Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros35Actes du XVIe colloque internatio...Drawing Lots of the Gods in Roman...

Actes du XVIe colloque international du CIERGA (partim)

Drawing Lots of the Gods in Roman Egypt

Joachim Friedrich Quack
p. 77-96

Résumés

Des recherches récentes ont fait découvrir d’importants fragments en démotique égyptien, en vieux copte et en grec de manuels de divination par tirage au sort. En général, les sorts portent un numéro, et chacun est attribué à une divinité particulière. Cet article présente la documentation connue aujourd’hui, y compris des bandes de feuilles de palmier qui auraient pu servir de sorts réels. Il examine aussi les variations entre les différents manuscrits, ainsi que les éventuels liens spécifiques entre les dieux et les réponses.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 Quack (2019c).

1The composition presented here has been published by me recently in a German-language edition with full philological and palaeographical notes and a detailed commentary.1 However, it seems useful to present an overview of it in a form more accessible than the highly specialist collective volume of which it originally formed part. This hopefully will be especially to the benefit of scholars working on Greek material who might experience difficulties to find the original publication and thus overlook relevant evidence helping to understand better their own sources.

  • 2 I hope that the following narration will not be perceived as being too chatty. In a book which ov (...)
  • 3 For that find-spot and the manuscripts found there, see especially the overviews by Ryholt (2005) (...)
  • 4 For some overviews, see Quack (2000), Quack (2004), and Quack (2016) with further references.

2My actual work on the divinatory composition in question started in 1995/962 when I stayed for almost a year in Copenhagen working for the International Committee for Publishing the Carlsberg Papyri. During that time, I inventorized many hundred papyrus fragments in demotic script dating to the Roman period and coming from a temple context in Tebtunis, a large village in the south of the Fayum.3 During that year, the Book of the Temple emerged as my main research project, a manual of the ideal Egyptian temple, its architecture and how it should be run.4 This is still occupying me today, more than 25 years later. But there were a number of smaller texts which also caught my attention and which I took up with the intention of publishing them.

  • 5 The inventorying done by the scholars working for the International Committee for Publishing the (...)
  • 6 This is still reflected in the earliest published mention in Quack (2002), p. 58f.
  • 7 This is already indicated in Quack (2006), p. 182–184, and taken up by Naether (2010), p. 348f.

3One of those was a relatively substantial fragment originally inventorized already by Michel Chauveau in 1989, and which was later given the definitive inventory number Papyrus Carlsberg 585.5 I could identify additional smaller fragments, several of them joining directly with the main fragment. This resulted in a page of which the larger part was actually preserved, and such a good preservation is quite rare among the manuscripts from Tebtunis. While at the very beginning I supposed the composition to be of magical nature,6 due to the understanding of a key word as “enchantment”, I soon realized that this word should better be translated as “enquiry”.7

  • 8 Now published in Quack (2019a).

4Following my stay in Copenhagen, I got a grant for travelling to many papyrus collections in order to search for additional manuscripts of the Book of the Temple in 1996/97. As by-products of these, papyri were identified at Berlin (P.Berlin P 23499) and Florence (PSI inv. D 85) which showed so obviously the same basic structure that I took them for further manuscripts of the same composition. Also small fragments (PSI inv. D 83) belonging to the same manuscript as Papyrus Carlsberg 585 could be spotted. During further extensive research travel, even more manuscripts turned up. One fragment (now P.Carlsberg 143) is written in a hand very similar or identical to a theological treatise (P.Carlsberg 416) which I also studied,8 but when I managed to decipher a strongly discolored, almost illegible rubric, it became clear that this is another manuscript of the lot divination text. Even later, what became a relatively substantial manuscript with more than a dozen fragments (P.Carlsberg 694 + PSI inv. D 84), was one by one identified by me in the Copenhagen collection, with additional pieces in Florence. A final demotic manuscript, actually only a tiny scrap piece but with parts of the key structural expression preserved, came up in Vienna (P.Vienna D 6117). As far as it can be said, the demotic Egyptian manuscripts now known all date to the Roman imperial time, first and mainly early second century CE.

  • 9 A preliminary report is given in Kockelmann (2014). For the larger context of these demotic narra (...)
  • 10 Botti (1957), p. 86.

5Some important parts of the manuscripts were found almost by accident. Two fragments belonging to Papyrus Carlsberg 585 had been misattributed to a narrative about gods at war which is under study by Holger Kockelmann.9 Luckily for me, when he came to Heidelberg for a guest professorship financed by the SFB 933 in the summer semester of 2014, we worked together through that text and I realized that those two belonged in reality to the lot divination text. One of them is very important because it preserves tiny bits of the introduction not covered in any other fragment; it will be given in translation below. To Kim Ryholt I owe another important bit, because he pointed out to me that a fragment at Florence already published but seriously misunderstood (P.Florence ME 11918)10 was, from the hand of the scribe, clearly a part of my manuscript 1 (P.Carlsberg 585)—and it provides the best evidence for the table of days to which I will come back.

  • 11 The results have then been published in Quack (2017), where the Old Coptic text from Michigan is (...)
  • 12 Worrel (1941).
  • 13 Worrel (1941), p. 85.

6At another occasion, Sebastian Richter asked me to give an evening lecture about the origin of the Coptic Script for a Coptic summer school held at Heidelberg in 2012.11 I took that task serious enough to have a look at all Old Coptic texts published so far—Old Coptic is not only chronologically older than ordinary Coptic, but also different in the choice of a number of letters used. At that occasion, I also checked a number of fragments discovered at Soknopaiou Nesos in the North of the Fayyum and now housed at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (P.Michigan inv. 6124+6131 vs.). They had originally been published by Worrel in 1941,12 but he could not make very much out of them. For the nature of the text, he gave a rather cautionary proposal. There was a recurring element ahêf in the text, and there was a mention of the god Horus which also can form part of the designation of some planets in Egyptian. As Worrel put it: ‘the word ϩϥ, if it means “his life”, would indicate that the text is a horoscope’.13

  • 14 Thus lastly Ross (2020), p. 521–523 (who at least gives some cautionary remarks) and Breyer (2021 (...)
  • 15 Bagnall (2005), p. 16f.

7Given the way things often go in scholarship, the cautionary parts (especially the if ) were dropped in further citations. Nobody ever went back in detail to that manuscript, but it became firmly entrenched in the secondary literature that it was a horoscope,14 and this was even used for some general conclusion about the nature of Old Coptic, e.g. by Roger Bagnall.15 At that occasion I first looked at this text in detail, and without this specific incentive I would perhaps never have done so. However, at that time and with the lot divination treatise in memory, I immediately realized that this was just one more manuscript of such a text. Worrel had misinterpreted the crucial recurring formula. It consists of first a number in simple ascending order, then ahêf followed by the preposition n, and then the name of a deity. And in the demotic manuscripts of the lot divination treatise, the recurring element is first a number, then a phrase ῾⸗ f “it stands” followed by the preposition n “for” and the name of a deity—quite obviously the very same pattern we have in the Old Coptic manuscript in Ann Arbor. I will come back to that pattern later.

  • 16 Quack (2017), p. 56f.

8Perhaps I should explain here that the difference between the Demotic and the Old Coptic manuscripts is a matter of script more than of speech. Contrary to what most manuals say, Old Coptic texts are normally to be classified grammatically as late Demotic.16 That means that they contain grammatical constructions which are still used in Roman period Demotic texts but no longer in Coptic. The use of the Old Coptic script, which is constituted of the Greek alphabet plus some demotic Egyptian letters for sounds not covered by any Greek letter, seems to have started in a scholastic environment. The Michigan manuscript could easily be a school exercise—it is written on the back of a Greek toll register and the hand is very untrained. This is quite in contrast to the Demotic manuscripts which rather point to experienced scribes. I should also mention that the manuscript goes until number 29 and then there is quite a bit of empty space on that page, so the scribe either got tired of his work or, more likely, the composition really had 29 numbers. This point will become quite important later on.

  • 17 Hoogendijk (2016).
  • 18 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 618.

9While my translation and commentary of the Demotic and Old Coptic manuscripts was already in the final process for the publication, a lucky chance meant that also Greek documentation relevant for this sort of lot divination came up. Francisca Hoogendijk published a leaf from a Greek codex from Kellis in the Dakhla oasis, dating to the fourth century CE (P.Kellis 96.150).17 It contains numbers 19–29, each followed by the name of a deity, and then prognoses. The preserved ones go from the very end of number 18 until 29. Hoogendijk wanted to have them gone until 30 in order to get one for each day of the month,18 but I would rather like it if this manuscript only had 29, like the Ann Arbor one. Actually, it might be possible to calculate about the size of that manuscript. The preserved leaf takes two pages for covering about 11 numbers. The remaining 18 ones might fill about four more pages. If we assume one page for a general introduction, also describing the technique to be used, and one page for the list of days, we would end up with a total of eight pages, or, more technically, an elementary quire made up of four folded leaves.

  • 19 Cuvigny (2010), p. 258–276.

10Furthermore, a group of Greek ostraca from Dios in the eastern Desert of Egypt, dated to c. 200 CE, must at least be under suspicion of also belonging to this composition.19

  • 20 Love (2021); see also Stadler (2008).

11Altogether, there are now eight or nine known fragmentary manuscripts of a treatise about lot divination from Roman period Egypt. Six are written in Demotic Egyptian, one in Old Coptic, and one or two are Greek in language and writing. Four of them come from Tebtunis in the South of the Fayum (P.Carlsberg 585 + PSI inv. D 83 + P.Florence ME 11918; PSI inv. D 85; P.Carlsberg 143; P.Carlsberg 694 + PSI inv. D 84); two from Soknopaiou Nesos in the North of the Fayum (P.Vienna D 6117; P.Michigan inv. 6124+6131 vs.), one from Kellis in the Oasis of Dakhla (P.Kellis 96.150), the provenance of one is uncertain (P.Berlin P 23499), and the uncertain one (ostraca from Dios) comes from the eastern desert. The Demotic and Old Coptic manuscripts date to the first or second century CE, whereas the Greek one from Kellis is from the fourth century CE, while the ostraca from Dios are dated to about 200 CE. Overall the temporal distribution of the manuscripts corresponds well to the general tendency that traditional Egyptian writing systems are still well attested for literary and subliterary compositions in the second century CE but drop quite dramatically afterwards.20

12Now I come to the main points of the composition. There is only a single fragment of the first manuscript (P.Carlsberg 585 + PSI inv. D 83 + P.Florence ME 11918) which preserves some few remnants of the end of general introduction: “[…] while being in the writings of the palm (?) [… … …] about which one will ask [….]. [Behold the days] on which one shall ask.” While this might not seem like very much, at least the mentioning of writing of the palm could play a role in the final interpretation.

13Then comes a list of days on which this particular divination can be practiced or not, which is however largely lost in the only manuscript to preserve at least small parts of it. The entry for the first day of the month and small parts of the second one can be read on the same fragment which I have cited for the end of the introduction. Another small fragment gives those for the last seven days.

  • 21 See lastly Zografou (2013); Martín Hernandéz (2013); Meerson (2019); Nowitzki (2021), p. 204f.
  • 22 Steward (2001), p. 3; Naether (2010), p. 85–91.

14Typologically, such lists of the days of the month on which a divination ritual can either be performed the whole time, only part of it or not at all are rather well known. Probably the best known are from the Homeric dice oracle preserved in PGM VII, SM 77 (where the list of days is lost) and P.Oxy. 3831.21 There is also a comparable list in the medieval manuscripts of the Sortes Astrampsychi.22

  • 23 See especially the first edition by Stadler (2004), and his later insistence on his original inte (...)
  • 24 Quack (2005); Quack (2008), p. 362–370 (with a new translation of the better preserved parts of t (...)
  • 25 Richter (2008); Devauchelle (2008), p. 244; Laisney (2010); Naether (2010), p. 333–336.

15Furthermore, there is one demotic text, P.Vienna D 12006 recto, whose nature is very much disputed between the first editor Martin Stadler and me. Stadler took it for a temple ritual aiming at establishing justice, and he saw it as enquiries to a child medium which was put in trance.23 I, by contrast, understand it as divination by means of a stone which is cast,24 and I have been followed in this interpretation by several other scholars.25 In any case, it also has such a list of days on which the practice can be performed or not.

  • 26 Quack — Ryholt (2019).

16As yet another case, I can adduce a manual of divination of yet another type which is very difficult to understand. It involves sand and the movement of figurines—I even spent some time trying to establish a link with the later practice of geomancy, but so far without real success. Kim Ryholt and I published four of the six manuscripts of this technique known to us and at least gave as much information about the two other ones which we could not include, mainly because a first edition in a different place is mandatory.26 Among them is also a group of fragments from Oxyrhynchus now in the EES collection at Oxford which presents yet another such list.

  • 27 Worp (1995), p. 205–210.
  • 28 Burkardt (2013), p. 130.
  • 29 See the synoptic presentation by Quack (2019c), p. 334f.

17There are also two Greek-language fragments from Kellis with even one more list of opportune and inopportune days.27 Similar lists exist also in medieval Jewish lot books.28 Without delving too much in the details, one point should be obvious.29 The general structure is common to all these treatises, and seems to be a recurring element of divination making use of pre-fabricated answers and methods of randomizing the result. But in the details, which days are completely good, partially good, or not good at all, there is no obvious convergence; it seems as if in most cases something new and different is made up.

18In order to give an example of text of the prognoses themselves, I will now quote a comparatively well-preserved section:

[…] for you (?) a good shadow (?). This enquiry is difficult at the beginning, but nice in the end. Be patient until it comes to you (?) with good fate. Written. — The seventh enquiry. It stands for Horus. […] when he fights in the battle of the king. It (?) is good to stand before the king / good for you before the king […] when the king’s soldier looks at you. He will give you a gift of silver and copper (?) in […] tools (?) of the fortress (?) in your hand. Do not be afraid of the sea, for it is not angry, it is peaceful. You will be a match for them (?). Your enemies will fall (?) before him. He will not hit you, he will not beat you, he will not take possession of you […]. He will protect you well in this enquiry. Written. (P.Carlsberg 585, fragm. 3, x+1, 1–8.)

  • 30 For discussions, see especially Vandier (1961), p. 81–83; Derchain (1964), p. 159, n. 44; Saunero (...)

19Obviously, we have here the end of the sixth enquiry, of which only the end is preserved, and then the seventh one which I quote in full. A special explanation is in order for the expression which literally means “to stand for”.30 It is mainly attested in scholarly and religious texts. Its main function is to link natural phenomena with specific deities of which they are a manifestation.

  • 31 I follow the translation of Hoogendijk (2016), p. 606.

20Now, I will give a sample of the Greek text:31

19, of Helios. Is of a man who is in distress and who finds himself in much trouble and who appeals to the gods: Helios will shine on him and he will see good light and he will be engaged in many good things.
20, of Osorsouchis. Do not change good things into bad, do not try the disgraceful: motionless like a statue, the god will be patient to him.
21, of Apis. The beautiful one is righteous as far as regards a completely truthful mouth; for it is beautiful to be patient and not to neglect the mortified things: he will be saved back. Good luck! (
P.Kellis 96.150, 2–15.)

  • 32 This grammatical construction is the same as in the astragaloi divination texts from Asia Minor, (...)

21Compared to the Demotic (and Old Coptic), the structure is simplified insofar as the coordination between the number and the deity is expressed by a simple genitive attribution.32 Also the heading “the enquiry” is dropped. Some specific elements can be highlighted where the Greek text displays similarities to the Demotic one. In enquiry 21 of the Greek manuscript, we read “it is beautiful to be patient”. This resembles the advice “be patient” in the Demotic Treatise. At the end of number 21, there is an exclamation ἐπ’ ἀγαθῷ, “good luck”. This clearly resembles the element “with the good destiny” found in the Demotic manuscript at the end of enquiry 6.

22The ostraca from Dios are slightly different in structure and might conflate two separate elements of the composition. They are numbered (with the extant items in the range between 2 and 27). All numbers are coordinated with an oracular answer. Four numbers from the beginning of the sequence (2, 3, 4 and 5) are also linked with divine names in the genitive, like in the Kellis papyrus and the Asia Minor inscriptions to which I will come later on. But at the same time, the numbers are correlated with indications like “equally”, “don’t use”, “during the whole day”, “in the morning” which find their correspondence in the calendar indications on which day and at which time the oracle can be consulted or not. Perhaps the fact that the list of days has 30 entries (for each day of a month) and the amount of answers in the original composition was very close to that number induced the copyists to fuse these two indications into one single entry.

  • 33 It is the small right side bottom item in Quack (2019c), pl. 24 which is not physically connected (...)

23For the moment, I have few cases where there are several manuscripts covering the same enquiry, so it is difficult to check to which degree there was a fixed textual tradition. But there is one passage where I could establish this for the Demotic treatises—actually only in the very final process of fine-tuning the manuscript for publication when I could ascertain the position of one more fragment in P.Carlsberg 585.33 So this parallel is somewhat understudied in my publication, but I will present here the salient points:

24P.Carlsberg 585 + PSI inv. D 83 + P.Florence ME 11918, fragm. 3, col. x+1

22 [The tenth enquiry. It stands for…].. the great god. Let not […] say in the heart: […] wind.
23 […
he will let the] heart [be happy] every day. If somebody […].
24 [… the]
great god will come to you with the good fate. You will.[…]..
25 [… you will]
escape [in] this enquiry. Written -.[…]..
26 [
The eleventh enquiry. It stands for Re(?)-Har]akhte (?), [the superior] of the gods, the great god. If you […]

25P.Berlin P 23499, fragm. 1

x+2 …] and Amun[-Re(?)], the great god will come […
x+3 …]
of the god. He will let the hear[t] be happy (?) […
x+4 …]
es[cape] in this enquiry. The en[quiry…
x+5 …
Re-Har]akhte(?), the superior of the gods, the great god […
x+6 …] or he
will laugh, he will make […

26PSI inv. D 85, fragm. 1

x+4 …] for you a misdeed again. Do not fear! Do not […
x+5 …] the way
of the god. He will let [your] heart rejoice […
x+6 …
the] eleventh enquiry: It stands for Hormerty […
x+7 …]
he will laugh, he will…. […

27There is overall good similarity. I have marked underlined the text which is nicely parallel in at least two of them. In one case (marked in italics) P.Carlsberg 585 seems to have switched the position of at least one sentence compared to P.Berlin P 23499. PSI inv. D 85 seems to have a different deity for the eleventh enquiry (marked in bold). Passages not highlighted are preserved in only one manuscript—in at least one case (P.Carlsberg 585 + PSI inv. D 83 + P.Florence ME 11918, fragm. 3, col. x+1 versus PSI inv. D 85, fragm. 1, x+4) it is possible, calculating the normal length relations of the lines to each other, that we have a case of quite divergent readings, or at least two sentences (“…] for you a misdeed again. Do not fear!”) present in PSI inv. D 85 but absent in P.Carlsberg 585.

  • 34 Cuvigny (2010), p. 263.
  • 35 Quack (2019c), p. 336 n. 55.

28I have to stress that this is, however, not a case of just one closed manuscript tradition, and that variants are not always limited to some changes in wording or even the sequence of sentences. The Greek manuscript from Kellis covers numbers 19–29 mostly also preserved in the Old Coptic manuscript from Soknopaiou Nesos. But I have failed to find any significant parallels between these two manuscripts, even allowing for the often precarious interpretation of the Old Coptic text. Also the ostraca from Dios (where numbers 21, 25, 26 and 27 are preserved) don’t display any obvious similarities to either the Kellis papyrus or the Old Coptic text concerning the same numbers. By contrast, the text of number 21 on a Dios ostracon, “Do not fear the waves of the sea. Do not apprehend the storm and it will not be hard for you. Pray to the gods with confidence and they will guide you where you are going. What you cower before, pay no heed to it, and do not cower”34 has some resemblance to “Do not be afraid of the sea, for [it is not] angry, it is appeased. You will be a match for them (?). Your enemies will [fall (?) before] him”, which is preserved in P.Carlsberg 585 for the 7th enquiry.35 We have to reckon with the possibility that there were several different textual traditions of a general idea of lot divination, or at least that the Greek versions are not direct translations of the Egyptian one, but either a free reworking, or only loosely inspired by it.

29Most of the manuscripts are in a range between 7 and 29 for the preserved numbers of the enquiries, and there is some chance that this was really the highest number, at least for the Old Coptic manuscript where there is an ample empty pace after the entry for number 29. But in P.Carlsberg 694 + PSI inv. D 84, we have number 88, 95, 96 and 117 preserved, so we are in a much higher range. It might be relevant that with number 96, in that manuscript there is something which is likely to be a short indication “excerpt from …”. Such a source indication might hint at the use of several different traditions compiled into a single handbook.

30There is one final item of evidence which I have so far withheld from the readers of this paper, although it is of crucial importance for understanding the practical side of the divination. During my shifting of the Berlin collection, I run upon four strips of plant material (P.Berlin P 23701) which was most obviously not papyrus—probably palm leaf (Fig. 1). One of the strips was uninscribed, but on the other three, there was always a number followed by “it stands for” and the name of a deity.

P.Berlin P 23701. Strips of palm leaf inscribed with numbers and attribution to deities in demotic Egyptian script

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung. Photography Sandra Steiß.

  • 36 Smith (1991), p. 235–245; Strickmann (2005). A literary monument to this technique can be found i (...)

31To me this looks very much like remnants of the actual lots used in such a divination. I immediately associated them with the well-known Chinese technique of numbered lots where you shake lots in a box until just one slips out;36 and you can look up its number in a manual of the treatise and see what it bides. However, there is more, and closer in space and time to the demotic manuscripts. In a Greek magical papyrus from Oxyrhynchus (P.Oxy. 886 = PGM XXIVa), we find the following text:

  • 37 Translation W.C. Grese, in Betz (1986), p. 264. Compare Hopfner (1924), p. 142f. § 298f.; Jordan (...)

“Great is the Lady Isis!” Copy of a holy book found in the archives of Hermes: The method is that concerning the 29 letters through which letters Hermes and Isis, who was seeking Osiris, her brother and husband, <found him>.
Call upon Helios and all the gods in the deep concerning those things for which you want to receive an omen. Take 29 leaves of a male date palm and write on each of the leaves the names of the gods. Pray and then pick them two by two. Read the last remaining leaf and you will find your omen, how things are, and you will be answered clearly.’
37

  • 38 It should be checked whether PGM XXIVa is really complete as we have it now, or whether it is jus (...)

32As I already indicated, the actual lots I have identified in Berlin seem to be from palm leaf, and there is something about the writings of the palm mentioned in the remnants of the introduction preserved in manuscript 1. At least the Old Coptic manuscript definitely has 29 numbers, and the Greek manuscript could also well have ended with number 29. Except the maverick manuscript P.Carlsberg 694 + PSI inv. D 84, all the demotic fragments of the treatise have numbers below 29. So, the correspondence between PGM XXIVa and the demotic treatises discussed here is quite good. One could even discuss if PGM XXIVa should be considered as an excerpt of such a treatise of lot divination which only covers the introduction. As a matter of fact, it can hardly stand on its own because neither the specific names of the 29 deities are indicated nor the meaning to be attributed to them.38

  • 39 For the situation of PGM XXIVa within the Egyptian myth, see Quack (2019b), p. 115f.

33Concerning the number 29 as such, it stands out somewhat, because it is quite in the range of the duration of a month, but not quite identical to the length of a month in the Egyptian civil calendar (as well as the Alexandrian calendar) which would be 30 days. I see two different possibilities. On the one hand, it could be based on the month-length, but with a conscious choice of the number 29 because that would only be possible as length of a month in a lunar calendar. Since Hermes who is explicitly mentioned as the foundational authority of this procedure in PGM XXIVa, is quite certainly an equivalent of the Egyptian Thot39 who is a lunar deity, this would make sense. On the other hand, the handling of the leaves prescribed requires an odd number of leaves to be functional. These two possible explanations are by no means exclusive of one another.

  • 40 See lastly e.g. Luijendijk (2014); Luijendijk — Klingshirn (2019); Childers (2020); Kotansky (202 (...)

34Now, I will discuss the deities with which the enquiries are linked in the manuscripts. From a purely functional angle, the mention of the gods might seem even superfluous. Technically, it would be enough to have just a number written on a lot, and that would be sufficient to look up the indications in the treatises. However, it obviously enhances the perceived value of a divinatory practice if figures of special authority are involved in the answers. In a polytheistic word-view, there would be no better authority than deities. Turning the answers into the manifestation of a god imbues them with heightened meaning and authority. It stands within a much larger tradition of making use of sacred or culturally exceptional texts for divinatory practices, or ascribing them to high-ranking authorities.40 Most especially, such attributions would serve to strengthen a view of the answers as being created not haphazardly by mechanical randomization, but by a positively valued chance as controlled by the gods.

  • 41 Tait (1998).
  • 42 Minas-Nerpel (2007).
  • 43 Compare Platz-Horster (2017).

35One could also recall a die nowadays in the Petrie Museum, London, with hieroglyphically written names of Egyptian deities,41 as well as an icosaeder from Dakhla oasis with the names of deities written upon it in Demotic script.42 Such objects might be tangible traces of yet other divinatory techniques involving gods.43

  • 44 Edited by Nollé (2007) (there p. 106–110 for the deities). See further Graf (2005) (there p. 63–6 (...)
  • 45 Naether (2010), p. 115–120.

36The combination of numbers and deities in divination finds a most interesting parallel in the well-known astragaloi oracle inscriptions from Asia Minor.44 Also in the Sortes Astramspychi, there is at least one papyrus manuscript indicating deities linked to the answers, while in the medieval manuscripts, they are largely replaced by biblical figures.45

  • 46 This is changed in the late-antique Sortes Sangallenses which derive at least partially from the (...)
  • 47 See Graf (2005), p. 65f.; Nollé (2007), p. 108.

37The texts of the Egyptian lot divination share with the Asia Minor texts the fact that the gods do not speak themselves in the first person but are introduced in the third person when mentioned.46 The somewhat more explicit indication “it stands for …” in the Demotic and Old Coptic manuscripts might even provide additional help for solving the much-discussed question in which relation the gods stand to the oracles in the Greek texts.47 The answers are supposed to be manifestations of the deities in question.

38Deities mentioned in the text of the demotic manuscript of the treatise:

  • 48 The exact epithets are damaged and thus of uncertain translation in all cases.

The boy […] (6th enquiry).
Horus (7
th enquiry)
Shu (8
th enquiry)
Hapi, the father of the fathers (9
th enquiry)
Harakhte (?)/Hormerty (11
th enquiry)
Geb (slightly uncertain position, perhaps 12
th enquiry)
Weret-Hekau (the one great of magic) (uncertain position)
Horus son of Isis son of Osiris (uncertain position)
Deities mentioned in the Old Coptic manuscript:
Baba (23
rd enquiry)
The ruler of the enquiries (24
th enquiry)
Thot (?) (25
th enquiry)
Tefnut (26
th enquiry)
Different forms of Horus (27
th, 28th and 29th enquiry)48
Deities mentioned on the original palm-leaf lots:
Isis (7
th enquiry)
Horus (8
th enquiry)
Nefertem (10
th enquiry)
Deities mentioned in the Greek manuscript:
Helios (19)
Osorsouchis (20)
Apis (21)
Aphrodite (22)
Aphrodite Melpomene (23)
Nemesis (24)
Asklepios (25)
Soba (26)
Heron (27)
Kmephis (29)

  • 49 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 619f.
  • 50 This point is already addressed by Hoogendijk (2016), p. 619 n. 32. For the interpretatio graeca (...)
  • 51 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 619 n. 32 gave Atum as a possibility.
  • 52 Rondot (2013), p. 283–300.
  • 53 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 614 in the commentary to line 38.

39Francisca Hoogendijk understood the greater part of the deities in the Kellis manuscript as Graeco-Roman.49 This is correct on a purely formal level, but we have to keep in mind the possibility of an interpretatio graeca where in reality Egyptian deities are referred to by Greek names.50 Thus, Helios could easily be the Egyptian sun-god (Re), Aphrodite Hathor, Nemesis Petbe, Asklepios Imhotep and Ares Onuris. Only for Heron an Egyptian equivalent is less obvious,51 but a cult for him is positively attested in Roman Egypt.52 Soba remains enigmatic anyway;53 a rather desperate idea would be to understand it as Egyptian sꜣb ꜥꜣ, “big jackal”.

  • 54 See lastly Stadler (2021), p. 687f. Of potential relevance for this question is P.Berlin 10465 B, (...)

40Overall, the correspondence between the different manuscripts for the deities is far from perfect. As a matter of fact, the only case where two different manuscripts are likely to use the same deity for one number is enquiry 11 where P.Carlsberg 585 and P.Berlin P 23499 are both relatively likely to give Re-Harakhte, although both are seriously damaged at this point. However, PSI inv. D 85 gives rather Hormerty for this number. This particular case is confounded by the fact that the very reading of the demotic group I take to read as Harakhte is not yet fully settled.54

41The actual lots (P.Berlin P 23701) and P.Carlsberg 585 have at least a divergence for number 7 and 8. The lots give Isis for 7 and Horus for 8, while the papyrus has Horus for 7 and Shu for 8. At best, we could suppose that there is a slippage of just one position, where Isis would have been number 6 in P.Carlsberg 585 (this entry is lost). But P.Vienna D 6117 has a figure for number 6 which is clearly different from Isis.

  • 55 Fairman (1945), p. 107; Bedier (1995), p. 65f. and 163.
  • 56 Graefe (1986); Osing (1998), p. 290 with note 1373.
  • 57 Goyon (2003).

42Is there any clear symbolic relation between a deity and its number? In some cases, Egyptian deities have a cultural association with a specific number. Thus, Geb is sometimes associated with number 5, probably because in the tradition of the Heliopolitan ennead he is the one who engenders five gods.55 By a similar principle, Horus can be understood as the tenth god, because he comes after the nine gods of the ennead.56 There is a specific form of Hathor in Middle Egypt who is linked with the number 16.57 So far, I have not yet discovered any single case where the attributions of deities to numbers in the lot divination treatises make use of such cultural associations. Quite contrarily, Horus is attributed to the seventh enquiry in P.Carlsberg 585, and the eighth enquiry on the actual lot of P.Berlin P 23701, not the tenth one. Geb is found in P.Berlin P 23499 in a place where the actual number is not preserved, but it follows after a section which, given the direct parallel in P.Carlsberg 585, is highly likely to be the eleventh enquiry, so Geb would be associated with the twelfth enquiry.

  • 58 See especially Klotz (2012), p. 133–142.

43If the 29th number was really the last one, then it might be relevant that in the Greek manuscript Kmêphis is given as the associated god. Kmêphis is the most primordial god according to the late Theban religious system.58 Should his placement at the very end of the treatise be seen as a sign that a cycle is complete and a new beginning is on the horizon? But this is a rather tenuous proposal, and otherwise I do not see any clear link between deity and number.

  • 59 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 607 (to line 2), 613 (to line 33) and 619.
  • 60 See lastly the translation by Kurth (2014), p. 190–221 with further references.
  • 61 De Buck (1947); Bickel (1994), p. 129–136.

44There is somewhat more evidence of a genuine link between the deity and elements of the answer which is linked to him. Already Francisca Hoogendijk pointed out two relatively clear cases from the Kellis papyrus.59 Number 19 is linked to Helios and contains “Helios will shine on him”. Number 25 is linked to Asklepios and speaks of illness and deliverance. Among the demotic treatises, number 7 is linked with Horus, and the actual prognosis speaks of fighting in the battle of the king. Horus is obviously a royal god, and especially in the myth of Horus as transmitted in the temple of Edfu,60 he is very much involved in fighting against the enemies of the sun-god as king of the gods. For the eighth enquiry in the demotic treatise, we have Shu as deity. He is linked with the wind in Egyptian conceptions,61 and the answer mentions a situation where somebody is sailing while it is rainy and windy. Otherwise, the preservation of the demotic manuscripts is normally too bad to say much about possible links between the deities and the answers. But quite obviously, if the answers are really supposed to be manifestations of the deities, it makes sense that there is a tangible relation to their nature.

  • 62 This seems to be the intention of the Asia Minor inscriptions which were put purposely at places (...)

45Finally, a discussion is in order concerning the practical use of such a treatise. Basically, there are two possible options. Either you could consult the oracle freely and as often as you wished, and the main aim would be to ultimately receive a positive answer (regardless of how many trials are needed), and then go away with self-assurance. Or you could ask only once, and then had to accept the answer, even if it turned out to be bad. In actual practice, this could largely depend upon the circumstances. Did the one seeking oracles have all means at his own hands he needed for asking and receiving an answer, hopefully also being able to interpret it?62 Or was an interpretation specialist involved who might either refuse completely to repeat the consultation or charge so outrageously for this insult of his competence as to make this not a viable option?

  • 63 Quack (2019c), p. 337f.

46The lot divination discussed here is not explicit on this point, at least not in the preserved fragments. But the indication of days on which the consultation is not possible at all, or only partially, rather speaks against an intention of permitting unlimited repetition. This is, however, somewhat counterbalanced in its effect by the overall positive outlook of the treatise in question. There are hardly any outright negative prognoses.63 At most, temporary difficulties are indicated, which can be resolved through patience. So, even if only one consultation a day was permitted, and not even on every day of the month, it is rather unlikely that the consultant would leave with distinctively unhappy feelings.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

R. Bagnall, “Linguistic Change and Religious Change: Thinking about the Temples of the Fayoum in the Roman Period”, in G. Gabra (ed.), Christianity and Monasticism in the Fayoum Oasis. Essays from the 2004 International Symposium of the Saint Mark Foundation and the Saint Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society in Honor of Martin Krause, Cairo/New York, 2005, p. 11–19.

Sh. Bedier, Die Rolle des Gottes Geb in den ägyptischen Tempelinschriften der griechisch-römischen Zeit, Hildesheim, 1995 (Hildesheimer Ägyptologische Beiträge, 41).

D. Betz (ed.), The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Chicago, 1986.

S. Bickel, La cosmogonie égyptienne avant le Nouvel Empire, Fribourg/Göttingen, 1994 (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, 134).

G. Botti, “Papiri demotici dell’epoca imperiale da Tebtynis”, in Studi in onore di Aristide Calderini e Roberto Paribeni, volume secondo. Studi di papirologia e antichità orientali, Milan, 1957, p. 75–86.

F. Breyer, Schrift im antiken Afrika. Multiliteralismus und Schriftadaption in den antiken Kulturen Numidiens, Ägyptens, Nubiens und Abessiniens, Berlin/Boston, 2021.

A. de Buck, Plaats en betekenis van Sjoe in de Egyptische theologie, Amsterdam, 1947 (Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandsche akademie van wetenschappen, 10/9).

E. Burkardt, “Hebräische Losbuchhandschriften: Zur Typologie einer jüdischen Divinationsmethode”, in K. Herrmann, M. Schlüter, and G. Veltri (eds.), Jewish Studies between the Disciplines. Judaistik zwischen den Disziplinen. Papers in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of his 60th Birthday, Leiden/Boston, 2003, p. 95–148.

J.W. Childers, Divining Gospel. Oracles of Interpretation in a Syriac Manuscript of John, Berlin/Boston, 2020.

H. Cuvigny, “The Shrine in the praesidium of Dios (Eastern Desert of Egypt): Graffiti and Oracles in Context”, Chiron 40 (2010), p. 245–299.

G.B. D’Alessio, “Interpretative and Textual Notes on the New “Isis Romance” (P.Oxy. LXXXV 5481)”, ZPE 219 (2021), p. 61–64.

Ph. Derchain, Le Papyrus Salt 825 (B.M. 10051), rituel pour la conservation de la vie en Égypte, Brussels, 1964.

D. Devauchelle, Review of Stadler, Isis, das göttliche Kind und die Weltordnung, WdO 38 (2008), p. 242–245.

N. Duval, “Probability in the Ancient Greek World: New Considerations from Astragalomantic Inscriptions in South Anatolia”, ZPE 195 (2015), p. 127–141.

R.G. Edmonds, “And You Will Be Amazed: The Rhetoric of Authority in the Greek Magical Papyri”, ARG 21–22 (2020), p. 29–49.

H.W. Fairman, “An introduction to the study of Ptolemaic signs and their values”, BIFAO 43 (1945), p. 51–138.

C.A. Faraone and S. Torallas Tovar (eds.), Greek and Egyptian Magical Formularies: Text and Transmission, I, Berkeley, 2022.

J.-C. Goyon, “De seize et quatorze, nombres religieux. Osiris et Isis-Hathor aux portes de la Moyenne Égypte”, in N. Kloth, K. Martin, and E. Pardey (eds.), Es werde niedergelegt als Schriftstück. Festschrift für Hartwig Altenmüller zum 65. Geburtstag, Hamburg, 2003 (BSAK, 9), p. 149–160.

E. Graefe, “Horus, der zehnte Gott der »Neunheit«”, in Hommages à François Daumas, Montpellier, 1986, vol. 2, p. 345–349.

E. Graefe, “The Ritual of the Hours of the Day on the Inner Vault of the qrsw-Coffin of Nes(pa)qashuty from Deir el-Bahari”, PAM 27 (2018), p. 143–182.

F. Graf, “Rolling the Dice for an Answer”, in S. Iles Johnston and P.T. Struck (eds.), Mantikê. Studies in Ancient Divination, Leiden/Boston, 2005 (RGRW, 155), p. 51–97.

O. Henri, “A general approach to interpretatio Graeca in the light of papyrological evidence”, in M. Erler, M.A. Stadler, and M. Schneider (eds.), Platonismus und spätägyptische Religion. Plutarch und die Ägyptenrezeption in der römischen Kaiserzeit, Berlin/Boston, 2017 (BzA, 364), p. 43–54.

F.A.J. Hoogendijk, “Page of an Oracle Book: Papyrus Kellis 96.150”, in T. Derda, A. Łajtar, and J. Urbanik (eds.), Proceedings of the 27th International Congress of Papyrology, Volume Two: Subliterary Papyri, Documentary Papyri, Scribal Practices, Linguistic Matters, Warsaw, 2016, p. 585–622.

Th. Hopfner, Griechisch-ägyptischer Offenbarungszauber, Band 2. Seine Methoden, Leipzig, 1924 (Studien zur Palaeographie und Papyruskunde, 23).

D. Jordan, “Two Papyri with Formulae for Divination”, in P. Mirecki and M. Meyer (eds.), Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World, Leiden/Boston/Köln, 2002, p. 25–36.

W.E. Klingshirn, “Christian Divination in Late Roman Gaul. The Sortes Sangallenses”, in S. Iles Johnston and P.T. Struck (eds.), Mantikê. Studies in Ancient Divination, Leiden/Boston, 2005 (RGRW, 155), p. 99–128.

D. Klotz, Caesar in the City of Amun. Egyptian Temple Construction and Theology in Roman Thebes, Turnhout, 2012 (MRÉ, 15).

H. Kockelmann, “Gods at War. Two Demotic Mythological Narratives in the Carlsberg Papyrus collection, Copenhagen (PC 460 and PC 284)”, in M. Depauw and Y. Broux (eds.), Acts of the International Congress of Demotic Studies Leuven, 26–30 August 2008, Leuven/Paris/Walpole, MA, 2014 (OLA, 231), p. 115–125.

R. Kotansky, “A Divining Gospel”, Early Christianity 12 (2021), p. 495–523.

D. Kurth, Edfou VI, Gladbeck, 2014 (Die Inschriften des Tempels von Edfu, Abteilung I Übersetzungen, Band 3).

V. Laisney, Review of Stadler, Isis, das göttliche Kind und die Weltordnung, Or 79 (2010), p. 411–415.

A. von Lieven, “Translating Gods, Interpreting Gods. On the Mechanisms behind the Interpretatio Graeca of Egyptian Gods”, in I. Rutherford (ed.), Greco-Aegyptian Interactions. Literature, Translation and Culture, 5000 BCE–300 CE, Oxford, 2016, p. 61–82.

A. von Lieven, “The Religious Sciences in Ancient Egypt”, in M. Ossendrijver (ed.), Scholars, Priests and Temples—Babylonian and Egyptian Science in Context, JANEH 8.1–2 (2021), p. 181–201.

E. Love, Script Switching in Roman Egypt, Berlin/Boston, in press.

E. Lüdi Kong, Die Reise in den Westen. Ein klassischer chinesischer Roman, Stuttgart, 2016.

A. Luijendijk, Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary, Tübingen, 2014 (Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum, 89).

A. Luijendijk and W.E. Klingshirn (eds.), My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity, Leiden/Boston, 2019 (RGRW, 188).

M. Martin, “Parler la langue des oiseaux : les écritures « barbares » et mystérieuses des tablettes de défixion”, in M. de Haro Sanchez (ed.), Écrire la magie dans l’Antiquité. Actes du colloque international (Liège, 13–15 octobre 2011), Liège, 2015 (Papyrologica Leodiensia, 5), p. 251–265.

R. Martín Hernandéz, “Using Homer for Divination: Homeromanteia in Context”, CHS Research Bulletin 2, no. 1 (2013) [http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay: MartinHernandezR.Using_Homer_for_Divination_Homeromanteia_in_Context. (accessed November 7, 2021)].

M. Meerson, “Secondhand Homer”, in A. Luijendijk and W.E. Klingshirn (eds.), My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity, Leiden/Boston, 2019 (RGRW, 188), p. 138–153.

M. Minas-Nerpel, “A Demotic Inscribed Icosahedron from Dakhleh Oasis”, JEA 93 (2007), p. 137–148.

F. Naether, Die Sortes Astrampsychi. Problemlösungsstrategien durch Orakel im römischen Ägypten, Tübingen, 2010 (ORA, 3).

J. Nollé, Kleinasiatische Losorakel. Astragal- und Alphabetchresmologien der hochkaiserzeitlichen Orakelrenaissance, Munich, 2007 (Vestigia, 57).

T. Nowitzki, Antike Ritualmagie. Die Rituale der ägyptischen Zauberpapyri im Kontext spätantiker Magie, Stuttgart, 2021 (Hamburger Studien zu Gesellschaften und Kulturen der Vormoderne, 17).

J. Osing, The Carlsberg Papyri 2: Hieratische Papyri aus Tebtunis I, Copenhagen, 1998.

E. Pachoumi, The Concepts of the Divine in the Greek Magical Papyri, Tübingen, 2017 (STAC, 102).

R. Parker, Greek Gods Abroad: Names, Natures, and Transformations, Oakland, 2017 (Sather Classical Lectures, 72).

St. Pfeiffer, “Interpretatio Graeca. Der »übersetzte Gott« in der multikulturellen Gesellschaft des hellenistischen Ägypten”, in M. Lange and M. Rösel (eds.), Der übersetzte Gott, Leipzig, 2015, p. 37–53.

G. Platz-Horster, “Antike Polyeder. Vom Spiel mit Form und Zahl im ptolemäischen Ägypten zum Kleinod im römischen Europa”, JDAI 132 (2017), p. 107–185.

J.F. Quack, “Das Buch vom Tempel und verwandte Texte. Ein Vorbericht”, ARG 2 (2000), p. 1–20.

J.F. Quack, “La magie au temple”, in Y. Koenig (ed.), La Magie égyptienne : à la recherche d’une définition, Paris, 2002, p. 41–68.

J.F. Quack, “Organiser le culte idéal. Le Manuel du temple égyptien”, BSFÉ 160 (2004), p. 9–25.

J.F. Quack, Review of M. Stadler, Isis, das göttliche Kind und die Weltordnung, AfP 51 (2005), p. 174–179.

J.F. Quack, “A Black Cat from the Right, and a Scarab on your Head. New Sources for Ancient Egyptian Divination”, in K. Szpakowska (ed.), Through a Glass Darkly: Magic, Dreams, and Prophecy in Ancient Egypt, Swansea, 2006, p. 175–187.

J.F. Quack, “Wie normativ ist das Buch vom Tempel, und wann und wo ist es so?”, in M. Ullmann (ed.), 10. Ägyptologische Tempeltagung: Ägyptische Tempel zwischen Normierung und Individualität. München, 29.–31. August 2014, Wiesbaden, 2016 (KSG, 3,5), p. 99–109.

J.F. Quack, “How the Coptic Script came about”, in P. Dils, Ei. Grossman, T.S. Richter, and W. Schenkel (eds.), Greek Influence on Egyptian-Coptic: Contact-Induced Change in an Ancient African Language (DDGLC Working Papers 1), Hamburg, 2017 (LingAeg SM, 17), p. 27–96.

J.F. Quack, “Fragmente eines theologischen Traktats”, in J.F. Quack and K. Ryholt, The Carlsberg Papyri 11. Demotic Literary Texts from Tebtunis and Beyond, Copenhagen, 2019a (CNI Publications, 36), p. 1–35.

J.F. Quack, “Isis, Thot und Arian auf der Suche nach Osiris”, in J.F. Quack and K. Ryholt, The Carlsberg Papyri 11. Demotic Literary Texts from Tebtunis and Beyond, Copenhagen, 2019b (CNI Publications, 36), p. 77–138.

J.F. Quack, “Ein demotisch und altkoptisch überliefertes Losorakel”, in J.F. Quack and K. Ryholt, The Carlsberg Papyri 11. Demotic Literary Texts from Tebtunis and Beyond, Copenhagen, 2019c (CNI Publications, 36), p. 285–353.

J.F. Quack and K. Ryholt, “A Ptolemaic Manual on Sand Divination”, in J.F. Quack and K. Ryholt, The Carlsberg Papyri 11. Demotic Literary Texts from Tebtunis and Beyond, Copenhagen, 2019 (CNI Publications, 36), p. 243–267.

T.S. Richter, Review of Stadler, Isis, das göttliche Kind und die Weltordnung, WZKM 98 (2008), p. 380–386.

V. Rondot, Derniers visages des dieux d’Égypte. Iconographies, panthéons et cultes dans le Fayoum hellénisé des iieiiie siècles de notre ère, Paris, 2013.

M.T. Ross, “Demotic Horoscopes”, in A.C. Bowen and F. Rochberg (eds.), Hellenistic Astronomy: the Science in its Contexts, Leiden/Boston, 2020 (Brill’s Companions in Classical Studies, 4), p. 509–526.

K. Ryholt, “On the Contents and Nature of the Tebtunis ‘Temple Library’. A Status Report”, in S. Lippert and M. Schentuleit (eds.), Tebtynis und Soknopaiou Nesos. Leben im römerzeitlichen Fajum, Wiesbaden, 2005, p. 141–170.

K. Ryholt, “Libraries from Late Period and Graeco-Roman Egypt, c. 800 BCE – 250 CE”, in K. Ryholt and G. Barjamovic (eds.), Libraries before Alexandria. Ancient Near Eastern Traditions, Oxford, 2019, p. 390–472.

S. Sauneron, Un traité égyptien d’ophiologie. Papyrus du Brooklyn Museum Nos 47.218.48 et 85, Cairo, 1989.

R.J. Smith, Fortune-Tellers and Philosophers. Divination in Traditional Chinese Society, Boulder/San Francisco/Oxford, 1991.

M.A. Stadler, Isis, das göttliche Kind und die Weltordnung. Neue religiöse Texte aus dem Fayum nach dem Papyrus Wien D. 12006 Rekto, Vienna, 2004 (MPER NS, 28).

M.A. Stadler, “Isis würfelt nicht”, Studi di egittologia e di papirologia 3 (2006), p. 187–203.

M.A. Stadler, “On the demise of Egyptian writing: working with a problematic source base”, in J. Baines, J. Bennet, and St. D. Houston (eds.), The disappearance of writing systems: perspectives on literacy and communication, London, 2008, p. 157–181.

M.A. Stadler, “Interpreting the Architecture of the Temenos. Demotic Papyri and the Cult in Dime”, in M. Capasso and P. Davoli (eds.), Soknopaiou Nesos Project I (2003–2009), Pisa/Rome, 2012a, p. 379–386.

M.A. Stadler, Einführung in die ägyptische Religion ptolemäisch-römischer Zeit nach den demotischen Texten, Berlin, 2012b (EQÄ, 7).

M.A. Stadler, “»Die dir übel wollen, sie sind gemetzelt vor dir.« Ein Orakel zum häuslichen Gebrauch oder ein Tempelritual zur Bestätigung der Weltordnung?”, in A. Zdiarsky (ed.), Orakelsprüche, Magie und Horoskope. Wie Ägypten in die Zukunft sah, Vienna, 2015, p. 19–28.

M.A. Stadler, “Iah-Thot und der solare Schöpfergott: Fragmente einer Sammlung von Thot-Hymnen (Papyrus British Museum EA 76126)”, in PhCollombert, L. Coulon, I. Guermeur, and C. Thiers (eds.), Questionner le Sphinx. Mélanges offerts à Christiane Zivie-Coche, vol. 2, Cairo, 2021, p. 679–708.

R. Steward, Sortes Astrampsychi, vol. 2, Munich/Leipzig, 2001.

M. Strickmann, Chinese Poetry and Prophecy. The Written Oracle in East Asia, Stanford, 2005.

J. Tait, “Dicing with the gods”, in W. Clarysse, A. Schoors, and H. Willems (eds.), Egyptian Religion, the Last Thousand Years. Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jan Quaegebeur, Part I, Leuven 1998 (OLA, 84), p. 257–264.

J. Vandier, Le Papyrus Jumilhac, Paris, 1961.

R. Wiśniewski, Christian Divination in Late Antiquity, Amsterdam 2020.

K.A. Worp, Greek Papyri from Kellis: I. (P. Kellis G.) Nos. 1–90, Oxford, 1995.

A. Worrel, “Notice of a Second-Century Text in Coptic Letters”, AJSL 58 (1941), p. 84–90.

A. Zografou, “Oracle homérique de l’Antiquité tardive”, Kernos 26 (2013), p. 173–190.

Haut de page

Notes

1 Quack (2019c).

2 I hope that the following narration will not be perceived as being too chatty. In a book which overall is devoted to the question of chance, it does not seem out of place to me to tell a bit more about the elements of chance and good luck and their role for the research than is customary for scholarly publications which normally focus more on the final results than the ways the scholars arrived at them.

3 For that find-spot and the manuscripts found there, see especially the overviews by Ryholt (2005); Ryholt (2019), p. 393–400.

4 For some overviews, see Quack (2000), Quack (2004), and Quack (2016) with further references.

5 The inventorying done by the scholars working for the International Committee for Publishing the Carlsberg Papyri attributed provisional numbers only intended for internal use—and for that reason I will not indicate them here.

6 This is still reflected in the earliest published mention in Quack (2002), p. 58f.

7 This is already indicated in Quack (2006), p. 182–184, and taken up by Naether (2010), p. 348f.

8 Now published in Quack (2019a).

9 A preliminary report is given in Kockelmann (2014). For the larger context of these demotic narratives about wars of the gods (against the giants) and their relation to Greek and Latin traditions, see Quack (2019b), p. 113–124.

10 Botti (1957), p. 86.

11 The results have then been published in Quack (2017), where the Old Coptic text from Michigan is mentioned on p. 62f.

12 Worrel (1941).

13 Worrel (1941), p. 85.

14 Thus lastly Ross (2020), p. 521–523 (who at least gives some cautionary remarks) and Breyer (2021), p. 183 who have overlooked my remarks.

15 Bagnall (2005), p. 16f.

16 Quack (2017), p. 56f.

17 Hoogendijk (2016).

18 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 618.

19 Cuvigny (2010), p. 258–276.

20 Love (2021); see also Stadler (2008).

21 See lastly Zografou (2013); Martín Hernandéz (2013); Meerson (2019); Nowitzki (2021), p. 204f.

22 Steward (2001), p. 3; Naether (2010), p. 85–91.

23 See especially the first edition by Stadler (2004), and his later insistence on his original interpretation in Stadler (2006); Stadler (2012a), p. 386; Stadler (2012b), p. 165–177; Stadler (2015).

24 Quack (2005); Quack (2008), p. 362–370 (with a new translation of the better preserved parts of the text); Quack (2019c), p. 331.

25 Richter (2008); Devauchelle (2008), p. 244; Laisney (2010); Naether (2010), p. 333–336.

26 Quack — Ryholt (2019).

27 Worp (1995), p. 205–210.

28 Burkardt (2013), p. 130.

29 See the synoptic presentation by Quack (2019c), p. 334f.

30 For discussions, see especially Vandier (1961), p. 81–83; Derchain (1964), p. 159, n. 44; Sauneron (1989), p. 11, n. 7; Osing (1998), p. 173; Graefe (2018), p. 177; Quack (2019c), p. 293–295; von Lieven (2021), p. 182.

31 I follow the translation of Hoogendijk (2016), p. 606.

32 This grammatical construction is the same as in the astragaloi divination texts from Asia Minor, see Nollé (2007), p. 106.

33 It is the small right side bottom item in Quack (2019c), pl. 24 which is not physically connected to anything else.

34 Cuvigny (2010), p. 263.

35 Quack (2019c), p. 336 n. 55.

36 Smith (1991), p. 235–245; Strickmann (2005). A literary monument to this technique can be found in the Chinese romance The Journey into the West, chapter 35, German translation in Lüdi Kong (2016), p. 439. Already Graf (2005), p. 61, adduced this type of divination as a randomizer comparable to the astragaloi thrown with the Asia Minor treatises.

37 Translation W.C. Grese, in Betz (1986), p. 264. Compare Hopfner (1924), p. 142f. § 298f.; Jordan (2002), p. 25–28; Martin (2015), p. 260; Pachoumi (2017), p. 153; D’Alessio (2021), p. 62–64. See now also the new edition and translation by Faraone — Torallas Tovar (2022), p. 495–497 where, however, my remarks have been overlooked.

38 It should be checked whether PGM XXIVa is really complete as we have it now, or whether it is just the first page of a scroll of which the rest is lost.

39 For the situation of PGM XXIVa within the Egyptian myth, see Quack (2019b), p. 115f.

40 See lastly e.g. Luijendijk (2014); Luijendijk — Klingshirn (2019); Childers (2020); Kotansky (2021).

41 Tait (1998).

42 Minas-Nerpel (2007).

43 Compare Platz-Horster (2017).

44 Edited by Nollé (2007) (there p. 106–110 for the deities). See further Graf (2005) (there p. 63–66 for the deities); Duval (2015).

45 Naether (2010), p. 115–120.

46 This is changed in the late-antique Sortes Sangallenses which derive at least partially from the Sortes Astrampsychi but do give the answers in the first person, see Klingshirn (2005), p. 106f.

47 See Graf (2005), p. 65f.; Nollé (2007), p. 108.

48 The exact epithets are damaged and thus of uncertain translation in all cases.

49 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 619f.

50 This point is already addressed by Hoogendijk (2016), p. 619 n. 32. For the interpretatio graeca see lastly Pfeiffer (2015); von Lieven (2016); Henri (2017); Parker (2017), p. 33–76.

51 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 619 n. 32 gave Atum as a possibility.

52 Rondot (2013), p. 283–300.

53 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 614 in the commentary to line 38.

54 See lastly Stadler (2021), p. 687f. Of potential relevance for this question is P.Berlin 10465 B, X 5, 2, where a demotic gloss to hieratic Re-Harakhte is attested. Unfortunately, it is quite illegible on the photograph in Osing (1998), pl. 14, and seems not quite well understood in his drawing pl. 14a; what he gives could be amenable to a decipherment as R-ḥr-h˘pr-p.t; Osing’s reading R-ḥr-῾št (Osing [1998], p. 172) is certainly wrong.

55 Fairman (1945), p. 107; Bedier (1995), p. 65f. and 163.

56 Graefe (1986); Osing (1998), p. 290 with note 1373.

57 Goyon (2003).

58 See especially Klotz (2012), p. 133–142.

59 Hoogendijk (2016), p. 607 (to line 2), 613 (to line 33) and 619.

60 See lastly the translation by Kurth (2014), p. 190–221 with further references.

61 De Buck (1947); Bickel (1994), p. 129–136.

62 This seems to be the intention of the Asia Minor inscriptions which were put purposely at places where anybody could him- or herself perform a throw of astragals and then look up the text linked to the result.

63 Quack (2019c), p. 337f.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Légende P.Berlin P 23701. Strips of palm leaf inscribed with numbers and attribution to deities in demotic Egyptian script
URL http://journals.openedition.org/kernos/docannexe/image/4194/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 189k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Joachim Friedrich Quack, « Drawing Lots of the Gods in Roman Egypt »Kernos, 35 | 2022, 77-96.

Référence électronique

Joachim Friedrich Quack, « Drawing Lots of the Gods in Roman Egypt »Kernos [En ligne], 35 | 2022, mis en ligne le 01 février 2024, consulté le 13 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/kernos/4194 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/kernos.4194

Haut de page

Auteur

Joachim Friedrich Quack

University of Heidelberg

Joachim_Friedrich.Quack@urz.uni-heidelberg.de

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search