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/ Department of History

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Expert in: History of gardens

BONNECHERE, Pierre

Professeur titulaire

My main interests have to do with the religion and mentalities of ancient Greece, in the Mediterranean world. I am interested in particular in means of communication between humans and gods, be it through animal sacrifices and the mythical corollary of human sacrifice, or through divination, i.e. ways of determining divine will. The physical context of rituals is also worth studying, in particular sacred woods and their imaginary aspects.

One of my projects is an extensive synthesis on the subject of Greek divination, since the previous one dates to 1879-1882. The Greeks were great believers in divination, and hence there are traces (some major, some minor) of this practice in such areas as politics, philosophy, war, medicine, poetry and religious rituals. Most of the students completing their MA or PhD degrees under my supervision opt (freely!) to study this especially fascinating theme, which incidentally bears some relationship to the current resurgence in superstition, reaching all the way to the political sphere. The theme studied, in recent years, concerns the gap between the literary image of oracles, with their supposedly omnipresent influence in high-level politics, and the epigraphic image that flatly contradicts it. This means reconsidering a large span of Greek history. The use of documents is quite difficult, but is a powerful intellectual and professional training tool. At the same time, I and my team are assembling a database of all the oracles' predictions ever given in the Greek world, which is sure to be very useful in the study of divination.

Through religion and mentalities, I have also looked at the theme of garden history in general, but with an emphasis on antiquity.

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