we’ll leave the peloponnese for a while and move on to delphi, on the slopes of mount parnassus. it is said that zeus wanted to find the center of the earth, gaia, so he sent two eagles flying from the east and the west, and they crossed at delphi, where gaia’s “navel” was.1
delphi, of course, is famous for the oracle (pythia) at the temple of apollo. the legend is that apollo shot an arrow that killed python, the son of gaia, and python’s body fell into a fissure. the pythia, who had to be an older woman of virtue, sat above the fissure, and the fumes from python’s body sent her into a trance. the god apollo spoke through the pythia while she was in this trance, addressing all types of political and personal matters. according to wikipedia,2 one theory is that the fissure gave off some kind of intoxicating gas so that the pythia was essentially speaking in tongues, and the priests interpreted her utterances to reveal the god’s words; other scholars think the oracle was actually lucid and could be understood directly.
interestingly, prior to the construction of the temple, there was a different oracle, called the sibyl, who sat on a rock near what became the temple site. it isn’t clear what happened to her.3
the ruins today only hint at it but, in its time, the road to the temple was lined with votive statues and treasuries (buildings filled with offerings to apollo) from the various greek city-states, all tributes to the oracle. today, only the athenian treasury has been rebuilt, while some of the statues that weren’t carried off by nero’s armies are in the nearby museum.
on to the photos:
1that said, looking at delphi is not considered navel-gazing.
2without which this blog would be completely devoid of information.
3again, according to wikipedia, the sibyl rock should not be confused with sibyl m. rock, the computer scientist. i love wikipedia.