Four Oracular Consultations (in one film)

These films were developed as a prototype for a larger project to create a Virtual Reality Experience of Consulting the Oracle of Zeus at Dodona, which was funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/T004673/1).

In this film, you, the audience, play the role of the Traveller, accompanying Dionysios, a wealthy man, and Kittos, his slave, on the way to the oracle of Zeus at Dodona.

When you reach the oracle you will meet: Archephon, a farmer; and, of course, two of the priestesses at Dodona. We soon find out what Dionysios wants to ask the oracle–but not from Dionysios… And Kittos, his slave, also reveals that he wants to ask a question…

The three consultants–Dionysios, Kittos, Archephon–receive their answers, and then the priestess has a question for you, the Traveller…

While you’re thinking of your question, we meet Nikokrateia, a wealthy woman who has come to ask about her son’s illness… And then, finally, it’s your turn to consult the oracle…

For an immersive experience follow these viewing instructions. The individual film pages provide some more historical information about each of the characters and their questions. For those studying the oracle, there are some discussion questions below.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Archephon’s question includes information about a previous consultation: what is it and what does it reveal about his use of oracles?
  2. Archephon’s question is about travel: about what other areas of life did people and communities consult oracles? Were there differences between the questions asked by communities and the questions about by individuals?
  3. Archephon’s question is about the future; but Dionysios’s question is about the present. What does this indicate about the role of oracles in daily life?
  4. Kittos wants to ask the oracle about his chance of freedom. What kind of life did a slave have, and what kind of future could he look forward to? Are you surprised to find a slave asking a question at an oracle like this?
  5. From the structure of the questions you have studied so far, is it possible to tell what kinds of answers the oracle probably gave to visitors?
  6. Why were the answers from oracles so significant to those who received them?
  7. How is Nikokrateia’s question different from those we have examined so far?
  8. What kind of question would you like to ask an oracle?


Film Credits:

Nikokrateia: Catt Hurman

Priestess 1: Aniqah Rawat

Priestess 2: Eleanor Fulford

Scripted by: Riley Nicholas with Esther Eidinow

Directed by: Jimmy Hay

Filmed and edited by: Orange Vision Productions

Produced by: Kirsten Cater, Esther Eidinow, Jimmy Hay, David Jones, Talhah Nesar

From an idea by Esther Eidinow. Funded by The Leverhulme Trust.


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