What is the Oracle of Delphi?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
The Oracle at Delphi
The Oracle at Delphi from The Greeks documentary
Dating back to 1400 BC, the Oracle of Delphi was the most important shrine in all Greece, and in theory all Greeks respected its independence. Built around a sacred spring, Delphi was considered to be the omphalos - the center (literally navel) of the world.
People came from all over Greece and beyond to have their questions about the future answered by the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo. And her answers, usually cryptic, could determine the course of everything from when a farmer planted his seedlings, to when an empire declared war.
Arguments over the correct interpretation of an oracle were common, but the oracle was always happy to give another prophecy if more gold was provided. A good example is the famous incident before the Battle of Salamis when the Pythia first predicted doom and later predicted that a 'wooden wall' (interpreted by the Athenians to mean their ships) would save them.
The lack of a strict religious dogma associated with the worship of Greek gods also encouraged scholars to congregate at Delphi, and it became a focal point for intellectual enquiry, as well as an occasional meeting place where rivals could negotiate.
Delphi became a fantastic showcase of art treasures and all Greek states would send rich gifts to keep the Oracle on their side. It finally came to an end in the 4th century AD when a newly Christian Rome proscribed its prophesying.
- JohnLv 66 years ago
There is much discussion about how the girls who channelled at Delphi operated. According to some records they would squat over a hole in the hillside near the Temple and hyperventilate the fumes that came from the inside of the Hills. It would be a dramatic moment when the girls would enter the Temple twitching and shaking to give their prophesies.
Cynics however have speculated there was more than just geological gasses influencing the prophesies. The Priestesses were said to be constantly favourable to Rome when decisions of local politics were decided. Which was curious in a way as Rome at the time was the 'street kid' of the region, and not the established centre of culture and learning like Greece and elsewhere. Some scholars have speculated the Oligarchs of the era had plans for Rome to replace Greece as the power centre of the region.