Why does anyone listen to prophecy?

Going back to the beginnings of fiction, hell myth, prophecies end up fucking people over. If you don’t end up creating a self fulfilling one by trying to avoid the prophecy, you’ll end up fulfilling it but die in the process or get fracked some other way.

I mean seriously even a kid could see the problem with “your best friend will betray you” and then deciding to alienate and treat said friend like crap.

Or you misinterpret it, or read it wrong. Oh who would have guessed that peace on earth meant the extinction of humanity?!

Seriously everyone in fiction should just ignore prophecy, if they had a single brain cell. You can’t win, there needs to be a fictionland intervention.:stuck_out_tongue:

It really did a number on Oedipus, that’s for sure.

The problem solving prophecies in fiction & myth actually are useful more often or not; “do X, Y and Z to find the Chosen One and topple the evil tyrant” and so on. It’s the ones that are a warning or outright premonitions of doom that screw you over almost universally.

The most famous single prophecy is probably the one obtained from the Oracle at Delphi about Athens being saved by “wooden walls”.

Back in Athens, some folks thought the “wooden walls” referred to the wall around the Acropolis, and they holed up there - those guys were killed to the last man.

In this case, guessing the “right meaning” allegedly lead to success.

Even prophecies of doom should be heeded. The problem just comes when you try to avert them-- That always leads to disaster. Preparing for the doom to come, while still expecting it to continue on schedule, on the other hand, is prudent.

Good Omens, by Pratchett and Gaiman, has a character named Agnes Nutter who’s a prophet. Everything she predicted turned out to be true, but her prophecies were more mundane and lacked imaginative flair, and therefore didn’t attract notice. In one prophecy, she chides someone who scoffs at her while reading it in the future.

She knew she was going to be burned at the stake, so she stuffed her petticoats with gunpowder and nails that exploded and killed everyone at the auto da fe.

Your best bet dealing with prophecy in fiction is to kill the prophet immediately.

“Don’t buy Betamax!”

Cause the Bible says so. Helluva lot of prophecies in that book.

It should be noted that the Biblical sense of “prophecy” is “something that God wants you to hear”. It might be a prediction of a future event, but it might also be “You guys right here and now are screwing up, and had best get your act together”.

If you ignore the prophecy, it will come true nonetheless.

I once wrote a story where the seer edited the prophecy after everything was done to make it seem like it came true. Since only the seer and the protagonist knew the prophecy, it worked.