The term ‘miracle’ is often used today to talk about a variety of things: a piece of good luck when a lost item turns up, an unexpected cure to a terminal illness, or an unlikely win for a sports team. However, miracles in their original sense are monumental occurrences which justifiably take their place in the records of history.
We can read about examples of miracles in the texts and holy writings of almost all of the major world religions, as well as in philosophy and history. This simple fact reminds us just how connected we all are, no matter how different we may appear to each other.
In that spirit, we have compiled some miracles about miracles in many of these sacred and historical texts, so that we can explore the impact that these have had on their contemporary cultures all the way up to the modern day.
Below, you'll find quotes and references to miracles in The Bible, The Sutras, The Quran, writings from the Ancient Greeks, scribings in the Torah, and even the Tao Te Ching.
- Tao Te Ching
- Egyption Book of the Dead
- Bhagavad Gita
- Epic of Gilgamesh
- The Iliad
- Works of Plato
Miracle References and Quotes in The Tao Te Ching
The ancient Tao Te Ching has influenced and inspired many aspects of Taoism, and philosophy, art and religion originating from China. As with some of the other religious texts, it talks about the origin and creation of the universe as a miraculous entity and the doorway to further miracles.
One of the guiding principles is that the self-guided release from worldly passions and ambitions allows the mind and spirit to reach the next level of existence.
This is a look at miracles and the miraculous from a slightly different angle to the holy scriptures of The Bible and the Quran, for example, but its overarching theme of there being miraculous entities remains the same.
Here are a few quotes which captures the essence of what Tao Te Ching has to say about creation and the miraculous:
"One cannot cognize Tao* only by speaking about It. One cannot name by a human name that Origin of the sky and the earth Which is the Mother of everything.
"Only those who are free from worldly passions can see It, and those who have such passions can see only Its Creation.
"Tao and Its Creation are One in essence, though They are called by different names. The passage which exists between Them is a doorway to all that is miraculous." (Source)
The above quote speaks to how we can create miracles. The following one tells us exactly how we block them:
"From Tao originates calm, harmony, and justice. Yet, among people, there is selfishness, guile, falsity, and violence. One can enter Tao only through non-doing.
When people aspire to accumulation of a multitude of unnecessary things, they become poor spiritually. When they produce too many weapons, then robbery and disorder unavoidably arise.
"When crafty masters direct all their efforts at creating material valuables, then miraculous phenomena cease to happen in such a country.
"When laws and repressions become too strict, then the number of unsatisfied people and the opposition grow. This is why the wise abandon vanity and let everything happen by itself. (Source)
Miracle References and Quotes in The Bible
Some of the most well-known miracles still in common reference today are those performed by Jesus in the Bible, such as walking on water and turning water into wine.
However, the Bible contains many more references to miracles and miraculous events in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. These are often referred to in multiples, suggesting that miracles happened plentifully in those times, and were witnessed or talked about by a great many people.
The miracles referred to in this Christian holy text extend beyond those directly carried out by Jesus or God. In fact, they include normal men and women who were moved by God to carry out miraculous or supernatural acts which went beyond the known laws of nature, usually with a benefit for the recipient or observers.
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9)
“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them” (Nehemiah 9:17)
“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” (1 Chronicles 16:12)
"When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake." (Exodus 7:9)
"Miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea." (Psalm 106:22)
"Jesus said to them, 'I did one miracle, and you are all amazed.' (John 7:21)
"Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." (Acts 2:22)
"Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw." (Acts 8:13)
"God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them." (Acts 19:11-12)
"Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’" (Matthew 7:22)
"Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent." (Matthew 11:20)
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes" (Matthew: 11:21)
"And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day" (Matthew 11:23)
"And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." (Matthew 13:58)
"When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. 'Where did this man get these things?' they asked. 'What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?'" (Mark 6:2)
"He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them." (Mark 6:5)
"When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen." (Luke 19:37)
Miracle References and Quotes in The Sutras
The sutras or ‘suttas’ (canonical scriptures) originating from religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism contain many references to miracles and miraculous events in their aphorisms and prosaic texts covering the teachings of the Buddha.
These include such occurrences as the Buddha transforming the cosmos, understanding the minds of individuals, and showing his special status through performing acts which defied belief. In these texts, the Buddha comes across as very much in favor of miracles, seeing them as a wonderful act.
Here are some examples from the texts...
"The miracle of the parasols almost immediately undergoes a further mutation which seems to remove any doubt as to the Buddha's complete control over it. With a touch of his toe to the ground the Buddha transforms the cosmos into a matrix of jewels, wherein each beholder perceives himself to be seated on a jewelled throne." (Source)
"Buddha Shakyamuni, since he was Enlightened, could teach those who sought his advice on the basis of their own individual capacity. He had full awareness of each and every individual's mental inclination toward one way of practice or another. He was able to teach in many unusual ways such as performing miracles for those who would benefit from it. Because of his heightened capacity to perceive the state of mind of any given individual, he was able to give advice suited to that particular person or being. It is said that not only human beings sought his instructions but also non-human beings." (Source)
"But as the sutta shows, even the Buddha's description of these teachings was not enough to win over Baka or the members of his following. They were convinced only when the Buddha then performed a feat of psychic power that (1) even Baka could not fathom and (2) illustrated the Buddha's major point. Up to then, in identifying Mara and the range of Baka's power, the Buddha was in effect saying, "I see you, but you don't see me." With his display of psychic power, in which brahma and his following could not see him but could hear his voice, he demonstrated his point in such graphic terms that Baka and his following were immediately won over." (Source)
“At this vision of the magnificent miracle effected by the supernatural power of the Lord Buddha, the entire host was extremely astonished, delighted, satisfied, and filled with pleasure. They all bowed down to the Tathagata, withdrew to one side with their palms pressed together, and gazed upon him." (Source)
"When once the Will is awakened, it can never again be put to sleep. When once the connection is formed between the apex of a man's true nature and its foundation in the realm of matter, that connection cannot, ordinarily, cease to exist. It is by the power of the Atman, the Godhead within, that he achieves what would otherwise be a seeming miracle." (Source)
Miracle References and Quotes in The Quran and the Hadith
The Quran and the Hadith refer in many places to God’s power to perform miracles. They talk about how miracles come only from God, and how past generations reacted to miracles.
There is some overlap also with certain miraculous events from the Bible, suggesting that these supernatural occurrences from history were recorded in multiple sources and retain importance across cultures and religions to this day.
"When we abrogate any miracle, or cause it to be forgotten, we produce a better miracle, or at least an equal one. Do you not recognize the fact that God is Omnipotent?" (2:106)
"Those who possess no knowledge say,'"If only God could speak to us, or some miracle could come to us!' Others before them have uttered similar utterances; their minds are similar. We do manifest the miracles for those who have attained certainty." (2:118)
"When our miracles were presented to them, clear and profound, they said, 'This is obviously magic.'" (27:13)
"We gave Moses the scripture, and subsequent to him we sent other messengers, and we gave Jesus, son of Mary, profound miracles and supported him with the Holy Spirit. Is it not a fact that every time a messenger went to you with anything you disliked, your ego caused you to be arrogant? Some of them you rejected, and some of them you killed." (2:87)"If their rejection gets to be too much for you, you should know that even if you dug a tunnel through the earth, or climbed a ladder into the sky, and produced a miracle for them (they still would not believe). Had God willed, He could have guided them, unanimously. Therefore, do not behave like the ignorant ones." (6:35)
"They swore by God, solemnly, that if a miracle came to them, they would surely believe. Say, 'Miracles come only from God.' For all you know, if a miracle did come to them, they would continue to disbelieve." (6:109)
"Even if we sent down the angels to them; even if the dead spoke to them; even if we summoned every miracle before them; they cannot believe unless God wills it. Indeed, most of them are ignorant." (6:111)
"If you do not produce a miracle that they demand, they say, 'Why not ask for it?' Say, 'I simply follow what is revealed to me from my Lord.' These are enlightenments from your Lord, and guidance, and mercy for people who believe." (7:203)
"They say, 'How come no miracle came down to him from his Lord?' Say, 'The future belongs to God; so wait, and I am waiting along with you.'" (10:20)
"Those who disbelieved say, 'If only a miracle could come down to him from his Lord (we will then believe).' You are simply a warner - every community receives a guiding teacher." (13)
"We have sent messengers before you (O Rashad), and we made them husbands with wives and children. No messenger can produce a miracle without God's authorization, and in accordance with a specific, predetermined time." (13:38)
"What stopped us from sending the miracles is that the previous generations have rejected them. For example, we showed Thamoud the camel, a profound (miracle), but they transgressed against it. We sent the miracles only to instill reverence." (17:59)
"We supported Moses with nine profound miracles - ask the Children of Israel. When he went to them, Pharaoh said to him, "'I think that you, Moses, are bewitched.'" (17:101)
"Nothing prevented the people from believing, when the guidance came to them, and from seeking the forgiveness of their Lord, except that they demanded to see the same (kind of miracles) as the previous generations, or challenged to see the retribution beforehand." (18:55)
Miracle References and Quotes in The Vedas
The ancient Hindu scriptures of the Vedas, in their original Sanskrit, discuss miraculous topics of epic proportions, such as the nature of the universe, space and time, and the creation of the world.
These are miracles of existence as opposed to the one-off miraculous acts performed by individuals in holy texts such as The Bible and the Quran.
The concept of the universe as being a projection in space-time is mentioned here:
“A full pot has been placed in time and it is that which we see manifoldly." (Atharva Veda 19.53.3)
Also, in the Dakshinamurty stotram composed by Adi Shankara, he states:
“This world is like a sprout of a seed within which transforms what is changeless state before, appear again as space and time, and endless varieties of pictures over it; all due to the creation of maya or miracle.” (Atharva Veda 19.53.3)
"He made this Earth fixed by different devices like hills and mountains in the shape of pegs but it still rotates. The sun never sets; all parts of earth are not in darkness." (Source)
"The beginning of the world was conceived like the spring of nature; one miracle was explained by another." (Source)
Miracle References and Quotes in The Torah
The Torah, sacred to Jews, and covering the first five books of Moses, discusses miracles in many places, familiar to the proponents of Judaism. An interesting aspect of the reference to miracles in these sacred texts, is that they are often discussed as a concept, such as their unpredictability or the inability of those undergoing a miracle to recognize this fact.
There is also discussion on the relative strength or benefit of miracles - a kind of miracle ranking system, as it were - and some wise warnings around not relying on miracles as a way of being saved, or hoping for them. This aspect of rarity and surprise is an important feature of miracles across many of the religious texts which refer to them.
Here are just some of the references to miracles and pieces of advice given in the Torah:
"The one to whom the miracle is happening does not recognize the miracle." (Source)
"Never expose yourself unnecessarily to danger; a miracle may not save you...and if it does, it will be deducted from your share of luck or merit." (Source)
"We thank You…. for Your miracles that are with us each day; and for Your wonders and favors in very season – evening, morning, and afternoon." (Source)
"Rabbi Alexandri said in the name of Rabbi Hiya bar Abba, the miracle that is done to cure an ill person is greater than the miracle that was done for Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (who survived when Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace). That of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah involved regular fire, which all could extinguish; but that of an ill person involves Heavenly fire, and who is able to extinguish that?” (Source)
"Hope for a miracle—but don’t depend on one." (Source)
Miracle References and Quotes in the Egyptian Book of the Dead
It is interesting that the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ designed to provide prayers or spells in funerals to guide the dead through their journey into the underworld, discusses miracles.
The end of one life and the start of the next is, by its very nature, beyond the ordinary and full of miraculous occurrences, as is the healing of the sick and the feeding of the masses with little food.
It’s in this context that miracles and ‘magic’ are linked together, and some scholars and historians interested in Ancient Egypt have connected the miracle references in the Book of the Dead to accounts of miracles in the Bible.
Read on for some examples of how some think these are connected, and why this text is relevant when looking at the historical and cultural story of miracles.
"I am one with Atum when he still floated alone in Nun, the waters of chaos, before any of his strength had gone into creating the cosmos. I am Atum at his most inexhaustible - the potence and potential of all that is to be. This is my magic protection and it's older and greater than all the gods together!" (Source)
"Amun Ra had a very similar pattern to Jesus Christ according to the book named 'The Book of Dead.' It is the holy book of Egyptian history. His mother’s name was Meri, while his father’s name was Joseph. The birth of Ra was predicted because of a comet/star. When he was born, the shepherds and farmers witnessed his birth. The Egyptian King Herut tried to kill him for plaguing the minds of people about the one true God. When Ra turned thirty, he decided to get baptized. The person who baptized him had his head cut-off. He was followed by 12 disciples, and, since he is considered the son of the Sun god, the 12 disciples were the 12 zodiac signs. Amazingly, he also performed miracles, and walked on water like Christ. Ra was also crucified like Christ. He was buried in a tomb, and was resurrected in three days. He also performed a 'sermon on the mount' like Jesus. (Source)"It should be surmised that the raising of Osiris, the god in matter was individual, but, at the same time, the resurrection of the dead in Osiris who were the 'All Souls' for the year or cycle was more general. The supreme miracle of 'raising the dead' suffices of itself to show that it belonged to the mysteries of Amenta, as asserted in the “Pistis Sophia”, where the dead were raised; evil spirits were cast out, the blind were made to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, the bed-ridden to get up and go, not by miracle but as a dramatic mode of illustrating the mysteries of the resurrection in the Peri em hru or coming forth to day.
"It is noticeable that the miracles of healing on the mount described in Matthew (XV. 29-31), are immediately followed by the miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes. There is no change of scene, the multitude upon the mount remain the same. And Jesus called unto Him His disciples, and said 'I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I would not send them away fasting.' Thus three days are allotted to the work of healing in the mount, during which time the multitude were fasting in the company of Jesus and his disciples.
"In the Ritual these are not only the fasting, they are also deprived of breath. They are without a mouth. They are the blind, the dumb, the motionless, in short, they are the deceased awaiting in their coffins and their cells for him who is the resurrection and the life, as the divine healer and deliverer of the manes from Amenta; he is the “divine one who dwelleth in heaven, and who sitteth on the eastern side of heaven” (Rit., ch. 25) that is on Mount Bakhu, the mount of the olive-tree, the only mount on which the dead were ever raised (P. S., B. 2, 279).
"This healing then was a mystery of the resurrection, the same in the canonical as [Page 814] in the Egypto-gnostic Gospel; the same as in the Book of the Dead, or Ritual of the resurrection. Three days was the length of time allowed for the burial in Amenta. This would constitute three days’ fasting of the dead. We must discriminate. In the lunar reckoning the resurrection of Osiris in the moon was on the third day, which corresponded to the actual appearance of the light in nature. This death, described by Plutarch, occurred on the seventeenth of the month. In the solar reckoning three whole days and nights were allowed for the burial of the sun or sun-god in the earth. Both are employed in the Gospels but not scientifically. Neither could the complex of soli-lunar reckoning be explicated in a single line of individual human history." (Source)
Miracle References in the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita, or the Gita, with its 700 verses in Sanskrit, covers miracles performed by Lord Krishna such as lifting mountains and transforming the minds of individuals.
Those familiar with this Hindu text will recall the tales of lengthening robes, all-seeing eyes and the revelation of holiness through the demonstration of miracles - some one-off, and some an all-out demonstration of holiness and power.
Below are some thoughts on the miracles discussed in the Bhagavad Gita and their relative importance and impact:
"Sri Krishna's form, His words, His plays and actions left devotees absorbed in bliss. There is no greater power, no greater miracle, than Krishna's deeds. In fact, Krishna's greatest miracle was not lifting the Govardhana mountain; it was the Bhakti-yoga He created in the hearts of the innocent Gopis. Because, the Gopis were simple, illiterate, village girls who had no exposure to scriptural knowledge. All they had was their innocent love for Krishna. They thought of Krishna as being the only truth, the only eternal companion, their only true wealth, their everything. Their wealth was Krishna, their truth was Krishna, their sole relative was Krishna, their self was Krishna… When they abandoned their husbands and children to follow Krishna, He told them to return to their household duties. The Gopis asked Him then, "We have reached You, to attain whom all the karmas (duties) of the world are performed. So, what significance do our duties have in our lives when we have attained You?" This is the attitude the Gopis had towards Bhagavan Krishna—the attitude of supreme love to God." (Source)
"When Yudhishtra's reign turned out to be exceptionally successful and performance of the sacrifice called Rajasuya by him boosted up his image further more, Duryodhana decided to act. He therefore plotted with his wily uncle Sakuni to defeat Yudhishtira in his favourite game of dice. The game was played in front of Dhrtarashtra, Bhishma, Drona and other elders and Yushishtira suffered a disastrous defeat. As Yudhishtira unwisely played with his kingdom, brothers and their wife as stakes, Duryodhana got his opportunity to insult the Pandavas and destroy their dignified existence once and for all. He went to the extent of disrobing Draupadi in the middle of the large assembly of princes in his palace and in front of his own father, grandfather, preceptors and ministers. Draupadi utterly helpless with nobody coming to her help including her husbands, invoked the help of Krishna. Krishna, the avatara par excellence says the epic, retrieved the situation by magically increasing the length of her robe and Draupadi's honour was saved by this divine miracle." (Source)
"Bhagavan Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, “I shall give you an eye with which you can instantaneously see this great, wonderful joy.” Pasya me yogam aisvaram (11.8): “Look at My glory! Behold this majesty of My yoga, Arjuna. See, I am here! See that which you wanted Me to show you. Look!” Evam uktva tato rajan mahayogesvaro hari?, darsayamasa parthaya parama? rupam aisvaram (11.9). Sanjaya then spoke to Dhritarashtra: “O king! Look at this miracle! Having uttered these words, the great Lord of yoga revealed His majesty.” The Mahayogesvara, Lord Krishna, revealed His eternal form, aishvara rupa—His supreme, deathless form." (Source)"Bhagwan Krishna performed miracles that no other being can perform. Anyone can claim to be God, but who can actually prove it? To protect innocent people from imposters, Arjuna asked Bhagwan Krishna to prove his divinity. Bhagwan Krishna granted Arjuna divine vision and revealed his spectacular unlimited forms as the cosmic universe. Thus he conclusively established his divinity:- 'Arjuna saw in that universal form unlimited mouths, unlimited eyes, unlimited wonderful visions. The form was decorated with many celestial ornaments and bore many diving upraised weapons. He wore celestial garlands and garments, and many divine scents were smeared over his body. All was wondrous, brilliant, unlimited, all expanding. If hundreds of thousands of suns were to rise at once into the sky, their radiance might resemble the effulgence of the supreme person in that universal form.'" (Source)
"Miracles, especially those performed by God, are not against science; they are above science. The Bhagavad-gita (09.10) informs that working under the supervision of Krishna, material nature creates and changes things in an orderly manner. This orderly manner is uncovered by science through its discovery of the laws of nature and their practical application in the form of technology. Science studies matter and its working according to laws – this working is a valid and valuable truth to know." (Source)
Miracle References in the Upanishads
The Sanskrit Hindu scriptures of the Upanishads refer to divine miracles: communication with the divine, understanding of the divine, and any divine act such as ruling over the world, births and deaths. The movement of the divine wheel of creation is attributed to a miracle.
In this way, the Upanishads share the discussion of the universe and the biggest, most fundamental aspects of existence, as miraculous in nature in common with other well-known religious texts from India, Buddhism, Jainism and many of the other major world religions.
Below are just a few mentions of miracles and the miraculous from the Upanishads:
"He that is not easy to be heard of by many,
and even of those that have heard, they are many
who have not known Him,-a miracle is the man
that can speak of Him wisely or is skilful to win Him,
and when one is found, a miracle is the listener who
can know Him even when taught of Him by the knower." (Source)
"He is the great magician—
the miracle maker.
Being single and one.
He, with his over lordship
And miraculous powers rules
Over the whole world.
He is the cause of all births;
He is the cause of all deaths;
Those who know this reach immortality" (Source)
"The wise men speak of the inherent nature, others who are deluded in their minds attribute it to time. But it is because of the divine miracle that the wheel of creation (Brahma wheel) is made to rotate." (Source)
Miracle References in the Epic of Gilgamesh
The ancient Mesopotamian poem The Epic of Gilgamesh isn’t a religious text as such, but is interesting as one of the earliest of all known literary works.
The below summary refers to a ‘miracle plant’ which gives him the gift of immortality. Whether or not this counts as a miracle in the same sense as those referred to in religious texts, is a matter for debate. It may be a fine line between ‘magic’ and ‘miracles’.
However, since gods and goddesses are a key component of this epic tale, this could be construed as a religious reference of sorts, and many of the miraculous events referred to in other sources do refer to eternal life or invincibility.
"In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is the King of Uruk, and he is 2/3 god and 2/3 man. Despite his physical beauty, he is a very cruel ruler. So, the gods create a friend for him, named Enkidu, to distract Gilgamesh from oppressing the people of Uruk. Together they go on many journeys and adventures, including a trip to Cedar Mountain to take on its monster-guardian Humbaba and to kill the Bull of Heaven sent to punish Gilgamesh for hurting the feelings of the goddess Ishtar. Gilgamesh and Enkidu wrestle the Bull and kill it, and the gods, being immensely unhappy with them, decide to punish them and kill Enkidu.
"The rest of the story focuses of Gilgamesh’s grief which he turns into a quest for immortality. He seeks out the Mesopotamian version of Noah, a man who after the great flood was granted immortality by the gods. Utnapishtim thinks Gilgamesh is not ready for immortality and gives him a challenge. When Gilgamesh fails the challenge, Utnapishtim’s wife tells him about a miracle plant that grants eternal life. Gilgamesh loses it to a snake (think serpent from the Genesis story). Beaten and defeated, Gilgamesh returns home to Uruk resigned to his own mortality. He learns a valuable lesson, though: he might not be able to live forever, but humankind will." (Source)
Miracle References in The Iliad
Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, written and set in Ancient Greece, contains reference to several miracles, such as the personification of a horse, who is miraculously moved to speak and utter a deadly prophecy, and the rising from the dead of various characters and soldiers.
Here, a miracle is clearly an unexpected, improbably and astonishing act which greatly surprises the observer and defies all known laws of how the world should work. As with many other texts which discuss miracles, these events are epic, life and death events which change the course of history.
The Reconciliation Of Achilles And Agamemnon.
"Thetis brings her son the armour made by Vulcan. She preserves the body of his friend from corruption, and commands him to assemble the army, to declare the end of his resentment.
"Agamemnon and Achilles are solemnly reconciled with speeches, presents, and ceremonies to mark the occasion. Achilles is, with great difficulty, persuaded to refrain from battle until the troops have refreshed themselves, upon Ulysses’ advice.
"The presents are conveyed to the tent of Achilles, where Briseis laments over the body of Patroclus. The hero obstinately refuses all repast, and gives himself up to lamentations for his friend. Minerva descends to strengthen him, by the order of Jupiter.
"He arms himself for the fight. He addresses himself to his horses, and reproaches them with the death of Patroclus. One of them is miraculously endued with voice, and inspired to prophesy his fate: but the hero, not astonished by that prodigy, rushes with fury to the combat." (Source)
“Look - a genuine miracle right before my eyes!
Hector's escaped again, he's risen from the dead!
And just as each of us hoped with all his heart
He'd dropped and died at the hands of giant Ajax.
But again some god swoops down and saves this Hector -
And hasn't he wiped out enough of us already?
Now he'll make more slaughter, well I know.
He'd never be at the front, smashing our lines
Unless Old Thunder, Zeus, had put him on his feet." (Source)
"By heaven, an awesome miracle right before my eyes!
These gallant, die-hard Trojans, even those I've killed,
they'll all come rising back from the western gloom!
Look at this fellow here, back he comes again,
fleeing his fatal dayand
I'd sold him off as a slave in holy Lemnos
but the heaving gray salt sea can't hold him back,
though it stops whole fleets of men who buck its tides.
Let's try again-this time he'll taste my spearpoint.
Now we'll see, once and for all we'll know
if he returns as fast from his newest destination or
the firm life-giving earth can hold him down,
the grave that hugs the strongest man alive." (Achilles Fights the River, Book 21)
Miracle References and Quotes in the Works of Plato
Plato is often seen as a very pragmatic philosophers, but he is not alone amongst the Ancient Greeks to refer to ‘miracles’ and ‘divine dispensation’ when looking at the basic essence of knowledge and the natural beauty and order in the world.
He discusses this in The Republic and his other works. Whilst he believes in a natural order to things, he still maintains that a certain extra supernatural act, i.e. a miracle, is needed in order to explain why the world is the way it is.
Here's a little more depth about Plato’s thoughts on miracles:
"There is no philosopher ruler in the Laws. But the Laws recycles some of the same thoughts about ruling. The Republic itself rates the chances of ‘the muse’ (of philosophy) controlling a city very low (e.g. Rep. 6.499C–D).
"The Athenian Visitor takes the view that it would require a miracle (‘divine dispensation’) for 177 THE RULE OF KNOWLEDGE someone with the right understanding of the paramount importance of action for the common good to assume absolute power without disastrous consequences for himself and the city as a whole. Inevitably he would succumb to the human temptation to pursue his own interests and go after pleasure (Laws 9.875A–C; cf. 3.691C–D, 4.713C–D). Hence the Laws’ decision to make the rule of law the basis for its choice of the best social and political system humans can realistically hope for (9.875D; cf. 4.713E–714A)." (Source)“The world is a miracle in beauty and order, and this can never be the result of coincidental causes. Rather, it is the making of a reasonable being Who sought good and arranged everything on purpose and with wisdom.” (Source)
"If a person having arms is overtaken by the enemy and does not turn round and defend himself, but lets them go voluntarily or throws them away, choosing a base life and a swift escape rather than a courageous and noble and blessed death–in such a case of the throwing away of arms let justice be done, but the judge need take no note of the case just now mentioned; for the bad men ought always to be punished, in the hope that he may be improved, but not the unfortunate, for there is no advantage in that.
"And what shall be the punishment suited to him who has thrown away his weapons of defence? Tradition says that Caeneus, the Thessalian, was changed by a God from a woman into a man; but the converse miracle cannot now be wrought, or no punishment would be more proper than that the man who throws away his shield should be changed into a woman.
"This however is impossible, and therefore let us make a law as nearly like this as we can –that he who loves his life too well shall be in no danger for the remainder of his days, but shall live for ever under the stigma of cowardice.
"And let the law be in the following terms: When a man is found guilty of disgracefully throwing away his arms in war, no general or military officer shall allow him to serve as a soldier, or give him any place at all in the ranks of soldiers; and the officer who gives the coward any place, shall suffer a penalty which the public examiner shall exact of him; and if he be of the highest class, he shall pay a thousand drachmae; or if he be of the second class, five minae; or if he be of the third, three minae; or if he be of the fourth class, one mina.
"And he who is found guilty of cowardice, shall not only be dismissed from manly dangers, which is a disgrace appropriate to his nature, but he shall pay a thousand drachmae, if he be of the highest class, and five minae if he be of the second class, and three if he be of the third class, and a mina, like the preceding, if he be of the fourth class." (Source)
"The ruler may impose the laws and institutions which we have been describing, and the citizens may possibly be willing to obey them?
And that others should approve, of what we approve, is no miracle or impossibility?
I think not.
But we have sufficiently shown, in what has preceded, that all this, if only possible, is assuredly for the best.
And now we say not only that our laws, if they could be enacted, would be for the best, but also that the enactment of them, though difficult, is not impossible.
Very good." (Source)
As you can see, just what we mean by a miracle varies by culture and time in history. Still, it’s clear that the very concept of a miracle is one which is understood regardless of era, position in society or religious belief.
We can see that some miraculous events even expand across multiple religions or have common references. Most of all, we can see that they are occurrences which change the way individuals and whole societies view the world.
With one eye to the past and all of these examples of miracles, we can also look to our present time and ahead to the future, to consider what miracles may be happening around us in the world we live in today.