Oracles questions – University of Copenhagen

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Highlights from the Collection:
Oracle questions

Private individuals who had questions they found difficult or impossible to decide could approach gods and leave the matter in their hands. Typically this was done by presenting two short questions in writing before the god during a procession, one question being the antithesis of the other, and then asking for the correct one to be 'brought out', i.e. to brought back to the petitioner.

Ten oracle questions have been identified in the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection; nine written in Demotic from the temple of Soknebtunis in Tebtunis and dating to the 2nd century BC (P. Carlsberg 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 428, 429, 481) and one written in Greek and adressed to the god Harpsenesis dating to the 1st century AD (P. Carlsberg 24).

P. Carlsberg 24: 'Lord Harpsenesis, we beg you! If he is to die, bring out this (piece) and work on our side' (translation after Bülow-Jacobsen, ZPE 57, p. 91).

P. Carlsberg 17: 'If Haryothes (...) is the one who has stolen the things, let this letter be brought out.' (translation after Zauzich, The Carlsberg Papyri 3, p. 4).

Illustration of size: The Demotic P. Carlsberg 16

The Greek P. Carlsberg 24

The Demotic P. Carlsberg 17