Delphi Greece

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Delphi Greece Vortex

Image by Laslovarga (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Delphi is famous as the ancient sanctuary that grew rich as the seat of the oracle that was consulted on important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. Moreover, it was considered as the center of the world by the Greeks as represented by the Omphalos. It occupies an impressive site on the south-western slope of Mount Parnassus overlooking the coastal plain to the south and the valley of Phocis. It is now an extensive archaeological site and the modern town is nearby.

The site of Delphi is located in upper central Greece, on multiple plateaux/terraces along the slope of Mount Parnassus, and includes the Sanctuary of Apollo, the site of the ancient Oracle. This semicircular spur is known as Phaedriades, and overlooks the Pleistos Valley.

In myths dating to the classical period of Ancient Greece (510-323 BC), the site of Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the center of his “Grandmother Earth” (Gaea, or Gaia). He sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western extremities, and the path of the eagles crossed over Delphi where the omphalos, or navel of Gaia was found.

Delphi is perhaps best known for the oracle of the Pythia in the form of the sibyl or priestess at the sanctuary dedicated to Apollo.

One tale of the sanctuary’s discovery states that a goatherder, who grazed his flocks on Parnassus, one day observed his goats playing with great agility upon nearing a chasm in the rock; the goatherd noticing this held his head over the chasm causing the fumes to go to his brain; throwing him into a strange trance.

Apollo spoke through his oracle. She had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the peasants of the area. Alone in an enclosed inner sanctum she sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth (the “chasm”). According to legend, when Apollo slew Python its body fell into this fissure and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapors, the sibyl would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. The oracle could not be consulted during the winter months, for this was traditionally the time when Apollo would live among the Hyperboreans. While in a trance the Pythia “raved” – probably a form of ecstatic speech – and her ravings were “translated” by the priests of the temple into elegant hexameters. – Wikipedia


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Image credits:
Tholos By Arian Zwegers (Delphi, Tholos) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Columns of Apollo By Patar knight (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Priestess of Delphi

  • Delphi Greece Vortex

Posted: May 9, 2017


Category: Greece

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