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Plutarch’s Moralia

(398)πᾶσιν, οὐκ ἄν σοι δοκοίη κινήσεως ἀρχὴν καὶ πάθους αἰτίαν1 παρασχεῖν οὐδενὶ τῶν ὄντων.”

9. Τοιαῦτα μὲν ἐγὼ πρὸς τὸν Βόηθον ἀπεκρινάμην, ὅμοια δὲ περὶ τῶν Σιβυλλείων. ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἔστημεν κατὰ τὴν πέτραν γενόμενοι τὴν κατὰ τὸ βουλευτήριον, ἐφ᾿ ἧς λέγεται καθίζεσθαι τὴν πρώτην Σίβυλλαν ἐκ τοῦ Ἑλικῶνος παραγενομένην ὑπὸ τῶν Μουσῶν τραφεῖσαν (ἔνιοι δέ φασιν ἐκ Μαλιέων2 ἀφικέσθαι Λαμίας οὖσαν θυγατέρα τῆς Ποσειδῶνος), ὁ μὲν Σαραπίων ἐμνήσθη τῶν ἐπῶν, ἐν οἷς ὕμνησεν ἑαυτήν, ὡς οὐδ᾿ ἀποθανοῦσα λήξει μαντικῆς, ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὴ3 μὲν ἐν τῇ σελήνῃ περίεισι τὸ καλούμενον Dφαινόμενον γενομένη πρόσωπον, τῷ δ᾿ ἀέρι τὸ πνεῦμα συγκραθὲν ἐν φήμαις ἀεὶ φορήσεται καὶ κληδόσιν· ἐκ δὲ τοῦ σώματος μεταβαλόντος ἐν τῇ γῇ πόας καὶ ὕλης ἀναφυομένης, βοσκήσεται ταύτην ἱερὰ θρέμματα, χρόας τε παντοδαπὰς ἴσχοντα καὶ μορφὰς καὶ ποιότητας ἐπὶ τῶν σπλάγχνων ἀφ᾿ ὧν αἱ προδηλώσεις ἀνθρώποις τοῦ μέλλοντος.

Ὁ δὲ Βόηθος ἔτι μᾶλλον ἦν φανερὸς καταγελῶν.

Τοῦ δὲ ξένου εἰπόντος ὡς, εἰ καὶ ταῦτα μύθοις ἔοικεν, ἀλλὰ ταῖς γε4 μαντείαις ἐπιμαρτυροῦσι πολλαὶ μὲν ἀναστάσεις καὶ μετοικισμοὶ πόλεων Ἑλληνίδων, πολλαὶ δὲ βαρβαρικῶν στρατιῶν ἐπιφάνειαι Eκαὶ ἀναιρέσεις ἡγεμονιῶν· “ταυτὶ δὲ τὰ

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The Oracles at Delphi

himself into everything and be merged with everything, could initiate movement or cause anything to happen to any existent object!”

9. Such was my answer to Boëthus, and in similar vein mention was made of the oracles of the Sibyl. For when we halted as we reached a point opposite the rock which lies over against the council-chamber, upon which it is said that the first Sibyla sat after her arrival from Helicon where she had been reared by the Muses (though others say that she came from the Malians and was the daughter of Lamia whose father was Poseidon), Sarapion recalled the verses in which she sang of herself: that even after death she shall not cease from prophesying, but that she shall go round and round in the moon,b becoming what is called the face that appears in the moon; while her spirit, mingled with the air, shall be for ever borne onward in voices of presage and portent; and since from her body, transformed within the earth, grass and herbage shall spring, on this shall pasture the creatures reared for the holy sacrifice, and they shall acquire all manner of colours and forms and qualities upon their inward parts, from which shall come for men prognostications of the future.

Boëthus even more plainly showed his derision.

The foreign visitor remarked that even if these matters appear to be fables, yet the prophecies have witnesses to testify for them in the numerous desolations and migrations of Grecian cities, the numerous descents of barbarian hordes, and the overthrow of empires. “And these recent and unusual occurrences

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plutarch-moralia_oracles_delphi_no_longer_given_verse.1936