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Peri palmon mantike (Divination by twitches)
Egypt, 4th century AD Greek Papyrus 28
This manuscript is composed of four papyrus sheets, each with four pages of text (two on each side). The four sheets were put one on top of the other, folded and then stitched together. There are remains of sewing thread on some sheets.
The subject of the book is prognostications to be derived from involuntary movement (quivering or twitching) of various parts of the body. That such movements portended certain events was a popular belief which finds expression in both Greek and Latin classical literature. The various members of the body are taken one after the other, starting from the head downwards, and the omens associated with their movement are concisely enumerated. After the prognostications, directions are given to pray to or propitiate appropriate divinities.