The “Oracle of the Dead” at Ancient Tainaron: Reconsidering the Literary and Archaeological Evidence

by Chelsea A. M. Gardner

Hesperia, Volume 90, Issue 2
Page(s): 339-358
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/hesperia.90.2.0339
Year: 2021


The site of ancient Tainaron has long been associated with the entrance to the underworld and the consultation of souls at an “oracle of the dead.” While Tainaron's role as a passageway to Hades is well represented in ancient literature, its function as an oracle of the dead is only ever alluded to by Plutarch (Moralia 560e). This article shows that a misreading of ancient sources has led to this erroneous attribution of Tainaron as a place where souls were consulted in antiquity. Through an examination of the literary and archaeological evidence, this article argues that there is no evidence for any structure or practice related to necromancy at the site of Tainaron.