|2022-05-14||Europe: 2022-08-09 12:27 (UTC)|
Oracle, Delphi and Python — the readers having an at least medium level of IT finesse probably already prepare for a computer-related entry, yet the prophecy is false.
Again the Hellenic polytheism mixes with the lives of the mortals, their dreams and hopes: daily destination is Delphoi/Δελφοί. The sacred precinct belongs to the world heritage since 1987, and although it is part of the fundamental universal knowledge, it's worth to have a short summary. The foundation of Delphi can be dated back to the Mycenean, pre-Greek era (around 1500 BCE), it was considered as the sacred place of Gaia, the Mother of Earth. Later forming the ancient Greek literature and religious culture added a new chapter, according to some sources, its own translation to the location: thus more Greek deities were connected to Delphi, and worshipping Gaia was replaced by Apollo on the slopes of Mount Parnassos. According to the Greek description:
- Zeus flew two eagles around the world to find its center: the birds met again at the Omphalos
- Apollo killed the female Delphyne or male Python: both refer to a horrible dragon, which guarded the Castalian spring in the vicinity
- the fire, stolen from the gods was guarded in the Temple of Apollo; i.e. Prometheus
Apollo defeated the dragon which started to rot in the sacred ground, and this set the foundation of the sanctuary: in those days it was believed that the steams are the official dictionary of Apollo, and thus the source of the prophecies of the Pythia (the priestess).
Plutarch's words may give a better explanation (who also worked as a priest in the sanctuary): according to him in the adyton, the underground place where the Pythia learned Apollo's answer,sweet smell wandered. By the development of chemistry and medical sciences, it can be rendered more probable, that the priestesses in the volcanic recess lacking oxygen inhaled sweet ethylene, besides chewed toxic laurel and oleander leaves — all these caused their medley speeches, mental and physical fits and transcendent state of mind, which was translated by the priests into fairly better comprehensible words of Apollo.
The hows and why in those times didn't require very exact reasons, people arrived from all part of the world, from all stairs of the social classes, as long as the gold and silver sang in the treasuries. Delphoi enjoyed great respect, and the Pythia along with the priests who had insights into societal, internal and external affairs in multiple cases forecast future events correctly. The sanctuary complex served earthly functions too: a theater and a stadium was also built into the hills. Although it didn't have as much significance as Olympia, but the Pythian Games were held here in every four years, to celebrate Apollo's victory.
The fountain of economy, strategy and power started to dry out by our common era, and finally in 381, I. Theodosius Roman emperor ordered the shutdown of the sanctuary, instead had a fortress built there. Multiple reasons could be attributed to the decline. The most obvious was the dissatisfaction of the clientele: when the priestesses didn't give meaningless answers, the remaining ones were still more often false than true. Also by that time the Christian strategists built up more political and societal power, and they didn't approve to see that the followers who fear the one, the real god would chatter with such neighbours at the drinking fountain or in the steamy baths who live their life based on dactylic hexameter poems given by intoxicated priestesses after they inhaled the vapours of the rotting corpse of a dreadful dragonmonster.
The importance of the location, anew recognition of the ancient sanctuary complex after centuries of earthquakes and mountain slides started by the end of the 19th century. At this time it was known as Kastri (fortress). The archaeological works were severely hindered by the actively used buildings of the village, but to the misfortune of the locals and the happiness of the archaeologists an earthquake relocated the village — thus the excavations could start. Speaking of Gaia's trembling navel, the works nowadays still not only run a race against the time but the landslides too.
I'm trying not to overuse the word rich but still think it's an appropriate adjective in the case of Delphi, both in natural and cultural meaning: standing on the slopes of Mount Parnassos it's easy to understand how Gaia's landscape captured the imagination, also wrote the history of mankind over centuries.
The theater and Temple of Apollo
The Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia and the tholos, few kilometers away to east, after the Castalian spring
The gymnasium (I probably would have been more motivated for the Cooper-circles in such environment)
Delphoi Archaeological Museum
A list without attempt of completeness: you can see the columns and facades of the temples ornamented by Greek mythological elements, the Sphinx of Naxos, the statues of Kleobis and Biton and the Charioteer of Delphi. The unique find came to surface in 1896, and except the missing arm and the racing chariot it survived luckily the centuries, because the great earthquake of 373 BCE buried it. Thus unlike to its large bronze statue companions, it didn't become a victim of pillaging, and neither was melted to pay military expenses during the Third Sacred War between 356-346 BCE.
Moussaka, the Greek lasagna: not pasta but eggplant layer The pistacho ice-cream is a returning elem