Delphic Oracle

Added byIN Others  Save
 We keep Archaeologs ad-free for you. Support us on Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee to keep us motivated!
added by

The most famous ancient oracle, located at Delphi on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus above the Corinthian Gulf. Traditionally, the oracle first belonged to Mother Earth (Gaea) but later was either given to or stolen by Apollo. At Delphi the medium was a woman over fifty, known as the Pythia, who lived apart from her husband and dressed in a maiden's clothes. Though the oracle, at first called Pytho, was known to Homer and was the site of a Mycenaean settlement, its fame did not come until the 7th-6th centuries BC, when Apollo's advice or sanction was sought by lawmakers, colonists, and cult founders. The Pythia's counsel was most used to predict the outcome of wars or political actions. Consultations were normally restricted to the seventh day of the Delphic month, Apollo's birthday, and were at first banned during the three winter months when Apollo was believed to be visiting the Hyperboreans in the north, though Dionysus later took Apollo's place at Delphi during that time. The usual procedure required a sponsor and the provision of a pelanos (ritual cake) and a sacrificial beast that conformed to rigid physical standards. The Pythia and her consultants first bathed in the Castalian spring; afterward, she drank from the sacred spring Cassotis and then entered the temple. There she apparently descended into a basement cell, mounted a sacred tripod, and chewed leaves of the laurel, Apollo's sacred tree. While in this drugged state, the Pythia would speak, often unintelligibly. Her words, however, were not directly recorded by the inquirer; instead they were interpreted and written down by the priests in what were often very ambiguous words.