Set in a breathtaking landscape, the Temple of Apollo was the most important religious site in ancient times. It is located on the southern slope of Mount Parnassus, 180 km. from Athens. In Antiquity, Delphi was considered the center of the known world, a place where the heavenly and the earthly met. According to an ancient Greek legend, the god Zeus released two eagles from different parts of the world and they met in the sky above Delphi. In Delphi, the legendary Castal spring sprang up, which healed and rejuvenated. He was guarded by Python, son of the earth goddess Gaia. Apollo killed Python, appropriated the spring and built his temple there. The temple became the home of the Delphic Oracle. The prophetess Pythia fell into a trance sent to her by the god Apollo and in this state answered questions related to people’s lives or state affairs. Often her words were disjointed and difficult to understand, which is why they were misinterpreted. She also predicted the Trojan War, but even Socrates, described by the Pythias as “the wisest”, failed to see what was hidden behind her words. The reasons for Pythias’ difficult to understand answers were widely debated in the 20th century. According to some, the spring water contained gases that were strong enough to induce hallucinations and trances. Today, their concentration is much smaller, due to the lack of seismic activity to push them to the surface. It is believed that the oracle lost its influence after the establishment of Christianity.
Description: the temple of Apollo /picture source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Apollo_(Delphi)
The Temple of Apollo was built in the 4th century BC. The original building had 6 columns in the front and 15 on the sides. Today, visitors can see only one completely preserved column and the parts of 5 other columns. The east pediment of the temple depicted Apollo arriving at Delphi with his sister Artemis and their mother Leto. The west pediment depicts the Gigantomachy, the great battle between gods and giants. Only the figure of a fallen giant, the goddess Athena and two horses remain of it.
Pythia lived in a small hall called an ariton. No one else was allowed in it. When someone wanted to ask the prophetess, he wrote his question on a tablet and handed the tablet to the prophetess. Her answer was recorded by a priest, who then passed it on to the questioner. To date, no such plates have been found. Questions could only be asked at a specific time – Apollo’s birthday. Little is known about the interior of the temple. Some ancient authors mention that the walls were inscribed with aphorisms such as “know thyself”, “everything should be in moderation”, etc. A statue of Apollo stood in the ariton.
Address: Delphi 330 54, Greece;
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