the priestess of delphi

Beings of the Ancient World; Oracle, from the Latin verb ōrāre, meaning ‘to speak’. 

“Servant of the Delphian Apollo
Go to the Castallian Spring
Wash in its silvery eddies,
And return cleansed to the temple.
Guard your lips from offence
To those who ask for oracles.
Let the God’s answer come
Pure from all private fault”

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1. Painting: A Hamadryad, Artist: John William Waterhouse, Created: 1893, Period: Romanticism

2. Painting:  Circe Invidiosa, Artist: John William Waterhouse, Created: 1892, Period: Romanticism

3.  Painting: Priestess of Delphi, Artist: John Collier, Created: 1891, Periods: Romanticism, Pre-Raphaelite

Pythia

Pythia, also known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the name of any priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus ( thought to be around 1400 BC). 

Theory

The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. It is said that she predicted the Trojan War (The Delphic Sibyl).

The usual theory has been that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock, and that she spoke gibberish which priests interpreted as the enigmatic prophecies preserved in Greek literature.

To prepare for prophesying, the Oracle of Delphi would bathe in a spring of Castalia for cleansing. Then, she would drink from another stream. After that, to see if the Pythia was ready to foresee the future and accept Apollo’s powers, a priest would pour ice water over a goat. If the goat was to shake from being cold, then Apollo was present and had invested powers in her. If the water didn’t phase the goat at all, that meant the Oracle was not ready. Lastly, the Oracle of Delphi would inhale the gas emitting from the chasm near the temple, and after a frenzy, she was ready to give seekers their prophecies.

It is now believed that the vapours were hallucinogenic gases, while others say the hallucinations come from snake bites, or by burning bay leaves.. However, other scholars challenge this theory and state that the ancient sources show the Pythia speaking intelligibly, and giving prophecies in her own voice.

From a late myth that deviates from much older ones, when young, Apollo killed the chthonic serpent Python, named Pythia in older myths, but according to some later accounts his wife, Pythia, who lived beside the Castalian Spring, according to some because Python had attempted to rape Leto while she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis. The bodies of the pair were draped around his Rod, which, with the wings created the caduceus symbolic of the god. This spring flowed toward the temple but disappeared beneath, creating a cleft which emitted vapours that caused the Oracle at Delphi to give her prophecies.

Prophecies

  • It is reputed that the last prophecy the Oracle gave predicted it would be her final one. A Roman emperor wanted to revive classic Greek culture. He went to the Pythia and she said:
    Tell to the king that the cavern wall is fallen in decay;
    Apollo has no chapel left, no prophesying bay,
    No talking stream. The stream is dry that had so much to say.

    That prophecy could be interpreted as a sign that Apollo has died and the time for reviving Greek culture is over.
  •  Another prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi was given in 594 BC, to an Athenian lawgiver; Solon. Solon wanted to capture the island of Salamis and so he asked the Pythia for her advice. She said:
    First sacrifice to the warriors who once had their home in this island,
    Whom now the rolling plain of fair Asopia covers,
    Laid in the tombs of heroes with their faces turned to the sunset.

    Following the advice of the Oracle, Solon was able to claim the island of Salamis, and gave much credit to the Oracle for her fulfilling advice.
  • The Oracle also told the Athenians that a wall of wood could protect them. They followed her advice, winning that battle, but it was hopeless for the Spartans. The Pythia told the Spartans before the battle of Thermopylae (in the words of Herodotus):
    Hear your fate, O dwellers in Sparta of the wide spaces;
    Either your famed, great town must be sacked by Perseus’ sons,
    Or, if that be not, the whole land of Lacedaemon
    Shall mourn the death of a king of the house of Heracles,
    For not the strength of lions or of bulls shall hold him,
    Strength against strength; for he has the power of Zeus,
    And will not be checked until one of these two he has consumed.

    Every last Spartan who fought in the battle that the Oracle foresaw as doomed died, making even the most skeptic of people become believers of the Pythia’s powers.
HERACLES WILL BREAK INTO YOUR HOUSE AND STEAL YOUR SHIT

KING EURYTOS HAS A BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER IOLE WHOM HE NEEDS TO FIND A HUSBAND FOR, SO HE HOLDS A BIG ARCHERY CONTEST. HERACLES SHOWS UP AND SINCE HE’S OVER-POWERED AS FUCK HE WINS THE SHIT OUT OF THE CONTEST. 

UNFORTUNATELY EURYTOS HAS HEARD ABOUT HERACLES’ PREVIOUS HISTORY WITH FUCKING KILLING HIS ENTIRE FAMILY, AND TELLS HIM TO FUCK RIGHT OFF. HE DOES SO, BUT SOON KING EURYTOS HAS SOME CATTLE STOLEN AND IMMEDIATELY BLAMES HERACLES BECAUSE TO BE FAIR HERACLES IS A BIT OF A DICK.

EURYTOS’ SON IPHITOS GOES TO FIND THE STOLEN CATTLE AND BEGINS AT HERACLES’ HOME TOWN, TIRYNS. HERACLES TAKES THIS THE WRONG WAY AND GOES CRAZY AGAIN, THROWING IPHITOS OF THE FUCKING WALLS OF THE CITY.  

HERACLES THEN GETS A NASTY-ASS DISEASE AS PUNISHMENT FOR MURDERING TO DEATH AN INNOCENT FUCKER, SO HE GOES TO DELPHI TO ASK FOR HELP. HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE PRIESTESS’ ANSWER SO HE GETS MAD AND STARTS SMASHING UP DELPHI.

THEN HE TRIES TO STEAL THE SACRED TRIPOD AND FUCK OFF TO START HIS OWN ORACLE BECAUSE WHY THE FUCK NOT. APOLLO CATCHES HIM FIRST, AND THEY START A BIG OL’ TUG OF WAR OVER THIS THING. THEN ARTEMIS AND ATHENA JOIN IN BECAUSE THERE AIN’T NO BRAWL LIKE A FULL ON OLYMPIAN FAMILY BRAWL. 

EVENTUALLY DADDY ZEUS TELLS HIS KIDS TO GROW THE FUCK UP AND HAS TO ZAP THEM TO LET GO OF THE TRIPOD. HE THEN MAKES THEM WEAR A GET-ALONG SHIRT HERCULES BE SOLD INTO SLAVERY, WHERE HE HAS KINKY FUN TIMES WITH OMPHALE.

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The Pythia – Πυθία

(Greek: Πυθία), commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the name of any priestess throughout the history of Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, beneath the Castalian Spring (the new priestess was selected after the death of the current priestess). The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC, although it may have been present in some form in Late Mycenaean times, from 1400 BC and was abandoned, and there is evidence that Apollo took over the shrine from an earlier dedication to Gaia. The last recorded response was given about 395 A.D. to Emperor Theodosius I, after he had ordered pagan temples to cease operation.

During this period the Delphic Oracle was the most prestigious and authoritative oracle among the Greeks. The oracle is one of the best-documented religious institutions of the classical Greeks. Authors who mention the oracle include Aeschylus, Aristotle, Clement of Alexandria, Diodorus, Diogenes, Euripides, Herodotus, Julian, Justin, Livy, Lucan, Ovid, Pausanias, Pindar, Plato, Plutarch, Sophocles, Strabo, Thucydides and Xenophon.

The name “Pythia” derived from Pytho, which in myth was the original name of Delphi. The Greeks derived this place name from the verb, pythein (πύθειν, “to rot”), which refers to the decomposition of the body of the monstrous Python after he was slain by Apollo. The usual theory has been that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock, and that she spoke gibberish which priests interpreted as the enigmatic prophecies preserved in Greek literature.  Read More | Edit