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Why the Oracles are Silent

It happened near Páxos

Copy of Plutarch at Chaeronia, Greece

Plutarch, in his essay Why the Oracles Are Silent, recounts an incident of great moment that took place here at the beginning of the 1st century AD during the reign of Tiberius.

A ship was sailing from Asia Minor to Italy, and as it passed Páxos, all the passengers heard a loud voice from the island calling out the name of Thamus, the ship’s Egyptian pilot. The voice commanded him: ‘When the ship comes opposite Palodes, tell them the Great God Pan is dead.’

Thamus did so at the designated spot, and great cries of lamentation arose, as if from a multitude of people. This strange story went around the world, and even came to the attention of Emperor Tiberius, who appointed a commission of scholars to decide what it might mean.

What they determined was never entirely disclosed, but any astronomer, mythographer or priest (as Plutarch was) would have been aware that times, as measured on the great dial of the firmament, were changing – a new World Age was at hand.

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Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Krishnavedala, Creative Commons License, Odysses