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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Onomacritus (c. 530 - 480 BCE), also known as Onomacritos or Onomakritos, was a Greek chresmologue, or compiler of oracles, who lived at the court of the tyrant Pisistratus in Athens. He is said to have prepared an edition of the Homeric poems, and was an industrious collector, as well as a forger of old oracles and poems.

According to Herodotus

Herodotus reports that Onomacritus was hired by Pisistratus to compile the oracles of Musaeus, but that Onomacritus inserted forgeries of his own that were detected by Lasus of Hermione. As a result, Onomacritus was banished from Athens by Pisistratus' son Hipparchus. After the flight of the Pisistratids to Persia, Onomacritus was reconciled with them. According to Herodotus, Onomacritus induced Xerxes I, the King of Persia, by his oracular responses, to decide upon his war with Greece.

According to Pausanias

Pausanias attributes to Onomacritus certain poems forged under the name of Musaeus (1.22.7). In explaining the presence of the Titan Anytos at Lycosura, he says that "Onomacritos took the name of the Titans from Homer and composed orgies for Dionysus and made the Titans the actual agents in the sufferings of Dionysos" (Pausanias 8.37.5). Therefore, Onomacritos is responsible for inventing an important aspect of the mythology concerning the Titans.


  • Herodotus 7.6;
  • Pausanias 1.22.7, 8.37.5
  • Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, by Harry Thurston Peck. New York. Harper and Brothers, 1898.
  • Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, by Jane Ellen Harrison, Cambridge, 1903.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ONOMACRITUS (c. 530-480 B.C.), seer, priest and poet of Attica. His importance lies in his connexion with the religious movements in Attica during the 6th century B.C. He had great influence on the development of the Orphic religion and mysteries, and was said to have composed a poem on initiatory rites. The works of Musaeus, the legendary founder of Orphism in Attica, are said to have been reduced to order (if not actually written) by him (Clem. Alex. Stromata, i. p. 143 [397]; Pausanias i. 22, 7). He was in high favour at the court of the Peisistratidae till he was banished by Hipparchus for making additions of his own in an oracle of Musaeus. When the Peisistratidae were themselves expelled and were living in Persia, he furnished them with oracles encouraging Xerxes to invade Greece and restore the tyrants in Athens (Herodotus vii. 6). He is also said to have been employed by Peisistratus in editing the Homeric poems, and to have introduced interpolations of his own (e.g. a passage in the episode of the visit of Odysseus to the world below). According to Pausanias (viii. 31, 3; 37, 5; ix. 35, 5) he was also the author of poems on mythological subjects.

See F. W. Ritschl, "Onomakritos von Athen," in his Opuscula, (1866), and p. 35 of the same volume; U. von Wilamowitz-Mi llendorff, "Homerische Untersuchungen" (pp. 199-226 on the Orphic interpolation in Odyssey, X 566-631), in. Kiessling-Mullendorff, Philologische Untersuchungen, Heft 7 (1884).

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