Abstract: this article examines the ancient tradition about the so-called «fountain of Zeus» in Dodona. Some Latin authors, starting from the 1st century BC, mention a miraculous spring with ice-cold water in Dodona: the water of that spring could supposedly light the torches; it did not flow constantly, which is why the spring always became dry by noon-time and was filled up again by mid-night. This spring was not mentioned by any of the Ancient Greek authors, and it was not connected by the Roman authors, who wrote before Pliny, either with Zeus or with his oracle at Dodona. However, Pliny’s short phrase «…in dodone iovis fons…», written in the second half of the 1st century AD, was interpreted, perhaps, already in Ancient time, as indication of that the miraculous spring belonged to Zeus. Based on this phrase, the idea gradually emerged that the water of this spring had mantic powers and that Zeus prophesied in Dodona through the spring murmur. This idea was most vividly expressed by the Late Roman author Servius. In modern scientific literature, the idea of the «prophetic spring of Zeus in Dodona» is generally accepted as a fact and is used to interpret the nature of the oracle of Zeus in Dodona. The article shows that, in reality, the Latin texts do not indicate a connection between the Dodonean spring and the oracle of Zeus at Dodona, and that the phrase of Pliny should be understood only as information about the existence in Dodona of a spring with unusual water, not associated with the oracle.
Keywords: Dodona, sanctuary of Zeus in Dodona, oracle of Zeus in Dodona, sacred spring in Dodona, ancient tradition about Dodona