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Consulting the Oracle

An oracle is priest or priestess who acts as a medium to give advice or prophecies from the gods. The word “oracle” comes from the Latin verb ōrāre, meaning “to speak” and refers to the priest or priestess uttering the gods’ words.

The oracle's powers were highly sought after and never doubted. Any inconsistencies between prophecies and events were dismissed as a failure to interpret the oracle’s words correctly, not as the oracle’s error. Very often, however, the prophecies were worded ambiguously so as to cover all contingencies.

In “Believing is Seeing”, a short story in The Deadliest Deceptions, Miriam is so baffled by the death of the sailor that she toys with the housemaid’s explanation that the sailor’s room was cursed. Phoebe, despite knowing how rational Miriam is, almost believes her friend:

“Oh, Miriam, did you really think the room was cursed?”

“Certainly not in the beginning. I was looking for a rational explanation. But as a solution became ever more remote, I too began to wonder about the curse, even to the point of engaging that oracle by the Gate of the Sun.”

Phoebe rubbed her hands together with glee.

“You know the one,” I continued, “the blind cyclops named Polyphemus.”

“Oh, Miriam!”

You won’t need an oracle to find out whether Miriam or Phoebe solved all the cases in The Deadliest Deceptions. They didn’t. They too failed to interpret the evidence correctly. All the more reason they need your help. So, stop what you’re doing and click here.


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