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In Ancient Greece, consulting with deities was a popular thing. People sought the face of the gods when they needed to make decisions such as going to war and unveiling secrets. Since the Greeks had different gods, the need for people to communicate with their gods led to the emergence of several temples dedicated to different gods. The most popular, however, was erected in Delphi. For those visiting, it might just be a mere archaeological site, but the Ancient Greeks know better. To them, this was the center of the earth. The place where they consulted the gods about some of their most important decisions. Although it lies in ruins, one can visit to explore this interesting site where some of the most important decisions in Ancient Greece were revealed to mortals.


About Delphi

Delphi is an archaeological site in Phocis, Greece positioned at the foot of Mount Parnassus and overlooking the scenic Pleistos Valley. Many ruins that lie in the area date to the fourth century BC. The site was particularly famous for hosting the temple of Apollo and the high priestess Pythia who was otherwise known as the oracle of Delphi. This oracle was known for her prophecies all over the ancient world as they were considered words from the mouths of the gods themselves.

In Ancient Greece, this town was known as Pythia and it was not just an important sanctuary but the center of the earth. Here both local and high-ranking individuals visit to seek the counsel of the gods when about to make important decisions. The “center of the earth” was not just a mere title attributed to the place due to its importance in the ancient Greek world. It was chosen as the center of the earth by the gods. According to Greek Mythology, this was the location the two eagles sent by Zeus flew to when they were tasked with finding the center of the earth (or Gaia). According to the myth, Delphi was the navel of the earth or its center. The huge popularity of the location also solidified that name as the entirety of Ancient Greece put their faith in the prophecies of the oracle.

Today, what remains of the site are ruins of the temple of Apollo that date to the fourth century, treasuries, an altar, and a fourth-century theater from where spectators could watch the happenings inside the sanctuary. Some other ruins are located a little distance from the sanctuary and many of the ruins made up the ancient city of Delphi.

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The Oracle Of Delphi

An Oracle was generally needed to communicate the words of a deity to people. In Ancient Greece, these vessels were chosen carefully. Not by men but by the gods whose words would eventually come through the chosen oracle. The Oracle of Delphi was unique and the most popular in Ancient Greece.

More popularly known by the name - Pythia, she was the high priestess of the temple of Apollo and was central to revealing the words of the Olympian god of truth and prophecy to the Greek people. The oracle could only be consulted once a month and there were times when the oracle could not be consulted. This period spans the winter months when Apollo would leave the temple. Although the priestess is always expected to remain at the temple as the god Dionysus would take over the temple at the short departure of Apollo.

A series of rituals and processes often preceded a session of prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi. According to one prophetic session described by Plutarch - a high priest in the temple, after all the cleansing rituals were completed, Pythia would position on a chasm where vapors emanated from. These vapors would intoxicate and then allow the spirit of Apollo to possess the oracle and speak through her. When the oracle prophesied, the words were said to be incomprehensible. Therefore, the priests of the temple had to translate the pronouncements from the oracle into understandable poetry.

According to Plutarch, Pythia’s job was difficult as these series of happenings that characterized the prophetic sessions were usually long and exhausting. He believed that this shortened the life of the high priestess. Nevertheless, the job was considered a prestigious one, and the priest was often rewarded handsomely.

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Visiting Modern-Day Delphi

The modern-day Delphi is a small town filled with hotels, restaurants, shops, and many other things that appeal to tourists. This makes it the go-to destination for tourists seeking to explore the archaeological site which is located nearby. Many hotels in the town serve breakfast and also feature lots of amenities. Besides exploring the ancient Delphi, tourists to this town will enjoy lots of other interesting things such as skiing (during winter), hiking, and exploring the numerous shops. At the foot of the archaeological site known as Delphi, there is also a museum where one can visit and learn more about the history surrounding this area.