Venus Playing with Astragals: Erotic Oracles and Prayers in Astragalomancy

Salvatore Costanza


I intend to devote my attention to Aphrodite’s role in oracles drawn from knucklebones. We have a large set of epigraphic documents from Asia Minor dating to Roman Imperial times concerning astragalomancy. Here, some prayers are addressed to Aphrodite, the love goddess, in order to assure her favor to the enquirers of such divinatory items. Literary evidence since early Hellenistic times (Apollonius Rhodius, Callimachus) also links Aphrodite to astragals. Astragalomantic texts can be delivered in the wider context of Late Antique lot-divination, where knucklebones were currently used as randomizing tools.

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