Tuesday, 21 April 2015

ABC Wednesday, O for Origin of the Delphic Oracle

With thanks to Denise Nesbitt,  who created ABC, and Roger, who took over from her. For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar. This week we are looking for words beginning with O.

The earliest account of the origin of the Delphic oracle is provided in the Homeric Hymn to Delphic Apollo, which recent scholarship dates within a narrow range, ca. 580–570 BC.



Apollo spoke through his oracle: the sibyl or priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia; she had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the peasants of the area. She sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth. When Apollo slew Python, its body fell into this fissure, according to legend, and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapors, the Pythia would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. It has been speculated that a gas high in ethylene, known to produce violent trances, came out of this opening, though this theory remains debatable

One theory states that a goat herder fed his flocks on Parnassus. It happened one day the goats started playing with great agility upon nearing a chasm in the rock; the goat herd noticing this held his head over the chasm causing the fumes to go to his brain; throwing him into a strange trance.

While in a trance the Pythia "raved" – probably a form of ecstatic speech – and her ravings were "translated" by the priests of the temple into elegant hexameters. People consulted the Delphic oracle on everything from important matters of public policy to personal affairs. The oracle could not be consulted during the winter months, for this was traditionally the time when Apollo would live among the Hyperboreans. Dionysus would inhabit the temple during his absence.


Sylvia K said...

Beautiful captures and Greece is one of my favorite places that I've been able to visit and spend time!! Wonderful post for the day, Wil, as always!! Thanks for sharing!! Hope your week is off to a great start!! Enjoy!!

Cloudia said...

This post is a real gas, Wil! {American slang of the sixties for something fun}

ALOHA from Honolulu,

Trubes said...

Such an interesting post Wil, yet again I learn something new!
I had to smile at Cloudia's comment,
A real gas indeed !
Enjoy your week,
Best wishes,
ABCW team.

PS> guess what I've written about ?
Di xx.

Photo Cache said...

Very interesting. Greek is such a fascinating country from history to sights.


Roger Owen Green said...

Fascinating story! We are always trying to figure out sanity...


tulika singh said...

That was a wonderful story. It's fun when you can find an apparently logical explanation for a mythological story. Of course one can never prove it but then that's what makes it even more interesting.

Melody Steenkamp said...

Alles heeft zo haar geschiedenis en soms is het best leuk om daar eens in te duiken, zeker als daar een interesse ligt hè?

Mooie foto's weer..... ooit hoop ik daar eens rond te lopen ;-) Tijd zal het leren of dat wel of niet een wens blijft.

Fijne dag.

lotusleaf said...

A post full of interesting information and great pictures, as always!

Powell River Books said...

I majored in ancient history in college. I would love to visit Greece some day with all of its history visible to this day. My professor loved to lay out battles on the chalkboard and tell the story through a pipe clinched in his teeth. He made all of those Xs and Os come to life (or death) depending on the battles' results. - Margy

Jane Hards Photography said...

A place on my list to visit and photograph. Great post for the info.

Joy said...

The ancient Greek sites are always in such stunning landscapes. The Delphic Oracle is on my 'to see' list.

Anonymous said...

Between you and Trubes (Di) I'm getting the traveling bug to somewhere far far away with lots of history!

Arnoldo L. Romero, MLA said...

I've always enjoyed Greek Mythology, but it's interesting to learn the natural sources they evolved from. Blessings!

Rajesh said...

I like those shots from Greece. Beautifully done.

Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil said...

Wil, I had to laugh at Claudia's "gaseous" comment, lol. As a child, I was very taken with mythology of Greece. While there may be scientific info regarding the origins of prophecy, etc., I remain rooted in the romance of it all. Thanks! Amy

Fritz Ant said...

Cloudia got me to laughing with posting real gas...lol so with joking set aside, I really do enjoy your post that I find very educational learning something new all of the time.

Thanks for sharing.

Indrani said...

Very interesting. I visited Delphi and read bits of this story. Great pics.