Delphi is one of Greece’s most sacred places. It is situated on the slope of Mt. Panassus, where the god Pan and his nymphs were believed to have lived. It was home to the world’s most famous oracle and was thought of as the very middle of the world.
Apollo is the god that is most commonly associated with Delphi, though there were others before him, such as Gaea, Themis and Phoebe. According to legend, the monster Python protected the site and Apollo slew him and founded the first temple there. The Pythian games were held first every eight years, and then every four in remembrance of the deed. They eventually became mostly musical performances and the winner was crowned with a laurel wreath, as the Laurel was Apollo’s tree.
Delphi was thought of as the center of the world, and that belief is based on the myth that once upon a time, Zeus let his two eagles fly around the world and the place they met was Delphi. A stone called Omphalos, the Navel, was used to mark the spot. It is currently on display in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
Anyone who had enough money could ask the Delphic oracle a question. They had to go through purification rituals and pay a tax, but then they could speak with Pythia, who was a young virgin from a nearby village. Her head was most likely clouded by some kind of narcotic, and she would mumble incomprehensibly and then a priest would relay her message to the visitor. The fortune was always vague, ensuring that the oracle was almost always correct. The sanctuary was a very wealthy one.
An earthquake destroyed a lot of Delphi in 373 BC, including the temple of Apollo. The city-states surrounding it rebuilt it by 323, and it was then that the well-known inscriptions that read “know yourself”, “keep the measure” and “E” were made.
The Delphi Archaeological Museum has many amazing finds from the site. I’m looking forward to visiting both the site and the museum, because the place holds many legends and stories of mythology, which are quite interesting to me. This is one of the places I’m most excited to see.