Reading the Liver 978-3-16-153891-9 - Mohr Siebeck
Classics

William Furley / Victor Gysembergh

Reading the Liver

Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy

[Die Leber deuten. Papyrologische Texte zu antiker griechischer Eingeweideschau.]

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William Furley and Victor Gysembergh present a study of ancient Greek extispicy (a form of prophecy by consulting animal entrails) based on the remains of ancient technical manuals on the subject. The aim is to study the papyrological texts in detail for their meaning and to relate this to similar practices in other parts of the ancient world.
William Furley and Victor Gysembergh bring together in a new edition the papyrus fragments of ancient Greek manuals of extispicy, that is, the inspection of animal entrails to predict the future. From art and literature we already know that the practice was important throughout the historical period in military and civic life, representing a widespread and respected way of taking the omens before embarking on any venture. Now, for the first time, the papyrological texts relating to this branch of the ancient mantic art have been collected, reedited and interpreted. The results show a refined and arcane art relating to the parts and appearance of the sheep's liver expressed in a symbolic language all its own. In particular the authors examine the question of the degree to which this Greek pseudo-science derives from Mesopotamian extispicy, as has often been claimed.
Authors/Editors

William Furley Born 1953; 1979 PhD; since 2003 Associate Professor of Classics, University of Heidelberg; Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Classical Studies (School of Advanced Studies), London.

Victor Gysembergh Born 1987; former student of the École Normale Supérieure (Paris), Agrégation de Lettres Classiques; MA in Assyriology from the University of Heidelberg; currently PhD at the University of Reims.

Reviews

The following reviews are known:

In: Aula Orientalis — 34 (2016), S. 199–200 (Montserrat Camps Gaset)
In: Bryn Mawr Classical Review — http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/08/20150838.html (L. Bouke van der Meer)
In: Bibliotheca Orientalis — 73 (2016), S. 717–721 (Magali de Haro Sanchez)