Delphi

Delphi

Overview
Delphi (ˈdɛlfaɪ or ˈdɛlfi, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 , ðelˈfi) is both an archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 site and a modern town in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus, also Parnassos , is a mountain of limestone in central Greece that towers above Delphi, north of the Gulf of Corinth, and offers scenic views of the surrounding olive groves and countryside. According to Greek mythology, this mountain was sacred to Apollo and the Corycian nymphs,...

 in the valley of Phocis
Phocis
Phocis is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Central Greece. It stretches from the western mountainsides of Parnassus on the east to the mountain range of Vardousia on the west, upon the Gulf of Corinth...

.

In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

, the most important oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 after he slew the Python
Python (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Python was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent. He presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for his mother, Gaia, "Earth," Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa...

, a deity who lived there and protected the navel
Omphalos
An omphalos is an ancient religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means "navel" . According to the ancient Greeks, Zeus sent out two eagles to fly across the world to meet at its center, the "navel" of the world...

 of the Earth
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

. Python (derived from the verb pythein, "to rot
ROT
The aviation term ROT stands for rate one turn, also known as a standard rate turn. All aircraft must be able to perform a standard rate turn....

") is claimed by some to be the original name of the site in recognition of the Python that Apollo defeated.
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Encyclopedia
Delphi (ˈdɛlfaɪ or ˈdɛlfi, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 , ðelˈfi) is both an archaeological
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 site and a modern town in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus, also Parnassos , is a mountain of limestone in central Greece that towers above Delphi, north of the Gulf of Corinth, and offers scenic views of the surrounding olive groves and countryside. According to Greek mythology, this mountain was sacred to Apollo and the Corycian nymphs,...

 in the valley of Phocis
Phocis
Phocis is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Central Greece. It stretches from the western mountainsides of Parnassus on the east to the mountain range of Vardousia on the west, upon the Gulf of Corinth...

.

In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

, the most important oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 after he slew the Python
Python (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Python was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent. He presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for his mother, Gaia, "Earth," Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa...

, a deity who lived there and protected the navel
Omphalos
An omphalos is an ancient religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means "navel" . According to the ancient Greeks, Zeus sent out two eagles to fly across the world to meet at its center, the "navel" of the world...

 of the Earth
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

. Python (derived from the verb pythein, "to rot
ROT
The aviation term ROT stands for rate one turn, also known as a standard rate turn. All aircraft must be able to perform a standard rate turn....

") is claimed by some to be the original name of the site in recognition of the Python that Apollo defeated. The Homeric Hymn to Delphic Apollo
Homeric Hymns
The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect...

 recalled that the ancient name of this site had been Krisa.

Apollo's sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary
Sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

, where every four years, starting in 776 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games
Pythian Games
The Pythian Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games, held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi....

, one of the four panhellenic
Panhellenic Games
Panhellenic Games is the collective term for four separate sports festivals held in ancient Greece. The four Games were:-Description:The Games took place in a four-year cycle known as the Olympiad, which was one of the ways the Greeks measured time...

 (or stephanitic) games
Panhellenic Games
Panhellenic Games is the collective term for four separate sports festivals held in ancient Greece. The four Games were:-Description:The Games took place in a four-year cycle known as the Olympiad, which was one of the ways the Greeks measured time...

, precursors of the Modern Olympics. The victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown (stephanos) which was ceremonially cut from a tree by a boy who re-enacted the slaying of the Python. Delphi was set apart from the other games sites because it hosted the mousikos agon, musical competitions. These Pythian Games rank second among the four stephanitic games chronologically and based on importance. These games, though, were different from the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast importance to the city of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the area surrounding Olympia. Delphi would have been a renowned city whether or not it hosted these games; it had other attractions that led to it being labeled the "omphalos" (navel) of the earth, in other words, the center of the world.

In the inner hestia ("hearth
Hearth
In common historic and modern usage, a hearth is a brick- or stone-lined fireplace or oven often used for cooking and/or heating. For centuries, the hearth was considered an integral part of a home, often its central or most important feature...

") of the Temple of Apollo, an eternal flame
Eternal flame
An eternal flame is a flame or torch that burns day and night for an indefinite period. The flame that burned constantly at Delphi was an archaic feature, "alien to the ordinary Greek temple"....

 burned. After the battle of Plataea
Battle of Plataea
The Battle of Plataea was the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, and was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes...

, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the hearth of Greece, at Delphi; in the foundation stories of several Greek colonies, the founding colonists were first dedicated at Delphi.

Location


The site of Delphi is located in lower central Greece, on multiple plateaux/terraces along the slope of Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus, also Parnassos , is a mountain of limestone in central Greece that towers above Delphi, north of the Gulf of Corinth, and offers scenic views of the surrounding olive groves and countryside. According to Greek mythology, this mountain was sacred to Apollo and the Corycian nymphs,...

, and includes the Sanctuary of Apollo, the site of the ancient Oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

. This semicircular spur is known as Phaedriades
Phaedriades
In Greece, the Phaedriades were the pair of cliffs, ca 700 m high on the lower southern slope of Mt. Parnassos, which enclose the sacred site of Delphi, the center of the Hellenic world...

, and overlooks the Pleistos Valley. Southwest of Delphi, about 15 km (9.3 mi) away, is the harbor-city of Kirrha on the Corinthian Gulf.

Dedication to Apollo


The name Delphoi comes from the same root as δελφύς delphys, "womb" and may indicate archaic veneration of Gaia
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

, Grandmother Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, and the Earth Goddess at the site. Apollo is connected with the site by his epithet
Epithet
An epithet or byname is a descriptive term accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It is also a descriptive title...

 Δελφίνιος Delphinios, "the Delphinian". The epithet is connected with dolphin
Dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

s (Greek δελφίς,-ῖνος) in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo
Homeric Hymns
The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect...

 (line 400), recounting the legend of how Apollo first came to Delphi in the shape of a dolphin, carrying Cretan
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 priests on his back. The Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

ic name of the oracle is Pytho (Πυθώ).

Another legend held that Apollo walked to Delphi from the north and stopped at Tempe
Vale of Tempe
The Vale of Tempe is a gorge in northern Thessaly, Greece, located between Olympus to the north and Ossa to the south. The valley is 10 kilometers long and as narrow as 25 meters in places, with cliffs nearly 500 meters high, and through it flows the Pineios River on its way to the Aegean Sea...

, a city in Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

, to pick laurel (also known as bay tree
Bay Laurel
The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

) which he considered to be a sacred plant. In commemoration of this legend, the winners at the Pythian Games
Pythian Games
The Pythian Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games, held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi....

 received a wreath of laurel picked in the Temple.


Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo
Phoebus Apollo
Phoebus Apollo may refer to*Apollo, a figure in Greek and Roman mythology*Parnassius phoebus, a swallowtail butterfly commonly known as the Phoebus Apollo...

, as well as the Pythian Games
Pythian Games
The Pythian Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games, held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi....

 and the famous prehistoric oracle. Even in Roman times, hundreds of votive statues remained, described by Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo , better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny's uncle, Pliny the Elder, helped raise and educate him...

 and seen by Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

.

Carved into the temple were three phrases: (gnōthi seautón = "know thyself
Know thyself
The Ancient Greek aphorism "Know thyself", Greek: ', English phonetics pronunciation: , was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek periegetic writer Pausanias .The maxim, or aphorism, "Know Thyself" has had a variety of meanings attributed to it in...

") and (mēdén ágan = "nothing in excess"), and (engýa pára d'atē = "make a pledge and mischief
Ate
Atë or Aite a Greek word for "ruin, folly, delusion", is the action performed by the hero, usually because of hubris, that leads to his or her death or downfall. There is also a goddess by that name in Greek mythology, a personification of the same.In Homer's Iliad she is called eldest daughter...

 is nigh"), In ancient times, the origin of these phrases was attributed to one or more of the Seven Sages of Greece
Seven Sages of Greece
The Seven Sages or Seven Wise Men was the title given by ancient Greek tradition to seven early 6th century BC philosophers, statesmen and law-givers who were renowned in the following centuries for their wisdom.-The Seven Sages:Traditionally, each of the seven sages represents an aspect of worldly...

,

Additionally, according to Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

's essay on the meaning of the "E at Delphi"--the only literary source for the inscription---there was also inscribed at the temple a large letter E
Epsilon
Epsilon is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding phonetically to a close-mid front unrounded vowel . In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 5. It was derived from the Phoenician letter He...

. Among other things epsilon signifies the number 5.

However, ancient as well as modern scholars have doubted the legitimacy of such inscriptions. According to one pair of scholars, "The actual authorship of the three maxims set up on the Delphian temple may be left uncertain. Most likely they were popular proverbs, which tended later to be attributed to particular sages."

According to the Homeric-hymn to the Pythian, Apollo shot his first arrow as an infant which effectively slayed the serpent Pytho, the son of Gaia, who guarded the spot. To atone the murder of Gaia's son, Apollo was forced to fly and spend eight years in menial service before he could return forgiven. A festival, the Septerla, was held every year, at which the whole story was represented: the slaying of the serpent, and the flight, atonement, and re­turn of the god.

The Pythian Games took place every four years to commemorate Apollo's victory. Another regular Delphi festival was the "Theophania
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

" (Θεοφάνεια), an annual festival in spring celebrating the return of Apollo from his winter quarters in Hyperborea. The culmination of the festival was a display of an image of the gods, usually hidden in the sanctuary
Sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

, to worshippers. The "Theoxenia" was held each summer, centred on a feast for "gods and ambassadors from other states". Myths indicate that Apollo killed the chthonic serpent
Serpent (symbolism)
Serpent in Latin means: Rory Collins :&, in turn, from the Biblical Hebrew word of: "saraf" with root letters of: which refers to something burning-as, the pain of poisonous snake's bite was likened to internal burning.This word is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context,...

 Python
Python (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Python was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent. He presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for his mother, Gaia, "Earth," Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa...

, Pythia in older myths, but according to some later accounts his wife, Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

, who lived beside the Castalian Spring
Castalian Spring
The Castalian Spring, in the ravine between the Phaedriades at Delphi, is where all visitors to Delphi — the contestants in the Pythian Games, and especially suppliants who came to consult the Delphic Oracle — stopped to wash their hair; and where Roman poets came to receive poetic...

. According to some because Python had attempted to rape Leto
Leto
In Greek mythology, Leto is a daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. The island of Kos is claimed as her birthplace. In the Olympian scheme, Zeus is the father of her twins, Apollo and Artemis, the Letoides, which Leto conceived after her hidden beauty accidentally caught the eyes of Zeus...

 while she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

. The bodies of the pair were draped around his Rod, which with the wings created the caduceus
Caduceus
The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings...

 symbolic of the god. This spring flowed toward the temple but disappeared beneath, creating a cleft which emitted vapors that caused the Oracle at Delphi to give her prophecies. Apollo killed Python but had to be punished for it, since she was a child of Gaia. The shrine dedicated to Apollo was originally dedicated to Gaia and shared with Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 .
The name Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

 remained as the title of the Delphic Oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

.

Erwin Rohde
Erwin Rohde
Erwin Rohde was one of the great German classical scholars of the 19th and early 20th centuries.Rohde was born in Hamburg and was the son of a doctor. Outside of antiquarian circles, Rohde is known today chiefly for his friendship and correspondence with fellow-philologist Friedrich Nietzsche...

 wrote that the Python
Python (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Python was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent. He presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for his mother, Gaia, "Earth," Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa...

 was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos
Omphalos
An omphalos is an ancient religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means "navel" . According to the ancient Greeks, Zeus sent out two eagles to fly across the world to meet at its center, the "navel" of the world...

, and that it is a case of one deity setting up a temple on the grave of another. Another view holds that Apollo was a fairly recent addition to the Greek pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

 coming originally from Lydia
Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

. The Etruscans coming from northern Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 also worshipped Apollo, and it may be that he was originally identical with Mesopotamian Aplu, an Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 title meaning "son", originally given to the plague God Nergal
Nergal
The name Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali refers to a deity in Babylon with the main seat of his cult at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Nergal is mentioned in the Hebrew bible as the deity of the city of Cuth : "And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal"...

, son of Enlil
Enlil
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband, Robert Browning, shortly after her death.-Early life:Members...

. Apollo Smintheus (Greek ), the mouse killer eliminates mice, a primary cause of disease, hence he promotes preventive medicine.

Oracle


Delphi is perhaps best known for the oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 at the sanctuary that was dedicated to Apollo during the classical period. According to Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

 in the prologue of the Eumenides, it had origins in prehistoric times and the worship of Gaia
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

. In the last quarter of the 8th century BC there is a steady increase in artifacts found at the settlement site in Delphi, which was a new, post-Mycenaean settlement of the late 9th century. Pottery and bronze work as well as tripod dedications continue in a steady stream, in comparison to Olympia
Olympia, Greece
Olympia , a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every Olympiad , the Olympic Games dating back possibly further than 776 BC...

. Neither the range of objects nor the presence of prestigious dedications proves that Delphi was a focus of attention for a wide range of worshippers, but the large quantity of high value goods, found in no other mainland sanctuary, certainly encourages that view.

Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 spoke through his oracle: the sibyl or priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

; 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 sibyl would fall into a trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. It has been postulated that a gas high in ethylene
Ethylene
Ethylene is a gaseous organic compound with the formula . It is the simplest alkene . Because it contains a carbon-carbon double bond, ethylene is classified as an unsaturated hydrocarbon. Ethylene is widely used in industry and is also a plant hormone...

, known to produce violent trances, came out of this opening, though this theory remains debatable. 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
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 would inhabit the temple during his absence.

H.W. Parke writes that the foundation of Delphi and its oracle took place before recorded history and its origins are obscure, but dating to the worship of the Titan
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

, Gaia
Gaia (mythology)
Gaia was the primordial Earth-goddess in ancient Greek religion. Gaia was the great mother of all: the heavenly gods and Titans were descended from her union with Uranus , the sea-gods from her union with Pontus , the Giants from her mating with Tartarus and mortal creatures were sprung or born...

.

The Oracle exerted considerable influence throughout the Greek world, and she was consulted before all major undertakings: wars, the founding of colonies, and so forth. She also was respected by the semi-Hellenic countries around the Greek world, such as Lydia
Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

, Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

, and even Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. The oracle was also known to the early Romans. Rome's seventh and last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the legendary seventh and final King of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 BC that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is more commonly known by his cognomen Tarquinius Superbus and was a member of the so-called Etruscan...

, after witnessing a snake near his palace, sent a delegation including two of his sons to consult the oracle.
For a list of some of the most noted oracular pronouncements of the Pythia, go to Famous Oracular Statements from Delphi
Famous oracular statements from Delphi
Pythia was the priestess presiding over the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. There are more than 500 supposed Oracular statements which have survived from various sources referring to the oracle at Delphi. Many are anecdotal, and have survived as proverbs. Several are ambiguously phrased, apparently...

.


The Oracle benefited from the Macedonian Kings. Later it was placed under the protection of the Aetolians. After a brief period the influence of the Romans started to emerge, and they protected the Oracle from a dangerous barbarian invasion in 109 BC and 105 BC. A major reorganization was initiated, but was interrupted by the Mithridatic Wars
Mithridatic Wars
There were three Mithridatic Wars between Rome and the Kingdom of Pontus in the 1st century BC. They are named for Mithridates VI who was King of Pontus at the time....

 and the wars of Sulla who took many rich offerings from the Oracle. Invading barbarian invasions burned the Temple, which had been severely damaged by an earthquake in 83 BC. Thus the Oracle fell in decay and the surrounding area became impoverished. The sparse local population led to difficulties in filling the posts required. The Oracle's credibility waned due to doubtful predictions. When Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 came to Greece in AD 66, he took away over 500 of the best statues from Delphi to Rome. Subsequent Roman emperors of the Flavian dynasty
Flavian dynasty
The Flavian dynasty was a Roman Imperial Dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 69 and 96 AD, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian , and his two sons Titus and Domitian . The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

 contributed significantly towards its restoration. Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 offered complete autonomy. Also Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 was a significant factor by his presence as a chief priest. However barbarian raids during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and removal of statues and other riches (in effect looting) by Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 caused it to decay. The short reign of Julian
Julian
Julian is a common male given name in Britain, United States, Ireland, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, France , Spain, Latin America and elsewhere....

 could not improve matters. However the Oracle continued until it was closed by emperor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 in AD 395. The site was abandoned for almost 100 years, until Christians started to settle permanently in the area: they established the small town of Kastri in about AD 600.

The "Delphic Sibyl"


The Delphic Sibyl
Delphic Sibyl
thumb|right|Michelangelo's rendering of the Delphic SibylThe Delphic Sibyl was a legendary figure who made prophecies in the sacred precinct of Apollo at Delphi, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. According to a late source, her mother was Lamia, daughter of Poseidon...

 was a legendary prophetic figure who was said to have given prophecies at Delphi shortly after the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

. The prophecies attributed to her circulated in written collections of prophetic sayings, along with the oracles of figures such as Bakis
Bakis
Bakis or Bacis is a general name for the inspired prophets and dispensers of oracles who flourished in Greece from the 8th to the 6th century B.C. Suidas mentions three: a Boeotian, an Arcadian and an Athenian....

. The Sibyl had no connection to the oracle of Apollo, and should not be confused with the Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

.

Buildings and structures


Occupation
e Mycenaean period (1600–1100 BC). Most of the ruins that survive today date from the most intense period of activity at the site in the 6th century BC.

Temple of Apollo


The ruins of the Temple of Delphi visible today date from the 4th century BC are of a peripteral Doric
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

 building. It was erected on the remains of an earlier temple, dated to the 6th century BC which itself was erected on the site of a 7th century BC construction attributed to the architects Trophonios and Agamedes.
The 6th century BC temple was named the "Temple of Alcmeonidae" in tribute to the Athenian family who funded its reconstruction following a fire, which had destroyed the original structure. The new building was a Doric hexastyle temple of 6 by 15 columns. This temple was destroyed in 373 BC by an The pediment
Pediment
A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure , typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding...

 sculptures are a tribute to Praxias and Androsthenes of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. Of a similar proportion to the second temple it retained the 6 by 15 column pattern around the stylobate
Stylobate
In classical Greek architecture, a stylobate is the top step of the crepidoma, the stepped platform on which colonnades of temple columns are placed...

. Inside was the adyton
Adyton
The adyton or adytum was a restricted area within the cella of a Greek or Roman temple. Its name meant "inaccessible" or "do not enter". The adyton was frequently a small area at the farthest end of the cella from the entrance: at Delphi it measured just nine by twelve feet. The adyton would...

, the centre of the Delphic oracle and seat of Pythia. The monument was partly restored during 1938(?)–1300.

The temple survived until 390 AD, when the Christian emperor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 silenced the oracle by destroying the temple and most of the statues and works of art in the name of Christianity. The site was completely destroyed by zealous Christians in an attempt to remove all traces of Paganism.

Amphictyonic Council


The Amphictyonic Council was a council of representatives from six Greek tribes that controlled Delphi and also the quadrennial Pythian Games. They met biannually and came from Thessaly and central Greece. Over time, the town of Delphi gained more control of itself and the council lost much of its influence.

Treasuries


From the entrance of the site, continuing up the slope almost to the temple itself, are a large number of votive statues, and numerous treasuries. These were built by the various Greek city states — those overseas as well as those on the mainland — to commemorate victories and to thank the oracle for her advice, which was thought to have contributed to those victories. They are called "treasuries" because they held the offerings made to Apollo; these were frequently a "tithe" or tenth of the spoils of a battle. The most impressive is the now-restored Athenian Treasury
Athenian Treasury
The Athenian Treasury at Delphi was constructed by the Athenians to house dedications made by their city and citizens to the sanctuary of Apollo. The entire treasury, including its sculptural decoration, is built of Parian marble; its date of construction is disputed, scholarly opinion ranging...

, built to commemorate the Athenians' victory at the Battle of Marathon
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate...

. According to Pausanias, the Athenians had previously been given the advice by the oracle to put their faith in their "wooden walls" — taking this advice to mean their navy, they won a famous battle at Marathon
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate...

. Several of the treasuries can be identified, among them the Siphnian Treasury
Siphnian Treasury
The Siphnian Treasury was a dedicated building to the Greek polis, or city-state, of Delphi, by the Greek city-state of Siphnos. Such dedications were common among city-states in order to win the favor of the gods....

, dedicated by the city of Siphnos whose citizens gave a tithe of the yield from their gold mines until the mines came to an abrupt end when the sea flooded the workings.

Other identifiable treasuries are those of the Sikyonians, the Boetians and the Thebans. One of the largest of the treasuries was that of Argos. Built in the late Doric period, the Argives took great pride in establishing their place amongst the other city states. Completed in the year 380, the treasury draws inspiration mostly from the Temple of Hera located in the Argolis, the acropolis of the city. However, recent analysis of the Archaic elements of the treasury suggest that its founding preceded this.

As a result of these treasuries, through the protection of the Amphictyonic League
Amphictyonic League
In the Archaic period of ancient Greece, an amphictyony , a "league of neighbors", or Amphictyonic League was an ancient association of Greek tribes formed in the dim past, before the rise of the Greek polis...

, Delphi came to function as the de-facto Central Bank
Central bank
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

 of Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

. It was the abuse of these treasuries by Philip of Macedon
Philip of Macedon
Philip was the name of several Macedonian monarchs:* Philip I of Macedon * Philip II of Macedon , ruled 359-336 BC, father of Alexander the Great* Philip III of Macedon , ruled 323-315 BC...

 and the later sacking of the Treasuries, first by the Celts, and later by Sulla, the Roman Dictator
Dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...

, that led to the eclipse of Greek civilization and the eventual growth of Rome.

Altar of the Chians


Located in front of the Temple of Apollo, the main altar of the sanctuary was paid for and built by the people of Chios
Chios
Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages...

. It is dated to the 5th century BC by the inscription on its cornice
Cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

. Made entirely of black marble, except for the base and cornice, the altar would have made a striking impression. It was restored in 1920.

Stoa of the Athenians


The stoa
Stoa
Stoa in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.Later examples were built as two...

 leads off north-east from the main sanctuary. It was built in the Ionic order
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

 and consists of seven fluted columns, unusually carved from single pieces of stone (most columns were constructed from a series of discs joined together). The inscription on the stylobate
Stylobate
In classical Greek architecture, a stylobate is the top step of the crepidoma, the stepped platform on which colonnades of temple columns are placed...

 indicates that it was built by the Athenians after their naval victory over the Persians in 478 BC, to house their war trophies. The rear wall of the stoa contains nearly a thousand inscriptions; supposedly any slave manumitted in Athens was obliged to record a short biography here, explaining why he had deserved his freedom.

Athletic statues


Delphi is famous for its many preserved athletic statues. It is known that Olympia originally housed far more of these statues, but time brought ruin to many of them, leaving Delphi as the main site of athletic statues. Kleobis and Biton
Kleobis and Biton
Kleobis and Biton are the names of two human brothers in Greek mythology. It is also the name conventionally given to a pair of lifesize Archaic Greek statues, or kouroi, which are now in the Delphi Archaeological Museum, at Delphi Greece...

, two brothers renowned for their strength, are modeled in two of the earliest known athletic statues at Delphi. The statues commemorate their feat of pulling their mother's cart several miles to the Sanctuary of Hera in the absence of oxen. The neighbors were most impressed and their mother asked Hera to grant them the greatest gift. When they entered Hera's temple, they fell into a slumber and never woke, dying at the height of their admiration, the perfect gift.
The Charioteer of Delphi
Charioteer of Delphi
The Charioteer of Delphi, also known as Heniokhos , is one of the best-known statues surviving from Ancient Greece, and is considered one of the finest examples of ancient bronze statues. The life-size statue of a chariot driver was found in 1896 at the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi...

 is another ancient relic that has withstood the centuries. It is one of the best known statues from antiquity. The charioteer has lost many features, including his chariot and his left arm, but he stands as a tribute to athletic art of antiquity.

Polygonal wall


The retaining wall was built to support the terrace housing the construction of the second temple of Apollo in 548 BC. Its name is taken from the polygon
Polygon
In geometry a polygon is a flat shape consisting of straight lines that are joined to form a closed chain orcircuit.A polygon is traditionally a plane figure that is bounded by a closed path, composed of a finite sequence of straight line segments...

al masonry of which it is constructed.

Gymnasium


The gymnasium
Gymnasium (ancient Greece)
The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked". Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to...

, which is half a mile away from the main sanctuary, was a series of buildings used by the youth of Delphi. The building consisted of two levels: a stoa
Stoa
Stoa in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.Later examples were built as two...

 on the upper level providing open space, and a palaestra
Palaestra
The palaestra was the ancient Greek wrestling school. The events that did not require a lot of space, such as boxing and wrestling, were practised there...

, pool and baths on lower floor. These pools and baths were said to have magical powers, and imparted the ability to communicate to Apollo himself.

Hippodrome


The hippodrome of Delphi was the location where the running events took place during the Pythian Games. No trace of it has been found, but the location of the stadium and some remnants of retaining walls lead to the conclusion that is was set on a plain apart from the main part of the city and well away from the Peribolos of Apollo.

Castalian spring






The sacred spring of Delphi lies in the ravine of the Phaedriades. The preserved remains of two monumental fountains that received the water from the spring date to the Archaic
Archaic period in Greece
The Archaic period in Greece was a period of ancient Greek history that followed the Greek Dark Ages. This period saw the rise of the polis and the founding of colonies, as well as the first inklings of classical philosophy, theatre in the form of tragedies performed during Dionysia, and written...

 period and the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, with the later cut into the rock.

Stadium


The stadium
Stadium
A modern stadium is a place or venue for outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.)Pausanias noted that for about half a century the only event...

 is located further up the hill, beyond the via sacra and the theatre. It was originally built in the 5th century BC but was altered in later centuries. The last major remodeling took place in the 2nd century AD under the patronage of Herodus Atticus when the stone seating was built and (arched) entrance. It could seat 6500 spectators and the track was 177 metres long and 25.5 metres wide.

Theatre


The ancient theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 at Delphi was built further up the hill from the Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo can refer to:*Greece**Temple of Apollo, Corinth**Temple of Apollo **Temple of Apollo at Bassae**Temple of Apollo Patroos*Cyprus**Temple of Apollo Hylates, Limassol*Italy**Temple of Apollo Palatinus, in Rome...

 giving spectators a view of the entire sanctuary and the valley below. It was originally built in the 4th century BC but was remodeled on several occasions since. Its 35 rows can seat 5,000 spectators.

Tholos


The Tholos
Tholos
Τholos is the name given to several Ancient Greek structures and buildings:**The Tholos at Athens was the building which housed the Prytaneion, or seat of government, in ancient Athens...

 at the sanctuary of Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 Pronaia is a circular building that was constructed between 380 and 360 BC. It consisted of 20 Doric
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

 columns arranged with an exterior diameter of 14.76 meters, with 10 Corinthian
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 columns in the interior.

The Tholos is located approximately a half a mile (800 m) from the main ruins at Delphi. Three of the Doric columns have been restored, making it the most popular site at Delphi for tourists to take photographs.

Vitruvius
Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

 (vii, introduction) notes Theodorus the Phocian as the architect of the Round Building which is at Delphi.

Sibyl rock


The Sibyl rock is a pulpit-like outcrop of rock between the Athenian Treasury and the stoa of the Athenians
Stoa of the Athenians
The Stoa of the Athenians, in the Sanctuary of Apollo in Athens, is located south of the Apollo Temple threshold. The southern polygonal wall of the platform forms the north wall of the stoa. It was constructed circa 478 BC-470 BC during the early Classical period. The one-aisled stoa with Ionic...

 upon the sacred way which leads up to the temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo can refer to:*Greece**Temple of Apollo, Corinth**Temple of Apollo **Temple of Apollo at Bassae**Temple of Apollo Patroos*Cyprus**Temple of Apollo Hylates, Limassol*Italy**Temple of Apollo Palatinus, in Rome...

 in the archaeological area of Delphi. It is claimed to be where the Sibyl sat to deliver her prophecies.

Excavations


The site had been occupied by the village of Kastri
Kastri
Kastri , older form Kastrion may refer to several places in Greece:*Kastri, Evrymenes, a village in the Ioannina prefecture, also known as Kastri Vassilopoulou*Kastri, Thesprotia, a village in the Thesprotia prefecture...

 since medieval times. Before a systematic excavation of the site could be undertaken, the village had to be relocated but the residents understandably resisted. The opportunity to relocate the village occurred when it was substantially damaged by an earthquake, with villagers offered a completely new village in exchange for the old site. In 1893 the French Archaeological School removed vast quantities of soil from numerous landslides to reveal both the major buildings and structures of the sanctuary of Apollo and of Athena Pronaia along with thousands of objects, inscriptions and sculptures.

The whole site is now an archaeological one, and one of the most popular tourist destinations. It is easily accessible from Athens within a day trip, and is often combined with the winter sports facilities available on Mount Parnassus, as well as the beaches and summer sports facilities of the nearby coast of Phocis
Phocis
Phocis is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Central Greece. It stretches from the western mountainsides of Parnassus on the east to the mountain range of Vardousia on the west, upon the Gulf of Corinth...

. The site is also protected as a site of extraordinary natural beauty, and the views from it are also protected
Protected view
A protected view or protected vista is the legal requirement within urban planning to preserve the view of a specific place or historic building from another location. The effect of a protected view is to limit the height of new buildings within or adjacent to the sightline between the two places...

: no industrial artefacts are to be seen from Delphi other than roads and traditional architecture residences (for example HT power lines and the like are routed as to be invisible from the area of the sanctuary).

Modern Delphi


Modern Delphi is situated immediately west of the archaeological site and hence is a popular tourist destination. It is on a major highway linking Amfissa
Amfissa
Amfissa is a town and a former municipality in Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is also the capital of the regional unit of Phocis...

 along with Itea
Itea, Greece
Itea , is a town and a former municipality in the southeastern part of Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is a municipal unit. The Greek National Road 48/E65 connects Itea with Antirrio, Naupactus and Livadeia, the GR-27 with...

 and Arachova
Arachova
Arachova is a town and a former municipality in the western part of Boeotia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Distomon - Arachova - Antikyra, according the programme Kallikrates, of which it is a municipal unit....

. There are many hotels and guest houses in the town, and many taverns and bars. The main streets are narrow, and often one-way. Delphi also has a school, a lyceum, a church and a square (plateia
Plateia
Plateia or platia is the Greek word for town square. Most Greek and Cypriot cities have several town squares which are a point of reference in travelling and guiding...

). The Trans European Footpath E4 passes through the east end of the town. In addition to the archaeological interest, Delphi attracts tourists visiting the Parnassus Ski Center and the popular coastal towns of the region.

In medieval times
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 Delphi was also called Kastri and was built on the archaeological site. The residents had used the marble columns and structures as support beams and roofs for their improvised houses, a usual way of rebuilding towns that were partially or totally destroyed, especially after the earthquake in 1580, which demolished several towns in Phocis. In 1893 archaeologists from the École française d'Athènes finally located the actual site of ancient Delphi and the village was moved to a new location, west of the site of the temples.

The Delphi Archaeological Museum
Delphi Archaeological Museum
Delphi Archaeological museum is the museum that houses the ancient artifacts that were found in Delphi, Greece. Its centerpiece are the antiquities found in the complex of the ancient Oracle of Delphi from the 18th century BC when the oracle was founded to its decline in Late Antiquity...

 is at the foot of the main archaeological complex, on the east side of the village, and on the north side of the main road. The museum houses an impressive collection associated with ancient Delphi, including the earliest known notation of a melody, the famous Charioteer, golden treasures discovered beneath the Sacred Way, and fragments of reliefs from the Siphnian Treasury. Immediately adjacent to the exit (and overlooked by most tour guides) is the inscription that mentions the Roman proconsul Gallio.

Entries to the museum and to the main complex are separate and chargeable, and a reduced rate ticket gets entry to both. There is a small cafe, and a post office by the museum. Slightly further east, on the south side of the main road, is the Gymnasium
Gymnasium (ancient Greece)
The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked". Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to...

 and the Tholos
Tholos
Τholos is the name given to several Ancient Greek structures and buildings:**The Tholos at Athens was the building which housed the Prytaneion, or seat of government, in ancient Athens...

. Entry to these is free.

Municipality


The municipality Delphi was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 8 former municipalities, that became municipal units:
  • Amfissa
    Amfissa
    Amfissa is a town and a former municipality in Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is also the capital of the regional unit of Phocis...

  • Delphi
  • Desfina
    Desfina
    Desfina is a town and a former municipality in the southern part of Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is a municipal unit. At the 2001 census, its population was 2,431. It is found in foot of mountain Kirfis in altitude 680m....

  • Galaxidi
    Galaxidi
    Galaxidi , is a town and a former municipality in the southern part of Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is a municipal unit. It has a small harbor on the Gulf of Corinth. The Greek National Road 48/E65 connects Galaxidi with...

  • Gravia
    Gravia
    Gravia is a village and a former municipality in the northeastern part of Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is a municipal unit. Its 2001 population was 897 for the village and 2,975 for the municipality. The municipal unit...

  • Itea
  • Kallieis
    Kallieis
    Kallieis is a municipality in the northern part of Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is a municipal unit. Its registered population in 2001 amounted to 2,328. The seat of the municipality was Mavrolithari, which is home to...

  • Parnassos
    Parnassos (municipality)
    Parnassos is a former municipality in Phocis, Greece, named after Mount Parnassus. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 2,668 . The seat of the municipality was in Polydrosos....



The administrative seat of the municipality is in the largest town, Amfissa. The total population of the municipality is 32,263. The town Delphi has a population of 2,373 people while the population of the municipal unit of Delphi, including Chrisso (ancient Krissa), is 3,511.

See also

  • Greek art
    Greek art
    Greek art began in the Cycladic and Minoan prehistorical civilization, and gave birth to Western classical art in the ancient period...

  • List of traditional Greek place names
  • Aristoclea
    Aristoclea
    Aristoclea , wasa Greek priestess at Delphi in Ancient Greece. She was cited by many ancient writers as a tutor of the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras ....

     – Delphic priestess of the 6th century BC, said to have been tutor to Pythagoras
    Pythagoras
    Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

  • Delphi Archaeological Museum
    Delphi Archaeological Museum
    Delphi Archaeological museum is the museum that houses the ancient artifacts that were found in Delphi, Greece. Its centerpiece are the antiquities found in the complex of the ancient Oracle of Delphi from the 18th century BC when the oracle was founded to its decline in Late Antiquity...

  • Ethylene
    Ethylene
    Ethylene is a gaseous organic compound with the formula . It is the simplest alkene . Because it contains a carbon-carbon double bond, ethylene is classified as an unsaturated hydrocarbon. Ethylene is widely used in industry and is also a plant hormone...


Further reading

  • Morgan, Catherine, Athletes and Oracles: The Transformation of Olympia and Delphi in the Eighth Century BC, Cambridge [England] ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. ISBN 0521374510
  • Temple, Robert
    Robert K. G. Temple
    Robert K. G. Temple is an American author best known for his controversial book, The Sirius Mystery which presents the idea that the Dogon people preserve the tradition of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings from the Sirius star-system...

    , "Fables, Riddles, and Mysteries of Delphi", Proceedings of 4th Philosophical Meeting on Contemporary Problems, No 4, 1999 (Athens, Greece) In Greek and English.

General


Geology of Delphi