Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version


Publication Source

The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life




This chapter examines the role of animals in divination in ancient times. It discusses ancient observers' interpretaion of signs coming from instinctive animal behaviour and from the structure of animal body parts. It explains the three main currents of philosophical thought on divination. Plato and Aristotle believed the divinatory insights to be tied with animal instinct and belong to a fringe form of cognition that is specifically connected with humans' animal natures. On the other hand, the Stoics considered divination as an important piece of their understanding of the cosmos as a whole, and of humans as part of it.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Animals and Divination. In The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life, edited by Campbell, G.L., 2014, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press:


animals in divination, ancient times, interpretation of signs, animal behaviour, animal body parts, Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, divinatory insights, form of cognition



Date Posted: 22 December 2017