ABSTRACT

This essay examines the practice and theatrical representation of augury, or divination by birds, in ancient Greece. It analyzes depictions of augury in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, Sophocles’s Theban cycle, and Aristophanes’s The Birds, among other plays, and asserts that birds’ unique relationship with—and close proximity to—the gods afford them meaningful insights that humans would do well to heed. The work ultimately invites contemporary readers to see value in the messages gleaned from birds’ flight, sounds, and movements, and argues that humans who discredit and dismiss the knowledge of birds often face catastrophic outcomes, as demonstrated by so many of the characters in these plays.

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