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E01000: Two Coptic oracle questions, representative of more than 200 similar examples, concerning remedies for healing, addressed through *Kollouthos (physician and martyr of Antinoopolis, S00641) and found at his burial shrine in the northern necropolis of Antinoopolis (Middle Egypt), dated to the 6th/7th century.

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posted on 17.12.2015, 00:00 by gschenke
Currently, more than 200 such oracle questions posed through Kollouthos have been found at the burial shrine of the patron saint of Antinoopolis. Here are two of the published examples:

A. Delattre, "Textes coptes et grecs d’Antinoé," in: R. Pintaudi (ed.), Antinoupolis I (Florence, 2008), p. 153, pl. VIII on p. 162:

+ ⲡⲛ̣ⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛ-
ⲫⲁ[ⲅ]ⲟ̣ⲥ ⲕⲟ̣ⲗ-
ⲗⲟⲩⲑ̣ⲟⲥ ⲉϣⲱ̣-
4 ⲡⲉ ⲡⲉⲕⲟⲩ-
ⲱϣ ⲡⲉ ⲧⲁⲥⲱ
ⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲁⲣⲉ
ⲧⲁ ⲉⲓ ⲛⲁ ⲉ-
8 ϩⲣⲁ

'God of saint Kollouthos, if it is your wish that I drink water, may this (piece of writing) come back to me.'


Delattre, "Textes coptes et grecs d’Antinoé," p. 152, pl. VIII on p. 162:

+ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲡⲁϫⲟⲉ̣ⲓⲥ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓ-
ⲟⲥ ⲕⲟⲗⲗⲟⲩⲑ̣ⲟⲥ ⲡⲥⲁⲉⲓⲛ ⲉⲙⲉ
ⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲕⲉⲗⲉⲩⲉ ⲧⲉ ⲡ̣ⲕϩⲙ-
4 ϩⲁⲗ ⲣⲟⲩⲫⲟⲥ ϫⲱⲕⲙ ⲉ-
ⲡⲟⲟⲩ ϩⲓ ⲧⲥⲓⲟⲩⲉⲛ ⲕ̣ⲁⲛⲓ
ⲡ̣ⲥⲩⲙ̣ⲫⲩⲣⲟⲛ ⲛⲁ̣ⲓ̣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ +

'God of my lord saint Kollouthos, the true physician, if you demand that your servant Rufus washes today in the healing bath, bring the appropriate piece back to me.'

(Translations: Gesa Schenke)

History

Evidence ID

E01000

Saint Name

Kollouthos, physician from Antinoopolis (Middle Egypt), ob. early 4th cent. : S00641

Saint Name in Source

ⲕⲟⲗⲗⲟⲩⲑⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Divinatory texts and oracle questions

Language

Coptic

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

699

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

699

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antinoopolis

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Antinoopolis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - secondary installation (fountain, pilgrims’ hostel)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Magic

Source

The two papyrus documents measure 7.8 x 4.6 cm and 4.5 x 6.9 cm respectively and were found at the northern necropolis of Antinoopolis on 23 January and 9 February 2006. Most of these oracle questions found are written in Coptic, only a few are in Greek. They are dated palaeographically to the 6th-8th century.

Discussion

These examples are two of more than 200 oracle questions seeking the help of Kollouthos at his shrine in Antinoopolis. Answers to such oracle questions were obtained by phrasing two opposite statements as answers to the same question. Both would then be handed into the shrine, but only one of them would be brought back out to the petitioner. The version received back was then considered to be the answer to the question and the correct way to proceed. Thus it is to be assumed that these two texts were once each accompanied by a sister piece when handed into the saint’s shrine, most likely reading: 'God of saint Kollouthos, if it is NOT your wish that I drink water, may this (piece of writing) come back to me', and 'God of my lord saint Kollouthos, the true physician, if you DO NOT demand that your servant Rufus washes today in the healing bath, bring the appropriate piece back to me'. The fact that these two oracle questioned were found inside the burial shrine suggests that the two petitioners had each received the opposite/negative statements back, and therefore neither drank the healing water, nor washed in the healing bath. They may instead have sought some other remedy, such as dream-incubation well documented at this shrine. For Coptic oracle questions to other saints see also E00347

Bibliography

A. Delattre, "L’oracle de Kollouthos à Antinoé. Nouvelles perspectives," in: Oracoli, visioni, profezie. L’Egitto da Alessandro il Grande all’Alto Medioevo. Oracles, Visions, Prophecies. Egypt from Alexander the Great to the Early Middle Ages (Studi e materiali di storia delle religioni 79/1; Rome, 2013), 123–133. A. Delattre, "Nouveaux textes coptes d’Antinoe," in: Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth International Congress of Papyrology, Ann Arbor 2007 (American Studies in Papyrology; Ann Arbor, 2010), 171–174, esp. 172f. A. Delattre,"‘Textes coptes et grecs d’Antinoé," in: R. Pintaudi (ed.), Antinoupolis I (Florence, 2008), 131–162, esp. 152–154 with images on p. 162 (Pl. VIII.9 und 10). S. Donadoni, "Due testi oracolari copti," in: A. Guarino und L. Labruna (eds.), Synteleia V. Arangio Ruiz (Naples, 1964), 286–289. S. Donadoni, "Una domanda oracolare cristiana da Antinoe," Rivista Studi Orientali 29 (1954), 183–186. D. Minutoli, "Recupero e restauro dei papiri nelle campagne di scavo 2003– 2007 ad Antinoe," in: Antinoupolis I, 75–99, esp. 76–88. L. Papini, "Biglietti oracolari in copto dalla Necropoli Nord di Antinoe," in: T. Orlandi and F. Wisse (eds.), Acts of the Second International Congress of Coptic Studies, Rom 22.–26. September 1980 (Rome, 1985), 245–255 (PSI Congr. XVII 20–21).

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