gosh you guys I just want to talk about the Oracle at Delphi forever

also I am super drunk because people KEEP ON DYING ON ME so okay

so you remember how I was talking about Gyges the other day, after he killed Canduale, Canduales’ family of course flipped their shit because who wouldn’t, so they agreed to have the thing settled by the Oracle of Delphi, who voted in Gyges’ favor and I’m not saying of course that she was influenced by anything but let us be real, he sent the temple a literal truckload of gold and iron (which was still expensive as shit) after she ruled in his favor


you know

anyway the Oracle at Delphi lasted in recorded history for at least six hundred and possibly a thousand years and was probably there before then as well, and depending on how much dependence you put on the PEACEFUL MOTHERGODDESS DESTROYED BY THE PATRIARCHY!!!!!!! #MISANDRY crowd, a while before in prehistory as well as a shine to Gaia before it was one to Apollo. 

As far as I’ve been able to tell without actually going into the classics section of library and spending ten years there, the Oracle at Delphi’s record of correct prophecies were actually slightly better than average – even given the natural human tendency to believe what sounds good and only recording what proves your point – and had the staggering influence of – I can’t even think of a modern example. There is nothing to compare to the power and influence that one woman had over all of Greece and a goodish part of Asia for over a thousand years. She was the voice of Apollo and even if the prophecy wasn’t 100% accurate people made it accurate. 

(I will note that a lot of the Oracle’s prophecies were worded as carefully as possible so for instance Gyges’ greatgreatgreatgreatgrandson asked what would happen if he tried to attack Persia and she was like A GREAT EMPIRE WILL BE DESTROYED which was ….technically …. accurate….)

so how did it happen? how did, in fact, the Oracle work?

Here are the current theories:

  • oleander and / or volcanic fumes causing hallucinations taken as the voice of the god
  • epileptics having seizures taken as ditto
  • priests asking many lots questions beforehand which the priestess then used and gave a canned answer to the inquirer based on information / amount of offering (this is especially possible considering the amount of treasure given by people sending to the Oracle for arbitration of disputes like the one between Gyges and Canduales’ family - we are talking vessels of gold able to hold hundreds of gallons of water apparently attested by multiple sources, fuckin huge statues made of gold and ivory, the list goes on)
  • well you never know weirder things have happened when people sincerely believed in someone being the voice of a god tbh

However it happened, people believed in the Oracle of Delphi, and they continued to believe in her for over a thousand years. The priestess was chosen at the death of her predecessor and worked until her death. Guys. I don’t know how to express how cool the Oracle at Delphi was. In Ancient Greece, where your basic career choices, as a woman, were ‘live in seclusion, die as a peasant or become a prostitute’, priestesses were allowed to own property and live in relative independence. The Oracle at Delphi, if she was an educated woman, basically controlled the destiny of Greece during her reign. Even if she wasn’t educated, she had influence we can only vaguely dream of: she was consulted on everything from marriages to wars to harvests to voyages. Granted, the priests at Delphi probably tried to interpret her in their favor –but she was the one who heard the voice of the god. She was the only one who heard the voice of the god.