What Was a Prophet in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, a prophet was a person who claimed to have the ability to communicate with the gods and predict future events. These individuals were highly respected and sought after for their insight and wisdom.

The Role of Prophets in Ancient Greece
Prophets played an important role in ancient Greek society. They were consulted by individuals, cities, and even armies before making important decisions. Prophets were believed to have a direct line of communication with the gods and could provide guidance on a range of issues, from personal matters to matters of state.

The Process of Divination
The most common method used by prophets to communicate with the gods was through divination. Divination involved interpreting signs or omens from the natural world. For example, a prophet might interpret the flight patterns of birds or the behavior of animals as indications of the gods’ will.

Types of Prophets

There were several types of prophets in ancient Greece, each with their own unique role and methods.


Oracles were prophets who delivered messages from the gods in response to specific questions or requests. The most famous oracle in ancient Greece was located at Delphi, where people would travel from all over Greece to seek advice.


Sibyls were female prophets who delivered prophetic messages in verse. They were often associated with particular regions or cities and were highly respected for their poetic abilities.


Augurs were prophets who interpreted the will of the gods through observing natural phenomena such as thunder or lightning strikes. They would then use these observations to make predictions about future events.

  • Fun Fact: The word “augur” comes from the Latin word “augurium,” which means “interpretation of omens.”

The End of Prophets in Ancient Greece

As the influence of philosophy and science grew in ancient Greece, the role of prophets began to diminish. Many of the methods used by prophets were seen as superstitious and unscientific, making them less credible in the eyes of the public.

Today, the role of a prophet has largely been replaced by that of a religious leader or spiritual guide. However, the legacy and impact of ancient Greek prophets can still be felt today in many aspects of Western culture.