furthermore allowed him to create the fiction of an unrestrictedly open talk behind the doors (sed soli sumus, 2.28).

  • 8 Thus Begemann (2012).

3In the Stoic concept of the divine—formulated in outright opposition of the Epicurean position of admitting the existence of stable but dynamic conglomerations of atoms adequately called “gods” yet without any interest in and interference with human affairs: in the Stoic concept gods need to care and do care. For that, they need to communicate their will to the humans, and hence the humans must be able to receive and understand messages. Stoics, as Cicero poignantly remarks, would never accept the polemical inversion: “There is no divination, hence, there could be no gods” (2.41). “Fate”, hence, is a central notion keeping the triad together and the possibility of divination, inquiring about and possibly changing fate, is at its core.8

4But why should anybody be interested in the ludic bother with this text at all? In a core part of Marcus’ refutation of the possibility of inquiring into the will of the gods, divinatory practices are equated with playing dices. First, I will demonstrate that the reference to playing is an important part of Cicero’s argument. Subsequently, I will use this established and already ancient observation as a hermeneutic lens onto divinatory practices and the materiality involved here. On that basis I will argue that this very materiality at the core of religious communication and its performative construction of the divine is comparable and even overlapping with ancient ludic practices. Both are practices of meaningful and consequential attributions of agency beyond the pragmatics of the situation. Gods come into being in the performance, one could summarize that claim.

The aleatoric character of divination

  • 9 See Baumhauer (1997); cf. Krostenko (2000) and Schulz (2009).
  • 10 For Cicero’s interest in the material basis of religious practices, see also Köster (2017). Trans (...)

5After a sketch of his own intellectual development and production as a very personal introduction to book two in the opening of Marcus’ speech (2.1–7)—affirming the seriousness of the speaker also on a meta-discursive level9—, Cicero has his literary alter ego Marcus starting with a general critique of divination in his book-length attempt to refute his brother Quintus’s affirmation of the possibility and reach of any divination (8–27): the two brothers are the protagonists of the dialogue. Marcus’ very first course of reasoning engages with the objects of divination, starting from an argument of Carneades, who had questioned divination at Rome on his visit a century earlier. The argument is a negative one, demonstrating that no field of knowledge is in need or could benefit from divination. Its starting point is a material one: divination does not add anything to our grasping of material things (“but those are things that we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. Is there, then, in such objects some quality that we can better perceive with the aid of prophecy and inspiration than we can with the aid of the senses alone?”, ad nullam igitur earum rerum, quae sensu accipiuntur, diuinatio adhibetur, 9).10 In the following Cicero deals with the claim that divination comes to grips with events that are deemed fortuitous (2.13–14). The critique starts on an analytic note. Sheer happenstance cannot have any cause intelligible by divination, neither by reasoning nor by any objects or empirical observation:

Potestne igitur earum rerum, quae nihil habent rationis, quare futurae sint, esse ulla praesensio? Quid est enim aliud fors, quid fortuna, quid casus, quid euentus, nisi cum sic aliquid cecidit, sic euenit, ut uel aliter cadere atque euenire potuerit? Quo modo ergo id, quod temere fit caeco casu et uolubilitate fortunae, praesentiri et praedici potest? (2.15, illustrated with examples in 2.16).

Can there, then, be any foreknowledge of things for whose happening no reason exists? For we do not apply the words “chance”, “luck”, “accident”, or “casualty” except to an event which has so occurred or happened that it either might not have occurred at all, or might have occurred in any other way. How, then, is it possible to foresee and to predict an event that happens at random, as the result of blind accident, or of unstable chance?

6Nor indeed, if the notion is taken seriously, by a god:

Quodsi haec eaque, quae sunt eiusdem generis, habent aliquam talem necessitatem, quid est tandem, quod casu fieri aut forte fortuna putemus? Nihil enim est tam contrarium rationi et constantiae quam fortuna, ut mihi ne in deum quidem cadere uideatur, ut sciat, quid casu et fortuito futurum sit. Si enim scit, certe illud eueniet; sin certe eueniet, nulla fortuna est; est autem fortuna; rerum igitur fortuitarum nulla praesensio est (2.18).

But, on the other hand, if the prophecies just mentioned and others of the same class are controlled by some natural and immutable law such as regulates the movements of the stars, pray, can we conceive of anything happening by accident, or chance? Surely nothing is so at variance with reason and stability as chance. Hence it seems to me that it is not in the power even of God himself to know what event is going to happen accidentally and by chance. For if He knows, then the event is certain to happen; but if it is certain to happen, chance does not exist. And yet chance does exist, therefore there is no foreknowledge of things that happen by chance.

7The alternative, fate, pre-determination, is not any better. Knowledge of an unchangeable future course of action would not be helpful at all (2.20–26), apart from not being able to change that future:

Nihil autem est pro certo futurum, quod potest aliqua procuratione accidere ne fiat (2.21).

But nothing is “certain to happen” for which there is some means of dealing with so as to prevent its happening.

  • 11 For its pervasiveness, Nasse (2012).

8After these general reflections, Marcus, the critic of divination, starts a more systematic treatment, systematically refuting the typology of divinatory practices introduced in the first book. Quintus had differentiated between two types of divination, with or without technique (ars), in fact with or without experience-based or speculatory interpretation of signs (1.34). This distinction is now reclassified as “artificial” and “natural” divination (2.26), the latter being wholly internal to the mind of the diviner and his or her unmediated contact with the divine. The first is further divided into divination from entrails and the practice of those who look into lightnings and miraculous appearances, on the one hand, and augurs and those using “signs or omens”, on the other hand. This is an ethnic classification—Etruscan versus Roman11—rather than a phenomenological one and it is the haruspices that are dealt with first (28–41). As a rhetorician, Marcus picks out an easy game, often suspicious foreigners, only to build afterwards on the generalization of the easy-to-belief critique established on those targets. I will restrict myself to this passage.

9The notion of the ludic is first brought up in the critique of Democritus who is quoted as a philosophical basis for the ridiculous idea of the haruspicine art to read the future in the gall bladder of a chicken or the liver of a bull (2.29–30). Democritus pointed to reflections of the type or quantity of fodder available in form or colour of entrails—something admitted as possible even by Marcus several sentences later (2.32). For now, Democritus is discredited as a man who has always a game (ludus) at hand and does not adequately reflect on the logical consequences of generalizable arguments (2.30):

O mortalem beatum! Cui certo scio ludum numquam defuisse; huncine hominem tantis delectatum esse nugis, ut non videret tum futurum id veri simile, si omnium pecudum exta eodem tempore in eundem habitum se coloremque converterent? (2.30).

O happy mortal! He never failed to have his joke—that is absolutely certain. But was he so amused with petty trifles as to fail to see that his theory would be plausible only on the assumption that the entrails of all cattle changed to the same colour and condition at the same time?

10Marcus argues that there is no imaginable mechanism of what the Greeks call sympátheia and might be translated into Latin as coniunctio naturae or concentus atque consensus that might explain some financial gain at issue as connected to the physical shape of a liver (2.34). Any such connection, he teases his opponent, would even be discredited by the supporters of divination when they argue that it is divine will that leads to the selection of the animal to be killed and inspected—or even worse, when they argue that the very physical change of the entrails happens in the moment of sacrifice only (2.35).

  • 12 For the practice, see Cohee (1994).
  • 13 CGRN 19, Face C, lines 1–19 (475/50 BCE: http: //cgrn.ulg.ac.be/file/19/): “Established rites [of (...)

11The notion of the ludic is used again at the centre of Marcus’ argument. The selection of sacrificial animals is ruled by a chance mechanism like a game—aleam quondam esse in hostiis deligendis (2.36)—, as can easily be seen from the very different character of entrails in a consecutively slaughtered second animal; here, Cicero is arguing with the practice of the reiteration, instauratio, in mind.12 Cicero is not referring to any actual use of dices or lots in Roman sacrificial procedure, as is the case in the distribution of sacrificial meat from an animal killed in the Attic deme of Skambonidai,13 a selection mechanism dealing with potential differences in quality or quantity, not with the meaning of any of the pieces.

12There is a third, even if less obvious, reference to the ludic. The same situation, the random attribution of a sacrificial victim, is compared to lots (sortes) slightly later:

Quid est tam perspicuum quam, cum fortuito hostiae adducantur, talia cuique exta esse, qualis cuique obtigerit hostia? (Quintus:) “At enim id ipsum habet aliquid divini, quae cuique hostia obtingat, tamquam in sortibus, quae cui ducatur” (2.38).

  • 14 Falconer interprets the interjection as of an anonymous interlocutor.

When victims for the sacrifice are brought up at haphazard it is perfectly clear that the character of entrails that you will receive will depend on the victim chance may bring…14 “The choice itself is a matter of divine guidance, just as in the case of lots the drawing is directed by the gods!”

  • 15 See Pease (1920), p. 488–489.

13The importance of the argument is clearly marked by the exceptional interruption by the addressee. The randomness of the game stressed by Marcus is reinterpreted as the very kernel of the divine intervention by pointing to the usage of lots. Evidently, the lots are those used in divinatory practices. However, Cicero explicitly refers his listener (and readers) to a later treatment of the matter, delivered in 2.85. There, lots are immediately compared to random games, the guessing of the number of fingers the opponent will raise (micare), knucklebones (tali) or regular dices (tessera).15

Quid enim sors est? Idem prope modum quod micare, quod talos iacere quod tesserae, quibus in rebus temeritas et casus non ratio nec consilium valet. Tota res est inventa fallaciis aut ad quaestum aut ad superstitionem aut ad errorem (2.85).

And pray what is the need, do you think, to talk about the casting of lots? It is much like playing at morra, knucklebones or dice, in which recklessness and luck prevail rather than reflection and judgement. The whole scheme of divination by lots was fraudulently contrived from mercenary motives, or as a means of encouraging superstition and error.

  • 16 I am grateful to Véronique Dasen for this clarification, see Dasen (2016), p. 85–91.

14To be read as a reply to the earlier remark of Quintus, Marcus first engages with the material objects and discredits the ritual lots by associating them with fingers (like lots16), knucklebones, and marked cubes. The sequence might be compared with a slightly different list in Cicero’s treatise on the qualities of the rhetor, De oratore:

Sed ut homines labore adsiduo et cotidiano adsueti, cum tempestatis causa opere prohibentur, ad pilam se aut ad talos aut ad tesseras conferunt aut etiam nouum sibi ipsi aliquem excogitant in otio ludum, sic illi a negotiis publicis tamquam ab opere aut temporibus exclusi aut uoluntate sua feriati totos se alii ad poetas, alii ad geometras, alii ad musicos contulerunt, alii etiam, ut dialectici, nouum sibi ipsi studium ludumque pepererunt atque in eis artibus, quae repertae sunt, ut puerorum mentes ad humanitatem fingerentur atque uirtutem, omne tempus atque aetates suas consumpserunt (3.58).

  • 17 Trans. by J.S. Watson (1860), via pages.pomona.edu.

But as men accustomed to constant and daily employment, when they are hindered from their occupation by the weather, betake themselves to play at ball, or dice, or draughts, or even invent some new game of their own to amuse their leisure; so they, being either excluded from public employments, as from business, by the state of the times, or being idle from inclination, gave themselves up wholly, some to the poets, some to the geometers, some to music; others even, as the logicians, found out a new study and exercise for themselves, and consumed their whole time and lives in those arts which have been discovered to form the minds of youth to learning and to virtue.17

  • 18 See the oldest attestation of the term in Plautus, Captivi, 22; in Cicero, Pro Archia poeta, 13 t (...)
  • 19 Thus the results of empirical tests documented in Daniaux (2022).
  • 20 Dasen (2019).
  • 21 Dasen (2020), image: fig. 7, p. 180.
  • 22 Cobbett (2013); see also Dasen (2020), p. 179–180.

15First, the passage gives a hint at the general social locus, in which Cicero positions games, contrasting labourers and politicians, the latter of which would also be the primary actors of divination. At Rome, pilae, balls, are thrown for fun, they do not carry the association of sports and competition.18 Secondly, it is a growing order of rationality in rules producing fortuitous results and regularity in shape that is at issue here. This is a logic that later led to the introduction of the dice tower to further remove physical manipulation of the chance outcome—clearly possible in the case of knucklebones, hardly possible but imagined for dices19 —, literarily attested by Martial at the end of the first century CE (14.16). Such a tower is attested on an intaglio, a gem embededded in a pendant and probably used as a protective device from about the second century20 and in a mosaic of the second century CE.21 It is preserved as an object only from the fourth century CE onwards, for instance in the form of a bronze turriculum at German Vettweiß.22

Bronze dice tower (H. 22.5 × 9.5 × 9.5 cm), from a Roman villa, Wettweiss Froitzheim. Bonn, Rheinisches Landesmuseum 85.0269.

Photo J. Vogel, LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.

  • 23 See Pichonnaz (2020), p. 15–16 and passim; Vespa (2022).

16Is Cicero already hinting at such a device? The association of fraud and gaming was, after all, as old as Plautus.23 Secondly, Quintus’ “somewhat divine” (2.38) is directly and aggressively countered by the moral qualification and the insinuation of bad intentions, from fraud through immoderate religiosity to intellectual error.

  • 24 For the actual use of dices in divinatory practices in Greece, comprehensively Dasen — Carè (2023 (...)

17To sum up, Marcus associated the use of divinatory objects with objects in random games.24 This association embodies the conceptual critique of what pretends to be empirically acquired knowledge or conjectural art. Divination is totally unfounded as it is based on fully randomized associations of objects and imaginations.

Games and rituals

18The wording of Cicero’s dialogue stops here, but there are larger conceptual implications within a triad of texts that have started with the question of gods and ritual practices in general. The conventions ruling games and defining the “outcome” are evidently just that, conventions. For divination, not even such conventions have been established; never have different diviners met to fix the semantic values of lightnings or liver deformations, as the speaker of the second book has observed in his preceding general argument (2.28): there is no unified teaching (nec esse unam omnium disciplinam). Fraud is a threat in both, games and divination.

19The concept that is lacking in Cicero but important for my argument is materiality. Cicero is using “signs”, but in his physics (and in a way in some of ours, too) lightnings are not different from stones even if they are as untouchable as sun or moon. If we also introduce the concept of performativity and read divination not as something separate but as a large array of ritual practices within the even larger array of religious communication, theorizing about the materiality of religion can be mobilized for comparing playing with the gods with playing without gods (or at least, without foregrounding gods).

  • 25 Thus Rüpke (2021a), p. 9–14 and 51–54; Rüpke (2021b), p. 71–85.

20Material objects, used as media or “signs” in religious communication, are not just a luxury item and add-on to pious interchange but are at the basis of the very construction of the divine.25 Looking at communication opens up a broad field for what its creators invest in it: media to ensure communicative success from attracting attention to wooing the counterpart, to control a relationship with a segment of the world that is hardly open to direct observation, to establish a reputation as pious, expert or celebratory. In this way, religious rituals gain a materiality that determines both the historical tradition and the contemporary perception of religion for participants and observers alike. The concrete forms and consequences of such communication can be very different. Depending on the participants, on the things used and on the addressees reached, there can be very different constellations and levels and the quality of the relationships within them. Powers are attributed and reflected to different participants; there is self-empowerment and self-emptying of the actor—just as there are game addicts and cheaters in the game. There are differences in the listening of the speakers and in the notion of listening of the addressed. There are differences in including and touching, but also in being addressed and touched by social and material others, and trusting the addressees’ response and controlling their response, the changes that all this triggers.

  • 26 Appadurai (1986); Gosden — Marshall (1999); Hodder (2012a); for religion e.g., Promey (2014); Chi (...)
  • 27 Rosa (2016a), p. 556–559; Rosa (2016b). Even if Latour (2011) stresses that the religious attitud (...)
  • 28 This approach is still dominating archaeology of religion, e.g. Insoll (2001), (2004), (2009), (2 (...)
  • 29 Raja — Rüpke (2015a, b); Rieger (2016), (2018), (2020).
  • 30 e.g., Meyer (2008); Arnhold (2013); Gasparini (2013); Rüpke (2013b); Rüpke (2013a). For the conce (...)
  • 31 Raja — Rüpke (2015c).
  • 32 I start from the arguments of Latour (2005) and Hodder (2011), (2012b).

21In the expansion of sociality to include the material, the more recent focus on things (which are no longer just “objects”) and the effect of their materiality on human actors up to the point of mutual entanglement finds an expanded horizon.26 In his more recent work, Bruno Latour has characterised religion in particular as a cultural practice, a mode of existence, shaped by it.27 For the study of rituals as much as games, this opens up a perspective that no longer has to see the material—from tools to communication media to the material and architectural environment—only from a semiotic perspective.28 Thus, their function and functionalisation of material things as carriers of memory, as triggers of experiences, as well as their structuring effect on ritual or playful movements and temporal structuring, move into the foreground.29 The subject matter is not concepts encoded or expressed in such signs up to and including architectural spaces or texts, but the experience, the handling, the appropriation of such materialities and discourses. It is about the handling of things, the use of domestic or open space, of times of day or seasons.30 This has consequences especially for the study of the material, of things.31 Ascriptions of meaning carried out by others are not disregarded, but concrete objects can call for very different actions or have been given different meanings by different actors—or simply be overlooked.32

  • 33 For bodily elements in divination, Dasen (2013).
  • 34 Overview in Morgan (2015). Cf. Rosa (2016c).
  • 35 For relevance theory, Sperber — Wilson (1994); Wilson — Sperber (2002).

22In the analytical perspective of materiality, the body comes to the fore alongside things.33 The individual actors act out of, with and in view of their bodies. The situation is spatially related to this body. It is precisely religious communication, which aims beyond the situation, that refers to this body in a special way and adds another dimension of the world relationship to it, one that is, as it were, vertical or transcends the situation.34 Through this body and, if necessary, other bodies present, the situation is connected to the history of the actor or actress—gender is important here in particular; the body becomes a medium of communication, which, through clothing or movement, calls for attention and promises relevance35 or must be extended or even replaced by other objects or other persons. Beyond the short-term action, the performance, dispositions are also created here and experiences articulated and stored. It is precisely the subjective inaccessibility of one’s own body that offers it as a specific space of action for divine actors and thus also a space of religious experience, its immediate accessibility at the same time as an object of knowledge and an object of practices up to the self-dissolution of this body.

  • 36 Dasen — Vespa (2021), p. 14.
  • 37 Ibid., p. 15, with reference to Sophocles, fr. 895 Radt.
  • 38 Ibid., p. 16.
  • 39 In general, Renfrew (2018); Hamayon (2020).

23At this point, the notion of ritualisation must be introduced, too. I have already moved into conceptually blurring ritual and game. To bring this into the open, from my perspective on ritual as materiality-based religious communication, both practices share the use of pragmatically irrelevant objects and strategies of ritualisation, of doing things differently, in a special way. In random games as well as in religious communication—I am not talking about mimetic games that just miniaturize or transpose everyday action following everyday rules and might play an important role in processes of socialisation36—the bodily and sensory handling of chance objects in order to introduce hazard allows the creation of imaginative worlds and go along with the attribution of agency. “In antiquity, throwing dice or knucklebones was commonly used as a metaphor for luck, in the hands of the gods.”37 The concept of agency allows to further develop this point and to understand why both, ludic practices and divinatory rituals, “were one of the means to cope with life’s uncertainties”.38 The dices “decide”, they attribute gain or loss. Likewise do the gods. The difference is in the quality of the rules. Games imply fixed and accepted conventions agreed by everybody, cheating is the only way out and illegitimate. If a religious frame is attributed, the regime of rule creation is a different one. There is a strategic gap, an unreducible space of interpretation in reading the responses and in allowing the attributed agency to spill over beyond the situation of the “playing around”. Thus, religion is as powerful as contentious. With gaming, you are on the sure side. But everybody is free to go the further step, to redefine the dices as signs sent by the gods, to redefine the game into ritual. What is just a game for Marcus, is inquiry into divine will by Quintus. And this is quite a widespread attitude to gaming and divining in a cross-cultural perspective.39

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Notes

1 Rüpke (2021a).

2 Cf. the polemical misunderstanding in Delgado Delgado (2021), p. 10, n. 6, focusing on the interpretations of the political actors within an institutional rather than social and cultural framework. For an alternative, Rüpke (2018a), with Rüpke (2018b).

3 Begemann (2012), p. 19–20.

4 See Cicero, De divinatione 1.119: post interitum.

5 Rüpke (2012), p. 186–204; Rüpke (2016), p. 21–31. On the notion of universalist empires, see Pines — Biran — Rüpke (2021).

6 Begemann (2012), p. 21.

7 In general Rüpke (2012); cf. for a later date (1st cent. BCE) Moatti (1997).

8 Thus Begemann (2012).

9 See Baumhauer (1997); cf. Krostenko (2000) and Schulz (2009).

10 For Cicero’s interest in the material basis of religious practices, see also Köster (2017). Translations are taken from William Armistead Falconer, Loeb Latin Library, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1923 (via www.perseus.tufts.edu).

11 For its pervasiveness, Nasse (2012).

12 For the practice, see Cohee (1994).

13 CGRN 19, Face C, lines 1–19 (475/50 BCE: http: //cgrn.ulg.ac.be/file/19/): “Established rites [of Skambonidai]: the [demarch] and the [hieropoioi are to sacrifice] (5) an adult animal to Leos; assignment by lot (of the meat) [from the] spits to [each] of the Skambonidai, and the resident aliens are also to receive a share by lot, in the agora (10) of Skambonidai. For the […] sacrifice [an adult animal (?)], and distribute (the meat) […]. (15) For the Synoikia on the Acropolis, an adult animal; sell the meat raw…” I am grateful to Irad Malkin and Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge for this reference.

14 Falconer interprets the interjection as of an anonymous interlocutor.

15 See Pease (1920), p. 488–489.

16 I am grateful to Véronique Dasen for this clarification, see Dasen (2016), p. 85–91.

17 Trans. by J.S. Watson (1860), via pages.pomona.edu.

18 See the oldest attestation of the term in Plautus, Captivi, 22; in Cicero, Pro Archia poeta, 13 the ball is mentioned together with the game board (alueolus).

19 Thus the results of empirical tests documented in Daniaux (2022).

20 Dasen (2019).

21 Dasen (2020), image: fig. 7, p. 180.

22 Cobbett (2013); see also Dasen (2020), p. 179–180.

23 See Pichonnaz (2020), p. 15–16 and passim; Vespa (2022).

24 For the actual use of dices in divinatory practices in Greece, comprehensively Dasen — Carè (2023); details: Graf (2005); Nollé (2007); problematic: Doria (2012).

25 Thus Rüpke (2021a), p. 9–14 and 51–54; Rüpke (2021b), p. 71–85.

26 Appadurai (1986); Gosden — Marshall (1999); Hodder (2012a); for religion e.g., Promey (2014); Chidester (2018); Weinrich (2020).

27 Rosa (2016a), p. 556–559; Rosa (2016b). Even if Latour (2011) stresses that the religious attitude sketched by him does not pertain to any specific religious tradition, his selection of phenomena is heavily biased towards Roman Catholicism, bordering on a fideistic position in his argument.

28 This approach is still dominating archaeology of religion, e.g. Insoll (2001), (2004), (2009), (2011); for a different approach see Raja — Rüpke (2015c).

29 Raja — Rüpke (2015a, b); Rieger (2016), (2018), (2020).

30 e.g., Meyer (2008); Arnhold (2013); Gasparini (2013); Rüpke (2013b); Rüpke (2013a). For the concept of religious experience, Proudfoot (1985); Jung (2006); Bieler (2007); Carrette (2007); Taves (2009).

31 Raja — Rüpke (2015c).

32 I start from the arguments of Latour (2005) and Hodder (2011), (2012b).

33 For bodily elements in divination, Dasen (2013).

34 Overview in Morgan (2015). Cf. Rosa (2016c).

35 For relevance theory, Sperber — Wilson (1994); Wilson — Sperber (2002).

36 Dasen — Vespa (2021), p. 14.

37 Ibid., p. 15, with reference to Sophocles, fr. 895 Radt.

38 Ibid., p. 16.

39 In general, Renfrew (2018); Hamayon (2020).

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Table des illustrations

Légende Bronze dice tower (H. 22.5 × 9.5 × 9.5 cm), from a Roman villa, Wettweiss Froitzheim. Bonn, Rheinisches Landesmuseum 85.0269.
Crédits Photo J. Vogel, LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn.
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Jörg Rüpke, « Playing with the Gods: Materiality of Religious Communication and Ludic Materiality in Cicero’s Critique of Divination »Kernos, 35 | 2022, 45-59.

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Jörg Rüpke, « Playing with the Gods: Materiality of Religious Communication and Ludic Materiality in Cicero’s Critique of Divination »Kernos [En ligne], 35 | 2022, mis en ligne le 01 février 2024, consulté le 22 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/kernos/4180 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/kernos.4180

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Jörg Rüpke

Universität Erfurt, Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien

Joerg.ruepke@uni-erfurt.de

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