Apuleius on divination: Platonic daimonology and child-divination

Leonardo Costantini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

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The first part of this chapter presents a discussion of Apuleius’ theoretical views on divination and the intermediary role of daimones according to his Platonic views, as attested in On the god of Socrates. The second part of the chapter offers an analysis of the set of beliefs underlying Apologia 43.3-5, a passage where Apuleius describes two types of divinatory rituals in which a child is used as a medium. The following terminology is introduced to describe these types of practices as “active” or “passive child-divination”. The former refers to divinatory rituals in which the medium’s daimonic soul abandons the body and then retells what has been contemplated while dwelling in the extra-corporeal realm; the latter describes rituals in which the medium is temporarily possessed by a divine daimonic being, delivering the oracle. This chapter reveals how Apuleius conceives knowledge and divination as two interdependent systems, and also casts more light on these divinatory practices, showing the circulation of comparable ideas among Platonists, theurgists, and practitioners of magic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDivination and Knowledge in Greco-Roman Antiquity
EditorsCrystal Addey
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781315449470
ISBN (Print)9781138212992
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2021


  • Apuleius
  • Ancient religion
  • demonology
  • divination
  • Platonism


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